revised Sept. 2015
Diapers can be expensive. Disposable diapers aren’t cheap and many families are turning to cloth diapers as the solution. When a family starts looking at the price of cloth diapers ($10-30 each) they question whether it’s really going to save them money. It is estimated that the average family can save up to $2,000 per baby by switching to cloth diapers. Cloth diapers can cost a family anywhere from $50, for the most modest and simplest stash of flats and covers, to upwards of $500 for a complete stash of 24 bumGenius 4.0 pocket diapers and accessories.
Almost every day in the Kelly’s Closet Cloth Diaper Support Group on Facebook we hear questions and comments about brands of diapers like Alva, Sunbaby, THX, and other less expensive cloth diapers that we don’t sell in our store. We wanted to take a few minutes to explain our thoughts and feelings on these diapers from our perspective as a cloth diaper retailer here in the US.
The US/Canada modern cloth diaper industry has been made up of parents who built brands around diaper patterns they created and sewed by hand. Brands like GroVia, bumGenius and Rumparooz (and many others) have been built from the ground up by hard working American families trying to support their families; many of these started in their garages, kitchens, or living rooms as WAHMs (work-at-home-moms). While they may appear to you and I to be big businesses now, they are all still small family owned and operated businesses. Many of these brands are still manufacturing their products here in the US. While some brands have decided to manufacture their diapers outside of the US (GroVia and Rumparooz for example) that does NOT mean that they are
“China Cheapies.” non-compliant diapers. (Note: We truly despise that term.) In fact, they may be one of the higher end brands of diapers. The US brands that choose to manufacture their products outside of the US do so to keep their costs down and to be able to offer you an affordable product. These brands still have to follow US rules and regulations in how they operate their business (taxes, compliance, etc). These are the brands that helped build the cloth diaper communities that we know and love today. You can view our selection of Made in the US and Canada cloth diapers.
bumGenius: Started by and still owned by Jennifer Labit with only $100 in her living room. Currently employs about 75 people in the US, not including the manufacturing facility. Moved most of their production to the US in 2011. Nearly all fabrics and components are sourced in the US. If the job task is safe, babies are allowed to join their moms at work. Location: St Louis, MO
Thirsties: Started by a WAHM and later sold to the Merrill family a few years back. Employs 10 people in the US; many of which are family and friends. 100% of manufacturing, processing and shipping is done in Colorado. 98% of their materials are also sourced in the US. Location: Colorado
Rockin’ Green Laundry Detergent: Started by Kim Webb in her kitchen back in 2009. Currently employs 10 people in the US. Everything is still manufactured and shipping out of Texas. Their shipping team partners with a non-profit organization that helps employ people with disabilities. Location: Texas
Blueberry: Started by Margarita and her husband. Blueberry currently employs 8 individuals in their Knoxville, TN sales and distribution office. Manufacturing takes place in Arkansas and Virginia. All materials are sourced in the US with the exception of birdseye cotton, hemp and microterry. Location: Tennessee
Moraki: Started by the owner, Charlie (a WAHM) in San Diego, CA. All manufacturing, processing and distribution is located in San Diego. All of their materials are sourced from US and US based companies. Location: California
Applecheeks: Owned and operated by Amy and Ilana in Montreal, Canada. Employs 15-20 individuals depending on the season. Many employees work from home with their children. All manufacturing, processing and distribution is located in Montreal; with a US distribution outside of Chicago. Almost all of their materials are sources in the US or Canada. Location: Montreal
Planet Wise and Best Bottom: The original designer of the first wet/dry bag! Nicki and her husband employ about 35 employees in the US. Planet Wise products are manufactured in Chicago, IL and Best Bottoms are manufactured in Wisconsin. Imagine Baby & My Swim Baby (also part of the Planet Wise family) are manufactured by a small family run facility in China which the owner has personally visited. All processing and shipping is conducted from their warehouse in New Glarus, WI. Planet Wise and Best Bottom products are almost all made of materials sourced in the US.
