As we launch the new Windelmanufaktur nappies, created in Germany using a range of Oscha fabrics, we thought it would be great to know a little more about designer and founder Stephanie. Former architect and mother, she has developed a convenient, leak proof product that supports an environmental approach, and allows for a variety of fabric designs and blends to be used. Resulting in an innovative, unique nappy that is both practical and beautiful.
We chatted to Stephanie about her motivation and the special features of this innovative nappy design.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’m Stephanie, 37 years old and a mother of three children. I was an architect writing my PhD thesis in history of architecture, but then the kids came…. they really changed my life. In 2011 I began to blog about our family and our children, about me and how we tried to live a simple and sustainable life. For example, we don’t own a TV or car, we always buy organic groceries and have a garden where we grow a lot of our own food. We often ask ourselves how to solve different aspects of our life in a more sustainable way.
What motivated you to design high quality re-usable nappies and how did the story begin?
With three small children, we soon looked for a way to reduce the amount of rubbish produced through disposable diapers. After testing many different cloth diapers, we were still not satisfied and my husband suggested that I should “come up with something better“. Somehow, this caught my interest. I have a passion for creating and as an architect I had the necessary passion for construction and geometry. I finally gave in and dived deeply into the world of cloth diapers!
I wanted our nappies to be beautiful and simple and to make the least amount of laundry possible. Trial and error produced a huge mountain of prototypes, and in the end one construction really caught my interest: the ManufakturWindel was born.
They were then tested extensively on my own children, then on friends’ babies, and from then on the story took off. A friend wanted some, another friend, I received lots of emails emails… And there I was, I found something people really needed and it was better for the environment than what they already had. Bang!
Once you start looking into sustainable baby care, you don’t usually stop with cloth diapers. Many other products that are created as disposables come into consideration. That is why WindelManufaktur also creates washable changing mats, organic cloth wipes and washable nursing pads.
What makes your nappies different from other 3 in 1 reusable nappies?
There are different aspects:
1. I do really care for where the nappies are produced. They are made by hand here in Dresden, Germany. I put a lot of energy in producing locally.
2 . I really care where the material comes from. You won’t find cheap fabric on WindelManufaktur-Nappies. I do not want my fabrics produced in asian sweatshops with inadequate circumstances for the employees, let alone kids working in them.
3. I always choose those details that ensure that the product has a long lifetime and won’t have to be thrown away early. For example I use Snaps and every seam is topstitched.
4. I always choose the better material where there is one. Most of the fabrics are produced in the European Union, so I am sure about the ecological and the working standarts in those mills.
5. I offer a real choice of wonderful fabrics – from basic design to an all natural collection to the high-end fabrics made by Oscha in Scotland – I always choose a clean and classic look but in a broad range of designs.
6. My 3 in 1 reusable nappies are really easy to understand and they produce the least laundry possible.
Has your previous career as an architect influenced your development and design of the nappies?
Yes, and it still does in almost every everything I do, from small sketches of this idea or that improvement. The habit of thinking three-dimensional when it comes to designing garments helps a lot. These days I plan my next innovation – and I put together pieces of rubber band and topstitching in my mind for hours. I think creating can come to be a habit, more than work.
For parents who haven’t invested in re-usable nappies before, can you explain why this product is beneficial and can save them money in the long term?
Yes, it is a rather easy calculation. Fortunately my husband is an Excel-Expert and has created a big Excel-Sheet where you may insert all the costs on both sides. It is still in German but we are working to translate it into English. You can insert all your own REAL costs you would have with disposables or with cloth nappies and see at the end how much you could save. My hubby even added the wear and tear of the washing machine 😉
When it comes to what you save: It added up to over £700 less investment with cloth diapers in comparison to disposables for our family. That is not only a good week of holidays in summer but also a huge amount of chemicals that will not touch my babys skin and a ton of waste being saved.
I really do invite you to calculate that for your family. The results are extremely surprising. However, I do realise that at first sight spending £10 per week for disposables seems to be less than buying everything at once. When calculated properly, almost every family realises how much could be saved with cloth nappies.
Why have you chosen the different fabric options for the inserts?
Because every fabric behaves differently regarding how much and how fast it soaks up the liquid, how fast it dries, how thick or thin the fabric is and how fast it leaks liquid under pressure. That is why the combination of soakers is the key to finding THE soaker combination which is perfect for your baby.
Can you tell us about your personal experience of using them?
I loved the combination of cotton terry and hemp!! Most parents choose to use the cotton terry insert as the one closest to the skin. With its soft textured surface it catches everything very well and fast. Additionally you could then use one of the other soakers. The booster soaks as much as the hemp soaker, while the booster soaks faster but hemp is a complete natural fiber. The bamboo soaker is the best choice to be folded and to be positioned under the area were the liquid hits the soakers.
What are the most important things I need to know when I cloth diaper with WindelManufaktur?
I’d say it would be to buy the right size, don’t forget to adjust the elastics in the inner diapers when you have a small baby, remember the inserts have to be prewashed and then enjoy! All new things need a bit of adjustment – cloth nappies are the same. Give yourself a couple of weeks and don’t stress out. It will work. Plus: We are there to help you!!
We have put together a simple day pack which includes:
1 x Oscha Outer Nappy
2 x Inner Nappies
2 x Organic Cotton Terry Inserts
2 x Hemp Fleece Inserts
1 x Bamboo Insert
1 x Booster Insert
Purchase this amazing Nappy set on the Oscha website.