Tereson Dupuy doesn’t look like a hippie chic. Signature red lipstick. House on the golf course. Founder of a multi-million dollar business. BMW. But she’s certainly doing more than most to make this earth greener.
Just a decade ago, the stay-at-home-mom was sewing together pieces of fleece to make a diaper that would alleviate her son’s incessant diaper rash. She knew then she was on to something huge. Something that would fulfill what she always believed would be her destiny of success — owning her own business — and something that would be environmentally friendly.
Necessity truly is the mother of invention.
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At age 16, Tereson vividly remembers being convinced she possessed the next “big idea.”
“I would jump on the counter and say ‘I have the best idea,’” she says now from her kitchen table.
“I never saw myself working for someone,” she says. “I always knew I would invent something, offer a service. I was always looking.”
That something came along when her second of three children was three months old. Her son Eden had a diaper rash that couldn’t be calmed. Tereson switched to cloth diapers, which lack the chemicals often found in disposable diapers that were further irritating Eden’s rash.
But cloth diapers weren’t cutting it, and Tereson knew there had to be something better. Within six months of trying different fabrics and testing her theories, Tereson found what would be the perfect medium — fleece.
“It was $5 for my first piece of fleece,” she recalls.
She found the piece of lime green fleece she picked up at Wal-Mart absorbent, and it actually left Eden dry. She hit an Internet swap board for cloth diaper users and never looked back.
She named her new diapers FuzziBunz® and named the company Mother of Eden. She made her own logo and Web site at home.
Within two months, unable to keep up with demand, she delegated sewing duties. Admitting quickly she’s not much of a seamstress, Tereson only could complete about 20 FuzziBunz® a week.
As the money came in, Tereson would buy more materials. To this day, she has remained self-funded. And like those first days when she couldn’t keep up with demand, she still can’t keep up, despite manufacturers producing 10,000 a week.
“My major obstacle is that I can never produce to demand,” Tereson says.
She says new partnerships are opening up larger avenues that soon will boost production and put her in stores like Target and Babies R Us.
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Perhaps one of the most interesting things about this success story is where it has landed Tereson — squarely in the natural product industry. Not in baby world. And she likes it there.
“Before green was popular, I knew it was an environmentally-friendly product. It took the world a while to catch up,” she says.
According to the National Association of Diaper Services, which promotes cloth diapers, there are 18 billion single-use diapers thrown into landfills each year. Disposable diapers make up the third-largest source of solid waste in landfills, after newspapers and food and beverage containers. It takes upward of 82,000 tons of plastic and 1.3 million tons of wood pulp, or a quarter-million trees, to manufacture the disposable diapers that cover the bottoms of 90 percent of the babies born in this country.
And while FuzziBunz® are environmentally friendly now, Tereson said they are on the brink of doing more. Within the year, she plans to have all aspects of the biodegradable portion of the diapers perfected so that when babies are potty-trained the FuzziBunz® are completely biodegradable.
“We’re getting the right materials, and we’ll be the first reusable diaper to do this,” she says of the total biodegradable venture. “We’re committed to being as green as we can be.”
Whether it’s saving on fuel for shipping, recycling in the office or the type of fabric they use, Tereson says everything they do is through a green lens.
“It extends to every facet,” she says. “How we manufacture, the dyes we use, we recycle at work. We seek
companies that are green. Our business cards are green. Everything we do has that focus. It’s our priority, and it is in my personal life.”
Only weeks ago Tereson told her kids no more Vitamin Water and other bottled drinks until they could get recycling in her neighborhood. Recycling soon arrived.
“Eighty-five percent of water bottles are not recycled,” she tells me with conviction over a cup of coffee.
Wearing a T-shirt made from bamboo that reads “Living the Green Life,” Tereson explains anyone can be green — even the fashion conscious.
“You don’t have to be a hippie to be green. You can be very hip and fashionable and still green,” she says. “It’s a common misperception. People think you have to be in Birkenstocks and hippie clothes. You don’t.”
And while Tereson isn’t a hippie chic, she has in the last few years discovered a love of the outdoors.
She’s discovered a lot in a few years following a rough divorce and life as a single mother of three children.
Like her seemingly contrasting interests in beauty and the environment, which pair perfectly, her entrenchment in business and love of mothering also work beautifully together.