Bottombumpers: Owned by a WAHM, Stacy, in Southern Illinois. Employs 6 individuals in the US. All manufacturing, shipping and processing is done in Illinois. Has been in business for 9 years. Location: Illinois
Happy Heiny: Employs about 8 non-sewing ladies who work part-time from home plus a team of seamstresses in Indiana and California. Manufacturing is done in both Indiana and California, while orders are processed and shipped from their Evansville, IN office. All of their fabric is from US companies and about half of the materials is also loomed in the US. They obtain their PUL from the US also. Location: California and Indiana
Rumparooz: Julie Ekstrom started Rumparooz by sewing diapers in her living room for her newborn baby. They currently employ 11 employees in the US. Their headquarters are located in Golden, CO with manufacturing in Europe and China. Their manufacturer is opening offices in Australia later this year. All packaging and marketing materials are sourced locally in the US. Location: Colorado and Worldwide
GroVia: A committed group of family-oriented men and women in the US and elsewhere that work to bring sustainable products to families everywhere. Founder, Kim Ormsby started The Natural Baby Company and GroVia in Montana and continues to grow their business. Many of their products are certified organically grown cotton (according to OE100 Standard). Products are made in China and the US. The entire Kiwi Pie line of fitteds and wool are made in the US. Location: Montana and Worldwide
- SoftBums: Started in Minnesota by Sarah who used to sew all the diapers herself until the business grew to large for her to continue the production herself. Now all shells and made in the US, as well as most of the Bamboo pods. DryTouch Pods are made in China by a very reputable company that she has personally visited and worked with for over 7 years. SoftBums currently employs 7 people in the US and holds a patent for their design. Location: Minnesota
- This list is not all inclusive and there are several other great brands of diapers that are not mentioned here. Since the time we posted this original information, we have removed a few brands that could not provide us with current CPSIA compliance documentation.
There has been a trend in China (and other foreign countries) to “knock-off” patents and prints of products. This doesn’t only happen in the diaper industry, it happens everywhere we look; from baby carriers, baby leggings, tennis shoes to clothing. Since the cloth diaper industry is still run by many small family businesses these “knock-offs” hurt the industry and the reputable businesses who started it.
Sometimes it can be hard to tell if a diaper is a “knock-off” or a legitimate brand. We at Kelly’s Closet do our best to ensure that we bring you the most dependable and quality products that do not steal patents/prints/designs from the brands that built this industry and that meet all CPSIA safety requirements. We can lose our wholesale agreement with the brands that we sell if we are found to be selling products that infringe upon their patents and copyrights.
These “knock-off” brands have also been disguised by American families trying to sell their own “brand” of cloth diapers. These “re-branded” diapers are merely Alva brand (or some other “knock-off” brand) that has been relabeled with their own brand name. Many of these are sold at much higher prices and maybe even more than the name brands. Another trend is families creating “Menu Diapers” by ordering the features they like from these “knock-off” manufacturers. A menu diaper is one that may look different, have different features, different prints, etc but they are still not an original design. These diapers may be harder to spot and the ethics behind these menu diapers becomes more grey. Most of these diapers are manufactured overseas (mostly in China) and may not meet all safety requirements that we expect for safe baby products (CPSIA for example). You can find many of these brands on Ebay, Amazon, Zulily, Babysteals and through their own online stores.
“Knock-off” diaper stores are also hiding as “legitimate” cloth diaper retailers.
For example, we own the domain name “www.diapershops.com” and have for many years. There has been a new retailer that many of our customers have been seeing pop up in their web advertising. www.shopdiaper.com We are NOT associated with this site in ANY WAY and they have stolen copyrighted material from our site (Cloth Diapering 101) and are using it as their own. They are even advertising on Google/Bing/Yahoo with our brand name, Kelly’s Closet. Please know that we are addressing this issue legally but since they are a company based outside of the US there isn’t a lot that we can do. They are only selling these “knock-off” brands and we urge you to not support their business in any way.
We are a small family owned business of 5-6 employees. When you purchase these “knock-offs” you not only hurt the manufacturers who created the modern cloth diaper industry but you also hurt small retailers like ourselves. We do appreciate that not everyone shares our concerns and that every family has different financial restrictions. We urge you to give us (and other small family retailers) a chance to help you find a diaper style/brand that fits your budget. With our cloth diaper coupon codes, free shipping, and Diaper Dollar rewards points we can assure you that we can find a diaper for every family. If you need additional assistance with low cost diapering options just ask. We’ve been in business for over 12 years and would love to continue to be the web’s premier cloth diaper retailer for many more years to come. Read more about Kelly’s Closet and our story.
