St Albans mum launches eco-friendly range of nappies and wipes

Jennie Potts and Laura Crawford of Mama Bamboo

Jennie Potts and Laura Crawford of Mama Bamboo - Credit: Archant

Frustration in her hunt for the perfect nappies and wipes prompted a St Albans mum-of-two to launch her own environmentally-friendly alternative.

Mama Bamboo nappies.

Mama Bamboo nappies. - Credit: Archant

Laura Crawford decided not to return to her previous role as a management consultant, but to develop and promote her own greener and healthier brand, Mama Bamboo.

"I tried every brand and every type available, including cloth, all-in-ones, premium ranges, supermarket ranges, eco ranges, but I never found one which I was happy with from a performance standpoint, the convenience I needed and the environmental impact."

Horrified with the impact three billion nappies and 13 billion wet wipes a year are having in the UK alone, she sought out materials which not only delivered on performance, but were also totally guilt-free.

She came across bamboo, which is not only organically grown without fertiliser, pesticide or false irrigation, but its growth rates surpass demand and it is naturally antibacterial, breathable and temperature regulating. It is also very soft, perfect for newborns' delicate behinds!

Mama Bamboo wipes.

Mama Bamboo wipes. - Credit: Archant

The lining is made from corn starch manufactured from renewable sources and 100 per cent compostable. This is both breathable and waterproof for up to 24 hours.

Using family connections, she recruited a team in China to seek out the best manufacturing plants, and selected partners to work with to source materials and develop products.

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"I designed all the branding and learnt far more than I thought possible about quality assurance, manufacturing processes and import procedures.

"And then I took a huge gamble and begged and borrowed to invest a six figure amount and launch my business in September."

Since then, the company has seen +30 per cent growth month-on-month, and recent launch into Ocado and awards from Mother&Baby and MadeforMums has made the product range more mainstream and available.

"It has been an incredible journey. I learn something new every day. I've done everything from packing boxes and measuring pallets, designing ad copy, figuring out German VAT law, managing buyer meetings with the likes of Ocado and Sainsbury's, and building shelves for exhibitions. Genuinely as a small business owner, you do it all."

At 12 months into the company's journey, as sales were getting bigger and the operation was proving harder to manage, Laura was joined by her long-term university firend Jennie Potts as a full joint partner in charge of customer operations and customer service.

"Without her I would be lost. Jennie has a background in fulfilment and financial services, and very importantly studied Chinese at university and lived in Beijing for a year. Her wealth of knowledge and understanding of the Chinese culture has been invaluable in doing good business across borders."

As well as Mama Bamboo being a finalist in the New Business Category of last year's Herts Business Awards, Laura has been running the #thenappyrevolution campaign aimed at improving the waste management of absorbent hygiene products in the UK, practising carbon offsetting through bamboo afforestation with the Ugandan Bamboo Village, and encouraging and practising employment policies that support part-time, flexible working for return-to-work parents.

The company plans to launch two new products later this year: compostable bags and sanitary wear, and is campaigning for the recycling and composting of absorbant hygiene products (AHP) in the UK.

"This is the harder part of our business," Laura explained. "Consumers are easy; they want to change and buy better less harmful products, but pushing councils to invest in infrastructure and services which are greener but more costly, is an uphill struggle. The stronger our numbers the more likely we will get a Nappicycle plant in England agreed, so if your readers could write to their councillor demanding they offer nappy recycling or composting that will all help."