Eunica Shaw is passionate about helping new parents and families explore cloth nappies as a real and feasible alternative to disposable nappies. She launched Monarch after many years spent researching, experimenting and testing different organic fibres and nappy shapes to develop the perfect balance of absorbency, a trim fit and ease of use. Wanting to create something unique and impactful, they combine fun prints with sustainable materials, as well as donating a portion of their profits to charity. The result is an easy-to-use cloth nappy system that helps parents with the transition from disposable to cloth, with the addition of a range of beautiful, premium and sustainable products for babies, children and parents. Here, Eunica talks to The Natural Parent Magazine about the inspiration behind Monarch, balancing work and family life, and her exciting plans for the future.
The passion: What inspired you to set up your business?
I wanted to create something desirable, useful, sustainable and charitable! I knew that I loved all things kids, fun prints and the environment so Modern Cloth Nappies allowed me to weave these passions together to create something unique and impactful! A big focus for me was ensuring I was able to give back to the community in a sustainable way, so while the business was a side-hustle, I prioritised donating our profits to charity above all else, including paying myself a wage! Now, each year, we still donate a portion of our profits to a charity as voted by our customers and we reinvest the rest into our business so that we can continue to grow, and increase our financial contribution in the coming years.
The launch: How did you start out in the beginning?
We actually started out by stocking eco-friendly disposable nappies! However, as we were a very small operation, our volume was unable to offset the higher shipping costs of big bags of disposable nappies, plus we were becoming increasingly aware of the environmental impact of disposable nappies (even eco-friendly ones), so we changed up our product offering to a completely reusable option!
With our cloth nappies, we started with a release of 3 prints, and a total of 700 items of stock – it was like Christmas and took months of hard work to even start to move out the door, but it was so worth it! To give you a comparison, these days, our minimum order quantities start at 700 nappies per print, per style, and our shipments usually average 23,000 pieces of stock – it’s been an exciting journey!
The innovation: What was the biggest breakthrough for you with your business?
Our Night Nappies – The Ultimate Nappy and The Hybrid Fitted Nappy Cover! Prior to launching, I did a lot of research around what the pain points were for cloth nappy users and found that good quality, absorbent nappies that could last a baby through the night were hard to come by. I aimed to develop a nappy that would be able to meet this need whilst still being easily accessible (both in terms of supply and price point) and user friendly, and we were able to quickly grow as a result.
Yin and Yang: How do you balance work and family?
Sacrifice and compromise. I will be one of the first people to admit that I can’t do it all. I am no Margaret Thatcher and as much as I wish I could function on 4 hours of sleep, my body demands 8.
That means that sometimes I don’t get to the emails as quickly, or I have to schedule meetings around family or other commitments. It means that the laundry sits unfolded for weeks on end (because to me, it’s the same effort getting your socks out of the laundry basket vs the underwear drawer) and it also means sometimes my family don’t get the attention they deserve because there is always another release, another email or a social media comment to reply to. My husband and I have learned to compromise on what we need from the other. It’s not perfect, but neither are we and we’re always working on finding that magic balance together.
The drive: What challenges have you overcome?
Running this business has been both easier and harder than I imagined. A lot of the difficulties we have experienced, I did not expect, whilst other challenges that I had braced myself for from the very beginning have not (yet, fingers crossed) manifested.