May 12, 2013
Herbie Business: Leah
Meet Leah, one of the awesome Herbie Parents we featured in this week's Raising Herbies series in honor of Mother's Day. Leah has three beautiful plant-based kiddos, with a 4th on the way, and she also has a baby-centric Herbie Business, Diaper Cakewalk!
Tell us a little bit about your business.
Diaper Cakewalk offers a unique new baby gift — diaper cakes! These are usable disposable diapers bundled into the shape of a cake, then decorated with equally usable baby supplies, like pacifiers, baby soaps and lotions, booties, small toys, etc. We ship our cakes all over the United States and have been creating them since 2006. We are web-based rather than brick and mortar, with a small workshop just outside of Atlanta GA.
How did you get into this business?
I had been making diaper cakes to give as gifts to friends who were expecting, and thought I might take a shot at selling a few locally. I quickly realized that might be a nice hobby, but it wouldn’t create an income. So I turned to the web. It took around a year of very late nights and there was a huge learning curve — but once I had a commercial-quality product and a sharp website (and had learned to promote it effectively), we took off.
What motivated you to start Diaper Cakewalk?
I was a stay-at-home mom of 2 under 2. I had been an office manager before the arrival of my daughters and enjoyed a decent income. My husband is a builder and we were just fine on his income alone…but it wasn’t long before his industry began to experience some very lean years. I had no real training or experience to speak of but knew we could benefit from a second income stream. I wanted to be with my young daughters and knew I had to find a way to work for myself.
Is this a full-time gig, or something you do on the side, a hobby?
It’s a full-time gig for sure, and then some. We stay busy — and when orders are a bit slow, there is always a landslide of administrative and promotional work to be done.
How long have you been a member of the HH community?
I have thought of myself as a ‘casual vegetarian’ since high school. Emphasis on ‘casual.’ I ate meat but a lot less than most people, and mostly for sanitary reasons. I have always believed that fresh fruits and veges were the healthiest foods one could eat, but I believed the protein myth as well. Then a little over 3 years ago, I saw Forks Over Knives and that settled it. I eat a plant-based diet now. I found the Happy Herbivore just after I saw FOK and have been so encouraged by the community!
What advice do you have for anyone interested in pursuing their dreams of opening an etsy shop and selling their crafts? Any advice to those looking specifically to make toys or products for babies or baby showers?
Just do it. There will be challenges along the way, and lots of hard work. Be prepared to learn and expect obstacles. They are a normal part of the landscape — but I have never encountered a single one that could not be overcome with some determination and refusal to be defeated. Above all, don’t give up. When I first launched the Diaper Cakewalk website, 5 months went by without a single order. I was promoting day and night — and unbeknownst to me, picking up a new skill set (internet marketing) that I never would have gained without those late nights and fruitless labor. When the orders did start, we got one every other day or so. I refused to quit even though it was discouraging. Now we are thriving! Be prepared to make adjustments along the way but never, never, never give up.
What is the most rewarding part of your business/work?
Customers call or email often to let us know our diaper cake was the hit of the baby shower. We get orders all the time from customers who received a diaper cake from us when they welcomed their child, and want to send one to someone else because they enjoyed it so much. Each cake represents a very significant event in a customer’s life — the arrival of a new member of the family. It is fun to be a part of that — but the real satisfaction comes from being able to bring my nearly 3-year-old to work with me each day, and leave the workshop to go and pick up my older daughters from school. I did what I set out to do — I am here for my family. It took hard work but it is a great feeling.
What is the most challenging aspect?
Ironically, it is resisting the temptation to work 80 hours per week. I have a home office and there is ALWAYS something else that needs to be done. I have to remember that I set out to work for myself so that I could be with my family MORE. Delegating has been a real learning experience for me as well, because I am a perfectionist. I have had to learn to let go and trust others to handle the task at hand. I can’t do it all and grow — neither can you!
Does your business directly relate to your Herbie lifestyle?
Depends on who you ask. I would say no…but my assistant, who has had to listen to me pontificate endlessly on how Westerners are killing themselves and their loved ones with their diets…might disagree. =)
Anything else you'd like to add or share?
The web has created an opportunity for every single person in America who wants to sell a product or service to do so successfully. No need for a brick and mortar store, virtually no start-up cost, and several already-established virtual market places (like Etsy) that make it easier than ever to create and sell your goods/services all over the US and even the world if you choose! As I said earlier, just do it! Make a decision that you aren’t going to quit, and that you are going to devote yourself to learning and make adjustments until you create success. Anyone can use the web successfully — anyone. I had NO training, NO skills, ZERO knowledge of the internet. With the help of the web, even my husband has followed his dream of becoming a full-time guide. If we can do it, anyone can.
For more information, visit Diaper Cakewalk.
Happy Mother's Day to Leah and all of our Herbie Moms out there!