During the past year, Eco Baby Steps has posted profiles of some of the great people who manufacture products that Parenting by Nature carries. As a New Year’s treat, I want to give you an opportunity to learn more about the woman behind both the store and the blog: Nature Mom, Tamara Champion.
What motivated you to start the kind of store you did, focusing on natural and attachment parenting?
I always knew I was going to use cloth diapers. I was raised with a very frugal and eco-conscious grandmother who used cloth diapers, and it seemed to me that it was the natural thing to do. I just couldn’t imagine using paper & plastic diapers on my new, precious baby. The cost of disposables, the waste that continues to pollute our landfills and the chemicals used in disposable diapers also turned me off. When I was pregnant with my first daughter 5 years ago, I searched for cloth diapers locally and found them nearly impossible to find. When I turned to the Internet I discovered a whole new world of cloth diapering with the advent of pocket cloth diapers and all-in-ones. Unfortunately these were equally difficult to find in Canada, and at the time, I had to order from a US-based company. This scenario repeated itself when I started looking for a simple baby sling that I had wanted for my new baby. These items became the first products sold through our store.
With a background in retail management, sales and customer service I had been researching business ideas that I could do from home when my new little bundle arrived. I was already passionate about the products I was looking for and it didn’t take long to realize that a ‘natural baby store’ was a perfect fit for me. Parenting By Nature was one of only a handful of its kind back in December of 2004 and today I still get excited every time I talk with new parents that are interested in using cloth diapers or looking for that perfect baby sling.
You get to talk to a lot of people about their parenting choices. Have you noticed any changes in parents’ concerns in the past year?
This past year we definitely heard more concern about the cost of raising a baby with the present economic situation. The wonderful thing about our products is that we really try to find items that go the distance and parents have started to realize that quality will outlast much of the inexpensive department store finds. While some products may seem more expensive up front, such as our Stainless Steel Sippy Cups, when you consider they can be used by both a toddler and an adult simply by changing the lids, you actually have a very economical product.
Similarly, cloth diapers can save parents a substantial amount of money, particularly when they can be passed down from one child to the next. We’ve noticed many parents are turning to cloth diapers today because of the money they’ll save. A few years ago parents were happy choosing cloth diapers because of environmental benefits or health benefits for their child. Today, an economical cloth diapering system is just as important. Two years ago pocket cloth diapers were our top selling item but today we are selling more prefolds and covers – the same products used by diaper services for home laundering.
How has your store and your blog helped you create the life you want to live?
Parenting By Nature started as an desire to bring natural, reusable products I was passionate about to more families in Canada but has turned into so much more for me personally. My original goal for the store was to bring in some extra money for groceries and necessities at home, but living on only one income (my husband’s) was proving to be more difficult than we thought. It had always been my dream to be home when I had children and Parenting By Nature helped make this dream a reality. I have an amazing amount of flexibility with the store, and this allows me to focus on what matters most. I can drop everything at a moment’s notice if my kids need me or if an opportunity comes up for our family or friends.
Working with two young children under foot is not without its challenges, but overall my two girls see a very happy, productive and fulfilled mommy. That’s very important to me. I’m also very thankful that I get to wake up every single day to a job I love. Whether it’s helping a new, confused mother wade through her cloth diapering options, or speaking with a new father that is enjoying bonding with his baby in a sling, I genuinely enjoy working with parents knowing the future of our children will benefit from their discerning choices.
When it comes to the choices you advocate—cloth diapering, babywearing, and natural parenting—what is going really well for you? Has anything only recently really clicked or fallen into place for you?
Cloth diapering seemed to come naturally for me. I was determined to make it work so that I could keep disposable diapers off my girls and out of landfills. There wasn’t any other option for us as a family. The joy and convenience of babywearing was something that came as a surprise. Before my oldest was born I knew I wanted to carry her in a sling for the first few weeks when we would go out, so she’d be close and safe. I didn’t expect to be carrying her around in the sling at home as much as I was. She was in her sling daily, for hours, and she just loved it. For me, it was such a relief to be able to have my hands free in those early weeks, so that I could accomplish chores around the house, prepare a sandwich or spend time getting Parenting By Nature up and running.
What would you like to work on in the coming year with your own family?
I’m constantly working on leading a simple, less commercial life which seems to be harder the older my kids get. The holidays are always a tough time. When I look at the number of gifts their very generous family and friends have given them this year, I wonder how I will ever teach them that there is more to the holidays than toys and ‘things’. This is my current battle and likely one I will be working on for a few years to come.
What changes do you see for your store in the coming year?
The baby I was due with during Parenting By Nature’s early days will be 5 years old in March. As she grows I’m constantly learning new ways to parent with a simple, natural approach, and I’m discovering new products along the way. Parents have told me over the years that once their child has grown past the baby stage they are at a loss for stores in Canada to support their parenting choices. I won’t let the cat out of the bag yet, but let’s just say our natural ‘baby’ store will be expanding in 2010. I’m very excited about our plans – this will be a great year.
What changes do you see for your blog in the coming year?
We plan to continue covering a variety of topics that pertain to natural parenting. We hope you’ll enjoy our articles whether you’re a new parent or parenting older children or teens. We also anticipate working with more guest blogging parents over the next year so that our readers can benefit from a diverse range of experiences. And watch for another exciting contest we’ll be launching in the Spring.