#65 Nappy Leaks Podcast: Cloth Nappies in Germany
This week we head abroad again on another nappy holiday! Sit back and take a tour of the nappy landscape in Germany with Michelle Kasper from Stoffy Welt, https://www.stoffywelt.de/en/. Michelle first discovered and fell in love with cloth nappies on a trip back to her homeland, New Zealand. After that trip, she knew this was something Germany needed. Entering the market in Germany when modern cloth nappies were still relatively novel, Michelle has seen their popularity grow alongside her business. Join the Nappy Leaks team and Michelle, as she shares how she started her business, the styles of nappies most popular and even how nappies are dried in a cooler climate.
Transcription: Cloth Nappies in Germany
Andrew: Welcome to Nappy Leaks with Vicki Simpson and Vashti Wadwell. How are you doing, Vashti? Vashti: Good thanks Andrew, how are you? Andrew: Excellent. And how are you doing, Vicki? Vicki: Yeah, good. Andrew: Excellent. And we’ve got a guest, don’t we like international guests? Vashti: I love international guests. So excited… Andrew: Now that we all have to be closed in our homes, we get more international guests now. We’ve got Michelle from Germany. Hey, Michelle, how are you? Michelle: Hi, good thanks, thanks for having me. Andrew: That’s OK, now a couple of little things before we get started. Thanks everybody for listening, and just to let you know, we’re peaking at number five. Vashti: Number five? Andrew: Yeah, we peaked at number five last month, so that’s like, makes us feel really good that everybody’s listening to us. As I said, we don’t get paid, we do this because you guys are listening. And oh my gosh are you guys listening. Thank you very much. Vashti: That’s world wise in family is it Andrew? Andrew: That’s just Australia. Vashti: OK, that’s Australia. Vicki: Yeah, if only somebody could get our S.E.O. up to five, that would be good, hey? Andrew: That’s right. He’s doing a crap job at the moment, you should fire him. Vicki: Hey? Yeah, I should fire him. Andrew: And the person who changed the website. There’s big new, the new Bubblebubs website is finally online, whoo. Vashti: It’s only taken 18 months. Andrew: And I’ve got another interesting stat for you. We’ve recorded, actually I shouldn’t say we’ve recorded, because it’s not really true. We’ve published 27.8 hours of podcast. Vicki: Oh, we’ve probably recorded like 375 million hours of laughing. Andrew: That’s right, probably 20 hours of Vashti laughing that’s been taken out of that. Vashti: That’s it, I’m not talking tonight. Andrew: That’s something I did see too, that stat doesn’t actually include plays from our websites. So if you play the episodes on Nappy Leaks or Nest Nappies or Bubblebubs, that’s not included in that stat. Vashti: So you actually have to go to a podcast app to include it in the stats? Andrew: Yep, only included in the podcast app. Vashti: Not that we don’t like people listening to it on our website, we love it when you come to our websites and listen, it’s awesome. Andrew: We obviously want it make it as easy as possible for us to listen to ourselves. We do, what are you waving your phone around for? Vicki: I’m waving my phone around so everybody puts it on silent. Andrew: Oh mine’s already on silent. Vashti: Yeah, it’s already there. Andrew: I don’t like phone calls. Vicki: OK, it’s only me, it’s only ever me. Righto. Andrew: So Michelle, your mother introduced you to cloth nappies. How was that? Michelle: Pardon? Andrew: Your mother introduced you to cloth nappies. Michelle: Yes. Andrew: Yes. Michelle: Did you get that from my About Us page? Andrew: Yes, I read your About Us page. I know you said you’ve got to update it, but that’s the best material to get, the stuff that you didn’t write. Michelle: Yes. So we as kids were, we used cloth nappies, and actually when my daughter was one year old, my husband and I went to New Zealand with our daughter for three months. I’m originally from New Zealand, and that’s where I discovered the cloth nappies. So on my trip to New Zealand I was looking at some baby shops and came across a store with a shelf full of cloth nappies and it was, I had a breakthrough aha moment. I was just like OK, this is what I’ve been looking for. I haven’t found these in Germany, none of my friends use them, this is amazing. And so I told my husband about them and said, I think we need to sell these. I think we need to do something. Yeah, that was the… so after New Zealand was the moment that helped us to find these nappies. That was 2012 that we started. Andrew: That’s interesting, because that just gets rid of all my other questions, because I assumed, I thought the way your website reads, it’s your mother introduced you to them, but you just found them in a store. Do you remember the name of the store? Michelle: I think it was The Baby Factory or something like that. It was a store in Wellington… Vicki: Do they sell babies too? Andrew: Sorry? Vicki: I said, do they sell babies too? Michelle: I was in New Zealand two summers ago and I did go back and try to find that store, but it had moved. It no longer existed. Or at least in the place it was there before, and I was actually a bit disappointed, because eight