Farewell from Leah Carter

Leah Carter ran for a Manufacturer seat on the RDIA board of directors during the first election in 2009. CPSIA had dawned on all of us in the cloth diaper industry during that year, and Leah did great work as the Chair of the Legal Committee to help members understand what the new law meant for them. Once she was elected to the board of directors, the directors elected her Chair of the association for the 2009-2010 year. In the two and a half years since her election, Leah has continued to serve on the board of directors until January. After 10 years making little beetle organic cloth diapers and wool diaper covers, Leah has closed Better for Babies. She has left the board of directors but has agreed to continue to help, particularly with the Legal Committee, as long as the board continues to ask for her help. 

Leah Carter portrait

The closing of Better for Babies may mark the end of my time as a business owner, for now at least; but it is not the end of my entrepreneurial spirit. Likewise, the end of my term as board member is in no way an end to my interest or investment in the cloth diaper industry.

Saying farewell is a process, and not an easy one. However, the confidence I have in my decisions and the bright collection of memories serve to ease the way forward.

I ran for board right after joining RDIA. I’ve never been one to ‘sort of’ commit. I jump in and pour in all my passion, as well. I wanted to contribute to, and take from, RDIA. I wanted to get to know these remarkable businesses who paved the way for the industry, and I wanted to know the businesses that were just getting started – plus all those in between. I didn’t just want to know them, I wanted to learn from them.

So began my 3 years with RDIA. And, I can say that I walk away having made some of the best relationships imaginable. I have voices to call on when I need inspiration, when I need wisdom, when I need a new and fresh perspective, or just someone to listen. I know people who will be brutally honest, correct my grammar with a ruthless sense of precision, and voices who will remind me of the calmer side to every story.

RDIA is nothing if not filled with passion, and each member directs that passion in a slightly different way. That’s the beauty of it. Where will it go? Forward – navigating with the balance that comes from a framework of shared values. The association is a living, breathing body – being shaped and molded within those values by members, both large and small, who give, inspire, lead, and support.

I’m no longer part of that body, but I hope I’m a part of the spirit!

Leah Carter meets new people at the ABC Expo in Louisville

Leah Carter meets new people at the ABC Expo in Louisville, 2011.

CPSC Workshop Day 1

As many of you know, I was to represent RDIA this week in Washington, DC, at the CPSIA workshop on compliance, sampling, testing, challenges, and impact.

Unfortunately, a series of family medical emergencies kept me from traveling at the last minute. The good news is Dan Marshall was already planning to be in attendance representing the Handmade Toy Alliance, and he agreed to represent RDIA in my absence. Dan is an RDIA retailer member with Peapods Natural Toys & Baby Care.

CPSC Workshop on CPSIA

The workshops are broadcast via webcast live throughout the day. Today’s series begins at 9:30am Eastern and runs through 4:30pm. You can view the webcast at cpsc.gov

Thursday, December 10, 2009 Workshop Summary

Attendees were welcomed by Consumer Product Safety Commission Chair Inez Moore Tenenbaum and reminded that comments are open until January 11, 2010.

CPSIA Review.

The specifications of CPSIA were reviewed and everyone was reminded that this IS currently the law and compliance is required. A slide show illustrated several types of products which fall within the law and why.

Hazard Reduction.

Differentiations between Reasonable Testing Program and Third-party Testing were clarified and questions posed. General Certificates of Conformity ARE required, and the methods one uses to obtain them vary based of product type, source considerations and more. There will be continued discussion on Third-party Testing and all that in encompasses. (Discussion points: manufacturer’s judgment, historic risk.)

Component Testing.

Component Testing is that testing done when the rest of the product is not needed in the overall determining of compliance. This was a fresh perspective on an old term. It isn’t a new definition, but looking at it this way illuminates different aspects of the law. From all that is being said, Component Testing will “quite likely happen” although to what extent is certainly yet to be determined. (Discussion points: What kind of systems should be in place for suppliers? Who fits the definition of supplier? Where does the ultimate responsibility fall?)

Random Sampling.

Participants discussed random sampling for several hours. There are statistical methods in place which afford a “true random” sample. Such sampling is a business best practice regardless, but making sure those samples are statistically random increases effectiveness of the entire testing process and reduces the impact of “estimates.” (Discussion points: is sampling to be done per lot, production run, day, or month? To what extent can a manufacturer introduce their own responsibility when devising a sampling plan? Is a practical approach enough?)

Cost of Testing.

This section was disturbing in regards to the range considered to be acceptable. Single product testing for lead was quoted as varying from $20 to $100+ with the lower end being testing done in China. Clearly, sending single items to China for testing is neither feasible nor at all desirable for so many small cloth diaper manufacturers. I think we need to be clear about our own testing costs then make sure we tell the CPSC what these costs are.

Design Element vs Manufacturing Error.

An interesting statistic that 2/3 of all products considered unsafe (unsure of reference) were found to be unsafe at the design NOT at manufacture. Toys are legally subject to design safety testing. Implications here could be far reaching and provide some food for thought.

Be sure to tune in for the Day 2 summary to hear about Dan Marshall holding up a pink diaper cover and ask for a full product exemption.