One of the big baulk factors of starting cloth is quite simply put, the upfront cost. What people don’t realise often enough is that you can start small and build your stash from there. But also there are a lot of things that go into that one small nappy. Let’s explore these more.
First and foremost. Hours upon hours of design, sourcing ethical manufacturers, receiving samples then sending them back and forth with adjustments. This all costs money for which is out of pocket before a product is even released.
QUALITY COSTS MONEY
You’re getting what you paid for. Cheap nappies mean cheap materials, generally underpaid workers and no thought or ethical standards to boot. What you see on eBay can be bought from sweatshop type setups for $1 a piece. How can a product for this much be paying their workers? Often the poor workmanship of these products is a testament to this. It costs for quality materials and to be working with manufacturers that are fair to their workers in their conduct.
A quality product will also generally come with a warranty as the business will be looking to maintain quality customers. So, when you see a nappy for $10, think about the overheads and what went into that $10. The truth is not much.
THE IMPORT PROCESS
When importing there are many factors involved. The business will face shipping costs, fluctuating currency exchange rates, taxes and insurance costs. These all add to the cost of the nappy to make. There is a 20% tax in Australia when bringing in imported goods for sale. Items like nappies could well be made in Australia, however, we do not have the manufacturing capabilities to do much sustainably without paying workers much less than what they can live on. Australia as an economy is not essentially capable of large-scale manufacturing in this regard for many everyday items. It is simply an illustration of an imbalance between wages and the cost of living. This isn’t the case in some other countries which a large portion of the economy is based on large-scale manufacturing. It is simply different.
Also sourcing materials costs. They may need to be brought in from overseas (if the nappy is made in Australia) which means the cost of your nappy goes up. Who really wants to pay $50 for a nappy?
OVERHEADS + COST OF BUSINESS
Overheads: websites, marketing, giveaways, labels, care cards, packaging. This all costs, on top of the nappy landing with you. Taking items to the post office, packing, it all takes time and money of which most work at home mums take no cut for themselves. And for all those lovely giveaways and marketing, you may see no sales. It’s a huge investment.
A lot of us in the nappy business are small scale. One mum working every free minute she gets, dragging the children along to post offices (at least in the beginning!) and a whole lot of work in making a quality product. It’s true for many of us in this industry. It’s worth it, but it’s also worth the consideration when one looks at the price of a nappy and wonders how we can charge so much. It’s always worth considering that even if the upfront cost is startling, it comes with so many benefits of which most of us are deeply passionate. Saving thousands of dollars per year, per child and thousands of nappies from a landfill. Not to mention you know exactly what’s going on your most precious treasures skin when you make the choice of cloth.
WHY DO WE DO IT?
Even one cloth nappy per day is 365 nappies out if landfill and the price of 365 disposables in your pocket. It takes one drop to start a waterfall, and every little bit helps.