Welcome to our inaugural Brand Spotlight post! We couldn’t be more pleased to work with Kathy and Tricia, the two Canadian moms behind Funky Fluff Cloth Diapers. They were kind enough to entertain us and answer all of our questions about running a successful business, being CEO moms and creating an internationally recognized brand. Here’s what they had to say!
TCB: Tell us a bit about yourselves.
FF:We are both from Toronto area in Ontario, Canada and have lived here for a number of years. Both of us got married and started our families in the city. Kathy and her husband Joe have two awesome boys who are 4 and 7 years old. Kathy’s older son, Dexter, is a proud micro preemie who was born at 26 weeks and is her little fighter. Tricia has a wonderful hubby, Joel, who also does all the web support work for Funky Fluff. She has two boys who are 7 and 4 years old and a little girl who is 18 months. She has her hands full! Both of us spent over 10 years in the corporate world before starting our own business. Tricia’s background is in graphic design and Kathy’s in human resources management. We have been very close friends for a long time. We got married the same year, and had our first two kids almost at the same time. The only exception is Tricia’s little girl who arrived in 2013. We even worked for the same company at one point before starting Funky Fluff. We also share babysitting responsibilities, as our little boys aren’t in school yet, so our boys are growing up together which is really sweet. We were friends long before starting Funky Fluff.
TCB: So how did you meet and subsequently end up going into business together?
FF: Our husbands have known each other since they were 4 years old and we met when we started dating them back in 2001. The rest is history! We were friends for 10 years before our funky adventure began. Funky Fluff was conceived in 2011 when we were both on maternity leave with our 2nd boys. We both used cloth diapers and had an idea for a new product. We believed that our idea would help simplify cloth diapering for many parents which was the struggle we were having. We designed a product that solved our difficulties and wanted to share it with other parents. We dove right in and learned as we went. We are still learning every day.
TCB: How did you come up with the idea of Funky Fluff? How did the unique design of your diaper evolve, and do you still have the original prototypes?
FF: We both used cloth diapers and tried every brand out there. We felt that we could give cloth diapering parents something different and very functional. We wanted to make cloth diapering simple. There are many systems and many brands on the market. We wanted to simplify choices and give parents an opportunity to try a few diapering systems in one product before having to commit to one solution which they may or may not like. We both experienced the confusion and feeling of being overwhelmed ourselves when we first started cloth diapering. We do have the prototypes and even the first sketches! We joke that we will frame Kathy’s drawings (she is not very artistic).
TCB: We absolutely love your diapers! For those who may not have experienced Funky Fluff yet, can you tell them what sets your diapers apart?
FF: The biggest draw to our products is their flexibility. Funky Fluff can be set up and used as a Pocket style diaper, All in Two diaper or All in One diaper. It is perfect for new parents as they can experience different cloth diapering systems in one diaper and for CD veterans to use as they please. Funky Fluff can adjust to any situation. Moms at home could be perfectly fine using Funky Fluff as an All in Two system but may want to set it up Pocket Style or AIO style for babysitters or daycares to make it simple for them to use. In addition to its flexibility, we offer custom prints and funky snap colour combinations on our solid diapers. Funky Fluff is a one size diaper that fits approximately 7-35 pounds and offers the softest stretchiest fabric we can find for little bottoms.
TCB: Let’s acknowledge the elephant in the room. There is a stigma in the cloth diaper world where internationally manufactured diapers are referred to as “China Cheapies”. What can you say about the fact that Funky Fluff production takes place in China, and how do you ensure that production continues to meet your high quality standards? Have there been challenges in dealing with employees in a different country with different culture and labour standards?
FF: It’s not an elephant in the room at all. We are very open about our manufacturing practices and proud of how our products are made. Information about how we manufacture our products is clearly laid out on our site. Let me start by clarifying that not all diapers made overseas are referred to as China Cheapies. This is a term used for specific types of diapers and accessories that have a certain look, use certain prints and have low price points. There are quite a few very reputable and respected companies who manufacture cloth diapers outside of North America whether in China, South America, Mexico or otherwise. We are very transparent about our manufacturing processes. All Funky Fluff products are manufactured in China by our trusted partner. We considered a number of candidates from various countries, but ultimately selected our chosen partner based on the experience and expertise in the industry, regulatory compliance, quality of materials/review of suppliers and cost. Something we paid particular attention to in overseas manufacturers was working conditions and fair treatment of employees who would make our products. It was also important that we had full access to every step of the production process as well as open communication where we could call, video conference or access them at any point. We are proud to say that our partner has many years of experience and gives us an option of suppliers who offer high quality materials. Our products are made by individuals who are paid fair wages (significantly exceeding the minimum wage requirement in China), work in a safe and comfortable environment and have an opportunity to take plenty of vacation time to ensure that they are happy and satisfied in their work. Our sewing partner meets and exceeds all of our requirements and we consider them to be a very well managed company. We are involved in every step of the production process and have been since the beginning. We worked on the production aspect with our manufacturer for over a year before we officially launched our products in 2012 to ensure our quality standards were met. We approve and select fabric suppliers, provide input on sewing techniques and methods used in production and approve the product once production is complete. We work with a dedicated team, including a Production Manager and Quality Control Manager who are our eyes and ears on the production floor. We also take an extra step when our products arrive in Canada and perform a careful quality check on every single product before it is released to a customer. There is a lot of information out there regarding overseas manufacturers not being compliant with Canadian and US regulations and companies selling products in these countries without adhering to regulatory compliance. The regulatory world, as it relates to cloth diapers, is very strict as they are baby/children’s products. There are different regulations in Canada and the US that companies must adhere to, especially as it relates to product flammability. No matter whether it is a Canadian-made diaper or a diaper made overseas, the end product must be tested to prove that it is compliant with required regulations. Funky Fluff products are tested for lead and phthalate content as per the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), as well as the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act (CCPSA). Although most of the materials we use are exempt from phthalate testing requirements, we went ahead with the testing to ensure our customers can feel confident in our products. We also ensure that our products are compliant with Textile Flammability Regulations in Canada as well as Wearing Apparel Flammability in the U.S. Many companies only adhere to the U.S. flammability requirements, which are not as stringent as Canadian requirements. Funky Fluff products are tested according to both countries’ regulations. In addition to everything above, we put our products through physical and mechanical tests according to the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations. We feel confident in telling our customers that Funky Fluff diapers comply with all the regulations and standards identified in applicable Canadian and U.S. regulations and are safe to use and sell in Canada and U.S. We also provide a Children’s Product Certificate which can be found on our site http://www.funkyfluff.ca/faqs/#manufacturing
TCB: Like any job, we are sure that there are components of your “work” that you love and others that you don’t. What are your favorite and least favorite things about working for yourselves?
