Following on from the success of our previous Live Podcast, we decided to do another one! Genevieve is our special guest for this month’s Q+A. Genevieve is mum to Felicity, she is a gorgeous 10-month-old. She asks Vashti and Vicki about the rising popularity of hemp cloth nappies, their pros and cons and also how to keep velcro fresh and “sticky”.

This Nappy Leaks episode is recorded in front of a live studio audience… and by “live studio audience” we mean in the Bubblebubs warehouse with an audience that was 50% babies! But we all had a great time and it was good to be able to pick Vashti and Vicki’s brains in person.

Vicki Simpson is the outgoing President of the Australian Nappy Association and has been advocating for and selling cloth nappies in Australia for over a decade. She is the owner, creator and Chief Nappy Nerd here at Bubblebubs. Vashti Wadwell is the outgoing Member Secretary of the Australian Nappy Association and is the owner of Australia’s first bricks and mortar nappy store, Nest Nappies, in Brisbane, Australia. Both Vicki and Vashti have used cloth nappies for more than a decade each over three children and turned their passion into a business.

Transcript: Nappy Leaks Live Nov2019

Andrew: Vicki.

Vicki: Yes, hello Andrew, how are you.

Andrew: I’m doing fine.

Vicki: How about your, Vashti?

Vashti: I’m awesome, thanks Vicki, how you are?

Vicki: Not too bad, how are you, Genevieve?

Genevieve: I’m good thank you Vicki.

Vashti: And this is Felicity. Isn’t Felicity gorgeous?

Vicki: She is. Have you noticed the nappy that she’s got on? It’s Peekaboo, and it’s peeking out. I was actually, you know… See, because I’m taking over as host, I had to have a Dad joke.

Vashti: That one needs an actual photo. There we go.

Andrew: So Genevieve, ten months old?

Genevieve: Ten months old.

Andrew: Wow, very active. 

Genevieve: She’s a wriggler, yes. Trying your hardest to walk.

Andrew: So how long have you been listening to the podcast?

Genevieve: Maybe about, since she was about four or five months, I think I discovered the podcast.

Andrew: OK, did you go back and listen to all of them.

Genevieve: I did not. 

Vicki: that was going to be my question.

Andrew: Was it? Sorry Vicki, I didn’t mean to take it.

Vicki: No, that was going to be my question, because that’s kind of really interesting to know whether people go back to the beginning. Because there’s lots of newbie stuff in the beginning, so maybe we need to recover that. There’s a podcast idea, put it in Notion, because I don’t know how.

Vashti: Jenna!

Andrew: The first podcast…

Vashti: …put it in Notion. 

Vicki: When the podcasts come out you’ll hear it.

Andrew: The first podcast we did still gets between 50 and 100 plays per month. Oh, Jenna’s got something to say.

Jenna: I can answer that. It gets shared a lot on Facebook.

Vicki: Yeah, it does.

Jenna: The first one or two episodes, because we’ve got fabrics and we’ve got nappy types, and they get shared a lot, and it’s been really exciting because usually when they get shared me or Keren or Vashti or Vishti, Vashti, Vishti…

Andrew: You’re making it hard for the transcriber, you know that, don’t you.

Jenna: Sorry. Not sorry. Vashti or Vicki. It’s much easier if I just call them Vishti together, it’s very confusing. But yeah, it’s usually one of us sharing. I’ve noticed in the last few months, with a lot of excitement, that it’s started to be other people sharing them. That people have cottoned on. They found it interesting when they started, so they are now sharing it and saying it was useful for them. So that’s really exciting to know it’s actually like working, and other people like it enough to share, instead of us just helping people with it. I shared it with someone this morning to who didn’t know where to start with cloth nappies. Because it’s a podcast, it’s a really easy one for mums. They don’t have to sit and read, they can listen to it while breastfeeding, while running around with a kid. It makes life a little bit easier.

