Thursday, May 31, 2012

So what is eLeMeNO-Pee, anyway?

Hi, there! Welcome to the eLeMeNO-Pee blog. You may have stumbled across us lately because of Pinterest or DiaperSwappers or because one of your Facebook friends "liked" us. Maybe one of your local or online friends told you that she applied to be an eLeMeNO-Pee consultant and you were curious, or maybe you found us the old-fashioned way: Google!

So, who are we? 

Well, we're a (1) cloth diaper retailer, in some ways just like any other online cloth diaper retailer. We have a Web store that offers same-day shipping, a Facebook Page, a blog. We run sales and specials from time to time, we stock several major brands of quality modern cloth diapers that come with good warranties, we offer our clients support and answer questions or help them process returns and warranty claims. We also carry the usual array of cloth diaper accessories, like wet bags and diaper sprayers and clean-rinsing detergents, and, of course, that most wondrously wonderful wonder of the natural parenting world, Baltic amber and beaked hazelwood jewelry.

But we're also a (2) direct selling company, much like Thirty-One or The Pampered Chef. We have local consultants all over Louisiana and Texas, and we're currently processing applications for potential consultants all over the United States, from California to Maine! Like most modern direct selling companies, the eLeMeNO-Pee "opportunity" is commission-based, and, after a thorough education and training process, and with the support of the home office and veteran consultants, our local consultants have the opportunity to successfully open their own cloth diaper businesses without encountering the massive overhead involved in owning a brick-and-mortar store... and with the highest commission rate we've seen from any cloth diaper direct selling opportunity. This means consultants are free to earn an income simply by geeking out over cloth diapers with their friends who are in the market and introducing their communities to the benefits and how-tos of cloth all while working from home or on-the-go with their babies in tow. Our consultants' clients can choose to host a party to receive awesome hostess rewards, have a cloth diaper baby shower, or just meet one-on-one with a consultant to learn more about cloth diapers, see and touch and try diapers on their babies, witness a cloth diaper laundry demonstration, collaborate to come up with a "dream stash," and then start making that stash happen! Additionally, each consultant has her own Web store, so that you can continue to support her business when you need to make a purchase but know what you want without requiring a consultation.

The store: 2102 W. Prien Lake Rd.
We are, finally, a (3) local brick-and-mortar store in Lake Charles, La. The "store" is technically our home office and warehouse, and it is staffed by our Lake Charles consultant for the convenience of her clients. As such, it is open for limited hours that change a little with each season. Summer hours are Tues. and Thurs. from 10 am - 2 pm. Lake Charles clients are encouraged to come in and shop during those hours or to shop online and select "in-store pickup" to avoid paying for shipping.

Why are we all three of these things?

So that we can be as mom-friendly as possible! Founded in 2008, we are still a relatively young company, and we are truly passionate about allowing moms to supplement their families' incomes by helping other families save money and green up their lifestyles by switching to cloth diapers. Each of our consultants is a talented woman committed to providing excellent customer service and product support to her clients. In order to keep things as low-pressure as possible for our consultants, who have no "quotas" to meet in case they need to take some personal time away from working, we also accept sales from our Web store to increase our volume of sales in regions where we have not yet hired consultants. But our goal is for every client--you!--to have her customer service needs met with the personal touch that can only be offered by an expert consultant!

Want an insider's perspective?

Several of our Louisiana reps at a training session.
I may be a tiny bit (ok, or a huge bit) biased, but as an employee and a client, I have huge admiration for each and every person who makes up the eLeMeNO-Pee family. The dynamic husband-wife duo, Allison and Todd, who own and run the company, work hard to make sure that our consultants feel supported and have an easy time learning the ropes. Our consultants, both veterans and newbies, are a true team, offering each other ideas and tips, celebrating each other's business and personal victories, and offering sympathy tears and comfort during each other's times of personal tragedy.

Lest you think eLeMeNO-Pee is just one big self-contained lovefest, I will also iterate that eLeMeNO-Pee exists for the clients just as much as for the consultants; after all, without the clients, there are no consultants! We encourage our consultants to host annual cloth diaper resale events in their communities, to offer free and open-to-the-public cloth diapering classes, to keep handy a list of resources and professionals for clients, who are often brand new parents, to be referred to when they have big parenting questions. And we continue to update our party hostess benefits (including the recent addition of free shipping for an entire party's order where the party sales total $400 or more, no matter how heavy the box!) as our company grows and our budget allows for it.

Each of our consultants has also shared with me instances where she has been willing to go to bat for her clients, so, for example, if you're also in direct sales or you own your own small business, know that your consultant is happy to learn what the products and concepts you represent can do for her. As one of our veteran consultants, Jenny H., is known to say, "It all comes full-circle when work-at-home moms are supporting each other."

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Adventures in pottying (...finally)!

Oh. My. Goodness. Y'all.

Oh, my goodness!

The Little Dude who, for the last year, has held up five fingers and told me he would start using the potty when he was "this many," who told everyone he knew that he would "never sit on the potty" as long as his "superstar diaper and planets diaper and Rudolph diaper" still fit him, even though his "plain old diapers" (the trusty FuzziBunz mediums we've used since he was six months old--his entire cloth-diapered life) were finally starting to get too tight... this is the kid who coolly announced yesterday afternoon that it was time for him to use the potty! Oh, you know. NBD. It's just time, Mom. Can't you tell?

I was nervous. I am nervous.

But with four successes and one small accident before the bedtime diaper yesterday, we were off to an excellent start!

Today we're heading to the store to buy... more underwear! For the duration of the errand, Little Dude will be wearing a FuzziBunz Trickle-Free Trainer. However, we are probably going to have to navigate the world of public restrooms... if not today, soon.

Here's how it's going today:
8:50 am - Little Dude is on the potty, trying to go before we embark on our underwear-retrieving errand. He's playing the Potty Time with Elmo app (.99) on our iPad.


9:30 am - We're at Target to pick out cool superhero underwear. Little Dude tried to sit on the toilet here, but he was afraid of the loud flushes and the hugeness of everything. Uh oh.

10:15 am - We're home! And our Trickle-Free Trainers are dry! LD tried pottying, but nothing happened. Time for a quick snack, and then we'll try to sit on the potty again.

10:55 am - Still no accidents! We're sitting again. I am seriously impressed with his momentum. Maybe there is something to be said for waiting until 3.5?

1:24 pm - I've lost track of the number of attempts, but we've still had no accidents. I've been wanting to test the capacity of the FuzziBunz trainers, but we haven't had to yet!

2:39 pm - Still no accidents, but not much going, either. I've noticed he's not keeping his beloved water bottle with him, and he's yet to do a #2 today... But I'm trying to focus on the positive. No accidents!

2:47 pm - He just ran to the potty! His underoos have the slightest, smallest little dot of wetness. He's sitting now! Aaaand... success!

Here's what I've learned about potty-training so far:

1) My diaper sprayer is key. Because of his age and height, we're using a potty ring on our regular toilet, but it still gets a little messy. The sprayer has been perfect for cleaning it off between uses. I can only imagine how much more useful it is if you and your child prefer a potty.

2) Waiting this long may not have been a bad thing. I've put myself on a guilt-trip for the past year, because all my friends had potty-trained two-year olds, and my Little Dude didn't even seem to be aware of when he was wet, much less when he was going to wet his diaper. But his track record so far suggests to me that waiting until he initiated this process was the right move for us, even if he initiated a little later than his buddies.

3) Natural fibers help. Last week, I pulled out some old prefolds and asked him to tell me when they felt wet. It didn't take long before he was well aware of the sensation of wetness! However, when I tried this a year ago, he still didn't pay enough attention to know when he was wet. Maturity has a lot to do with it.

4) Apps help, too. What can I say? Back in the late 1980s, I sat on my potty with a stack of books beside me. But my kid is a technology kid. Weeks ago, I promised him a few potty-related iPad apps if he'd start sitting on the potty. They've worked like a charm to get him to go sit. And, while real-life sticker charts don't seem to matter much to him, the virtual ones on the potty apps thrill him to no end.

5) Little Dude likes cool underoos just as much as he liked his cool diapers. This means I'm just letting him change them after every time he potties, even though they're staying dry. He talks eagerly about the next pair of underwear he's going to put on, and he organizes them into Marvel and DC comic heroes. Kind of strange? Yes. That's my Little Dude. And it's working to motivate him!

6) This is actually kind of bonding. We're at home for the most part, and I'm hanging out with him quite a bit while he sits on the toilet so that he'll be willing to sit for a while. I have to pay a lot of attention to his habits to see if I think he's holding anything. I dreaded this part, but it's been nice to be so in sync!

We'll see how it goes as we continue! So far, so good. What I really need is your advice for how to patiently and gently help him to deal with his fear of public restrooms so that we can get this show on the road full-time. What worked for your children? Please advise! This is new territory for this mama!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The skinny on adjustable leg elastic, or: Why leg elastic sets the rise (with visual help from a Tremendously Creepy Doll)

If you're new to cloth, you may be reading reviews that suggest that there's a "learning curve" to using one-size diapers correctly, especially one-size diapers like SoftBums (seen on the right) or FuzziBunz Elite that work by toggling, cinching, or otherwise adjusting the elastic along the sides. That's true! There is.

You may also have heard or read that adjustable leg elastic is perfect for babies with skinny legs.

I'm going to blow your mind: that's not necessarily accurate.

A customizable waist is best for both newborns and older babies with skinny legs. Adjustable leg elastic is perfect for any baby if you want diapers that will grow gradually from around 8 lbs. through toddlerhood.

What do I mean?

Cinching or toggling leg elastic works by gathering the fabric to make a diaper longer or shorter. This is similar to a snap-down rise, but looks cleaner and neater from the front when the diaper is fastened on a baby, and it is much more customizable: there are more length possibilities because there are more--or even practically infinite--settings to choose from.

But since the elastic is part of the leg, you know, the brain's inclination is to eye that elastic and figure out how long or short it needs to be to go exactly around the baby's leg snugly, creating a seal to hold in, well, everything a diaper is supposed to hold in!

Better start with very tight, short settings, you think. This little skinny-legged one has a long way to go to chunk up.

But something must be wrong. The baby's sheets and clothes are always wet; experienced cloth diapering friends are telling you that your diapers are "wicking" around the legs and right at the tummy. The absorbent insert isn't soaked, so it's not a matter of having too little absorbency.

What am I doing wrong?? Are these diapers I've invested in just not going to work for my baby? They're already so tight that they're leaving red marks around his thighs. HOW is the pee escaping? There are no gaps!

Fret not! Most likely the diaper is going to work for your baby... with a few adjustments.

What's happening is called compression leaking. It can happen to any type of absorbent core, from a microfiber terry insert to a trim hemp prefold to an all-cotton fitted, if the outer fabric of the diaper is pulled too tightly around the baby, or if the cinched elastic is digging in, causing the absorbent core to be "smushed" in any area. This forces moisture, which has nowhere else to go, to be sort of "wrung out" onto any surface that will absorb it: your baby's unprotected skin or clothing, your sling, the car seat, or the crib sheets.

So what's the solution? Let the fabric out until the rise falls just below the belly button in the front and right at belly button-level in the back. On a FuzziBunz Elite, that means moving the buttons over to a hole marked by a lower number, possibly even at both ends of the elastic. On a SoftBums diaper, that means using the Slide2Size adjuster to release the cinching of the fabric by a full centimeter or more.

To get that seal around the legs that will hold everything in and let the insert do its job without being "wrung out," tighten the waist as tightly as necessary to ensure that there's not a gap between the baby and the secured diaper's leg hole. On a classic hook-and-loop SoftBums diaper, that means making use of the crossover tab--the little "loop" square on the end of one of the tabs that allows you to overlap them. On a FuzziBunz Elite, that means using the innermost thigh snaps, the innermost waist snaps, and the appropriate hip snaps to avoid "wing droop." If you are using the tightest possible snap settings and there is still a noticeable gap between the fabric of the diaper and the baby's leg, go ahead and bring the rise back down a notch.

Are you a visual learner? Here's a side-by-side comparison. Same Tremendously Creepy Doll (TCD) diaper model, same type of diaper (FuzziBunz Elite), but two different approaches to sizing. On the left, a longer rise, dependent on a tight waist setting to secure a seal around the thighs. On the right, a shorter rise... and more potential for bunching and compression.

(Please note: Creepy Doll is belly button-less, and he has an unusually short rise for his length and chunkiness.)

On the left: Size 3 rise; on the right: Size 6.

The left looks like it might be too big for TCD. The right seems like a more intuitive setting, right?

Wrong! Look at the perfect seal around TCD's leg on the left, and look at how smoothly the fabric lies. Look at the way the fabric is pulling on the right.

The tightness here is causing the insert to bunch and compress. If Tremendously Creepy Doll could wet this diaper, the insert would be "wrung out" and moisture would wick around his creepy almost-lifelike legs and at the tummy.

Here's the same principle applied to SoftBums, but in reverse. This time, on the left, the rise is short and the diaper is taut--and pulling down a little at the tummy. On the right, the rise is a bit longer, the crossover waist tab is employed, and the diaper still fits trimly and smoothly--and the insert is less likely to be compressed by tightened fabric.

There you have it: a couple trim, leak-proof, compression-proof one-size diapers that really will work for almost every baby. Give these adjustments a shot, and let us know how it goes for you!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

We salute you, Ms. Work-at-Home-Mom!

Inspired by real moms.

If you've ever...

  • Pulled an all-nighter to knit, sew, glue, paint, bedazzle, applique, smock, blog, transcribe, re-touch, package, or list items for sale before jumping right into cooking breakfast, packing lunches, quizzing on spelling words, and throwing in that first load of morning laundry,
  • Scheduled your day down to the minute, only to replace "shower," "brush my own teeth," and "get a haircut," with "WORK,"
  • Had to wash baby puke off a nearly finished quilt before the craft show tomorrow,
  • Crafted five perfect sparkly bows and matching tutus, hand-embellished four prefolds to create chic burp cloths, knitted three tiny newborn beanies, filed two blog posts, or submitted one huge online order to your distributor... while sitting in the school pick-up line,
  • Supported your family for any length of time through your own unique combination of talent, hard work, flexibility, faith, and foolhardiness,
  • Had to explain to a fellow PTA mom exactly what a "HyenaCart" is,
  • Written a Netflix subscription off as a business/childcare expense,
  • Made a meal plan that included "peanut butter and jelly" on five different types of carriers: sandwich bread, tortillas, apple slices, celery sticks, and, what the heck?, by Friday, fingers will do,
  • Knitted, crocheted, or stitched like mad to complete an order from the bleachers at the ballpark, cheering on an older child and wearing a younger one,
  • Had to refund an order because the one time you forgot to purchase postal insurance was the one time a package was lost in transit,
  • Named a business after one of your children--or one of your children's embarrassing nicknames,
  • Jumped up and down, twisted and shouted, and gathered your kids in their varying levels of enthusiasm into the room with you to joyfully announce your first sale!
  • Answered a 2 am e-mail about where the raw materials for Michael Miller fabrics are sourced, 
  • Wished that, for just one day, you could put on a business suit (instead of yoga pants and a t-shirt) and drive off for your 8-5 with lunch out (instead of your 'round-the-clock with vertically challenged but ever-energetic colleagues eager for mac'n'cheese... again) in a company sedan (instead of your swagger wagon),
  • Caught your kid playing on your phone--pretending to be you--taking an order,  
  • Been told that your "foreign accent comprehension" is exceptional (this one's for the medical transcriptionists!),
  • Felt like you finally had the hang of the work-husband-kids-house-personal time balance only to hear yourself telling your husband, "Let's have another baby!"
  • Felt a little shady for giving your card to a mom you met while you were hiding unsafe baby carriers at the backs of shelves at Babies R Us,
  • Allowed a fingerpaint mural on your driveway just so you could finally get that Mother's Day blog post written (ahem)...

Naturally, a WAHM road is a pretty one.
If you've ever been there--or anywhere else that this WAHM road leads--then we salute you in a special way this Mother's Day!
The modern cloth diaper industry began as a network of Work-at-Home Moms, and eLeMeNO-Pee began as a one-woman WAHM business endeavor when our founder's husband was laid off from his job. We salute these industry foremothers. We salute our WAHM vendors--and our "big" vendors who began as WAHMs. We salute our consultants, many of whom work from home supporting multiple business endeavors, and some of whom work from home for eLeMeNO-Pee and work outside of the home as well! We salute our clients who have their own WAHM businesses. We salute everyone who supports and promotes WAHM businesses, and we salute every woman who provides for her family from home--in phenomenal ways and in small, but always helpful ways--using her own talents, time, creativity, and people skills.

Fill in the blank: You might be a WAHM if you've ever _______________________.