Dignity Period and Cotton Babies, a cloth diaper and other childcare products company based in St. Louis, have a lot in common. Both began with an entrepreneurial woman who identified a serious lack in her community, and decided to do something about it.
“Cotton Babies began with the desire to make cloth diapers more economical for families. We started with $100 worth of product in a tiny green milkcrate stored on a shelf in our kitchen. It grew from there to a bookshelf, then a closet, then a bedroom, then a basement and finally, the business exploded into commercial space,” says founder, Jennifer Labit.
Cotton Babies has grown to have an impact on the lives of more people than Labit could have dreamed. The business is flourishing and is a market leader in cloth diapers. As they’ve grown, they’ve diversified from diapers to creating everything a family needs to take care of a baby, like baby carriers, breast feeding accessories, and clothing. In addition, the company’s efforts to make a positive difference in the world has had tremendous results. Their Diaper Grant program delivers diapers to children in need around the world.
Labit is also an advocate for the cloth diapering industry. She was the founding chair of the Real Diaper Industry Association, a 501(c)6 trade association created to expand consumer awareness of the value of cloth diapers and to support industry needs in a rapidly growing market. Her company is passionate about educating families on the environmental and economic benefits of using cloth diapers and hosts workshops like this one around the country.
When Labit learned that Dignity Period was also based in St. Louis, supporting a similar factory in Ethiopia, and raising awareness about the rights of girls and the value of girls’ education, she wanted to help: “Dignity Period is doing such important work to make environmentally friendly menstrual hygiene products affordable in Ethiopia. Their focus on educating the community and involving entire families is exactly what we try to do with our products. In the same way that menstruation is everyone’s issue – women and girls, boys and men – so is childcare! It’s great that we can partner with an organization that has such similar values.”
After meeting with board member Matt Fisher, and touring the St. Louis factory with Helen and Lewis Wall and our factory founder, Freweini Mebrahtu in March, Labit generously donated pre-cut pieces of waterproof fabric for the backing of our pads. This was a fortuitous gift, as Freweini was having trouble sourcing this type of fabric.
The Walls recently returned from Ethiopia. During this trip, they delivered 3,600 of these backings to the factory, and the employees got to work immediately. The pads were all made within 24 hours, and were ready to go to girls in need.
Helen Wall is enthused by the partnership: “It’s great to see the St. Louis community coming together to help women and girls around the world. Cotton Babies makes environmentally friendly, exceptional childcare products accessible to every mom and family who needs and wants them, and Dignity Period works to make environmentally friendly, exceptional menstrual hygiene products accessible to every girl in Ethiopia. It’s a great match, and together we are able to reach even more people.”