Meet the Mum behind the Brand
Hi, my name is Chloe Bell and my little boy is called Zachary. Here is the back story to me and my brand.
Sometimes it’s hard to put into words why and how on certain subjects. It’s also hard to talk about yourself and certain obstacles in life you have over come but Il do my best.
I was told at the age of 28 that even with IVF it’s highly unlikely that I would be able to carry a child of my own. This news devastated me. I have severe stage 4 endometriosis, Hypoparathyroidism, Hypocalcemia amongst a few.
So when I became pregnant at 33 this then opened up a world of emotions. Excitement, and being petrified were amongst the strongest. I was classed as high risk and also told there was a chance Zachary would not make it or he could inherit some of my genetic conditions. So immediately I started researching everything I could think of.
The one thing that stood out were the chemicals in disposables and how these leach into your babies skin. This horrified me so I decided to look into cloth. I was determined to use cloth nappies from day one. This didn’t happen perfectly we managed half and half as I had a very traumatic labour.
After some trial and errors by about 3 months in we had just about mastered full time cloth. Not sure how we managed as Zachary fed 24 times a day and never slept. 18 months in and the naughty little sausage still doesn’t sleep.
Then when we were due to go up to the next size, me and Zachary found ourselves to be just a family of two. This obviously had a massive impact on my financial situation. I found I couldn’t afford to buy his next size up? They were just so expensive, I was devastated. I was extremely fortunate to have help from family and friends.
This got me thinking, I can’t be the only one in this situation, surely people should be able to afford to cloth their babies cute little bums without breaking the bank?
So this has now led to Zachary’s Cloth Nappies & Accessories LTD trading as “Bells Bumz”. My wish was to produce a well designed , good quality cloth nappy that people can afford. I hope you love them as much as we do.
INFREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Who is behind Bells Bumz?
My name is Chloe Bell and I am a single mum to my little boy Zachary. I work full time whilst also working on building Bells Bumz. I have no employees and I am a one woman band. I have some amazing supporters and friends who help admin the Bells Bumz Nappy Chat group on facebook or are Bells Bumz Ambassadors.
Why did you choose to start a Cloth Nappy Business?
First of all I have been in a position as a single mum unable to afford to cloth my son. I wanted to develop a range of cloth nappies that were affordable yet high quality. It was very important I used cloth as he has lots of medical conditions and I was worried about the chemicals in disposables. The news you can't afford to do something for your own child is absolutely devastating. I went through so many emotions and how I was letting him down that I wouldn't want to wish those feelings on anyone. I am a great believer that everyone should be able to afford to cloth and this does not mean lowering the quality or working conditions. Why shouldn't you be able to provide the best without paying through the roof?
Finally, I want to try and retain this beautiful world for my son now and in the future for his very own family some day. Every single disposable nappy, wipe, whatever, that the reusable Bells Bumz products replace and therefore prevent from going to landfill is a step closer to making environmental change now and in the future. We often talk about how using reusable products saves waste (including human waste) from going to landfill, landfill sites are often located near our most vulnerable communities and disproportionately effect people of colour and from backgrounds which place them in a minority in the UK. Did you know.. the UK is the worlds second largest exporter of plastic waste? this means that "landfill" and even "recycling" is not necessarily even in the UK. The UK sends over two thirds of its waste to developing countries, for example in September 2020 the UK exported 6,896 metric tonnes of waste to countries such as Malaysia, Pakistan, Vietnam and Indonesia. These countries don't have capacity or facilities to properly manage the waste, which means most of it is burned or buried. This has adverse impacts on the local communities. It is important that we make changes now to protect the planet and its people now and for the future.
What is your number one consideration when designing your nappies?
My number one thought is about comfort! I wanted to make nappies that were comfortable for babies, that I knew Zachary would be comfortable in.
I wanted to make sure that I made nappies that would be comfortable for all babies regardless of their size and shape so my nappies are larger fitting than most.
I like to ensure there is a stay dry option for all my nappy products whether this be suede, microfleece, coffee fibre microfleece or athletic wicking jersey as I know that Zachary is most comfortable when he is dry. For those babies who are potty training and benefit from feeling wet or who prefer natural fibres against babies skin my bamboo wipes have been designed to be used as a slim booster and a liner for the nappies. I advise people to place the bamboo velour side against baby as it has some natural stay dry properties.
I like to make sure that babies are comfortable when they move so I have no hip poppers on any of my nappies or wraps, I considered a female hip popper but I found these still mark, rub and are uncomfortable for Zachary if they are exposed as you move to the larger settings. There are some hip poppers on the Reusabelles range that were designed by Amy. However, these are on the top row to allow increased movement and the waist has been designed so that the hip popper will not be exposed as children hit the upper weight range.
I have made sure the elastics in my nappies, whether this be leg, back or tummy elastic are nice and soft so they will not leave any more than faint sock marks when fitted correctly for your babies size.
I have tested all my nappies on Zachary to make sure they are comfortable and that I am satisfied they are as comfortable as I can make them.
How do you make such high quality products yet keep prices so affordable?
In order to make a high quality product that is affordable yet made from the best materials, with good quality workmanship and safe and fair working conditions, I do need to accept lower profit margins.
My pricing means I retain high quality products and I do make a small profit, with all the hard work I do want to be able to earn a living eventually as well as being able to spend more time with Zachary which is my ultimate goal. However, it was important to me that I did not compromise my personal values and ethics or sacrifice my belief in making cloth affordable by over charging for products that should be more financially accessible for everyone who wishes to use them. I feel strongly that I want everyone to us cloth should they wish. I am so confident in the quality of my nappies that I offer a comprehensive Family Lifetime warranty.