So, how does this mother of three who sits at the helm of a multi-million dollar business do it all? It starts with the basics, she explains.
“Exercise, keeping a healthy lifestyle, eating well. It keeps you young and fit. If I don’t do it I’m miserable,” she says. “And I find joy. Find things in life you enjoy and make it a priority. Not getting bogged down and staying young and happy. Make joy a priority.”
Easier said than done at times, especially for a woman who literally sleeps with her Blackberry. But Tereson has learned to delegate, and she finds comfort in her new love of the outdoors. Could it be because there’s not a lot of reception when hiking a mountain or scuba diving the deep sea?
“I have to physically remove myself from an Internet connection,” she says. “I have to force myself to do those things, though. It’s part of my plan of self care.”
Learning to take care of herself is a fairly recent revelation. After her divorce less than five years ago, Tereson realized a lot about doing things by herself.
“I can do anything I want on my own,” she says. “I can be a successful woman by myself and be independent and reach my goals. I can hook up a generator. Not that I don’t need other people. But I can do anything.”
It’s that unstoppable attitude, which probably led to her success.
“I speak in when’s, not ifs. Can’ts and ifs are not in the vocabulary,” she says. “When and can are in the vocabulary.”
It’s an attitude she hopes to impart on Sarah, 13, Eden, 10 and Bennett, 6.
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At the age of 38, Tereson has learned many lessons: Never mix business and personal life. Know whatever you’re going through will eventually be over. Nothing can be perfect. Let it go.
They all are lessons that are hard for a woman to learn while we often intertwine our professional lives and personal ones.
“Keep business business and personal personal,” she says. “To quote Donald Trump, ‘It’s nothing personal, just business.’ As women, we are emotional. To run a business keep things separate.”
Keeping that emotional life separate can be a challenge when you’re struggling through a difficult time, and Tereson knows this. She’s been there.
“Know it will eventually be over, and you can get through it,” she says of challenging times, like divorce. “It’s not the end of the world. It gets better. It’s not the end; sometimes it’s the beginning.”
Learning to let go is perhaps one of Tereson’s greatest lessons learned. It translates to everything. As a woman, you’re wearing enough hats to make your head spin. If you’re going to do it all, accept it can’t all be flawless.
“Some things have to wait,” she says. “To balance, you have to let things go and accept they won’t be perfect.”
Let me make one thing perfectly clear. I am a LAZY green mama. That’s not to say that I don’t do my part to protect the planet. But when I do make an effort to go green, I need to know that it is not in vain. And I’m the last person on Earth who would want to make extra work for herself. So when I tell you that I have used cloth diapers for both of my daughters, I hope you’ll understand that this was not an undertaking that I accepted lightly. I looked at the facts, I talked to the experts, I tried it myself, and I concluded that cloth diapers were the best thing for both my children and the planet.
Now if there’s one thing that I can’t stand it’s a guilt trip. So you won’t get any of that here. Yes, I think cloth diapers are fantastic (Fuzzi Bunz are my favorite!) but I know they’re not for everyone. Still, I think it’s time to “clear the air” about the common cloth diaper misconceptions…
The Ick Factor. This is probably the #1 reason that most parents turn their noses up at cloth diapers. It’s easy to imagine that with cloth diapers you’ll be up to your armpits in toilet water trying to wring out some nasty, poppy rag. If you’re concerned about the ick factor of cloth diapers, I have a little advice, but be warned, you may not want to hear it. Here it is…
Poop. Is. Icky. And cloth or disposable, as a parent, you are going to come in contact with it. Get over it. Oh, and one more thing, did you know that you are required to remove poop from disposable diapers and toss it in the toilet? It’s true, it says so right on the package. Even the disposable manufacturers know that it’s nasty to put human poop (even if it came from your sweet little baby’s bottom) in a landfill.
The Time Factor. This is the second reason that most parents want to forgo cloth diapers. To this I reply, have you looked at cloth diapers lately? Back in the day, cloth diapering meant pins and plastic pants, and the procedure did add a bit of time (albeit probably just a few seconds) to the average diaper change. But today’s selection of Velcro or button fasteners and all-in-one cloth diapers are an absolute cinch to put on and take off. The only difference in the whole procedure is that you take cloth diapers off and throw them in the washing machine as compared to the trash can for disposables. The time factor no longer exists.
