'Nappies are like clothes, it's a fashion thing'

'Nappies are like clothes, it's a fashion thing'
From BBC - March 13, 2018

When Ixchel Anaya become pregnant aged 22, little did she know that it would spark a business idea that she would take global.

An interior design student at the time back in 2009, her newborn son would get bad rashes from disposable nappies.

Living in the Mexican city of Irapuato, 300km (186 miles) north west of the capital, Ixchel decided to try reusable, washable diapers instead.

But while there were plenty of options from Europe and the US that she could have bought over the internet, she was disappointed that she could not find any decent homegrown reusable nappies.

So with the help of her grandmother she decided to make her own, playing around with various sizes and fabrics until she came up with a design that she was pleased with.

Friends who also had babies were keen on Ixchel's creations, so she started making more, selling a few at a time.

Looking back she says she was delighted with her money-making enterprise, because "since I was little I wanted to have a business, I'd sell everything you can think of, I'd sell the sweets out of pinatas".

Soon Ixchel realised the business potential of her homemade nappies, so together with her husband they launched Ecopipo.

The name is a combination of the words "eco", as in ecological, and "pipo" which means small child in Latin American Spanish.

Today the company is enjoying annual sales of $1.3m (940,000), and exporting to countries around the world, including the UK and Canada.

On a busy Monday morning at Ecopipo's factory in Irapuato, Ixchel goes around chatting with some of her 25 employees.

Seamstresses deftly stitch together bright fabrics, while a burly young man cuts neon pink Velcro patches.

It seems a smooth operation, but Ixchel admits to plenty of hurdles along the way, starting with a struggle to get any staff skilled enough to make the nappies.

For while Mexico has a large textiles industry, Ecopipo's tiny nappies require a more delicate type of sewing that many seamstresses in the company's home state of Guanajuato were not comfortable with.

So back in 2009Ixchel's father literally had to knock on doors around town until he found "Mrs Yolis", Maria Yolanda Benitez, a motherly seamstress who Ms Anaya fondly says, "would make the things in my head into a reality."

Additional staff were then slowly trained up to be able to do the work.

Once nappy production on a commercial scale was underway, the next challenge for Ixchel was to reach customers without having the capital to set up a physical store anywhere.

The answer was to instead focus on ecommerce, and she quickly launched an Ecopipo website, and used social media to promote the brand. Within a year she was already getting orders from abroad.

"I was getting orders from Canada, which is so cool, you can reach anywhere with the internet," says Ixchel.


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