Nappy Leaks: State of the cloth nappy industry

Vicki and Vashti give an in-depth overview of how the cloth nappy industry is faring in the current climate in Australia. 

Transcription: State of the cloth nappy industry

Andrew:

How you doing, Vicki?

Vicki:

I’m good, Andrew. How are you?

Andrew:

Good. This is an odd-numbered episode. That’s why you are getting asked first.

Vicki:

Oh, really? Oh, sorry, excuse…

Vashti:

Totally, totally threw Vicki. Should have seen the look on her face.

Vicki:

I’m busy scrolling.

Andrew:

Scrolling the Facebook feed.

Vicki:

Yeah. No actually, it’s really not a Facebook feed. It’s a BWS feed.

Andrew:

Oh, that’s right. How are you doing Vashti?

Vashti:

I’m good, thanks Andrew. How are you today?

Andrew:

Good, thank you. Thanks for all those who are listening. Podcast plays around the world are way down at the moment.

Vicki:

Really?

Andrew:

Because nobody’s driving anywhere.

Vashti:

Oh, but see, this is interesting because we just had a message through on the Facebook page this week from Cork in Ireland asking for our advice on…

Vicki:

Didn’t she binge-watch? Binge listen?

Vashti:

She binge listens within…

Vicki:

Yeah, I was secretly watching that message.

Vashti:

Oh, were you? It was quite interesting.

Vicki:

We’ll have to give her a shout out then?

Vashti:

Oh, well Rachel, thank you.

Vicki:

It was Rachel? I actually didn’t take any notice of…

Vashti:

I’m pretty sure it was Rachel.

Vicki:

I was like, Oh my gosh, that’s a big response Vashti. I didn’t reply. I’m like, she’s got it.

Vashti:

Hang on, let me double check and make sure. Yeah, It was Rachel.

Andrew:

On the Facebook page?

Vashti:

It was on the Facebook page and she was asking all sorts of questions after binge listening.

Vicki:

It was about liners I think.

Andrew:

That’s a commitment. We’ve get a lot of episodes.

Vicki:

Yeah, I know.

Vashti:

Yeah. So, yeah, so she was mainly about the liners and she’s using fitteds and Woollen TPU covers and wanted lots of breathability.

Vicki:

Wanted as natural as possible.

Vashti:

Yeah. So, and it was lovely to see, she’s actually looking at the Bigs. Which is the Bambam Is Grown-up as her main nappy, but she can’t get her hands on them at the moment from The Nappy Lady in the UK.

Vicki:

Nobody can get their hands on them. This is not unique to The Nappy Lady.

Vashti:

So, but as soon as…

Vicki:

Actually no, as soon as the shipment actually arrives. It’s been sitting in transit for yonks.

Vashti:

I’ve got a parcel sitting in New York since the 20th of March. So am I now at what? That’s a month. So, you know, late April now.

Vicki:

Yeah. I’m trying to get anything. Well it’s because there’s no planes.

Vashti:

No planes. Absolutely no planes. But it’s funny because I’ve had two shipments come from Colorado last week that are due to land today and tomorrow. Due to be delivered today and tomorrow.

Vicki:

Yeah, A lot of the transport companies are bringing out their own cargo planes. So, that’s why we’re shipping where we can with DHL. Actually we’re just shipping via sea, because even via DHL they’re prioritising PPE.

Andrew:

Didn’t they just come by the Virgin planes?

Vicki:

They could.

Vashti:

Well, FedEx is doing very well at the moment, I’ll admit. Because both of those shipments were through FedEx, so, and that’s a week.

Andrew:

Yeah, well they have their own planes.

Vicki:

FedEx and TNT are the same. They’re the same company.

Andrew:

They’re flying passenger planes of 20 years ago.

Vashti:

Yeah.

Vicki:

But that’s what a lot of people probably don’t understand is the great majority of the hulls of passenger planes were filled with pallets and pallets and pallets of air freight. And that’s why… And also air freight costs have gone up by 70% and the US dollar, or the Australian dollar has gone down.

Andrew:

70%.

Vicki:

It feels like 70%, that’s for sure. So yeah, the increase has been horrendous. And the fact that it takes, as an example, two to three weeks to actually get something via air, where sea is only four to five weeks. So, it’s just not worth shipping anything via sea where it used to just be a week.

