Friday, 11 November 2016

Motherly Love, Naturally

Call it love or maternal instinct, as a mum, you'd naturally want the best for your baby, from the food she eats, the diaper she uses, the balm her delicate little bum is moisturised with, to the sustainable future she will walk into as a proud and responsible adult one day. Victoria Chuard is no different, except that she goes that extra mile to ensure that mums in Hong Kong are able to care for their little ones in a natural and environmentally responsible way, while contributing to a more sustainable future. And so Petit Tippi was born, on the same day Chuard’s son was born.

In a two-week series, we chat with Chuard on being an eco-conscious mum, which eventually led her to found the one-stop online shop for natural, organic and eco-friendly baby products. Read on if you’re a parent who celebrates cloth diapers, breastfeeding, and baby-led weaning, but find the availability of desirable products in this city rather dismal. 

When and why did you found Petit Tippi? Have you always been eco-conscious?
Not at all! I think that as a kid growing up in Canada, you're taught to "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" a lot in school, which is great, but I don't think I was any more or less eco-conscious than the next gal. When I was pregnant with my son in 2014, I did a lot of baby products research and I was frustrated with the very limited options in Hong Kong. The Millennial parents of today in Europe and North America are way ahead of the curve in terms of going back to basics in childrearing and what some refer to as "attachment parenting" - natural remedies, breastfeeding, babywearing, cloth diapering, baby-led weaning and the like (and we do practise all of the above in our household). 

I wound up in a lot of Facebook groups where mums would get together and group-buy products from North America or Europe, and I thought, if I'm doing all this research for the best products for my own baby, I'm sure there are parents here who are looking for the same things as me, and this group-buying that I was participating in was really my proof of concept. So, I started contacting all the brands that I had started buying stuff from for my own baby and that's how the ball got rolling. Our first brand to join the Petit Tippi family was AppleCheeks Cloth Diapers and we actually got our first order the day my son was born! It felt like I gave birth to two babies that day, but I also immediately started freaking out about how I was actually going to fulfil the order :D That's life!

Why did it occur to you to set up a one-stop shop for natural, organic and eco-friendly baby products? 
All the major retailers carry some natural, organic and/or eco-friendly products, but you really have to dig through what they've got to find the good stuff. There just isn't the same focus on those offerings in Hong Kong and I'm sure parents don't have time or want to trek across town for a bit of chemical-free bum cream, especially if you don't live on the island, and that's why we've put such focus on building a beautiful, usable and robust online retail space. I've done all the research already, so why not make it easy and readily available at the click of a button for other parents to make better choices? When I started buying products for my son in Hong Kong, I found myself feeling more often than not, that retailers here were only concerned about carrying the biggest, best-selling brands and even then only their flagship products that they knew would sell fast. That wasn't good enough for me, and it shouldn't be good enough for other parents.

How does Petit Tippi help mums and babies create a more sustainable future? 
At face value, using a lot of the products that we provide will allow each and every one of us to do a small part in saving the environment. Cloth diapers are a great example. Disposables take up to 500 years to decompose in a landfill, not to mention the poop that you're supposed to throw in the toilet but everyone throws in the trash that doesn't get treated properly. In two years a child creates up to two tonnes worth of dirty nappies! Those are crazy numbers! We don't cloth diaper 100% of the time, but just in comparing with my friends how much faster they went through their disposable diapers than in our household, I do get a warm fuzzy feeling about doing my bit, however small, in saving the environment. Not to mention saving my wallet, too! For new parents, we also make baby hampers, big and small, to set you on your way to a healthier, more sustainable path from the get-go! 

Who do you source from, and why? 

As much as we can, we source from the brands that we represent directly. In dealing with the company directly, I have built a relationship with the companies we retail for, and a lot of them are also start-ups by mums and dads like us, in search of what's better for our children. Some of them have also created really awesome communities amongst their customers and retailers (AppleCheeks's group called Peace, Love, AppleCheeks is one of my personal favourites on FB, so much love and support in that group!) which I think is really great. It does mean that I have to take care of shipping and transportation and storage and marketing and everything else on my own instead of with a distributor, but to me it's so much more than just buying and selling product, it's also about mutual trust and respect for what we are trying to achieve, and if I can get a better price at the end of the day for my customers, that's a great result for everyone!

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