You've probably heard of Diaperkind and Esembly by now.
Full disclosure: I never set out to be an entrepreneur or a mother. Yet here I am. Proud co-founder of two companies, and loving co-parent to two wacky children.
A little over a decade ago, I was happily working as an art producer at an ad agency in Soho. After some health issues and a trekking trip in Patagonia, my husband and I decided we'd be parents of world travel and not children. Two months later I was sitting on the toilet holding a positive pregnancy test.
The birth of my daughter in 2009 changed me. While it was never in the plans to be a full-time, stay-at-home parent, I did want more time with her than my previous producer job allowed, and I wanted my time away from her to be spent doing work that made a difference in the world. I was deep in the throes of postpartum newborn adoration and exhaustion when I was offered the opportunity to help launch Diaperkind, a cloth diaper service for New York City. The timing couldn't have been worse (I was still wearing the mesh panties for goodness sake!), but being able to create a company that was serving families in my hometown and the environment was just too good to pass up.
Six months later I quit my ad job to work for the service full-time. At Diaperkind, parenting and all of its joys and challenges suddenly became more than just my personal journey—it was also now my job. I became acutely aware of the lack of sustainable options available to parents who wanted to do better by the environment without feeling like they had to make a huge personal sacrifice.
My partners and I learned everything there was to know about laundry science, diaper functionality and waste reduction. We were the proud owners of a successful community-based business —one that was not only helping local families, but keeping approximately 17,000 diapers out of landfills each week. But there was a problem, our growth and potential to have more impact was limited by the geographic boundaries of our delivery zone. I wanted to branch outside of New York and help families around the globe radically reduce diaper waste. And so the idea for our next venture was born.
Earlier this year, we launched Esembly, a sustainable diapering system, and I embraced the title of CEO. We took everything we learned from running the service and rolled it into a line of products that enabled families around the world to diaper less disposably with ease and confidence.
It was born of years of research, critical lessons learned from running our first business, and most importantly, the powerful and often unacknowledged skills of being a mother. So what does any reasonable person do when they are preparing to launch a second company? Get pregnant, of course! My son was born just in time to be an Esembly prototype tester.
I learned to sew while he nursed on my lap and my preschool-aged daughter traced her letters under the table.
I blended samples of zinc oxide rash cream in my KitchenAid while he napped.
I personally washed the diapers of over a dozen families each week in my tiny stack washer/dryer as we perfected our Washing Powder formula with our chemist.
It was hilarious madness, but it worked! We eventually developed a beautifully designed line of products spanning from organic diapers and skin care, to patent-pending detergent and upcycled storage bags. Each and every one of those 14 products was over-thought and over-tested and comes with the seal of approval of not only my little guy, but the hundreds of Diaperkind babies who tested alongside him.
Three months after Esembly's launch, the pandemic swept the world and suddenly parents needed access to diapers more than ever. Amazon orders were delayed due to supply chain issues and store shelves were emptied because of early COVID bulk buying. And I was forced to add a new title to my resume: first and fifth grade teacher to my children. The past six months have been a wild ride filled with lots laughing, crying, yelling, loving and most of all learning.
So many of us think, I'm just one person, how much impact do my choices really have? The answer is, a lot. Think of millions of individuals just like you making singular decisions, and what a huge impact we can have together.
Liz's hard work paid off. We're in love with Esembly's line of "over-thought and over-tested" products. Check them out in the Motherly Shop.
Available in a variety of adorable prints and colors, Esembly's Outer waterproof cover layers over a soft and thirsty Esembly Inner to make one blowout-proof diaper.
This hydrating, organic balm nurtures and protects delicate baby skin. A perfect daily diaper balm, it nourishes your baby's skin and is safe for cloth diapers. It's also a great "anywhere" balm—perfect for baby massage, relief of eczema and dry skin, on cradle cap, or as a nipple cream for nursing moms.
Esembly's organic foaming cleanser works with their reusable Wipe Ups to gently clean your baby's bottom during diaper changes. It can also be used at bath time as a hydrating body soap and is perfect for cleaning sticky toddler hands and messy faces.
Esembly's patent-pending Washing Powder is formulated by the diaper laundering experts at Diaperkind is a clean rinsing detergent specially formulated to be gentle on baby skin and powerful on cloth diapers. It's also great for washing baby clothes, athletic wear, towels, bedding and all other household laundry.
An Esembly Day Bag helps you keep your system organized when you're diapering on the go. Two waterproof, odor-containing compartments let you separate clean from dirty and a shoulder strap makes it easy to sling over a shoulder or a stroller.
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