years had passed, and then I went back. I found the store had moved, and I went to the new store, and instead of having a wall of cloth nappies, they had one brand of nappy. Vashti: That’s disappointing. Vicki: So just China cheapy kind of stuff. Michelle: Yeah, kind of like $5, $10 type of nappies. Whereas I remember they had quite a range before, they had Australian nappies, and microfibre pockets from China, but there was a range. They had different items, and now it was just like, I don’t know if it was just a reflection of the market that nobody cares about these anymore, we only need one brand. Or maybe these nappies are now in more boutique stores, I’m not really sure, but I was a bit disappointed. Vashti: Shame. Andrew: We know that’s not the case in New Zealand. Bubblebubs has… Vicki: This is unbranded, Andrew. Andrew: I know, but she’s saying that cloth nappies aren’t selling very well in New Zealand, so we should bring up the fact that we’ve got a distributor in New Zealand who’s doing great guns. Vicki: There’s quite a lot of work at home Mums in New Zealand too. Vashti: There’s also a couple of mainstream brands over there like Tutti and… Vicki: Real Nappies. Vashti: Real Nappies, and they’re all really exploding and they’re all New Zealand owned brands. New Urbanites is New Zealand based and they’ve just started distributing Kanga Care and Rumperoos. Vicki: And wasn’t Tot Spots the Australia New Zealand distributor? Vashti: Yeah, the Australia New Zealand distributor is based out of New Zealand for Tot Spots. So New Zealand has definitely taken off with cloth nappies and it’s quite a popular market, so it is disappointing to hear that Michelle. Vicki: Yeah, 12 years ago is a long time. Michelle: I guess they’re probably more popular on online shops or maybe in smaller family owned businesses, but that was just a very generic baby shop. And actually I did visit a second one, also very generic and mainstream, and they didn’t even have a single cloth nappy. So they’re selling, but just not in these… Andrew: Actually that kind of is the way in Australia too, because we have baby shops and the baby shop that I can think of, only sells one brand. Vicki: Yeah, they only sell Pee Pods. There’s very few… Vashti: Your mainstream baby shops, it is hard to get it. Vicki: But having said that, I don’t think cloth nappies are like single use nappies. You need that little bit of support with them. Vashti: Well you’d find that in your shop Michelle, wouldn’t you? You do find that your customers need that extra support and guidance on how to use the cloth nappies, wouldn’t you? Michelle: Absolutely. We were originally an online store, and we would just have people turning up with their babies and wanted to know all about them, they wanted to touch them, they wanted to ask all the questions, they weren’t satisfied just to read about it on the website. And that’s kind of also the spur which gave us OK, the idea when we move next time, we really need a shop. We need to be able to offer these and have a space where we can present the nappies and answer the questions, give workshops. The support is hard, and I think that’s why it’s mainly by family owned stores where you want to help. Andrew: So your websites is called the StoffyWelt. Did I say that correctly? Michelle: Right… Andrew: Is that a translation of something? Michelle: You pronounce it like an English speaker. So in Deutsch it’s pronounced StoffyWelt. Vashti: StoffyWelt Vicki: StoffyWelt. Andrew: I didn’t have the accent in there, that’s all the difference. Michelle: When you see an S-T, you have to imagine there’s a C-H in between there. So when you see S-T, you imagine S-C-H-T, SH. Vicki: There you go StoffyWelt Vashti: Michelle, you said you were from New Zealand originally, what made you move to Germany? Andrew: Better beer. Michelle: Yeah, I met a wonderful guy and we got married and I moved to Germany. It’s not something I could have previously ever imagined about, but here I am on the other side of the world, and I’m really happy here. Vicki: Now you’re killing me because girls are supposed to stay with their mums. That’s like the rule. That’s the rule that the girl stays with the mum and the boy follows the girl. Don’t break that for me. Except for my son, because that’ll happen for my son, and all three kids will stay with me. Michelle: I guess I always, growing up in New Zealand, kind of like a little island in the ocean, and I always dreamed of other places. So I was kind of on a stepping stone away from New Zealand. I studied in Brisbane, was there for three years. When I met my husband I was living in Dubai, and so popping over to Europe wasn’t such a big step. So people think oh, you went from New Zealand all the way to Germany. But actually I was kind of already over there. Vashti: Little stepping stones. That’s awesome. Vicki: It is, because nobody wants to go fly directly. Andrew: So when you originally started your website, did you have immediate success? How long did it take before you started doing well? Michelle: I think immediately you could say we made an impact, because back then there were only about five shops, online shops in Germany that were specialised in cloth nappies. So we entered the market