Vicki: That’s where I listen to all my business stuff, is podcasts, or audio books now. I just don’t…

Jenna: Fun fact, if you are a really mediocre parent and you have wireless headphones, you can put one wireless headphone in and listen to a podcast while you make your kid dinner.

Vashti: Unless you’re deaf in one ear. 

Jenna: Vicki can’t do that, but I definitely didn’t do it yesterday. 

Andrew: Wait, I think the headphone is still there. 

Jenna: I’ll take it out. No, I was at the park. After about half an hour at the park, I got bored and started listening to a podcast while playing with Ryan.

Vicki: Well at least then you don’t get judged for being on your phone. 

Jenna: Yes, it’s harder for people to judge.

Vicki: My kid is over there, I look up every so often, it’s OK. I need a break too.

Jenna: OK, so I shouldn’t have been listening to podcasts while on my phone ignoring… it was a fenced park, he was fine. 

Vicki: Fancy judgement. 

Jenna: I win. I win the award for mediocre parenting yesterday. He’s alive, continue.

Andrew: So got some questions. 

Genevieve: I do, but I was going to say about going back and listening to the podcasts, maybe if we hadn’t gone through Nest and had that one on one interaction with Vashti and her staff. 

Andrew: So you’re saying that Vashti is as good as a podcast.

Vashti: Oh better.

Genevieve: Well, only better because you can speak back. You can’t speak back to the podcast.

Andrew: Well, you can, just we won’t answer. Because we’re rude like that. OK, would you like to ask your first question?

Genevieve: I will. I was given a small stash originally, so I’ve got a few miscellaneous things. So I was looking into what each thing was made out of, and I’m seeing hemp a little bit more. We’ve actually just bought some hemp to try out and night time. And I wondered if it was becoming more popular, and how it compares to say the cotton or the microfleece or the bamboo.

Vicki: Hemp was pretty much, before bamboo came out, hemp was actually the thing that all nappies were made out of. And then bamboo hit the market, and it was a cheaper fibre to produce, and more absorbent. More absorbent? On par anyway. So everybody moved over to bamboo. One of the things with hemp, it’s actually a very fibrous plant, so it’s very rough. So when you’re talking about bamboo, you’ve usually got about 80% bamboo and 20% cotton in a blend, or 70/30, something like that. With hemp you actually can’t go over about 45%, because otherwise the insert is too stiff. So what the negatives with hemp are, are that they dry, particularly when they dry super fast, is they dry way stiffer than bamboo, which is why bamboo kind of took over. But from an ecological perspective, the farm hemp is much less processed, takes next to no water, and it’s a fast growing crop, just like bamboo. But bamboo is super processed. So bamboo is really great to grow ecologically, but the processing is where the downsides, the environmental impact is. Whereas hemp doesn’t have that. And then of course it’s mixed with cotton, which is bad to grow, but it’s not processed. But I think it is probably, it’s starting to make a little bit of a comeback. I know that we’re bringing in hemp pre-folds now, and it is something that I’m looking at adding to different nappies.

Vashti: We’re seeing a lot more hemp come into a lot of our products. So it’s great, hemp’s awesome. It’s just, as Vicki said…

Vicki: Have you ever touched a hemp t-shirt, versus a bamboo t-shirt? It’s actually just a bit more scratchy. It’s more natural feeling.

Genevieve: Even visually when I saw it yesterday, it has a bit more of a rough feel.

Vicki: Yeah, it’s like the fibres are still in it.

Genevieve: It’s not as smooth. 

Vashti: Super absorbent though.

Vicki: And it can be a bit more stinky too. It actually has an odour of its own. Which is, it’s kind of a grassy sort of smell. So then when urine is in it, it’s like a barnyard. It’s like the cows have peed all over the grass, kind of smell.

Genevieve: So any tips in using that? Do I use it any differently to any of my bamboo inserts?

Vicki: No.

