The great diaper conundrumLocal business introduces cloth options to Iqaluit’s diaper scene
Northern News Services
Published Monday, December 9, 2013
An Iqaluit couple were inspired to take on a new business, while taking on life with a new baby, because of a lack of cloth diaper options in Iqaluit.
Angela Pepper, left, and her husband Brad Chambers, right, are the owners of Arctic Cotton. Their daughter Elise Chambers, centre, is wearing Bummis’ Celery Dot diaper cover.
Brad Chambers and Angela Pepper have opened Arctic Cotton to give Iqaluit access to cloth diapers and other baby products at prices comparable to the south.
Chambers explained the cost savings come from the fact that the business is run from home, which means low overhead, and the fact that he and his wife aren't looking to make profit so much as provide access to a product that could save parents money.
"It's not a get-rich-quick scheme for us," said Chambers.
"This is a business, but we're trying to provide something that we think is useful to people and particularly people who could save money by doing it. It helps that, as a home business, our overhead is low. It's the shipping costs, of course, that are the issue."
Chambers is a GN employee on leave and was part of the Food Security Coalition. The cost of disposable diapers and a lack of available cloth diapers in Nunavut came up in coalition discussions in passing, and the solution seemed fairly simple to Chambers.
"It just kind of struck me, that's a problem we can fix pretty easily, and it's not really a government thing, it's a private sector thing," he said.
About a year and a half later, Arctic Cotton was launched.
Chambers and his wife use cloth diapers with their infant daughter.
The decision meant finding diapers was challenging, as disposable diapers are much more commonly used and information on them is easier to obtain.
"It felt like we were veering off the path to use cloth diapers," Chambers said. "We took prenatal classes and they had a little sessions on diapers, and it was all using disposable diapers. Everything is set up in the world for disposable diapers, so it makes you feel like you really have to make a conscious choice to turn in a different direction."
When Chambers and his wife first began research on cloth diapers, they found the number of choices online overwhelming and thought other parents could benefit from having a place where they can talk about the different options and take a look at products for themselves.
The pair ended up doing taking a look and buying their first diapers during a trip south.
"You can order cloth diapers online, but it's the sort of purchase people generally only make once so it's not like they have previous experience or history they can go on," Chambers said.
"It's confusing. There are tons of different styles and makes and names and so on. You can't really touch them to know what they're like. At least for our Iqaluit customers, people can come and see them, touch them and even buy a small number if they want."
Chambers said there appears to be two types of interest in Iqaluit for the cloth diapers Arctic Cotton offers. The first type includes parents who are interested in potentially healthier options for their baby or are interested in the environment, and would be willing to shop online or travel south to obtain them. The second type of interest includes parents who can't afford the cost of disposable diapers or don't have a credit card to order items with online or don't travel South often, if ever.
Chambers and Pepper plan to have an open house on Dec. 14 when prospective customers can stop by and learn about cloth diapers.