A decision to design a diaper that did not give her child a rash led to the creation of a business that now churns out 4,000 diapers a month that have a market in six countries.
Not only were diapers expensive when Ixchel Anaya Meave, now 30, was raising her first son, but the disposable variety gave him a rash. So the interior design graduate decided to develop a diaper that was safe for her child.
With the help of her grandmother and her sewing machine, Anaya went to work. Her first design bypassed the traditional safety pin by using velcro straps and an elastic lining that adjusted to her firstborn’s body.
And so was born Ecopipo, an ecological diaper manufacturer based in Irapuato, Guanajuato.
Eight years later, thanks to a small initial investment made by family members, Anaya produces diapers for export to the United Kingdom, Peru, Argentina, Colombia and Ecuador, although 80% of her production is sold in Mexico.
Now she has her sights set on the United States and Australian markets.
There are 20 different Ecopipo styles priced between 255 and 600 pesos (US $14 to $34), but many parents are reluctant at first to pay that kind of money.
Anaya says she is frequently asked why anyone would pay so much for a single diaper, for which reason Ecopipo’s business model is based on distributors, most of them users themselves.
“This is not a product that you can pick up from a display counter somewhere, you need to know how to use it first, you need training,” Anaya told the newspaper El Universal.
Most of Ecopipo’s advertising is by word of mouth by women who have used the product with their own children and can attest to its advantages. The distributors make use of social media and begin selling the diapers themselves, enough to provide many with a stable source of income.
Anaya also attends trade shows focused on baby care products to find more one-on-one promoters and distributors.
All Ecopipo diapers are made with a water-resistant, bamboo-based fabric imported from the United States. The bamboo allows the fabric to keep the baby’s skin dry, while the whole diaper is stain-resistant and can be thrown in the washing machine.
Anaya laments that she has to buy the fabric from outside Mexico despite transportation and tax costs. “If I could find all the supplies here [in Mexico] I would be their first buyer.”
As demand for the reusable diapers grew Anaya had to find a second manufacturing plant, which she did in Xalapa, Veracruz.
The successful enterprise has led to manufacturing other environmentally-friendly products such as pull-up training pants, swimming diapers and reusable menstrual pads.
This last product has been well received by consumers and now represents 15% of Anaya’s sales, and demand keeps growing.
Source: El Universal (sp)