Vashti: No, it gets used exactly the same as anything else. I’d probably make sure that, just for that natural smell that it has, because it is so thick and so absorbent, it does tend to hold onto stuff, so you really need to make sure it is getting a deep wash.

Genevieve: Getting a good wash.

Vashti: So yeah, if you’ve got, if you’re doing quite short cycles and you’re introducing hemp into your stash, you’d probably want to move to quite long cycles so that it does get that intense clean.

Vicki: Actually the other thing that hemp has over bamboo, is it is a lot sturdier.

Vashti: Oh, much sturdier.

Vicki: Bamboo is actually a very, very gentle…

Vashti: Fragile…

Vicki: …fragile fabric, and the reason for that is during the processing, when it’s chemically treated to make it into, it’s essentially a rayon, so it’s a naturally derived fabric. It’s not actually a natural fabric. Whereas hemp is an actual fabric.

Genevieve: I did sew some bamboo, and then I realised the needle had just torn it all. 

Vicki: Yeah, you definitely need a…

Vashti: A very fine needle.

Vicki: Most bamboo will also be knitted, so you need to make sure that you’re using a ballpoint needle. Having said that, most hemp is knitted as well. No actually I lie, because you can get hemp sheets. Just ignore that, take that on out, because I’m an idiot. Hemp in nappies.

Andrew: And do you have another question?

Genevieve: I do have one more question. Any special trips to keeping Velcro soft.

Andrew: Don’t use it?

Genevieve: Well, we use Velcro as newborn covers, and it was quite warm, so I’d often have a bare tummy, and bub often had a bare tummy, and I just found like I was getting scratched.

Vicki: It’s kind of the edges of the Velcro, isn’t it?

Vashti: I think with Velcro, there are different levels of Velcro, and the ones that are a bit scratchier are generally a bit hardier, so they last longer. The softer ones tend to not last the distance, so to speak. And there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s just trying to find that even medium between getting a soft Velcro or getting one that’s going to continue sticking in four years’ time. The biggest thing as well is making sure that you always use your wash tabs. And even, you can, to try and stop, if you are finding that they are starting to get a little bit un-sticky, clean them out, just with a fine toothed comb, and even wash your covers in a lingerie bag, like a garment bag. And that way there’s less chance of those covers becoming unstuck, and more stuff getting stuck in them, and them getting harder and harder to use. 

Genevieve: Yeah, OK.

Vicki: But if you do start to get curling on Velcro, don’t be afraid to kind of cut the sharp bits off. As long as you’re not cutting where the stitching is, just you can round the edges. You can’t really do any damage.

Genevieve: OK, it was more, when they were square, just round them.

Vicki: Yeah, round them off. But don’t cut them on a triangle, because then you end up with two points.

Andrew: Nice, well I think we’ll finish up there. Thank you, Vashti.

Vashti: Thanks, Andrew.

Andrew: Thank you, Vicki.

Vicki: Thanks, Andrew.

Vashti: Thanks, Genevieve and Felicity. It was lovely to see you both again.

Genevieve: Thank you. Thank you for having us. 

Vashti: Bye, Felicity. Bye. 

Andrew: Bye.

[Music]

Andrew: Vicki Simpson is a wife and mother to three children, President of the Australian Nappy Association and owner and founder of Bubblebubs. Vicki has been making and selling cloth nappies through her website for 15 years. Bubblebubs is now one of the most recognised and awarded cloth nappy brands in Australia, and is currently expanding to other countries. You can find out more and contact her through her website, bubblebubs.com.au. Vashti Wadwell is mother to three children and has been using cloth nappies for 13 years. She is the owner of Australia’s first cloth nappy store, Nest Nappies, located in Brisbane, Australia. She can be contacted through her website, nestnappies.com.au. If you would like to give us feedback, go to nappyleaks.com.au. If you are finding this podcast helpful, the way to thank us is to leave feedback in the iTunes store or wherever you listen to podcasts. I am your host, Andrew Simpson. 

[Music]

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