RDIA Diaper Service Members Receive Accreditation

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Kim Meador, RDIA Board Member
DATE: July 24, 2012
PLACE: Sacramento, California
E-mail: Kim@ecobabyandhome.com

Accredited Diaper Service

RDIA DIAPER SERVICE MEMBERS RECEIVE ACCREDITATION

The following diaper services have received RDIA diaper service accreditation:

These Diaper Services have been awarded accreditation from the Real Diaper Industry Association, a California-based cloth diaper industry trade association that establishes quality standards for the cloth diaper service industry.

“By voluntarily applying for and receiving the RDIA Diaper Service Accreditation, these diaper services have demonstrated a commitment to safe laundering practices,” said RDIA Board Member, Kim Meador. “Safe and sanitary washing conditions are crucial to our industry, and it is important to have organizations that are willing to measure themselves against national standards.”

As an RDIA accredited Diaper Service, each of these businesses joins a select group of diaper services that meet rigorous standards for safety and accountability.

The Diaper Service Accreditation program was created for the safety of diaper service customers, to create industry standards, to provide marketing support, and for general business peace of mind that each service is providing a safe, sanitary and product for diaper service customers.

The Real Diaper Industry Association strives to make reusable cloth diapers the primary choice for babies’ parents and caregivers while emphasizing responsibility and sustainability through a focus on people, planet, and profit. RDIA works toward these goals by providing service and opportunities through business education, industry research, collaborative marketing, and group benefits.

The accreditation program is only available to members of the Real Diaper industry Association as a benefit of membership. Membership in RDIA not only gives cloth diaper businesses access to the accreditation program but also gives them access to other members’ cumulative knowledge of hundreds of years of diaper service operations. Join RDIA now.

Please direct additional questions and inquiries to: accreditation@realdiaperindustry.org

By-Law Change Passes 49-3

Every few years, it is standard for associations to review the make-up of their members and modify board representation to accurately reflect their membership. For example, diaper service membership had grown considerably, but diaper services were still represented by only two board members. With this discrepancy and others in mind, the RDIA board proposed By-Law changes in September of 2011, and these By-Law changes were overwhelmingly passed by 49-3 on February 7, 2012.  These changes improve our association in many ways.

More Diaper Service Board Members, Fewer Manufacturer and Retailer Board Members

RDIA membership is currently comprised of 17 Manufacturers, 50 Retailers, 71 Diaper Services, 7 Artisan Manufacturers, and 21 Associate Members. Since the resurgence of diaper services has brought more diaper service members to RDIA, the board wanted these members to be properly represented. Under the new By-Laws, manufacturers, retailers, and diaper services each have three board members.

Category

Original Number of Board Members from this Category

New Number of Board Members from this Category

Manufacturer

4

3

Retailer

4

3

Diaper Service

2

3

Artisan Manufacturer

1

1

At-Large (New)

N/A

3

Diaper Service Information

1

N/A

TOTAL

12

13

 

New “At-large” Seats Provide Flexibility

Sometimes there are experienced and enthusiastic members that would like to join the board, but there are no vacancies on the board within their category. To encourage these interested members to join the board, we created three “at-large” board seats.

 

Small Manufacturers Become “Artisan Manufacturers”

The original intent of a “Small Manufacturer” category was to ensure all manufacturers were represented within the association, regardless of size. Since there have been, and always will be, professional makers sewing cloth diapers by hand and selling directly to end users, the original board wanted to ensure the voice of these cloth diaper makers, and their unique needs, were heard separate from those of larger manufacturers whose business is primarily wholesale.

Over time, however, the label “Small Manufacturer” brought confusion. Many manufacturers identified with the category name of “Small,” even though they weren’t sewing their diapers themselves by hand. So, the board decided to clarify this by adding “handmade” and renaming the category “Artisan Manufacturers.”

 

Manufacturer Member Requirement less Limited

Manufacturers used to be required to meet two of the following three criteria: 1. Gross sales over $100,000/year, 2. Has wholesale accounts (their product sold by resellers), and 3. Be in business for over 1 year. This excluded some smaller or start-up businesses manufacturing for wholesale, and was one of the reasons newer businesses often joined as “Small Manufacturer,” so this section was removed.

 

Cloth Diaper Information Services Category Eliminated

This was probably the only change that isn’t as intuitive as all the others. Historically, Cloth Diaper Information Services have not stepped up to serve on the board after Jennifer Liptrot (Diaper Pin) served. This board seat had been vacant since August 2009. For a full year, there was only one member in that category. With that in mind, the board reevaluated diaper service information services.

