We all know the environmental and economic benefits of using real nappies, and more and more Mums are choosing real nappies (full or part time) for their children. In Devon, the Real Nappy Project provides free trial kits for Mums who want to give real nappies a go without committing to buying a kit that they might not end up using. I did the trial when my boys were born and was instantly drawn to EccoBots nappies, partly because they are really pretty and brightly coloured, but mainly because they are made locally. This is how Caroline started up EccoBots.
“I have always since childhood loved making and creating, always drawing designs of clothes that I would like to one day make, and when my first daughter Alesha, was small, I embarked on many courses, from dressmaking and sewing to crystal healing and colour therapy, which spanned several years. I was able to enjoy my time as a new mother, whilst gaining new knowledge and skills to help me progress in the direction I wanted to flow in the future. I practised as a Crystal Healer for several years and teaching Introductory workshops for the Institute of Crystal and Gem Therapists, and also began creating unique crystal pendants (which I still create to this day, as they are also a real passion of mine).
I enjoyed making an array of clothing for myself, and nothing felt more wonderful than wearing something that I had made, and receiving a compliment, it did and still does fill my heart with so much joy and gratitude.
When my second child, Eva, was born, she suffered with eczema and I found that cotton nappies rubbed and were not suitable for her sensitive skin….so a little research began into alternative fabrics. Bamboo was the most appealing for its sustainability and anti-bacterial properties…not to mention its beautiful softness.
I decided to make Eva some nappies, which was real fun, to see her in a nappy that I had created was the best buzz ever. I then got hooked…..and after friends trialing the nappies and receiving positive feedback, I set up EccoBots. I also became a volunteer with the Devon Real Nappy Project, run by Devon County Council, taking re-usable nappy kits to families in and around Exeter so that they were able to try a variety of cloth nappies before they buy (and my nappies were able to be in the kits). This was invaluable to me as my business began to establish itself, as I was able to gain even more feedback regarding my EccoBots nappies.
As the business began to grow I found I had less and less time to deliver kits and collect them, and Jen Harris of Exeter Babies, and Arabella Greatorex of The Natural Nursery, were also volunteering with the DRNP, taking around trial kits and holding numerous events, and Nappachinos in and around Exeter which they are amazing at…..if you are not familiar with the DRNP do check out their site, and also Jen and Arabella’s websites for information regarding events that they are holding (they both work very hard and are so very enthusiastic when it comes to cloth and all things re-usable and baby).
I am so grateful to the support of DRNP and both Jen and Arabella and the other nappy advisors in Devon who have supported my business and who still have EccoBots nappies and accesories in their trial kits. It has really helped with getting them out there to new mums and dads who maybe were not aware of a cloth nappy business based here in Devon 🙂
As EccoBots evolved into a small business, new ideas and creations were added, like the blankets and re-usable cleansing pads. Once Eva began school I was then able to really start to throw myself into my little business and make more items and play with my creativity.
I feel very blessed and inspired by both of my daughters. It is because of them that I have kept learning and evolving and enjoy being my own boss. I am able to work around them, whilst they are at school and then taking time out when their school holidays arrive. I still maintain a small amount of work whilst they are off, but I try to keep it to a minimum so that we are able to enjoy the holidays together having fun times.
I am able to juggle being a Mum and running my own business…….How?……I have wonderful support from my family and friends. My partner Rich is wonderful and helps out in many ways and is very supportive and positive. I also have hobbies, loving yoga and tai chi to relax and calm, and gardening……I love my garden and it provides so much food throughout the year for me and my family.
If things start to get stressy, I will take time out and go and spend time planting seeds, weeding, tinkering, and my hands in the Earth makes me feel so much more grounded and centred, or I take a walk along the beach or through the fields with our dog, Coco.
My advice to other mums……Keep working at your ideas….creativity seems to flow even more freely once our children are born, (read this post for more on that!) it ignites a special something and it allows us to get creative and who knows where it may lead 🙂 Don’t give up and when things get too much (which they do from time to time….this is EccoBots’ 5th year and I still have times where it all feels a little too full on), take some time out and allow yourself to breathe, this is a time for you to grow your little business and make it how you want it on your terms, so that it fits around you and your precious family.
I hope EccoBots continues to grow at a steady pace, helping to create less landfill and caring about our environment for our children and theirs. There is such a positive feeling each time a nappy is made….I still hold them up and smile at their cuteness. Every time I finish a nappy, a blanket, wrap, cleansing pads etc I can’t help but feel happy and proud…I love all of what I make so much and hope that this shines through into their fibres 🙂
Five years on, it keeps me busy and creativity continues to flow, I have recently started creating items of clothing for women and a few items for children, I love working with colours and some one off pieces, along with my very unique pendants (which I have been creating for over a decade), I love self-expression and enjoy people’s responses to all of my creations. Check out Caroline Quartz on Facebook and my Etsy shop.
So yes, I am super busy, but it for the most part flows really nicely, with support from loved ones, family and friends.”
You may also be interested to read Arabella’s recent guest post about using different techniques to get your products out there without needing to open a shop.