Quality Control and Safety Concerns: These “knock-off” brands do not have to comply with US Child Safety Regulations (CPSIA specifically). These regulations are put into place in the US to ensure that products are safe to use on your child. They ensure that the products do not contain lead or other toxins. If you are in doubt, you have the right as a consumer to request CPSIA documentation from the brand. Please note that since quality control is not a big concern for these companies your diapers may not carry a warranty past 30-60 days. These “knock-off” diapers often delaminate or break much quicker than brand name diapers. For the money you would spend to replace these diapers every few months, you’d be making a better investment to purchase a brand name that comes with a longer warranty and quality control standards. Please note that the CPSIA is part of the US Federal Government and they do not have the resources to verify all of the children’s products on the market today. There are brands available for sale within the US that do not meet the CPSIA requirements. This can add to the complexity of the issue for consumers.
We find that many new families who get started using cloth diapers with these “knock-off” brands tend to get frustrated when they have problems and can’t get support from the brands; some even giving up on using cloth diapers because of their experiences.
We don’t tell you this information to “shame” any family for their purchases. We know that many families do not understand how these “knock-offs” hurt the industry. We know that many families see the $5-10 diapers as very attractive; especially if you have any budget constraints. We understand that family and friends may purchase these “knock-offs” without knowing the harm as well. Please do not feel bad about owning or purchasing these “knock-offs.” Again, we know that conversations like this tend to make people very passionate and our intent is not to “shame” anyone. We know that your purchasing decisions are your own; and not ours.
When we’ve addressed this topic in the past we’ve heard some very compelling comments from our customers and fans. We’d like to reply to just a few of those…
“But I can’t afford a $20 diaper.” We have diapering options for as little as $50 for a complete stash of diapers if you’re willing to try a different style of diaper. We know that pocket diapers are the most popular style but they are not the cheapest option. The least expensive pocket diaper that we currently sell is the Imagine brand (cost $12.95). Using flats, prefolds and covers can be done easily and on a very moderate budget. If you are really on a tight budget or facing some financial challenges there are diaper banks and organizations out there to help. Tell us what your budget is and we’ll be happy to offer our suggestions. We also have tips for How to Cloth Diaper When You Can’t Afford Diapers.
“I like their cute prints and patterns.” Many of the knock-off brands are able to use unlicensed prints because they are stealing these prints without having to pay the licensing fees associated with them. This is one reason why the big name diaper brands create their own unique prints. Paying to license your favorite cartoon character print for a diaper can be very expensive. Smaller work-at-home moms may not have to meet the same licensing requirements as the big brands due to the quantity of diapers that they produce. These knock-off brands have even been known to steal the original work from brand name cloth diaper companies like bumGenius and try to sell them as an original.
“I didn’t know it was a knock-off. I feel bad every time I look at that diaper.” Please don’t feel bad about owning and using any diaper or brand. In the end, it is still a functioning diaper and should work just fine to catch pee and poop. It may even be one of your favorite diapers. Our hope is that we can help educate families so they don’t have to face difficult situations like this in the future.
“It was a baby shower gift.” Again, please don’t feel bad about owning and using any diaper or brand. In the end, it is still a functioning diaper and should work just fine to catch pee and poop. It may even be one of your favorite diapers. Our hope is that we can help educate families so they don’t have to face difficult situations like this in the future.
Support, Customer Service, Product Care, and Troubleshooting. This is where we really come into the story. We are a virtual e-commerce retailer and provide customer service and support to anyone on the internet who asks us a question. We know that the products may have been purchased from someplace else but we are still willing to provide our support to ensure that your cloth diapering experience is a successful one. Please know that we may not have all the answers since we are not familiar with the product care suggestions of the specific brand. Our tips and suggestions generally work for all brands but each manufacturer has their own recommendations for how to care for their products. Please know that we will always provide support to our customers first but we are happy to help any cloth diapering family.