When the board was first created, the founding members sought a place on the board for businesses like Diaper Pin, where cloth diaper information was presented to consumers and businesses, who were then redirected to other cloth diaper businesses. Since that time, the era of blogging has taken over. In this new climate, cloth diapers are highlighted on hundreds of blogs. These blogs help spread the word of cloth diapers in our industry, and consumers as well as RDIA businesses are grateful for their contributions. Last year, a handful of bloggers joined RDIA in the diaper information service category.

Over time, blogs have become a form of publishing and public relations. Blogs are popular, social, informative, and can have political impact. The natural category for bloggers seems to lie within the Associate Membership category, along with all other businesses  and organizations that support the cause of RDIA, want to be an integral part of its future, interact with its members, and show that together our industry is stronger than as individuals. In my research on trade associations, this is where bloggers typically fall. The decision was further encouraged because no information service members showed interest in representing their category on the board in 2011 when there was an open seat.

An association is a living, breathing entity that constantly changes to best serve its industry.  We can only assume that we will revisit this decision and reevaluate cloth diaper bloggers and other cloth diaper information services in the future. In the meantime, we will work with bloggers as associate members, offering an open dialog to better our industry, as well as opportunities for interacting with all RDIA members. We have offered all previous cloth diaper information service members a full one-year extension to their now associate memberships. We look forward to a continued relationship between cloth diaper bloggers and other cloth diaper businesses.

 

How Will These Changes Be Phased In?

The board analyzed several scenarios for phasing in the new board member distribution. The goals were to ensure all current board members would serve out their terms, minimize short terms (less than three years), and keep the board as balanced as possible. Ideally, we wanted to see new board members elected each year for each of the large categories: manufacturers, retailers, diaper services, and at-large.

The graph below shows our idea for implementing the new board seats. Please click on it to see a larger view.

Become a Board Member

There will be a total of six vacancies on the RDIA board this year (2 Diaper Service, 1 Manufacturer, 1 Retailer, and 2 At-Large). The second diaper service seat and the second at-large seat will be short terms as we work toward the ideal of each category having one seat up for election each year.

Cloth diaper business owners

RDIA Board Members Matt Guckin, Mandi Meidlinger, and Catherine Bolden.

As elections approach, be sure to ask board members questions about what it takes to serve on the board, why board members devote so much time to our industry, and how you could contribute. Reach out to fellow members and encourage them to run for a board seat. Then, be sure to attend the “State of the RDIA” webinar that we’ll be holding for members in a couple of weeks.

The four major roles of RDIA and associations in general are:

  1. member education and benefits,
  2. research and statistics,
  3. standardization, and
  4. lobbying.

On a more basic, or perhaps human, level, an association is a group of people who find strength in numbers while sharing a common interest. According to ASAE (the American Society of Association Executives), associations are founded on democracy, volunteerism, and common interest that are the heart of the American experience.

When we work together, big and small, we strengthen our own industry while advancing society. Our industry needs leaders, and this year is a great time to lead the future of the association.

Mandi Meidlinger
Jillian’s Drawers
Chair, Real Diaper Industry Association

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.

RDIA Annual Meeting and Conference Updates

RDIA Conference Committee Discussions


In order to better serve the needs of our membership, we are making a few changes in the format of our conference for this year.

BACKGROUND
For a quick background, there are two events that have happened every year: our Annual Meeting and our Conference. The Annual Meeting is required to occur every year and updates members on the status of the association. It typically lasts 1 hour or less. The Conference is not required, but is an added member benefit and consists of educational sessions, member category discussions, social events, and a keynote speaker. The conference has grown in value each year and most recently was spread out over 3 days.

LISTENING TO MEMBERS
Historically, we have had both the annual meeting and an annual conference every year at the end of the ABC Show. While our association was in its infancy, this was needed. Members find, however, several problems with having a highly informative and engaging conference at the end of the ABC Show:

  • Retailers and manufacturers are exhausted before the RDIA conference has even begun. As our conference grows in value and length, this has become more of an issue. It is so difficult to take in all the information and fully engage when we are so tired on day one of the conference.
  • Being away from our businesses and families for 7 days or more is a true hardship.
  • Being attached to the ABC Show means that we are tied to dates that don’t work well for families. (The start of the school year is difficult for many.)
  • Being attached to the ABC Show means we are tied to a location that isn’t always family friendly.
  • Being attached to the ABC Show means we have less affordable options for food and venue.
  • Smaller businesses have a difficult time financially affording a business trip AND a family vacation each year.

So, we have listened to members and are making two changes. First, we will no longer have the Conference at the end of the ABC Show, but at a different time that works better for all our businesses and families, most likely in June or July rather than right at the beginning of the school year like the ABC Show. Second, the conference will occur every two years rather than every year. This will allow members better to afford the conference, give more time to plan the conference (it takes so much time throughout the year to make a conference happen!), and make each conference packed full of information and value.