at the right time, because I would say back then, all the English speaking countries were about five years ahead in the cloth nappy market. When I would look at American websites or U.K. blogs and see what Australia had to offer, there was just so many brands, there was so much information and in Germany, you didn’t even hear about it in your, what do you call the birth course? Andrew: Hors d oeuvres? Michelle: Pre-natal course? Vashti: Antenatal. Michelle: I’ve been so long in Germany, so I don’t know the vocabulary anymore. Vashti: So the antenatal classes. Michelle: Antenatal classes, yeah, and midwives didn’t know about them. So it was kind of like it was ripe, and basically just as we entered the market, that’s when things really started, and these days in Germany there’s more like 100 shops offer nappies online. So yeah, of course we only started with original stock. We started, we lived in a little apartment, we had all the stock there in our kitchen and our living room, and started with four brands, and then all the profit that we made, we just invested it back into getting more stock. And it just grew and grew like that. Andrew: How many brands do you have now? Michelle: Of nappies? Let me think, maybe about 16 to 20, somewhere like that. I’m having a quick browse on my website. About 16. Vicki: I love it. Michelle: But we don’t have just nappies. If I think of all the companies that we order from, we also sell baby wearing wraps, and on our other websites with our shops, we’ve kind of expanded into all things natural and sustainable, so we have a lot of other brands that we offer. Menstrual cups and stainless steel drink bottles and the like. When it comes to nappies, about 16 brands. Andrew: OK, so when you first started, where there a lot of Germany brands, or you found you had to go overseas to get most of your stock when you started? Michelle: Yeah, we definitely stocked the overseas brands from America and from the U.K. The German brands weren’t really attractive to me, to be honest, because when I came into the cloth nappies, the ones that were available in Germany were very natural and beige, and traditional. And when I looked at the American brands and saw all these cute nappies and colourful patterns, I was really attracted to these designs. The PUL fabrics. So I originally started going towards brands like Tot Spots and Poppen and Blueberry that were really colourful and really attractive. But as we’ve gone on, we have added more of the traditional brands, more German and Austrian brands because we also see that we’re not attracting just the mainstream people, we also have a lot of customers who want it as eco as possible. They want wool, they want organic cotton, they want to avoid anything that’s synthetic or that comes from elsewhere. They really want a local brand, and so we’re trying to make sure that we have something, that we have enough in our product range that meets the mainstream customer as well as more super eco parents. Vicki: That is certainly something I noticed when I was over in Germany too, is that a lot of the, depending on which country in Europe they were from, but Germany in particular was all about wool and natural fibres, and it was actually quite a hard sell with our Candies, which have got the suede cloth layer, and the PUL outer. They were like, no. Vashti: And Minky. Vicki: Yeah, and Minky. Minky is a no-no, big no-no in Germany, but when it came to all of the natural fibre nappies, everyone was all over them. And I found that really interesting, and it was Germany in particular, they really loved their wool over there. Because you’ve got a massive, who’s the massive… Vashti: Dysana. Vicki: Dysana, yeah, you’ve got Dysana over there, who make in southern Germany, don’t they? Or is it north? I can’t tell, is it upside down? Andrew: Because it’s cold over there too, I checked the weather where you are today, it was 2 degrees when you woke up this morning. Michelle: It is, yeah. My co-worker said she had to defrost her car this morning. Vicki: You’re talking to a person, you do realise that I am actually wearing Heatek at the moment. I’m wearing thermals and it’s like 24 degrees here. Andrew: We don’t have the air conditioning on either. Vicki: We don’t even have the air conditioning on. No, it’s 12… no, that’s the date, it’s not 12 degrees. Vashti: This weather… Andrew: I told you, don’t date it. Vashti: It’s 17. Andrew: So if I said to you, what was your most popular nappy, would you be able to answer that? Michelle: Yes, the most popular nappy would be a Milovia cover. So Milovia is a brand from Poland and they make pockets but they also make covers, and our best selling product is a Milovia cover. It is really hard to keep in stock. As soon as we get a delivery, they’re sold out within two days and then we have to wait like a month before the next delivery comes. Andrew: Wow, why is it hard to get stock? Are they having production problems? Michelle: They have really cute designs, but their cover is just really attractive to many people, not only because of the cute animal prints and the designs, it fits really well, so the majority of babies will fit this nappy. So if people are going to try a few to test them out, if they do