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

Why Does RDIA Emphasize Diaper Services?

Diaper Service discussion

Jennifer Moore Temple (Clean Bee Laundry) and other diaper service owners at 2010 RDIA Cloth Diaper Business Conference

Yesterday someone asked why the association puts so much emphasis on diaper services. I love this question, because the answer gets to the core of how we get things done.

In September 2009, after one year of operation, RDIA had 26 diaper service members. Most of those members joined after a heroic spring/summer effort by Jennifer Moore Temple (Clean Bee Laundry). She was a board member who took it upon herself to recruit diaper services and tell them why they needed a trade association. Jennifer wrote personal notes to diaper services all over North America. Some of you may have joined because you received one of Jennifer’s postcards. We went from 6 diaper services at 6 months to 26 diaper services at 12 months. Now, 36 months after starting, we have 76 diaper services. They are our largest category by far. We are voting on a bylaw change this year to acknowledge their numbers and need for representation.

Back to the question posed, why do we emphasize diaper services? We value diaper services, certainly, but we don’t emphasize them over any other category. Diaper service members themselves make the difference. The board representatives and many volunteers have determined that they are going to improve business conditions. They use their meeting time at the RDIA conference well. They discuss needs and plan projects around those needs.

Two years ago, they established a diaper service business group—completely on their own—to plan projects and get them started. They took project proposals to the board to get support, and they made those projects happen. They saw that our #1 inquiry over the first year was  (and still is) how to locate a diaper service, so they created a directory of diaper services and a diaper service mini website to host it. They found that potential new business owners had a lot of questions about how to start a diaper service, so they created a kit with essential information for a diaper service start-up. The kit is well worth its price tag, and the income helps support the work they and other volunteers do. Diaper service volunteers were also active on the cloth diapers in daycare project because they heard from their customers that parents need cloth diaper resources to take to childcare providers. They created a tip sheet and guide for parents.

This past year, diaper services were more ambitious. They set a goal to investigate an accreditation program for diaper services. They didn’t just investigate, though. They have created the program, and it will be launched at the conference in two weeks. They saw that customers want reassurance of safe, clean diapers, so they set standards businesses can follow to be sure their processing results in safe, clean diapers. Members have to pay to be part of the program, but they save money on testing through a group discount. Again, they saw the need, and they focused on how to meet it. They were ambitious, and their volunteers gave a lot of hours to create a professional program.

Cloth diaper industry members graphic

In two and a half years, we have seen diaper services go from a minor part of the trade association to 46% of our membership. The board of directors didn’t make a plan for this specifically. When volunteers came forward to say that they were prepared to grow their category and meet their needs, the board of directors supported them, paid for the minor expenses of the projects, and provided our administrator for support.

Members made this change. Members became volunteers, and volunteers became leaders.

If you want to witness how far diaper services have come, please attend the Diaper Service Accreditation presentation Tuesday afternoon. If you look closely, you will notice that the chair of this project was not even a diaper service member, but a very active Associate member, Kim Webb of Rockin’ Green. We don’t have to stay within boundaries on our projects. We follow our interests and skills. We are all pulling in the same direction.

If you want to see a change in emphasis within the association, make it happen! The RDIA board would love to support a transformation like this in every member category. Be the change you want to see. Step up to plan and execute projects. On Tuesday, September 28, after the annual meeting of members, members in each category will meet separately to discuss their needs as a group and their plans for the upcoming year. Do you want to talk about specific needs within your category or a project you are ready to make happen? If you want to put the focus within RDIA on your category, your project, or just on recruiting more members, you can.

Just step up and lead the change.

Where Are RDIA Members?

Cloth diaper industry trade members by country

As we prepare the meeting packet for the annual RDIA cloth diaper business conference, we’ve been looking at membership numbers and thought you might find them interesting. Of 175 members on September 1st, we had 158 in the U.S., 16 in Canada, and 1 in Chile. The RDIA membership in the U.S. and Canada tracks closely to the relative populations of the two countries. We’re well balanced in members from each side of the border. Our one member in Chile is Pañales Verdes Chile diaper service. ¡Así se hace!

In states and provinces, this is how the cloth diaper trade association spreads out:

  • 18 in California
  • 10 in New York
  • 9 in each Ontario & Colorado
  • 7 in each Pennsylvania & Minnesota
  • 6 in each Utah & Illinois
  • 5 in each Washington, Texas, Michigan, Maryland, Maine, Florida, & Arizona
  • 4 in each Wisconsin, Virginia, Nebraska, Massachusetts, Georgia, Connecticut, & British Columbia
  • 3 in each Quebec, Ohio, North Carolina, Missouri, & Kansas
  • 2 in each Vermont, South Carolina, Oregon, Louisiana, & Iowa
  • 1 in each Wyoming, Tennessee, Oklahoma, New Mexico, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Kentucky, Indiana, Idaho, Hawaii, Delaware, & Alaska

 

Top 10 Reasons to Come to the RDIA Conference

Attendees at cloth diaper business conference

 

If you need a reason to register for the RDIA annual cloth diaper business conference in Louisville September 27-28, start here.