Vashti:

Yeah.

Andrew:

So, today’s subject is all about the state of the cloth nappy industry, even though you’ve already started on the side.

Vicki:

We have, haven’t we?

Andrew:

So, is everybody having stock problems or is it just…

Vicki:

I think it anybody who is relying on a short freight… A short turnaround in their production. Yeah, they’re going to be having stock issues.

Andrew:

So it’s going to take as long to get here as, as it takes to make it?

Vicki:

Well, we haven’t had anything under 90 to 120 day lead times for a long time, but our productions are quite huge. But we shipped a lot of stock before Chinese New Year.

Andrew:

We always do that though, don’t we?

Vicki:

Well yeah, this is the first time that actually made it before Chinese New Year though. Usually, our productions get held up for whatever reason and they were spot on. I must admit, I ordered in August or September for my productions to be shipping.

Vashti:

January release.

Vicki:

Yeah, mid December. So, I was well ahead of the bell curve for the first year ever. Thank goodness. And that was pretty much all of my Candies and everything.

Vashti:

I remember when we were in Germany, you were sitting there finalising everything.

Vicki:

Finalising the order.

Vashti:

So, that was September?

Vicki:

End of August. Oh no, end of September.

Vashti:

Was that in? Oh no, end of September. Yeah. And you were just finalising everything then.

Vicki:

Yeah. It must’ve been for the plain colours.

Vashti:

Yeah. So… But yeah, no it’s… Look, I’ve got to admit from a retailer perspective, we are definitely seeing delays from some of our suppliers. I wouldn’t say that we’re struggling, because our shelves are still very full. You walk into Nest, and you still have 6.8 metres of beautiful nappies along that wall. It’s just gorgeous.

Vicki:

3.8 metres of them are Bubblebubs.

Vashti:

They are not.

Andrew:

You should make that in your… Put that in your advertising. 6.2 metres of nappies.

Vashti:

6.8.

Andrew:

6.8 metres of nappies.

Vashti:

It’s funny, because when I bought Nest, Oh, even five years ago, we had 3.2 metres of shelving. We’ve more than doubled our space in under five years. We have a full wall. It’s just that…

Andrew:

Ikea have made a fortune out of you, haven’t they?

Vashti:

They have, they have. All our furniture’s from Ikea. Well most of it. We’ve got a few things that we’ve picked up on curbside collection. Like our stands and our table in the centre and stuff. But you know…

Vicki:

And a Kmart play ring.

Vashti:

Oh, the Kmart… Yeah, the nursery hangers for our wet bags. They’re from Kmart.

Andrew:

What about those lounge chairs? Where did they come from?

Vashti:

They were Ikea. Our lounge room is fully Ikea. Even the rug is from Ikea.

Andrew:

Holy crap.

Vashti:

So, they do a good job. So…

Andrew:

Did you get it delivered, or did you go get it?

Vashti:

I actually went and got it. I could’ve got it delivered, but I was down there playing and testing lounges and rugs, and seeing what I wanted. And how…

Vicki:

Did you know how to work out your Ikea name?

Vashti:

No.

Vicki:

Oh, okay. So you take your first vowel in your name and put an emulate over it. Is that what it’s called? Emulate?

Vashti:

Oh, I don’t know. The two little dots?

Vicki:

Yeah.

Vashti:

Yeah.

Vicki:

Yeah. So and then you take the first letter of your name and put it at the end.

Vashti:

Okay.

Vicki:

And that, and that is actually your Ikea name.

Vashti:

Ashtiv. Ashtiv.

Vicki:

So for you, it gives you. Yeah.

Vashti:

Ashtiv. There you go.

Vicki:

And I’m an Ickiv.

Andrew:

Mine’s Batman.

Vashti:

Always Batman.

Vicki:

U-Andrew.

Vashti:

So, no. Yeah, no, I would say there’s definitely delays, but we’re not struggling. Some suppliers are experiencing small stock issues. But on the whole…

Andrew:

So, in other words, there’s no need to panic buy cloth nappies like there is to panic buy…

Vashti:

Definitely not.

Vicki:

No, that was last month. And actually caused stock issues last month. We’re still trying to catch up from BamBams and Bigs and prefolds. We had more than enough stock to get us through until the sea shipment arrived and…

Vashti:

It went in a week.