get a Milovia, then generally they will get a good fit. And what Germans love are two part systems. S they want a cover and they want to use it with a pre-fold or a muslin and they want to reuse the insert as much as possible, I’m sorry, change the insert out and reuse the cover, and this system is the most popular in Germany, so regardless of what brand we sell, we always sell a lot more covers than we do all in ones or pockets. Andrew: Excellent, that’s good to know. Vicki: Is that because of drying time do you think as well? Because a two part system obviously is going to dry faster than an all in one or a pocket. Michelle: Yeah, Germans are very practical and I just think it makes a lot of sense. So when we show the different nappies, we show an all in one, and we show a cover with a pre-fold, and you just see that aha moment in their eyes. That makes so much sense. It makes less washing, it’s cheaper, a lot cheaper compared to all in ones, and it’s easier to boost. You can use muslin or whatever other cloth inserts you have at hand, and you can also use a night nappy with a cover, so we really like this system and it’s our most popular system amongst our customers as well. Vashti: I just googled Milovia nappies, and they are gorgeous. Vicki: Oh, have you never seen then before? I knew exactly who she was talking about. Vashti: No, I’ve never seen that brand before and they are stunning. I was like, wow. Vicki: You’ve got to research your competition. But see, it’s different for me as a manufacturer, who I’m looking at and what everybody else is doing, versus you’re just looking for new, you’re just going to get in touch with them now and get something else into your store. Vashti: Maybe. Andrew: You’ve got the space, you’ve got a brand new big store. Vashti: I’ve got no room at the moment. No, I was just looking. Michelle: They probably won’t have space for you, we’re waiting months and months for our orders. Vashti: Yeah, well from the sounds of it… Michelle: I don’t think they sell to retailers at the moment, unfortunately. Vicki: So they make locally in Poland? Michelle: Yeah, so they’re produced and they have their own sewing studio in Poland, and I think the fabric is even printed there, the PUL fabric. Vicki: See, that’s what just makes me jealous about you know, even American brands and European brands. You know what it’s like here in Australia and New Zealand. Nothing is produced here, our wages are just too expensive to make anything. We’re very much we’re service countries. Andrew: And raw material. Vicki: And raw materials as well, yeah. So kind of makes me a little bit jealous that you can get something so close. Andrew: So do you know what percentage of… Michelle: In Europe they’re mainly, in Germany there are also a lot of mums based industries, mums who are making their own nappies at home, but when you look towards eastern Europe, Czech Republic, Poland, and these two countries specifically there are a lot of sewers and one of our brands particularly from Czech Republic, I actually visited their factory. Factory doesn’t seem the right word. So I’ll just say sewing studio, I’m not sure that’s the right word either. Andrew: I’m going to adopt that word, we’re not going to call them factories anymore, we’re going to call them sewing studios. Michelle: Sorry? Vicki: What did you say Andrew? Andrew: We’re going to start calling them sewing studios as well actually, because factories sounds terrible. Vicki: Yeah, it does. Factory sounds really cold. I mean, even the sewing studios that I have visited of my own in China, they’re not like that at all, they’re just like women… Andrew: And men, there’s some men there. Vicki: Yeah, there were, there were. Not working as hard as the women. Andrew: Do you know what percentage of Germans use cloth nappies over there? Do you know that? Michelle: I don’t think there’s been any studies done, but we estimate around 5 to 10%. Andrew: Wow, and are all your friends using cloth nappies, or you haven’t been able to convert everybody? Michelle: I don’t actually try to convert people. It’s kind of a thing, people have to convert themselves. They have to reason amongst themselves and it has to make sense to them. I don’t go around trying to convert people, because people will see me, people know what I do and if we’re with friends and they see the cute nappies, if they start asking questions, you can kind of tell if it’s going to go anywhere. Generally if they’re interested or if they’re not. And sure, when we’ve had friends, when we’ve been visiting friends and they’ve seen our kids and they’ve been asking all the questions, and I whip out all my nappies and I give the full presentation of how it works and do all that. But I would say it wouldn’t be half of the people I know with babies, I mean personal friends. Andrew: I was going to say, you mean half with babies and half without. Michelle: Yeah, it’s hard, I have a shop now so I know so many people know in my city who use the nappies, but before, I guess before I found the cloth nappies, I knew no one with them. Vicki: It’s almost like using cloth nappies take you to your tribe as well. Do you find that? That the people that are into the natural parenting and the cloth nappies