On April 23, a little over a week ago, Kanga Care’s patent was published with the United States Patent & Trademark office for the Double Gusset Cloth Diaper Along With Method For making The Same. As you might imagine, this is an exciting moment and long awaited for both my team at Kanga Care and myself.
Sadly, we have received some less than positive responses from a few in the cloth diaper community. During the past few days, a great deal of misinformation has been posted in various places online about Kanga Care, our products and our business practices. As the founder and CEO of this company, I want to take a minute to set the record straight and answer many of the questions and assertions about Kanga Care.
There are lots of issues to cover, so I’ve broken this post down into questions and allegations we’ve seen. At Kanga Care, we want to be transparent about our decisions, but we also want to deal in facts. I’m open to further questions in the comments and I’ll be sure to answer as soon as possible.
Why are Kanga Care products produced in China instead of here in the U.S.?
Our original plan was to produce Kanga Care products domestically, but we were unable to find a suitable manufacturing partner that could meet our requirements. We did not make the decision to go overseas lightly, and when we did, we carefully selected a partner that is different from every other facility we considered. For the workers at our facility, wages are significantly above average for China and we understand are well above the cost of living based on European lifestyles and standards. The benefits packages and working conditions are also based on European standards, which are far greater in quality than typical Chinese employers offer. In order to help control our quality and deliver ethically made products that represent our company well, we partnered with this company and made them part of the Kanga Care team. We have been more than pleased with both our relationship and the decision to pass our production onto them.
Why are Kanga Care products more expensive than those made in other facilities in China?
As noted above, our facility is not like every other facility in China. A Danish family, who brings those European wages, benefits and workplace management philosophies to the facility, owns the company. Could we save money going to another facility? Yes, but instead we chose quality for both those that produce our products and the products themselves. Our factory holds the IMO GOTS certification, which is a strict and virtually impossible certificate and classification to receive in China. Our factory has additionally been certified by FWF, SGS and OEKO-TEX. Our textiles, where applicable, are also IMO GOTS certified organic textiles. We also use the highest-grade snaps to ensure there is no lead content. We use corn-spun polyester, which is biodegradable, along with a biodegradable TPU laminate adhered with an eco-glue so that our products are ground water safe. We use fabrics that are made from recycled water bottles so that while making a reusable product that is good for the environment we, at the same time, are removing waste and repurposing it into a highly functional item. Our microchamois is no-pill, hypoallergenic and won’t irritate your baby’s skin. All these materials are cream of the crop because we believe that your baby deserves the best.
Additionally, it’s important to remember that our products strictly adhere to all Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) standards for infants and children. We spend thousands of dollars per year on these tests. These tests are not taking place on most cheap replication diapers being imported in small batches, which is required by law. You can read more about the testing taking place on the SGS web site.
We will not risk the safety or comfort of your child. It is not an option at Kanga Care.
Why don’t you offer wholesale pricing to co-ops?
We believe strongly in respecting the relationships we have with our customers as well as our business partners. We have made the decision to sell Kanga Care products through retail outlets. With this decision comes an agreement to support those relationships and not go into competition with retailers through allowing co-ops purchasing power.
Customer service is a key benefit to our customers. When purchasing through co-ops there is no more customer service, no store to refer back to when the customer needs trouble shooting, no company to receive a refund from if the product does not suit your needs as you thought it would. Removing the retailer from the equation removes the support and growth that we provide for our community, economy and small businesses.
Safety, quality and honesty are some of the main reasons we’ve decided to structure our business the way we have.
Choosing not to sell to co-ops is one thing, but I’ve read online where you’ve bullied people both on social networks and via email. Is this true?
I, too, have seen where I’ve been called a cyberbully (and worse). Let me assure you -- it’s both hurtful and completely false. Let me be very clear:
- At no time did I personally, or any member of my company, send threatening emails or letters to co-ops. In fact, there has been no direct correspondence between Kanga Care and the co-op most often making this accusation, or any co-op for that matter.
- At no time did I personally, or any member of my company, enter a co-op group to edit order forms nor did we give instruction to other members of the group make these actions. Co-ops have between 100 and sometimes more than 7,000 members which comprise of many baby product brand owners, retail store owners and loyal customers. These members have joined to monitor the actions of these co-ops and report them when they are acting maliciously against the property of honest brands.
Because we have worked to obtain a patent -- a process which began in 2007 -- we have rights protected by that patent. We are protecting those rights through appropriate channels -- not bullying or name-calling, online or anyplace else.
- I personally made one online post noting that a diaper pictured was, in fact, a Kanga Care design. There was no threat nor any “bullying.” It was a statement of fact.
I have seen others say you were not the first to design the inner gussets. Do you deserve this patent?
We started the process to patent my invention in 2007. As is true with many patent applications, it takes a number of years for the patent office to diligently review and comment on the application before it issues a patent. The patent process is long and often complicated. Like all applications, our filing was carefully examined by the U.S. Patent and Trademark office, who found our innovative design was original, first to market and worthy of patent protection.
I’ve also seen online the allegation that I’ve stolen this design from Pampers. Not only are disposal and cloth diapers very different, had Kanga Care, stolen or absconded patented technology held the by Proctor & Gamble -- Pamper’s parent company, which had more than $80 billion in sales in 2012 -- P&G’s corporate attorneys would have both fought my patent application and would now be vigorously defending their patent. They are not doing so, because the patent is ours. Our alleged “theft” of P&G’s patent is simply an untrue Internet rumor.
Social media and the Internet are wonderful things and so much useful information is shared every day. At the same time, all it takes to post online is a connection to the Internet. Just because it’s online doesn’t mean it’s true.
What do you say to people who believe your diapers are simply too expensive to use?
I hope I’ve outlined here the extra steps we take -- from choosing a more expensive production model to selecting more expensive components and putting the product through extensive and ongoing safety testing -- that make Kanga Care products better and safer for your baby. If we cut corners to reduce the price, we would not be true to our quality and safety goals. At the same time, if we let anyone purchase the products at wholesale, we would be disingenuous to the retailers who choose to carry and support our products. Just like many people choose to pay more for organic food for their family, we’ve chosen to produce a product that’s more expensive but that provides benefits to your baby and community. We can only share these facts so you understand the differences between our products and imitations, and that the higher final cost comes from higher costs throughout our production model.
I’m a WAHM and have incorporated your inner gusset design into diapers I make for myself and a few friends, how does this affect me?
I started out as a WAHM, and through very hard work have grown Kanga Care as a company. I have great respect for others moms and WAHMs in situations similar to how I started out. I am especially fond of those that are creating and coming up with new and innovative ideas to diaper our children. I frequently purchase WAHM diapers from these moms to use on my own children. They are adorable and unique! At this time we are working on a plan to provide an opportunity for moms, dads, and WAHMs to license our patented technology. Once we have worked out the details, we will provide information on how to contact us to obtain licensing rights. If you would like to obtain a license we will have an online application form to collect your information. You can contact us shortly to inquire about the process.
What I’m trying to do here is provide you with facts. I started this company in 2006 because I wanted a better diaper for my daughter, who had bad reactions to disposable diapers. I started as a work at home mom and continue to support all work at home moms in many ways.
I hope I’ve been able to answer many of the issues you may have seen online recently. Again, I’m happy to answer any other questions you may have. Please ask in the comment stream and we’ll answer here as soon as we can.