Australia uses an estimated 3.75 million disposable nappies every day, making up a significant portion of household waste entering landfill. One alternative that has evolved rapidly in recent years and is now a sizeable market of its own, is cloth nappies. In this interview, Eunica Liu shares her experiences with starting her cloth nappy business and how she managed customer feedback along the way.
- How did you approach understanding the market and marketing opportunity for cloth nappies?
I was incredibly lucky in that there were Facebook groups and communities dedicated to cloth nappies. I spent six months lurking and absorbing as much knowledge as I could, identifying the key pain points for parents/carers using cloth and finding a way to solve them.
- At what point did you know it was a market opportunity worth pursuing?
I felt like our product addressed a gap in the market. It didn’t reinvent the wheel, but built on existing designs and made them better.
- How did you take the first steps in building the business from scratch?
Most women who start cloth nappy businesses do so because they have used cloth nappies and want to make their own. They also benefit from having little ones to test their initial designs and samples.
I didn’t have my own little bottom to trial nappies, but what I lacked in this area, I made up for by constantly seeking and responding to feedback, creating a VIP Group so that I could connect with my customers and ask for their thoughts. Our customers will take the time to give us feedback because they know we will address their concerns, however minor.
I was also able to dedicate 100% of my time to the business because I didn’t have to run after a little one or take breaks for feeding/bedtime routines. This meant that I was able to respond to emails at 1am, or within 10 minutes of receiving it, even on a Sunday. A lot of our very loyal customers became loyal because of this – and I know because they tell me that this was the clincher.
- How do you incorporate and balance the needs of being price-friendly, fashionable, and eco-friendly in the business model?
I have discovered that I am a pretty average person. So if I’m not ready to pay $X for a product – no matter how pretty and no matter how many bottles it saves from landfill – then it is unlikely someone else will. And no matter how amazing a product is, if there is no demand for it, it will sit unsold and eventually contribute to more landfill.
- What’s your advice to other budding entrepreneurs considering starting their own business?
There is no time like the present. If you chip away at it each day, you will find that you get a lot more done than you anticipate. If you go “I’ll do it when X happens”, you’ll find that other things will pop up to prevent you from doing it.
- What were your biggest challenges along the way?
Entitled customers. I’d like to think that my skin has gotten thicker over the years, but there are still days when an angry email from an unreasonable customer will throw my day out.
- How do you recommend other entrepreneurs approach these kinds of challenges?
Tally up the angry customer emails and look at it as a percentage of your customer base. As you grow, you will inevitably come across more varied types of people but it is helpful to remember that they are a small minority of your much larger customer base.
About the expert
I’m Eunica and I’m passionate about making a social and environmental difference! Monarch came about through my desire to create a self-sustaining avenue for real change. I wanted to create an easy-to-use cloth nappy system that is no harder than disposables, and help transition more families into cloth. We create stunning, exclusive prints to make sure everyone is on board. All this while donating at least 10% of profits to customer-nominated charities.
Image description: Eunica is standing in a field in a patterned blue dress and black cardigan.