and wanting the natural fibres, the people that you naturally kind of what’s the word… Vashti: Gravitate. Vicki: Yeah, gravitate, thank you, gravitate towards? Michelle: Absolutely. You kind of have that in common and you also tend to be breastfeeding and baby wearing and yeah, moving in these types of circles. So if you have one of these things in common. I mean, for me it was very interesting, we did Stoffwindel is the word for cloth nappy in Deutsch, Stoffwindel, and the short form is Stoffy, that’s where we get the Stoffy from. So we would do Stoffytreffs which are like get togethers and it was really interesting, if you have a group of like 20 parents, who use cloth nappies then most of them breastfeed and do baby wearing and kind of have these similar topics in common. Vashti: It’s interesting, I’ve always loved it, having a shop myself, that I’ve actually made some amazing friendships out of the shop as well, customers who you get talking to, and you end up, you’re in the same circles on Facebook groups and nappy and baby wearing meet ups and stuff like that, and you actually become really, really great friends with them. Have you found that over there too? Michelle: I think it’s a little bit of a tricky question because they’re my customers. I don’t know, what’s interesting that we, I would say definitely with our customers we really get to know them because they keep coming back because of the cloth nappies, then they tend to buy a baby carrier as well, and then they come back in the winter and get their wool clothing. So we get to know our customers really well, and I think that’s what differentiates our type of business compared to a generic base. We know our customers by a first name, we know their kids and we’re friends on Facebook. We tend to be in the same, different Facebook groups, and tend to like the same groups and topics. So I feel like we really get to know our customers and really appreciate them, and that was one of the reasons why we did these get togethers, just to spend more time and it not being I’m trying to sell you something, or you’re not here to buy something. Just let’s get together as parents, have a snack, let our kids play together and just chat about things that we have in common, talk about parenting and different challenges like that… Vicki: Sans judgement. Michelle: …became our employee and works in our shop. And I’d say she knows everyone, so it is like that. Vashti: Well all of my staff are ex-customers. Every one of my staff has been a customer of the shop, and that’s how they’ve ended up getting the job, because I’ve gotten to know them from being a customer, and they’ve just been that sort of person that I know will fit perfectly with the shop. Vicki: I think it takes a certain type of personality too, it’s a passion. It’s not just a job. As they say, do something you love and it’s not really a job. I think cloth nappies tends to be, and the natural parenting. We’re finding certainly here in Australia, as you said, we’re a couple of years, or some of the English speaking nations are a couple of years ahead. We’re very much going mainstream and we’re finding its moving a lot away from the breast feeding, babywearing/co sleeping parenting. We’re actually moving a lot more into the mainstream, where people are doing not so natural parenting, I don’t want to sound judgy, I don’t want to sound judgy. Vashti: No, it’s natural for them. Instead of, I know when I started in the industry a long time ago, a lot of our customers were breastfeeding, co sleeping, baby wearing. Vicki: It was all, all. Vashti: Now we’ve got a really mix of, we have control crying parents, we have formula feeding parents, we have pram parents, we’ve got adoptive parents, we’ve got surrogate parents, we’ve got everything these days, it’s not just the crunchy parents that we used to have. Vicki: I look at my staff and I think I could not possibly have a bigger range of diversity within my staff, and there’s only five of us, if I tried. We’re talking from somebody who does routine from the get go through to someone who co sleeps and breastfeeds right through until three and four and stuff like that, and everything in between. Over the year we’ve certainly adjusted expectations here, and I’ve become non-judgy. If I keep my kids alive, at the end of the day, after three kids. So have you started to see that change in Germany, or is it still very much the crunchy/natural parenting? Michelle: Well it’s the natural parents is the main customer base, but of course it is our goal to widen that, and I think with social media it really helps to break down some of those barriers, so we try to work with YouTubers in the past. So we’ve had a couple of very high profile YouTuber Mamas who have tested our products and they’ve talked about them in their videos, and we saw a really big increase in that, just because oh, these normal parents and they’re talking about cloth nappies, and they say it’s really cool and practical, maybe I’ll consider it. So I think working with influencers is an important part of that, and we need to probably do a bit more to attract more of the mainstream customers. Vicki: And has that changed any with COVID? We certainly found there was a massive drop in