1. Take the mystery out of cloth diaper laundry.

Steven Tinker is the President of the American Reusable Textile Association (ARTA), and he has been in the professional laundry industry for 35 years as a product development scientist and marketing professional. Steve Tinker knows laundry, and he knows it better than anyone else. He understands what it takes to get diapers clean, and he is going to tell you. Whether you run a diaper service or you are advising your customers on their home laundry, understanding the science will make a difference. So come to the conference, and stay to the end. Steven Tinker is our final speaker on Wednesday morning of the conference.


2. Change the world.

Our industry is often about change—changing consumer behavior, changing societal attitudes toward diapers, and changing those support systems that externalize the costs of throwaways. We have an inspiring example of change in our larger community with the Handmade Toy Alliance (HTA). Dan Marshall and Mary Newell of HTA are giving the keynote. If you come to their presentation, you will KNOW change is possible and YOU can (and must) make it happen yourself.


3. Vote on RDIA bylaw changes.

RDIA is a member organization. Board members and officers run the day-to-day operations and make sure goals and projects run, but underneath all of that we are governed by bylaws. Only members can change those rules of governance. If we have a quorum in Louisville, members will vote on bylaws in person. Your vote is crucial in shaping the direction of the association.


4. Get your motivational boost for the year.

We are all at different stages in our business growth and we need different catalysts to improvement. For some, new products bring exciting changes. Others are looking for new ways to reach out to potential customers. A lot of us are inspired by the cool things our colleagues are doing. Many are just looking for ways to work together toward our common goal of putting more babies in reusable cloth diapers. Whatever gets you through the year, two days together in Louisville gives you concentrated inspiration.


5. See new diapering and baby products.

New this year is a product showcase including both manufacturers of cloth diapers and diapering products plus other baby products. Time is tight for a lot of our members. If you don’t have time to attend both the ABC Kids Expo and the RDIA conference, the product showcase at the RDIA conference will be like a diaper-concentrated ABC show for you to see and choose new products for your store or service.


6. Relax and hang out at the hospitality suite.

Relationships that we build face to face with other RDIA members can lead to friendly support through the year, working together on industry projects, and do business together. Passing by one another, saying hello at meeting, or sitting next to one another at sessions is a start, but it’s difficult to have a substantial conversation. Hang out in the Hospitality Suite for that prolonged contact that lets you really get to know others in the cloth diaper industry.


7. Belong to a welcoming community.

There is a real sense among attendees at any industry meeting of being the hardcore, of belonging to a community. Real Diaper Industry Association is an open community, and YOU can belong. Just show up, say hello, and you are in.


8. Reassure your customers with accreditation.

For diaper services, accreditation has been discussed and desired to set standards that will reassure parents that the diapers delivered to their door are clean and safe. The Diaper Service Accreditation program will be launched at the conference. Participating services share a group discount on lab testing, and they follow strict guidelines. This is a leap forward for the industry. Be there to understand the opportunity for diaper services to advance their own businesses.


9. Learn how you can have a local impact.

Many, many RDIA members have put local incentives and subsidies high on their list of changes needed to increase cloth diaper use. We have heard of programs working elsewhere. The Real Diaper Association, the grassroots charity, has been encouraging local diaper aid programs and supporting the volunteers who make them happen. If you really want the scoop on cloth diaper incentives and subsidies as RDIA launches its own program, you need to hear what RDA is doing.


10. Be social with your customers.

Considering our target demographic as an industry, since parents buying diapers generally stay young as we all grow old, you had better know how young parents buy diapers. They are social and mobile, and if you aren’t there with them on social media, they will buy from someone who is. Scared? You should be. Come to the presentation “Don’t DO Social, BE Social” to get ideas on the direction you need to go as your customers change.


Bonus. Take a break.

People in our industry work ridiculous hours. Getting away for two days to think about the big business questions is one thing, but we need some fun, too. Forty of your new best friends will be on the Belle of Louisville, a National Historic Landmark, for dinner and a cruise up the Ohio River. It’s just a three-hour tour, but you can call it a mini vacation. (Was that a “three-hour tour”? Hmm. Just in case, you had better get your house in order. We could be stranded together for the next three seasons with a hilarious cast of characters.)

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