Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Two Years of Bringing the Community Together

Polly, Liz, and Thomas
After celebrating its two-year anniversary last week, Green Baby Diaper service is expanding into the online world. That’s right, folks—Green Baby Diaper Service in Wilmington now has a blog. It’s a family business with a strong sense of community, so it only makes sense to use a virtual avenue like the Internet to share even more than ever.

Since opening on June 22, 2009, Green Baby Diaper Service has become more than just a place to get your diapers washed. It’s a boutique that sells diaper covers, cloth diapers, and handmade clothes, accessories, and baby shower gifts made by local moms. It’s also a place parents can go to commiserate about lack of sleep, get ideas for how to keep their energetic toddler entertained, or just get a hug after a long day with the kids. Liz and her mom, Polly, who man the shop—or “woman” it, as the case may be—always greet their customers with a smile and a welcoming attitude. They love to share, so don’t always plan on getting in and out in five minutes; plan on learning a little bit about their lives and sharing a little bit of yours. Green Baby is like a physical Facebook in the middle of Wilmington. It has brought people together and established its own little community of moms and parents in the area.

Thomas helping with the diapers
Liz and Polly never imagined the business would end up being just as much about the baby as about the diaper service when it began. It began as a way for Liz to share her enthusiasm for green living with the community of Wilmington. Liz used to nanny for three young children. Every time she put a disposable diaper in the garbage, she felt sick. When she was trying to get pregnant, she was researching as much as she could about everything having to do with kids. She heard some friends talking about cloth diapers, and a light went off in her head. She realized she wanted to cloth diaper her own baby when the time came, but realized Wilmington didn’t have a lot to offer when it came to cloth diapering.

She did her research, took some business classes, met with a small business counselor, and her first “baby”—Green Baby Diaper Service—was born. Two months prior to the grand opening. Liz also found out she was pregnant. As she puts it, “It was so much fun to walk alongside my friends/customers in the journey of motherhood. I have so much to learn, and I’m so thankful for everyone who has helped me along the way.”

That sense of gratitude permeates everything Green Baby Diaper Service does. Not only are Liz and Polly grateful for their customers’ business, they like to learn more—about their customers’ families, kids, parenting styles, and about how to grow and market their business. Most of the people they work with began as customers.

And Liz and Polly also can’t help but be generous. They truly want to help out whoever they can. Mothers of newborns come in and ask for advice on how to change a diaper; Liz is currently working on a fundraiser for a customer—now also a friend—whose baby is sick. 

The fact that the diaper service revolves around everything baby has caused the business to take on a life of its own. Being a mom and running a business at the same time is a constant challenge. But there’s something that happens when moms get together, especially if their babies are with them: they have an instant connection. When you’re dropping off your diapers at Green Baby Diaper Service, if another mom comes in with a question, it becomes a conversation. Polly says she feels like all of her customers are her own children. What other business in Wilmington do you walk into and feel like you’re home?

Liz, Thomas and Lily
This family business has become its own little family. Of course, there’s the “green” aspect—cloth diapers are environmentally friendly, and Liz eventually hopes that it will become the mainstream way to diaper your baby. But it also frees up moms to have more time to be with their babies and stress less about doing laundry. Liz’s son, Thomas, is now a toddler, and he comes to work with her every day. Polly is there six days a week, does the laundry, and packs all the bags with clean diapers that go out to customers. Polly and Liz also watch Lily, Liz's niece. The shop is set up with comfy chairs to hang out in or nurse in and an entertaining corner where children can play while their moms shop or get advice. 

Liz's brother, Josh, does the delivering. Liz says, “I really look forward to seeing my mom and son every day, taking Thomas to play with his friends, helping new moms, and the fact that we're doing something better for our planet...which ultimately benefits our children and their children.  It warms my heart to when people walk in and compliment us on what we're doing and how much they love the store and the fact that I'm able to work with my mom and baby and my beautiful niece. We have random people who don't have kids or theirs are all grown, that call just to say ‘thank you.’”

Thomas and Lily hanging out

I guess you could say that the business is now a toddler, too. During this new stage, Green Baby Diaper Service will be able to do more to bring the community together. On this blog, we’ll showcase other local green businesses, spotlight our consigners, and share ideas that can help bring parents together. We are grateful for everyone who has helped us along the way, and now it’s our turn to give more back to you.