Updated: May 31
Sheree Palmer, founder of Kiwi cloth nappy brand, Fluffy Ducks, talks nappy waste, pattern inspiration, poonamis and her global plans for the business.
If the idea of cloth nappies conjures up images of towelling squares loosely held by a large safety pin, think again. Modern versions have come a long way since our parents' bums were being dusted with baby powder. They are now available in an entire rainbow of colours and all sorts of materials, including cotton, bamboo, microfibre and hemp.
Growing concern over plastic waste, and a more pragmatic desire to save money, means increasing numbers of mums and dads are turning to reusable nappies.
"Nappy waste isn’t something you really think about unless you are surrounded by babies or have your own. But when you are confronted with the shear volume, you can’t hide from it," says Sheree Palmer, founder of Christchurch based reusable nappy brand, Fluffy Ducks.
"If every parent replaced just one disposable a day with a cloth nappy, it would save 1 million disposables going to landfill each week. I love how ‘eco friendly’ the world is becoming with lots of innovative products coming out."
Sheree says that while reusables are becoming increasingly popular, there are still a handful of misconceptions holding some mums and dads back.
"I think the main one is that it's harder than using disposable nappies - and messier. But the fact is that I have never had a blow out or poonami in cloth," she shares. "I also get asked about the washing, but we have these wonderful inventions here in the 21st century called washing machines! In reality, it's only an extra load to do. It's easy once you get into the routine of it and there’s something so satisfying about hanging out clean nappies."
"For anyone considering cloth nappies, I would say throw yourself into it whole-heartedly and give it a proper go. Part time is too hard as you never have enough for a sufficient wash load. Also, reach out and seek tips, don’t give up after one try – you won’t regret it."
Sheree founded Fluffy Ducks in 2019 when she couldn't find anything that quite lived up to expectations. The brands she tried either leaked, didn't fit well or were simply too bulky.
"As a mum of two, I had my own thoughts on what cloth nappies should be like, how they could look and how they should function. I wanted something quite different to what was on the market. I designed Fluffy Ducks nappies to be trim and to fit like undies, so there's no need to size up clothes. I also made sure the inserts are super thick - while still being very soft and malleable - so they hold as much liquid as possible. They're thirsty little buggers."
As anyone frequenting Instagram and parenting forums knows, cloth nappies have moved far beyond being purely about the environment and cost saving (though that's still a big part of it). It's now about the fashion and the designs as well! Some mums get extremely passionate about their collections, and new and limited edition patterns are always in hot demand.
"The addiction is real," laughs Sheree. "Honestly, they look so cute on, and they are so comfortable, why not show them off. All of the Fluffy Ducks patterns are popular but if I had to pick one, I’d say Sunflowers is up there as far as demand and collectability goes....maybe Sid Sloth next...My First Woodland Walks has been popular from the get-go as well."
"Ideas for prints usually come from an animal I like, an illustrator or when I walk around fabric shops and spy a pattern and think ‘that would look good on a bum’. I also love collaborating with my graphic designer to get her ideas. Sometimes, I will just give her a theme like ‘Kiwiana’ and she goes away and makes an incredible print like Kiwi Holiday."
Figures show that the reusable nappy industry is booming worldwide as more and more parents embrace cloth.
Sheree is excited to be playing her own part in the reusable nappy revolution, and is particularly proud that she can offer an option that is 100% New Zealand designed. Fluffy Ducks has attracted a loyal, fast-growing customer base since the business was founded last year. Expansion plans are in the pipelines, including taking Fluffy Ducks overseas in the very near future.
"We are launching in the UK soon, another collection is in the making and more awesome products are on the way," smiles Sheree. "I have worked really hard with our brand. I am a perfectionist and only ever provide products that I wholeheartedly believe in, and have tried and tested personally. I see Fluffy Ducks as a brand customers can rely on. Premium. Eco. Stylish. That is what will continue to guide us as we continue on this journey and help more mums and dads make the switch from disposable to cloth."
You can learn more about Fluffy Ducks here.