Vicki:

Yeah, it did. And then we air freighted stuff out before the air freight delays occurred.

Vashti:

And that went in a week.

Vicki:

And that went and then we’ve air freighted more stuff out, which actually hasn’t arrived and it won’t arrive until, the 28th.

Andrew:

Isn’t it going to arrive two days before the sea shipment?

Vashti:

Oh, a week.

Vicki:

It’s about two weeks. A week or two. Yeah, yeah. In the end, it ended up being a week or two, but it’s already all sold. It’s all sold and it hasn’t even landed yet. So, I cannot wait for this sea shipment. It cannot come… I don’t know where you’re going to put it.

Andrew:

Well, hopefully.

Vashti:

I don’t know where I’m going to put it.

Vicki:

That’s not my problem.

Andrew:

Hopefully it’s big enough. You’ve got 6.8 metres. You’ve got plenty of space.

Vashti:

Yeah, I know. And it’s all full.

Vicki:

Yeah, yeah. That’s lineal metres darl.

Vashti:

Not cubic metres, or squared metres.

Vicki:

We’re talking, I think there’s 11 cubic metres of stock coming.

Andrew:

Well, let’s have an example. How are the Bo Peeps coming?

Vicki:

You mean Bo Peeps that were supposed to be…

Vashti:

November last year?

Andrew:

January. January this year.

Vicki:

January.

Vashti:

Oh, January.

Vicki:

They’re finished. They’re finally finished. And if air freight wasn’t so expensive, we’d air freight some out, but they’re on the water. They’ve literally… They were packed up over the weekend. And given that this podcast is pretty much live almost, that was last weekend.

Andrew:

Almost, yeah. We’re recording this the day before it publishes. Today is Tuesday. This episode publishes on Wednesday.

Vicki:

Yeah, so on Saturday, Sunday.

Vashti:

So, that’s a first for us.

Andrew:

Obviously because it was a bit difficult to organise some live events this time. So, we’re doing this episode. We actually… The plan is to do it through Skype. We’re going to get a couple of guests on Skype. It just takes a lot of organising and making sure that all the technical stuff is right. And I’m not quite there yet. So…

Vicki:

We’ll get there.

Andrew:

Hopefully next week’s episode. No, next month’s episode.

Vashti:

But do you know what? I think that’s really awesome, because that means we’re going to have live episodes from anyone in the world. So, Rachel from Cork in Ireland could call in for one of our live episodes.

Andrew:

Except it’s probably 3:00 AM for her.

Vashti:

Yeah, maybe. She might be interested.

Vicki:

We won’t be able to understand her.

Vashti:

Rachel, if you are listening, we would love you to call in just so we can hear your accent.

Vicki:

We love that accent.

Vashti:

So I went to Cork, it’s beautiful. Absolutely beautiful. So…

Vicki:

Actually, that’s what I miss about Europe is it’s so boring in Australia.

Vashti:

Multicultural.

Vicki:

Yeah. You hear all of these beautiful languages and accents and all that.

Vashti:

I suppose if you go to Melbourne, you get that. There’s a lot of multiculturalism in Melbourne. So…

Vicki:

Yeah, true, but not the same. Everyone speaks English.

Vashti:

Yeah.

Vicki:

And my gosh, you can tell over there when somebody speaks Australian English. Holy Dooley.

Andrew:

When I go to America, they ask me to slow down.

Vashti:

It’s funny, one of my Facebook memories came up and it was, Oh gosh, it’s good to… Oh no, it wasn’t a Facebook memory, it was somebody who shared a Nest Nappies post from when we got back from Germany last year. I was quite surprised that they’d shared it and it was, it’s so good to you back on Aussie soil where you hear someone say, mate.

Vicki:

They do. I swear that that is actually part of their training when you land.

Vashti:

At customs?

Vicki:

At customs. They say, how are you doing mate? It’s like, Oh, I’m home. Although you cringe. I don’t know. After listening to those guys in Croatia, I cringed for the next three weeks at the amount of people that were saying mate and…

Vashti:

They were an interesting bunch at dinner that night.

Vicki:

Gosh. They were so Ocker.