the availability of single use nappies, and we, I mean we personally doubled in March, doubled our sales, which was ridiculous for us to have that sort of a sales gain. Did you find the same sort of thing, because obviously COVID has hit much, much, much harder in Europe than it did here. Have you found there’s been a big pick up in cloth nappy use? Michelle: Yes, absolutely. March was the best sales we’ve ever had, now eight years of business. So we were blown away by that, we were working hard throughout that time. So yeah, I went to a store in Germany and the nappy aisle, which is usually pretty full and pretty long had a lot of gaps in it, and I’ve never seen it with gaps in it. Normally if something runs out of stock, the same day it’s restocked, and there was large gaps in that, and that was the moment when I thought, things are changing here. And the toilet paper aisle just behind was completely sold out. Vicki: So you had the Great Toilet Paper Shortage of 2020 as well over there? Michelle: It reached our little city as well, yeah. So that was a real breakthrough moment. I was like OK, it’s coming here as well. So I think a lot of people who were maybe pregnant and weren’t planning to buy until a few months later, or people who had been considering it, were sitting on the fence, I think that was the push it gave people. Oh, if we’re going to do it, we should do it now. I think that really encouraged people to seriously think about it, and also people who maybe had dismissed it in the past, cloth nappies, who wants to bother with that, they were like hm, my friend, she’s not worried about nappies. In the Facebook groups in Trier, people were writing, where can I get nappies in Size 2 from Pampers, whatever brand, Baby Love brand, where can I buy Size 2 nappies? I went to the supermarket and I could only find newborn and for three year olds. So there was a shortage in nappies for between six months and two year olds, and people were driving to three different supermarkets, and of course they were going crazy and saying where can I buy them? Where can I buy them? And a cloth nappy mum would be like, oh, I’m not worried, I’ve got my cloth nappies at home, you should consider this. Vashti: Yeah, we definitely saw that here. Michelle: It’s been really interesting for us. Vashti: I saw a huge uptake. Customers that aren’t due until September or October were buying in March and April. These are people that I normally wouldn’t see until July or August. Vicki: But you were also telling them, get them now as well, which is something that, we had this discussion… Vashti: I did a couple of times. I said, it actually got to the point where I had to say, I honestly can’t guarantee you anything, because we did experience a few shortages with freight and stuff like that, and I just couldn’t guarantee that they would be able to get stock if they came back three or four weeks later. Vicki: Which is so anti you, because we’re so on the same page with that. Anti-consumerism and all of that sort of stuff. It’s like, buy what you need. I must admit, one of my pet hates is seeing, and I know I’m going to have a heap of my customers listening to this, but I need that print, and I cringe when I see that. Because I’m just so anti-consumerism. The older I get… mind you, don’t ask me about linen. Don’t ask me about my linen cupboard. There’s very much that whole, I need to have the latest print. But there was a massive shortage there in March and April. I think some of the brands here in Australia are still struggling with some of their stock. Vashti: We’ve got a couple of brands still that are just starting to get on top of it in the last couple of weeks. Andrew: So… Vashti: Hi Andrew, over there. Andrew: Well you’ve got to be a metre and a half away from me, I think. Vashti: Sorry, I took over his post. Michelle: I’ve always been about avoiding consumerism and of course that’s also how we feel as well, but I did find myself saying, and even making a video post and actually mentioning this. At this particular point in time, in April, we were like, we just don’t know. We have bamboo fabric that comes from China, there could be delays on that. There’s PUL which comes mainly from Taiwan, regardless of where your company is based, or wherever the manufacturer is based, whether it’s America or Europe… Vicki: The fabrics are coming out of Asia. Michelle: It’s coming out of Asia. So one thing that we definitely saw was the increase in shipping costs from America. So we have a lot of brands from America, Blueberry, Smart Bottoms, Planet Wise, Versity etcetera, and they made a surcharge during the lockdown, just because there were fewer planes flying, fewer people working, that it would cost, I can’t remember how much it was, but per kilo, we had to pay an extra cost. So that is one very concrete way that we’ve been affected, that our American products are now more expensive. But of course with products like raw materials such as bamboo and PUL fabric coming out of Asia, I imagine that there will be more shortages in the next weeks and months. Vicki: Yeah, well we can’t, any air freight that we’re getting, because we’re pretty much solely made in China and Pakistan, and getting freight out of China is really