How did you choose your materials?
I could have gone down the route of microfiber mix and made lower cost nappies. However, I chose to offer products I believe to be decent quality, using natural fibres without the risk of compression leaks and ensuring that the products I make work. I wouldn't want to put people who are just starting out and do not know the levels of absorbency in materials. As such you will find no microfiber in any of my products. Instead you will find bamboo, bamboo cotton and hemp cotton. I am also looking to include cotton products to compensate for flooders. My PUL is high quality and is manufactured using heat and pressure (also known as TPU PUL). Some PUL is made using chemical bonding and I wanted to avoid this for my nappies. You can read more about my materials, here.
How did you choose your factory?
When I was looking for a factory to produce Bells Bumz, I initially looked in the UK. However, the cost of manufacturing in the UK is high and the environmental impact is similar to manufacturing abroad as most, if not all, materials would be imported from abroad. I did explore other factories in Turkey and elsewhere. However, again I found that most of the materials were imported from China to then be imported to the UK from where ever they were made. Therefore, I decided to find a high quality, ethical factory in China for my nappies and accessories.
To limit the environmental impact of manufacturing in China, wherever possible I transport Bells Bumz products by road and rail. You will also find zero packaging for my nappies and I ensure they are transported to me in the same way. This is to reduce any unnecessary waste. There is no care card supplied to reduce waste and instead you can find our care guide on the website.
I have friends who live in China and I asked them to look into my shortlist of factories. I then had virtual tours and photos of the lovely staff who work so hard. I completed my due diligence and have read the third party inspection report on the factory which was a lovely read. I do know that all workers have time off for their festivities and all production lines are halted during these times. I wouldn't have it any other way as all people should have fair working conditions. The factory has also passed an Amfori Full Social Audit - Manufacturing audit, with 11 A rated sections which included worker involvement and protection, no discrimination and fair remuneration, Occupational Health and Safety, No Child Labour with special Protection for younger adult workers, No precarious employment or bonded labour, Protection of the environment and Ethical Business Behaviours, amongst others.
The nappies are all hand made and the factory is small with a lovely personal feel to it. I speak with David weekly and we have laughs and jokes about my own stress levels wanting everything to be perfect. With the help of my friends who live in China, I recently sent a gift to David as he and his wife were celebrating the birth of their baby boy and he was taking some paternity leave.
How do you make sure your products are safe?
With regards to safety I am very particular about what I use on Zachary and as such would not put anything on my own lovely boy without knowing that they are not only comfortable but also safe. I have had numerous testers and samples to ensure consistency, quality control and for independent UK standard safety tests to be completed by SGS laboratories. This isn't a legal obligation and the factory provides certificates to US/ EU standards. However, I know UK standards are higher and so to keep true to my own values and ethics and to know that I can sleep soundly with the knowledge that there are no nasties in my nappies.
In addition to my comprehensive safety checks I also hold full product and public liability insurance as a manufacturer. A lot of lower cost insurance companies will cover you with "rights to recourse" or not cover you as if you were the manufacturer. This means that you have to claim direct from the factory, and as a Chinese factory has no legal obligations this would, in my opinion, lead to a gap in cover. Therefore, with the level of insurance I have I am confident that the consumer, my Bells Bumz Family Stockists and Bells Bumz are all fully protected.
Why do you choose to not sell direct?
Bells Bumz is a family business for me and for my little boy Zachary. I want to help families everywhere by making cloth nappies and accessories accessible that are high quality and affordable.
I made the decision to not sell individual items direct and instead showcase my amazing Bells Bumz Family Stockists to ensure that their businesses are fully supported so I do not divert sales away from them.
The Bells Bumz Family Stockists include a range of lovely eco / cloth nappy shops in the UK and internationally. They are mostly run by work at home mums, therefore, by not selling direct I am supporting more small family businesses to grow, together.
The MISFIT Marketplace is where our perfectly imperfect items are for sale. Through our factories high quality work we do not have many perfectly imperfect products or "seconds quality" products. More often we have not to sale standard products in the MISFIT Marketplace due to human error, for example, they may be products that need a quick wash before use as they have been dropped on the Bells Bumz HQ warehouse floor. When this has occurred in the past, these have been donated to good causes such as charities in the UK and across the world. Since the launch of our Bells 4 Change programmes, we have decided to ringfence the money from any sales our misfits to fund Bells 4 Change which includes our Cloth Nappy Incentive Scheme, The Period Incentive and Bells Grants.
Through choosing my factory carefully I have made sure that Bells Bumz if also supporting the families of the people who work there and who make the products.
Continuing the family theme, I have grown the "Bells Bumz Family". I made the decision after my first range to only use hand drawn or hand painted artwork purchased exclusively from the artist, designer or illustrator so that I was supporting more families. I also decided to partner with other work at home mums who make home made clothes in fabric to match the nappies, again supporting more family businesses here in the UK. Therefore, the decision to not sell direct (with the exception of our bundles and kits) and instead showcase my amazing Bells Bumz Family Stockists ensures that their businesses are fully supported as I do not divert sales away from them. The Bells Bumz Family Stockists include a range of lovely eco / cloth nappy shops in the UK and internationally, such as Portugal. They are mostly run by work at home mums, therefore, by not selling direct I am supporting more small family businesses to grow, together.