Andrew:

So, I do have a couple of apologies. First of all, the episode we did of couple of months ago where the audio was poor. My apologies for that. I actually had the microphone around the wrong way. I spent so much time making sure the girls microphones are working, I never check my own. So, apologies for that. And also apologies for the subject as well. Like when we recorded that in January, we didn’t think we’d be locked down by March and then we publish an episode travelling with cloth nappies.

Vicki:

Yeah. But see that I locked myself away in January and planned the whole entire year. And Easter, everybody goes away at Easter. So you know it was the perfect topic for March.

Vashti:

We did, yeah. We had lots of planning for this year, which is all thrown out the window.

Andrew:

Yeah. You locked yourself away in a hotel room.

Vicki:

Yeah, I did. I went to the Goldy.

Andrew:

Down the Gold Coast, yeah.

Vicki:

Goldy.

Vashti:

You Ocker person you.

Vicki:

I know. I went to the Gold Coast to Varsity Lakes. It’s actually really nice. Airbnb.

Vashti:

So not really a hotel room?

Vicki:

No, no.

Vashti:

No.

Vicki:

No. But I didn’t leave. I went to Aldi and I bought so much fruit and yoghourt and snacks and chocolate biscuits and everything you could possibly think of, because I didn’t know what 9:00 PM Vicki would want versus 2:00 AM Vicki and… So there was absolutely no excuse to leave the hotel room and I didn’t.

Vashti:

Good.

Vicki:

That’s good.

Andrew:

Cool. Okay, girls. Well, unless you’ve got something else, I think that covers it.

Vashti:

Nope.

Vicki:

Oh, that’s short and sweet.

Andrew:

Well, it’s a live episode, so they’re always short.

Vashti:

There you go.

Vicki:

Oh, Okay.

Vashti:

Okay. Well no don’t panic buy. There’s no need to panic buy cloth nappies.

Andrew:

Even when we get them back in stock, don’t panic buy.

Vicki:

Unless we tell you to panic buy. We actually have had quite a few… In saying that, we have had quite a few people, I know there’s a customer at the moment who had twins and she had inquired in February. And that normally wouldn’t have been a problem to then be able to fulfil her order. And I just kept telling Kerryn, we’re running out of stock. This air shipment that’s coming, we’re running out of stock, we’re running out of stock. I kept telling her. And then so she was letting the customer know, and then the customer comes back to us a week ago, and said, okay, so can I have this? No, it’s all gone unfortunately. So…

Andrew:

But one of the advantages we have is we have a factory, we have a warehouse in China. So, a lot of times…

Vicki:

It’s pretty well stocked actually.

Andrew:

A lot of times, all we have to do is just, it’s already made, we just have to get it over here. But just getting it over here is the tough part at the moment.

Vashti:

Yeah.

Vicki:

Yeah, it’s about five weeks.

Andrew:

And it’s a beautiful little warehouse that we’ve got there.

Vicki:

It’s not a little warehouse.

Andrew:

No.

Vicki:

It’s beautiful and sunny, and it’s bigger than here.

Andrew:

Yeah it’s huge.

Vicki:

And so much cheaper than here.

Andrew:

Do you want to say the price?

Vicki:

It was, oh, I can’t remember now. It was under $4000 US.

Andrew:

For the whole year.

Vicki:

For a year of rent.

Vashti:

That’s like a month’s worth of rent here.

Vicki:

I know. It’s insane. I mean all it is, is literally warehouse spaces, nothing… Oh, and there’s a squat toilet.

Andrew:

I love how they sent us pictures of the toilet.

Vicki:

They did.

Andrew:

This is what you’re getting. This is your warehouse, this is your toilet. Vicki secretly goes, I’m never going to the warehouse.

Vicki:

No way, no.

Vashti:

I reckon you could get that upgraded. You could talk to them and get it upgraded.

Vicki:

Yeah. I’m not going to visit that often. I’m probably not going to visit at least for two years.

Vashti:

Well, there’s no visiting anywhere this year.

Andrew:

I don’t think we will be allowed out of the country for two years.

Vicki:

Yeah. Yep. So yeah.

Vashti:

Wait and see.

Vicki:

It is what it is.

Vashti:

But no, look there is lots of stock. We are short in some areas, but we can always find something to get you through. So…

Vicki:

Assuming that everything doesn’t flare up again in China and Europe where the great majority of cloth is actually made. China, Europe and America. And don’t believe a single thing of the figures that are coming out of China now.