hard. And in fact, we’ve got a lot of international customer ourselves, and we can get to the USA, we can get to Hong Kong and we can get to Singapore, but even getting anything to Europe, the only, and in fact we were sending something to The Nappy Lady, directly from our factory in China. And he said no, you won’t get it on a plane, it has to go via train and sea, is the only way you’re getting stuff into Europe, because it’s a huge population. Europe is huge. So yeah, we just can’t ship stuff out of China, or out of Australia to Europe. It’s really hard to get anything to you guys. So I can only imagine the shortages that you’d be facing would be even worse than here. Vashti: Well one of my American brands just flat out said they’re not shipping to Australia unless we organise the freight ourselves. Vicki: Because it’s only PPE stuff coming in at the moment for us. Is that the same for Germany? Is that they’re prioritising all of the PPE kind of medical equipment, and that’s causing the shortages? Michelle: I think there are just very few planes flying around the world in general. For example, more than a month ago I tried to send a package to New Zealand for my brother and his partner, who are expecting a baby. And I had a nice box of baby items including nappies in there that I wanted to send to them, and it basically came back the next day saying, New Zealand is not accepting any more packages. So I have a tab open on my computer and every day I click refresh. No, there’s nothing going between Germany and New Zealand. So New Zealand is only accepting envelopes right now. So that’s just a personal package, but there are some countries that we can not send into at all. Vicki: Because our New Zealand distributor, we’re sending with DHL quite easily and getting stuff. Vashti: I was just about to say, if you want, you can send it to me and I’ll send it on to them. Vicki: Yeah, if you can get it to Australia, we can get it to her. Or them. Vashti: I’m still sending stuff to New Zealand. Michelle: DHL won’t send it to Australia either. Vicki: The whole, Europe is actually the issue, that we’re finding is really difficult to get to. As I said, the USA, Hong Kong, Singapore, not a problem, back and forth. But Europe, it just seems… because there’s no planes. There’s no way to get it there. We can get stuff to the middle east, just can’t seem to get it past the middle east. Andrew: So let’s get off this travel guide. Eric is your husband, did I say that right? Vashti: Does he like using the cloth nappies, Michelle? Michelle: Yeah, he has no problem with it at all, and he’s also a very practical guy. So when I told him about them, he was just like, yeah, sure, let’s use that. Straight away. He was not one of these fathers that need to be convinced or that was sceptical. He was all for it from day one. Vicki: Does he have a favourite? Michelle: Yeah, so he also likes the cover and pre-fold system, and his favourite is the Blueberry Capri. Vashti: Oh, the Capri is gorgeous. I love that print. Vicki: That’s unusual, sorry, I’m not actually familiar with that style. Is that like a regular pre-fold and cover? Vashti: Yep. Vicki: So that’s actually unusual that a man, I know this is stereotyping, that a man would actually lean towards a pre-fold and cover system when there’s I suppose essentially easier systems. I’m looking at my husband who would use an all in two. Vashti: No, with Kylan, Brent’s favourite nappy was a pre-fold and cover. Vicki: Wow, so I’m just looking at my husband here, the odd one out here. Vashti: Well it’s really no different from an all in two. Except it doesn’t, the insert doesn’t click in, it just lays in. Vicki: I suppose if you’re laying it, how many of those did I do? That’s always on a newborn baby, where you’re angel winging or jelly rolling it. Vashti: But once you’re past the newborn stage, you just lay it in, it’s easy. Vicki: Cool, there you go. Vashti: So how do you go with drying over there, when it’s so cold Michelle? Do you use clothes driers, or do you use airers? How do you get everything dry? Michelle: Well a great advantage of German houses, they all have double glazed windows and radiators. So German houses are really toasty in winter. Andrew: Vicki wants to live in a German house. Michelle: Not many people use a drier, a lot of people don’t want to use a drier because more for the ecological reasons, the financial is kind of secondary. We never had a drier, even when we had two kids in nappies at the same time. We just had these multi layer washing stands. Yeah. Vicki: Kind of like a Chinese laundry system. In front of the radiators. Michelle: Yeah, the radiators keep the houses nice and warm, and most people try to avoid using a drier. I think it’s very different compared to the Americans. I know in America, everyone would use a drier, and they have massive driers. But here, most people are very satisfied with a washing stand that they put next to a heater. Vicki: So does that mean that you recommend, of course because you’ve got a longer... I’m making a massive assumption that it takes longer to dry, because people are after the natural fibres. Do you generally recommend a bigger stash then? For newborns? We would say 24 to 30. Michelle: We say the same as well. We would say for newborn, 25 to 30, and for a one size system, then 20 to 25. And then we would just say, because the most popular system is the pre-folds, just say hey, if you need, if you’re not getting enough in your washing routine, don’t have enough in reserve, just buy five or ten more pre-folds. They cost four euros each. It works out. Vicki: Quite inexpensive. It’s that two part system, isn’t it. Michelle: The all in ones would be significantly more, but most people just use the pre-folds. No worries, just buy a few more. Vicki: Whereas we find a lot, all in two is hands down the most popular here. I know that we sell them separately and people will buy five shells and a dozen inserts and then they’ll come back and buy another seven. Probably because drying time isn’t such an issue. Do you find that too, Vashti? Pretty much an all in two is used as an all in one, rather than the two part system that it can be. It’s kind of a selling feature, but nobody really uses it like that here. Vashti: Well they dry so quick, especially here in Brisbane. Vicki: There is that. Andrew: Nice, well I think we’ll stop there Michelle. Do you want to give a quick shout out to your website again, for all those people who listen to us in Germany? Michelle: Yeah, so my website is called StoffyWelt.de. Vicki: That’s alright, you can talk in German, because I love it. I love hearing the accent part of it too. We’ve got some German friends who have just gone back and you know, I loved hearing them saying things like happy birthday in German, it’s wonderful, it’s a lovely language. Michelle: I can do a German shout out. Vicki: Yeah, do a German shout, absolutely. Yeah, yeah, 100% Andrew: Poor translation lady. Vicki: Sorry, Kristy. Michelle: Yeah, so how do I say this? Alles du in Deutschland, kanst du an der website stoffewelt.de schauen, und das ist die alles und der Stoffy systeme und [indistinct – German] oder mail schreiben [indistinct] Andrew: Wow, that’s cool. Vicki: I love that. Vashti: That is so awesome, thank you. Vicki: That’s actually made my night. I really like that. That’s actually the one thing I miss about when I went to Europe, because that was my first trip to Europe last year, and it was just listening to all the different languages and it’s just so, I don’t know, it’s so boring here in Australia because everyone speaks English. You know. Michelle: I know when I moved to Germany it was like, everybody speaks at least two languages, and then you just feel like, in New Zealand we only speak English and we expect everybody else to speak English when we travel around the world, and if we don’t speak English we’re like, wow, they need to learn English. And it’s like, well no, people… Vicki: Yeah, and it’s such an arrogant thing, isn’t it? You know, you walk into a shop in Germany and say do you speak English? Like how arrogant is that. You’re in their country. Andrew: Thank you Michelle. Michelle: Thanks, very much. Andrew: Thank you Vashti. Vashti: Thanks, Michelle, thanks Andrew. Andrew: Thanks, Vicki. Vicki: Thanks, Michelle, and thanks Andrew. Andrew: Bye, everybody. Michelle: Good night, bye. [Music] Andrew: Bye everybody. Everybody: Bye. Andrew: Vicki Simpson is wife and 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. 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 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. If 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 am your host, Andrew Simpson. [Music] Vicki: It’s a lovely language. Yeah, do a German shout out, absolutely, yeah, yeah, 100%. Andrew: Poor translation lady. Vicki: Sorry, Kristy. Andrew: Wow, that’s cool. Vicki: I love that. Vashti: That is so awesome, thank you. Vicki: That’s actually made my night. I really like that. That’s actually the one thing I miss about when I went to Europe, because that was my first trip to Europe last year, and it was just listening to all the different languages and it’s just so, I don’t know, it’s so boring here in Australia because everyone speaks English. You know. But yeah. Yes. Yeah, and it’s such an arrogant thing, isn’t it? You know, you walk into a shop in Germany and say do you speak English? Like how arrogant is that. You’re in their country. Andrew: Thanks for that Michelle, that was fantastic. Vicki: That was awesome. Vashti: Yeah, loved it, thank you so much for coming on, I really appreciate ite. Andrew: She’s already hung up. Vicki: She’s gone. Andrew: She actually thought I was saying good bye to her, so she actually hung up, straight after the… Vashti: I can’t believe you farted. I cannot believe, not once, not twice, but three times. Three times that I know of. You’re a shocker. Vicki: [laughter] This is what happens when you’re deaf in one ear, you think that they’re silent. Vashti: And I’m like… Vicki: Do you know what, do you know what, honestly, I’ve been talking to my kids lately, who knew, but I actually said to them… Vashti: You actually speak to them? Vicki: I know, but I said to them, you know what? At my funeral, you have to say something along the lines of please don’t open that coffin because she’ll fart and kill somebody. She’ll kill someone else. It’s a big thing in our house, that’s why I have no hassle