RALEIGH — When Beth Richardson began teaching classes on cloth diapering, she was met with a huge demand for support and products.
Unable to find a retailer that offered all the supplies at one location, she began gathering them herself. At first, she operated Sweetbottoms Baby Boutique out of her house, allowing customers to stop by and touch and feel the products.
But the business quickly outgrew her home. In September 2011, Richardson opened a storefront in the Swift Creek Shopping Center just outside of Cary.
Customer demand supports her contention that parents are hungry for a store stocked with products that are affordable and safe for their babies. Sweetbottoms has become a go-to spot for advocates of natural parenting, including the use of cloth diapers instead of disposable ones.
About half the companys sales are online. Inside the store, stacks of natural and synthetic cloth diapers in varied styles and a multitude of colors and patterns line shelves and walls. Staff members help parents wade through the selection and decide what will work for them.
We educate people who dont know how to use cloth diapers, said Fatimah Faraj, general business manager. We have moms on staff who have used the product and can show them how to use it.
The benefits of cloth diapers are multifold, Faraj said. They are chemical-free, environmentally friendly, cost-effective and just plain cute, she said.
According to Faraj, it costs approximately $700 to cloth diaper one baby, while using disposable diapers would run nearly $3,000.
In addition, one cloth set typically lasts through two children, she said, and families who only use their cloth set with one child can easily resell them.
Second to diapers in sales are the stores baby carriers, which allow parents to hold babies close while keeping their hands free for daily activities.
Sweetbottoms carries jewelry for moms that is safe for their babies. Colorful necklaces are ideal for teething babies who want to gnaw on something.
The store carries items that arent just for moms. It also serves teen girls.
Other products include natural cleaning products for the home, as well as a wide array of toys and gifts.
Customers are encouraged to bring their children to Sweetbottoms. Even the staff members bring their kids.
We dont blink an eye at screaming babies, said Tanya Thomas, Sweetbottoms public relations director.
Space is provided in the store for mothers to nurse their babies.
Natural parenting is infringing on the mainstream, Thomas said. Parents may choose one aspect, such as cloth diapering, and give it a try.
They dive in with a taste and it spreads, she said. This is a safe haven for them to test the waters.
Faraj agrees: We provide a safe environment whether they are staying 10 minutes or four hours.
A meeting room at the back of the store is available for community classes, most leaning toward natural parenting. Sweetbottoms offers general classes on cloth diapering and then provides one-on-one instruction.
I love coming to work, Faraj said. I dont think anyone who works here doesnt love being here.
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