Other titles that were considered for this post:
Why it took us more than 2 years to design a cloth diaper?
Why our seamstress thought we were crazy?
Going through stacks of documents to find a long lost receipt for tax purposes I came across this drawing of one of our initial cloth diaper designs.
I hadn’t seen this drawing in more than two years; all soft copies were lost with Nader’s crashed hard drive.
This drawing in essence summarizes the entire philosophy behind Lil Helper Cloth Diapers. We make mistakes, we learn from them, we make different mistakes and we try to have a sense of humor while going through the ordeal.
Sophia, my wife, thinks Nader & I run this business as if we are running an uncontrolled science experiment. She doesn’t realize that there is method to the madness. Well, maybe not. The rest of this post will try and make sense of how we go about getting our cloth diapers to market.
Step1: Find a problem and research the crap out of it.
When we first decided to design a diaper we spent countless hours meticulously studying each and every top-selling cloth diaper in the market. We prepared a list of things we like and features that were missing.
Our biggest hope is to contribute positively in the lives of our end users. Our utmost concern is to harm no one. Whenever we deem something not worth pursuing, be it a cloth diaper design or a certain component of it, we lay it to rest.
Actually all bad ideas are blamed on each other and the lack of sleep, causing impaired judgment. The only casualty at this stage of the process is our battered ego. We’ve taken an oath of secrecy that the most ridiculous ideas cannot be shared with anyone.
Step 2: Getting it down on paper
We usually over-think and over-design all of our products. When we were designing our cloth diaper we made the mistake of doing it on SolidWorks, a software that is usually used for contriving complicated mechanical structures and devices. Our caffeine induced brains went on a nerdy trip and we put features on it most robots would not be able to make.
I kid you not, Nader wanted to have a sensor on our diapers that would ring an alarm after a certain amount of moisture saturation. I considered it for a passing moment before realizing we cannot even find a reliable supplier of Velcro. Nader doesn’t take rejection well, so I had to tell him that we can add this feature to a future design iteration.
Step 3: Making a physical sample
The next step is to get a few samples made from one our many seamstresses. This is also the point where women who are as old as our grandmothers usually mock us for our CAD generated drawings.
Most seamstresses shook their head when they looked at our designs, giving us a look of disgust mixed with a sprinkling of amazement. The puzzled expression on one seamstress’s face almost spelled out, ‘Why would you make such a detailed drawing of a cloth diaper? And how much time do you have on your hands?’
We had to go back and simplify the things that a sewing machine could not do and come back for another round of shaming.
One of the seamstresses jokingly said that she would think twice about flying in planes after finding out that both Nader and I, design flying machines at our daytime jobs.
We’ve quit designs and prototypes at this point of the process many times.
Apart from a bruised ego, we’ve also lost valuable time and money. So now you know why I drive a beat-up Hyundai Elantra.
Step 4: Cost of Materials?
Whenever a design passes our acid test and is realized into an actual product, we go ahead to procure materials that are safe, sustainable and readily available. We price it out and get our material cost.
We have detailed costs of everything. We had priced out things like the cost of elastic that would be used for the cloth diaper. For the curious, when the diaper was made in Canada, the elastic cost 11 cents.
Step 5: Get feedback
Then we go about finding moms who will use our cloth diapers. We like to get feedback on how the diapers fit and if they perform as well as we think they should. We also ask moms if they use it in a way we intend for them to be used.
We try and address the biggest and most persistent complaints by making changes to our design.
Step 6: Getting it manufactured
This process is not as simple as it sounds. Read our post about how we went about manufacturing our last batch of cloth diapers here.
Even after doing due diligence, we come across a bunch of problems that we compensate by providing excellent customer service to our patrons.
And all this, came to my mind because of the lone sheet of drawing that I found yesterday.
What do you think?
Please leave us a comment and tell us what you like or dislike about our process? Also tell us if you’d like us to share any aspect of our business that might currently be a mystery to you.