Vashti:

Well, I mean you’ve just got to have a look at America and the anti lockdown protests that they were having over the weekend.

Andrew:

Americans. They’ll protest anything won’t they?

Vashti:

Yeah, I just sit there and I look at it and go, right, okay well America is set for another flare-up.

Vicki:

But we were the same here. We were… You would see all over socials, close the schools, close the schools, close the schools, and now we’re two days into, well Queensland is two days into…

Vashti:

Term two.

Vicki:

Term two and already we have got day drinking moms. And, hence why we’re scrolling a BWS thing. Because I run out gin. And you know they’re open the schools, open the schools, open the schools. You know it’s…

Vashti:

Well, New South Wales… I was just saying, I saw my Twitter feed, New South Wales is planning on opening their schools one day a week from May 11th, so…

Vicki:

We have really flattened the curve here. When we’re comparing to say, Europe.

Andrew:

And that’s sports day.

Vashti:

Yeah.

Andrew:

We’re going to open it up for PE day every year.

Vicki:

I almost sent Gabe to school today. The schools are open, but only for emergency workers. But he was…

Vashti:

Essential workers.

Vicki:

Sorry, essential workers.

Andrew:

Yeah, but don’t forget what the definition of an essential worker is.

Vashti:

Anyone who has job.

Andrew:

Anyone who’s got a job. Do you have a job?

Vashti:

Well…

Andrew:

You don’t consider it a job though, do you?

Vicki:

No, because you love what you do, it’s not a job.

Andrew:

Yeah.

Vashti:

Well my kids were home yesterday, and they’re home today. But they’ll be going to school tomorrow or Wednesday through Friday. But our school has put a lot of things in place, and they’ll still be doing the e-learning packages. They’ll just be in…

Vicki:

Supervised.

Vashti:

Supervised spaces, so… And that’s purely because, I’ve got a preppy. So, I can’t leave a grade 9, grade 7 and a preppy at home. I could probably have the grade 9 and the grade 7 at home.

Vicki:

I do. Well, the grade 10 and grade 7, the grade 3. But he’s fine. As long as he’s got food and his activity sheets, he’s fine.

Vashti:

But you also have someone in grade 10 who is responsible enough to supervise him.

Vicki:

No I don’t.

Andrew:

We said she was in grade 10, we didn’t say anything else about that.

Vashti:

On the whole, she’s reasonably responsible. She’s pretty good.

Vicki:

We’re learning all about pronouns and all sorts of things yesterday and I’m like, ask your sisters. I have no idea.

Vashti:

But yeah. No, my kids will be going into school, I’m pretty confident that our school has everything set for them, and will look after them properly and their health. So…

Vicki:

It will be good to see them go outside actually.

Vashti:

I think it will be really exciting for my kids, because they… Honestly they have done nothing for three and a half weeks. The only place they’ve gone is for walks around the local neighbourhood. We’ve got some netball courts near us and they go down there and ride their bikes. But we’ve got to be careful about when we go because it’s a very populated area. There’s lots of other families going down there. So if there’s other families there, we just bring them straight back home and we just do the walk, we don’t do the ride around the courts.

Vicki:

I’ve got the two little ones in here.

Vashti:

Yeah.

Andrew:

Okay, I think we will finish up.

Vicki:

Okay.

Andrew:

Thanks Vicki.

Vicki:

No worries. Thanks Andrew.

Vashti:

Thank you Vashti.

Vicki:

Thanks Andrew.

Andrew:

Bye everybody.

Andrew:

Vicki Simpson is a wife and a mother to three children and owner and founder of Bubblebubs. Vicki has been making and selling cloth nappies through her website for 16 years. Bubblebubs is now one of the most recognised and awarded cloth nappy brands in Australia, and is currently expanding to other countries. Vicki can be contacted through her website, bubblebubs.com.au.

Andrew:

Vashti Wadwell is mother to three children and has been using cloth nappies for 14 years. She is the owner of Australia’s first cloth nappy store, Nest Nappies located in Brisbane, Australia. Vashti can be contacted through her website, nestnappies.com.au. If you would like to give us feedback, go to nappyleaks.com. If you are finding the podcast helpful and would like to make it easier for other parents to find, please leave a review on Apple podcasts, or wherever you listen to podcasts. I’m your host, Andrew Simpson.

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *