Charlotte Loving of Loving by Nature on why we need more real nappie shops
Since opening my shop doors two years ago, I have been pleased to see many more cloth nappy shops either in the pipeline or opening up all over the UK.
The main driver in my opening Loving by Nature was to spread the word about reusable nappies and provide accessible advice for anyone wanting to make the switch. I can’t claim to be the first cloth nappy shop to open though. Nappy Ever After in Hackney and Plush Pants in Oxford have been open for several years, as well as Naturally Baby in Leamington Spa. There are also a number of small stores that have always stocked one or two cloth nappy brands, although not their main focus.
The reason I think we need more bricks-and-mortar real nappy shops in the country is simple. Whilst online retail is brilliant, immediate and accessible, I truly believe that if we want reusable nappies to become mainstream, we need to be able to see them up close, in the flesh, in real-life stores across our towns and cities. This isn’t to say that using cloth is complicated, but there is no denying that when faced with all the options online, it can be dizzying and confusing without being able to see how things work in real life. Personally, I am a very touchy-feely person and always feel nervous before clicking ‘buy’ online when I haven’t any prior experience of the product. With something as seemingly alien as cloth nappies, buying online can seem all the more risky – especially for first-time parents.
With a physical shop, we are able to open our doors to anyone passing by, which also means that people who weren’t necessarily looking to reuse might find us too. This is vital if we are to break through the barriers of what is considered ‘normal’ and get real nappies on more bums across the country. At the moment, if you want to use real nappies, which thankfully more and more people do, you need to be quite active and determined in seeking out sources online and researching and finding groups you can attend locally for advice and support.
It has been great to see many supermarkets jumping on board and stocking some popular real nappie brands recently. While they might be able to offer knock-down prices that a small shop never could, what you can’t get from the supermarket, however, is specialised, informed advice from someone truly passionate and experienced in what they are talking about. This means someone buying their first cloth nappies from a supermarket may end up ditching the idea if they find they don’t get on with the particular brand they’ve been trying.
So, while cloth nappies in supermarkets is a fantastic step in the right direction, I would still urge anyone keen to give cloth a try to seek the advice and support of your local, independent distributor. What you also get from a specialist shop is the opportunity to return if something isn’t working for you. You’ll get more tailored advice, the chance to keep learning as you go, as well as the opportunity to become part of your local cloth nappy community, should you wish. Plus, they’ll be a far greater variety of options available to you.
Cloth nappy focussed shops are still a rarity, although with the soon-to-open Friendly Eco in Bristol, the Real Nappy Café in London and The Nappy Workshop in Surrey, plus more and more popping up at markets and events around the country all the time, I am hopeful that sometime in the near future we may have one in every town – I would love to open more myself! That said, it is not an easy gig. Reusable nappies are no cash cow, and I can assure you that anyone doing this is doing it for the passion, because they truly believe in the need for it, and not because they want to make their millions. If we can make enough to keep a roof over our heads, we’re happy to keep providing this much-needed service to our communities – and the environment.
Loving by Nature is open from 10am to 2pm, Tuesdays to Saturdays and can be found at De Danann Centre, 27 London Road, Dorchester, DT1 1 NF.
You can also find out more online at lbndorset.com