2012 ANNUAL MEETING IN LOUISVILLE, 2013 CONFERENCE NEXT SUMMER
While we did make an announcement of a 2012 Conference, we have bumped that back to happen in 2013 so that we can have much more time to plan and make it the best conference ever.

In the meantime, we will be having our Annual Meeting during an evening dinner plus a fun evening event (more details to come later) in Louisville this fall right around the ABC show again as we have done in previous years.

BRINGING THE CONFERENCE TO YOU
In lieu of the conference this year, we want to make sure that all members, big and small, can benefit from the sessions that traditionally have occurred at the in-person conference. Not all members are able to make the trek, or stay longer than a short trip and have had to miss out on some of the benefits of the RDIA.

Well, this year, the conference is coming to you! We will be having monthly webinars and we’ll discuss many of the same topics and new topics that have been done during the conference sessions. Instead of having to wait until one busy time of year, we’re giving you on-demand access to live and then recorded sessions so you can watch them at your convenience, and in your pajamas if you’d like. Our hope with this new format for this year is that this increases the knowledge we are able to share with each other, and that more members are able to participate.

We’ve started a dedicated, member-only facebook group. This is a great place to discuss what you’re learning in the webinars and anything else-cloth diaper business related. Write to info@realdiaperindustry.org for your invitation to the group.

FINALLY… SNEAK PEAK FOR 2013 CONFERENCE
We don’t have set plans, so we hate to say too much, but we are working hard on the best conference ever for 2013! We are aiming for an Orlando, Florida, location, so families can combine business trip with their family vacation, making it truly affordable for our members. We are also in discussion with the Baby Carrier Industry Alliance and Handmade Toy Alliance to have the first-ever joint conference, bringing cloth diapers, baby carriers, and handmade toy industries together under one roof. We are also hoping expand the success of this year’s product showcase into the first ever natural parenting mini trade show. You definitely won’t want to miss it!

We’ll have more details about the 2013 conference later this fall. If there are any questions, comments, or suggestions, please don’t hesitate to contact the Annual Meeting and Conference Chair, Catherine Bolden (Vice Chair of the RDIA board) at catherine@realdiaperindustry.org

Welcome Kim Meador of Eco-Baby Diaper Service

Welcome Kim Meador as Your Newest RDIA Board Member

We would like to welcome Kim Meador to the RDIA board of directors as of December 16, 2011. Kim was appointed to the board to fill Judy Aagard’s vacant position (see below).

Kim Meador of Eco Baby Diaper Service

Kim Meador of Eco Baby Diaper Service

Kim Meador is the owner of Eco-Baby Diaper Service, LLC. She and her husband Michael are parents of boy/girl twins, now 9 years old. Their twins were getting diaper rashes, and as soon as one cleared up they would have it again. They were sent cloth diapers from a family member who was a nurse in another state and found them to immediately help the diaper rash; from then on they were sold by the use of cloth diapers!

In March of 2011, Eco Baby Diaper Service, LLC. launched serving Southwest Florida.  Kim has just started cloth diapering classes and is now including some retail diapers and accessories for families in the South Florida market for diapers and accessories.

Kim’s energy and business savvy has already been recognized on the board. We are all happy to have her join us!

 

Farewell to Judy Aagard of Tiny Tots

Judy Aagard resigned as an RDIA board member after two amazing years of service. She pioneered several projects and dedicated much of her time and energy to RDIA, for which we are all grateful. Some of her biggest advancements for our industry include masterminding the hugely successful Great Cloth Diaper Change, the updating of “How To Start a Diaper Service Kit”, and introducing the idea of a Product Showcase at our annual meeting.

Judy left for several reasons. During her exit interview she stressed her role as a board member was rewarding 98% of the time. Some things that frustrated her were the lack of commitment of volunteers, lack of communication, not understanding the direction of the association, competition getting in the way of cooperative movement forward, and a few others. Feel free to contact the RDIA Chair, Mandi Meidlinger, if you have any questions. We always strive to be transparent and are more than happy to discuss any details, of course.

When a board member resigns, RDIA’s by-laws state that the board has the option of leaving the seat empty until the term expires or to appoint a new board member. RDIA board members reached out to several diaper service operators and ultimately appointed Kim Meador to fill the vacant position until August 31, 2012.

 

Future Board Seats

The board is excited about is the proposed by-law change that was presented at the annual meeting. If this by-law change passes, it will open up seats for more board members and include “at-large” members. The real benefit of having at-large members, meaning that they can come from any category, is that we are able to make room for enthusiastic individuals and strong business leaders.

We had hoped we would have enough ballots returned by now to make this by-law change, but we need five more! When this by-law change goes through, there will be four vacant seats: one for a diaper service member and three from any category. So, if you are interested in serving on the board, please let any board member know.

Mandi Meidlinger
Jillian’s Drawers
Chair, Real Diaper Industry Association