FF: The biggest challenge is that we work from the moment we wake up until we go to bed. Work never ends; we don’t come in at 9am and leave the office at 5pm. Whether its morning, night, weekend or weekday, we are always working. The best thing about working for ourselves is that we are able to be there more for our kids. Although work doesn’t end, it is much more flexible. We can pick up our kids at school, go on field trips and to appointments, and make our schedules work for our families. We also get to do what we absolutely love. The cloth diapering community and the mompreneur community is incredible and it is wonderful to work among such talented, supportive people, most of whom are women. Our customers also make it easy for us to love every single minute of what we do.
TCB: How is the workload of running Funky Fluff divided? Are there ever disagreements between you both?
FF: We most definitely have our strengths in running Funky Fluff. Tricia has a creative flair and Kathy is strong in operations. However, there are only two of us and even though some things are done specifically by one of us, most things are done by us both. We determine what needs to be accomplished every day and how to divide the work to ensure priority tasks are done. You will see us both answering customer emails, participate in the Funky Fluff chat group, sending out customer orders. Funky Fluff is a small business, so we wear many hats. We have lots of discussions about everything that affect the business and we always talk things out and come to an agreement. We own the company together and we ensure that both of us agree on any decisions affecting the business. We love working together!
TCB: You have created a network of individuals to help promote the Funky Fluff brand. Can you tell us about some of the other faces of Funky Fluff?
FF: Lindsay – our talented Social Media Manager also known as Maman Loup’s Den. Lindsay has been working with us for over a year now and we absolutely adore her! You will see Lindsay in all Funky Fluff brand groups and all social media outlets (Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook). Lindsay is witty, funny and super smart! She also has a special talent of coming up with the best names for cloth diapers ever! Olivia – this special lady has been an incredible addition to our little team. She is helping us out as a Social Media Manager while Lindsay takes some time off with her soon to be little miss cub. You may also recognize Olivia from My West Coast Mommy, a Canadian blog focused on parenting topics and of course cloth diapers! We’re really enjoying working with Olivia and look forward to exciting new things we’re brewing up together in the next little while. Lorraine and Tiffany – these ladies are our super duper diaper inspectors, otherwise known as the Funky Fluff Quality Control team. Their hands touch every single diaper, wet bag, pail liner and every other Funky Fluff product. You can read more about them here; http://www.funkyfluff.ca/blog/meet-funky-fluffs-quality-control-team/ Our wonderful Ambassadors! We can’t say enough about how much we love and adore each one of these ladies. They help us with product launches, give us ideas and feedback on new products and are true Funky Fluff advocates. You can read more about our Ambassadors here: http://www.funkyfluff.ca/blog/meet-our-newest-funky-fluff-ambassadors-giveaway/ and http://www.funkyfluff.ca/blog/meet-funky-fluffs-official-ambassadors/ Joliane – This special gal is a fairly new addition to the Funky Fluff team. Joliane looks after our newer wholesale accounts in Canada. She is originally from Montreal, Quebec and has a beautiful little #funkyfluffian girl. Joliane is a passionate vegan and loves sharing her recipes on her newly started blog Wool Socks & Blueberries.
TCB: With everything that you do, we noticed that you continue to give back. Can you tell us about some of the charitable organizations that you work with?
FF: We try to give back to our community as much as we can. We regularly donate product to various cloth diaper charities across Canada and US. It feels amazing to know that we can help families get started in cloth who otherwise couldn’t afford it. We also try to come up with campaigns at least once every year to help raise awareness about Cloth for a Cause. This year we had the Spread the love campaign, last year we did a series of blogs with partial proceeds from sales going to CFAC. We donate to auctions and try to be involved as much as we can. Our recently launched Esperanza diaper was designed to support cancer patients and their families. We donated 50% of proceeds from all sales of this limited edition diaper to the Canadian Cancer Society. We also offered this diaper at an incredible price to encourage support of this cause.
TCB: Well, it is obvious that you work well together and have created a brand with a HUGE following. How does it feel to have such passionate followers backing your product?
FF: We love the fact that we are not on this journey by ourselves! Having the support and love from all moms and dads who love our products feels amazing. It gives us encouragement to keep innovating and bringing them more to love.
TCB: Speaking of passionate followers, we asked the members of the Funky Fluff Fan Chat group on Facebook what they wanted to know. Of course the biggest question is “What’s next?”
FF: There are lots of exciting things on the horizon for Funky Fluff this year. But you will have to stay tuned to find out what they are! This summer will be very exciting😉
We can’t wait to see what Kathy and Tricia have up their sleeves! In the meantime, we are currently offering 15% off of all Funky Fluff Diapers at The Cloth Buttique. Click here to shop and use code FFSUMMER at checkout. Enjoy!