The Water Consumption Factor. From the beginning, disposable diaper companies have contended that the water consumed to wash cloth diapers negates any environmental benefit that could be gained by keeping disposables out of the landfill. Their theories were somewhat backed up by a flawed study in 2005 that concluded that there is no environmental difference between using cloth diapers and using disposables. Now, when I say that this study is flawed, I say it not as a raving “save the Earth” lunatic (although I am) that can’t imagine that cloth diapers could be environmentally equivalent to disposables. Rather, I say that this study is flawed as a scientist (because I am) and it is. Here’s why.
The study surveyed 2,000 parents who use disposables, but included only 183 parents who use cloth diapers in their research. The results are therefore neither balanced nor conclusive.
The study did NOT take in to account the possibilities that some (if not most) cloth diapering parents use Energy-Star rated washing machines, wash full loads of laundry, line-dry their diapers or use moderate temperatures to wash their diapers.
The study did NOT take in to account that most (if not ALL) cloth diapering parents pass their cloth diapers on, either to their subsequent children, or to their friends, thereby dramatically reducing the environmental impact caused by the creation of the diaper.
The study only analyzed one type of diaper…a terry cloth diaper… that takes significantly longer to dry than other cotton diapers. And again, they made no mention that these diapers could be dried on a clothes line rather than in a dryer.
The Cost Factor. Last but not least, there is the cost factor. Undeniably, cloth diapers require a greater initial investment than disposables. But study after study after study after study has concluded that using cloth diapers can save you thousands of dollars over the course of your child’s diapering career. (If you’re not convinced, you can use this handy-dandy comparison calculator to see for yourself.) Now who couldn’t use a few extra thousand dollars in their pocket?
So there you have it. A straight-up, no-guilt, fresh look at cloth diapers. Take it or leave it. But at least now you know the facts.
Simple Strategies to Help You Sell More Diapers and Convert More Moms to Cloth
As new parents are bombarded with various baby gear options – from strollers to bottles and crib bumpers – the one task that every thought to is diapering. Good or bad, most new parents still opt for the convenience of disposable diapers because they are unaware that there are practical and easy-to-use cloth diapering options. Plus, many mainstream baby stores don’t offer a wide variety of reusable diapering brands for parents to choose from.
What might surprise many of today’s new parents is that there are many reusable diapering options. In fact, most of the clunky cloth diapers of yesteryear have given way to what is now coined the “modern cloth diaper.” Most new-age cloth diapers are made with high tech materials that are easy to clean and are super absorbent, leak-proof and trim fitting. No more pins that poke, Velcro that scratches, and plastic pants that crunch.
As a baby products retailer, you probably know just how far cloth diapering has come. But the real question is: Do your customers know, too? The answer is “probably not,” simply because not enough major baby products retailers have caught on to the cloth diapering trend. While this may soon change, especially as environmental issues peak and as selling cloth diapers becomes more financially lucrative for a retailer, for now, it is mainly up to the specialty baby boutiques – both on- and off-line – to set the tone that today’s cloth diapers are a worthy choice to throw-away diapers. To help you make the case for cloth (and thus help you sell more diapers), we have compiled some simple strategies to help you make your customer’s cloth diapering experience a little more successful.
Create the Right Mood for Cloth Diapering
For physical retailers, be sure to create a colorful and modern-looking cloth diapering section in your store. A nice display of diapers, rather than diapers strewn about, will likely attract the attention of a new mom; this is an important first step to changing any negative preconceived notions she holds about cloth diapering.
Offer Accessory Suggestions
Many new parents are unsure of how many diapers they will need and what accessories they should purchase to make their cloth diapering experience a little easier. To simplify the process, suggest that a new parent purchase anywhere between 12-20 diapers (encourage them to try one on their baby before washing the lot), and then suggest they also purchase a washable diaper pail, a travel tote bag and the proper detergent needed to clean their diapers – all before leaving your store. Having these accessories on hand will ensure a more successful experience with their new purchase and may deter returns.
Create a Hotline
Be sure to offer your customers a phone number where they can reach you to discuss any questions or problems they’re having. While you can’t offer the caliber call center that the Butterball Thanksgiving Turkey Hotline offers, you can provide a simple and personal way to have an ongoing dialogue with your customers.
Provide Educational Materials
Because few moms are aware of their cloth diapering options, it’s important that you offer educational materials, if possible. Materials could include brochures about cloth diapering or simple print-outs that list different diapering options, pros and cons of each brand, etc.
Highlight Positive Customer Experiences
If one of your customers is raving about her cloth diapering experience, ask her if you can feature her story on your website or on a sign in your store. Many moms get most of their “baby” information from their friends and neighbors (many who have been there and done that) and if someone sees a friendly face in their neighborhood having a positive experience with a cloth diaper they bought in your store, it’s likely others will follow in their footsteps.
Host Seminars and Chat Sessions
Physical retailers can host regular cloth diapering seminars and online retailers can host chat-session to discuss all things cloth. Invite customers to your store (or chat session) and then take them step-by-step through the cloth diapering process and address any lingering questions they have about cloth. This strategy not only brings moms to your store, but also enables you to become their authoritative and trusted source on cloth diapering.
Become the Expert
While it’s easy to talk the talk, it’s just as important that you walk the walk. Use cloth diapers on your baby (or a friend’s baby) so that you understand what these moms are feeling and what kind of experiences they’re having. This exercise will help you relate to your customers on a personal level so they view you as a legitimate source.
Offer Words of Encouragement
As with any new venture, cloth diapering gets easier with time. Reinforce this message to your customers; reassure them that they’re “doing the right thing,” and encourage them to check-in with you if they need any assistance. Your customers will appreciate that you want to go the extra mile to ensure a positive experience.
Make Cost a Non-Issue
Reassure customers about any upfront costs they may be concerned about. While many customers balk at what they perceive is a high price to pay for diapers, be prepared to reassure them that the upfront investment may result in savings of thousands of dollars over time. Do the math yourself so you’re prepared to make a strong case for cloth diapering. Also, offer expecting moms the opportunity to register for cloth diapers and accessories at your store. Remind her that if she receives the diapers as a gift, she may never spend a dime on diapers – ever!
While navigating the world of cloth diapering can be difficult for first-time parents, these simple strategies can help you can make their experiences a little easier. And best of all, such strategies can help you create a world filled not only with happy baby bottoms but also happy bottom lines.
Reusable diapers are big business for this Lafayette-based company By: Eve Kidd Crawford
Ben Franklin famously said that the only things certain in life are death and taxes. He’s mostly right, but he forgot one other thing—dirty diapers. But just because they’re a necessary evil doesn’t mean that they can’t also be fun, cute and even trendy.
Tereson Dupuy, founder and chief executive officer of Lafayette-based Mother of Eden and the inventor of FuzziBunz® reusable pocket diapers, has based an empire around this concept.
“I knew they’d be big,” she says of her diapers. “I knew that eventually the green boom would hit, and it’s only just starting. It’s going up from here.”
Dupuy invented the diapers in January 1999 when her then-4-month-old son, Eden, for whom the company is named, developed a chronic diaper rash. The chemicals in disposable diapers worsened the rash, as did traditional cotton cloth diapers, which got soggy and held wetness next to his skin. After playing around with fabrics and styles, Dupuy came up with the now-popular pocket-style diaper that kept her son dry and comfortable, didn’t leak and was easy to launder at home. She began sewing diapers at home and selling them on the Internet.
As word of mouth grew, Dupuy decided to patent her invention in 2003. Five years later, Dupuy and her invention have won numerous awards –– including a 2007 Outstanding Product award from iParenting Media and the prestigious 2006 Entrepreneur of the Year award given by the Stevie Awards for Women in Business –– and annual sales in 2007 exceeded $3 million. FuzziBunz® has received media attention from Parents, American Baby and Time magazines, among others, and amassed a celebrity following that includes Tori Spelling and Brad Paisley and Kimberly Williams.
Even as her business took off, Dupuy never considered moving headquarters out of Louisiana. “I live here,” she says simply. “I grew up in New Orleans, came to school in southwest Louisiana, fell in love with the area and stayed. We have the best people in the world, best food in the world, best culture in the world. It’s a culture-rich area. I don’t plan on moving.”
Keeping her business in Louisiana has had some challenges, however. “It’s not the greenest place in the world,” she acknowledges. “When I was starting out, I went into an ad agency, and they said, ‘You mean you have to wash it at home? We can’t market this!’ So I just moved on. It can be a struggle to find people who understand a green industry, who understand a reusable product.”
But Sydney French of Opelousas, mother of 19-month-old Carson, fully understands the benefits of cloth diapering. “When my baby was 10 months old, I decided to switch from disposables to cloth,” she says. “I felt horrible every time I threw a sack full of disposables away. All I could think of was the chemicals that would be sitting in a landfill for 500 years. I am thrilled with cloth. I really wish I would have started from the beginning.”
Some have argued that cloth diapers aren’t any better for the environment because of the water needed to wash them. Dupuy scoffs at that idea, at least where her diapers are concerned: “These aren’t traditional cloth diapers. They’re pocket diapers and made of materials that wash quickly and dry quickly. You only need to use one-fourth on the normal amount of detergent, and because they wash and dry so quickly, you save water and energy. We didn’t really make them that way on purpose; it was lagniappe.”
And Dupuy is constantly striving to make the diapers themselves greener. “We’re using companies that are more environmentally sound,” she says. “We’re looking into using recycled eco-fleece, and we’re now manufacturing some of our diapers in Boston, Arkansas and Los Angeles because that way it requires less fuel to get to the end user. We’re making a green product in that you reuse it, but on a grander scale, we are a green company, too.”
Dupuy says a large part of her customer base is on the West Coast, but she would love to see more Louisianians using her product and thinks that might happen soon. “It’s all changing,” she says. “We’re realizing that we have to be more responsible.”
She urges anyone curious to give FuzziBunz® a chance. “Just buy one or two,” she says. “Try them out. See how your baby feels. See how they wash. See the rash reduction –– because you’ll see a reduction even with just two. And of the people I know who’ve opened their mind and given them a chance, no one has said, ‘Oh, this just isn’t for me.’ They all say, ‘I was skeptical, but I fell in love. There’s no reason to go back to disposables.’”
French certainly counts herself as a convert. “I encourage everyone to try it out,” she says. “I like it because it’s not wasteful. And I feel it’s healthier for my child to put cloth next to his skin instead of chemicals. We’re bombarded enough with chemicals. This is one thing I can do to protect him a little more.”
Expo to Highlight Natural and Eco-Friendly Ways to Raise Children
CHICO, CA. – The Green Baby Expo is proud to announce that Mother of Eden, the makers of the famed FuzziBunz® pocket diapers, is the official sponsor of its one-day event to promote natural living to today’s eco-conscious families. Founded by a group of dedicated Chico businesses owners and concerned citizens, the Green Baby Expo’s mission is to educate families about the various green and natural products and programs available today
The one day Expo will be held on June 21st from 10:00 am – 5:00 pm at the Silver Dollar Fairgrounds in Chico, Ca. Vendors across the nation will be exhibiting products and services that appeal to eco-minded families. In addition to exhibitors, the Expo offers entertainment and fun for the whole family, including bounce houses, face painting and animals.
The admission fee is $5 per family, which includes a complimentary reusable ChicoBag tote filled with valuable coupons and goodies. Attendees also will be entered into drawings to win thousands of dollars worth of prizes.
Cyndi Pereira of Chico founded BabiesinChico.com, a Website that supports natural parenting practices, after the birth of her son. “My vision for the Green Baby Expo is to have a place that showcases today’s natural parenting practices so that other families can become introduced to great things like attachment parenting, breastfeeding, baby wearing and cloth diapering,” she says.
Tereson Dupuy, CEO of Mother of Eden and inventor of the FuzziBunz® pocket diapers says, “We are proud to sponsor the Green Baby Expo because it offers families valuable information about how to raise their babies green. It’s a great way for the whole family to come together to learn about how to make this world a better place for our children.”
For more information about the official sponsor of the Green Baby Expo, FuzziBunz®, please visit www.FuzziBunz.com. Please also support our other sponsors: Santa Cruz Organics, Luna Bars, R.W. Knudsen, Moby Wrap, and Frog Mama Baby Carriers.
LAFAYETTE, La. – FuzziBunz® has partnered with The Green Parent author, Jenn Savedge, to highlight the important role parents play in raising environmentally conscious children.
In her book, The Green Parent – A Kid-Friendly Guide to Earth-Friendly Living, released on April 1, Savedge tackles every topic, from the diaper debate to how to take eco-friendly family vacations.
Tereson Dupuy, the inventor of FuzziBunz® diapers, says that Savedge’s book is a public service to the parents of the world. “Jenn is teaching parents how to establish eco-friendly parenting practices early-on in hopes that future generations will imitate those practices later in life to become thoughtful stewards of the world.”
Savedge says that even children as young as two years old can learn what it means to take care of our planet. Parents should look for teachable moments, she advises.
“A baby may wonder why she wears that FuzziBunz® diaper that her parents wash. These are moments that parents can teach their children that their diapers help keep the earth green,” says Savedge.
She adds, “As parents, we know that reusable diapers help reduce landfill waste, pollution, resource consumption, and the dangerous greenhouse gases that cause global warming. And while this may be a bit much for a little one to understand, even the youngest children will appreciate that her diapers help the grass grow better and the air stay cleaner.”
Dupuy says, “We are excited to partner with Jenn because, at the core, our message is the same: Take care of our planet to ensure that future generations have access to the same nature we enjoy each and every day.”
And the best part, for every purchase of The Green Parent, the book’s publisher will plant a tree on the buyer’s behalf.
LAFAYETTE, La. – Actress and mom-to-be Tori Spelling tells Donny Deutsche, during an interview on CNBC’s The Big Idea with Donny Deutsche, that she is indeed a cloth diapering momma.
During a recent interview, Deutsche, the former advertising mogul and entrepreneur champion, asks Spelling what she thinks of FuzziBunz® diapers. Her response: These diapers are “great” and then she admitted, “I have these at home.”
Spelling has a one year old baby boy, Liam Aaron McDermott, and a second baby, which is rumored to be a girl, due in June.
Tereson Dupuy, inventor of FuzziBunz® and CEO of Mother of Eden, is thrilled to hear that Spelling is a FuzziBunz® fan. “Tori is a great role-model to moms, like her, who are looking for eco-friendly diapering options. FuzziBunz® diapers continue to be the top choice reusable diaper by all moms – celebrity or not – because they are easy-to-use, easy-to-wash, easy-on-the-environment and they look incredibly cute on a baby’s tushie.”
You can see a clip of Spelling’s interview on The Big Idea with Donny Deutsche online here.
NEW IBERIA, La. – Mother of Eden, the makers of the patented FuzziBunz® reusable pocket-style diapering system, is proud to announce that FuzziBunz® diapers have taken the top spot in a head-to-head review of various cloth diaper brands. Hipster e-zine, Babble.com, selected FuzziBunz® as its Babble Best cloth diaper in its January 2008 review of various cloth diaper brands.
While author Katie Bayless objectively reviewed each cloth diaper brand, which included gDiapers, Rumpsters, Bum Genius and Happy Heinys, she wrote that FuzziBunz® takes the cake when it comes to her favorite non-disposable brand.
Bayless writes in her review, “Five reasons this is my top pick? 1) No leaks — ever. And I never used more than one insert. 2) No bulkiness — bubble-butt won’t be a problem with these diapers. 3) No staining — I’ve used these diapers for two months now and they still come out of the wash crystal clean. 4) Quick drying — some of the bulkier diapers are still wet coming out of the dryer, but not FuzziBunz®. 5) Ultra-adjustable snap closures — at first I couldn’t figure out why I liked FuzziBunz® snaps — snaps are less convenient, especially on a squirmy baby. But I learned the hard way that being (slightly) more tricky to get on, also means they are more difficult for little hands to get off (picture a crib covered in crap thanks to some of the diapers that didn’t make this list).”
Tereson Dupuy, the inventor of FuzziBunz® reusable pocket-style diapers and CEO of Mother of Eden, says, “This review proves what moms around the world have known all along – that there is nothing better than a FuzziBunz®. We’re the original pocket diaper and we continue to make products that mean something to moms, babies and the world at large.”
The entire review is available online at Babble.com.