Today we hear from Founding Member, Elizabeth Guthrie, of Nest Nappies about the inception and creation of the Get Into Cloth Kit.
Get Into Cloth started with a bit of Ideas Ping-Pong.
You know the game. Someone swats an idea. You swat back. And before you know it, it’s a fast and furious stream of consciousness being smashed around the table!
After an extremely long ANA working group meeting, the crowd were hushed. Two players took to the table. One of them me. The other, my arch nemesis. Actually she’s not, but it gives the story a fetching dramatic overtone! Ok, to be fair my fellow player was a business competitor I’ve watched over my shoulder for many years (partly in awe and partly in fear!). We were there to present a haphazard collection of proposals we’d come up with, via Facebook Chat over a few champagnes (not everyone takes this Association as seriously as we do). I’m not all together sure why exactly we’d been paired up in the first place. My guess is part geography, part self-preservation – due to the fact that we’re both horrifically verbose. I’m guessing everyone figured it was in everyone’s best interest if we just talked at each other. What ever the reason, teamed up we were. We figured we’d bumble through, get a logo sorted, throw together some proposals for posters and banners and that would be that. Little did we know things were about to get a whole lot….. cosier.
The game went something like this:
“for our third proposal”
“we’d like to have a stand at the ABA conference in Melbourne next month”
“we’re not sure we actually have the funds to go”
“but it would be great exposure” “it would be an amazing way to launch the Association”
“like we said we probably can’t really afford it”
“but this thing only happens every 7 years”
“we very strongly believe we really need to be there”
“it’s a no brainer – we should be there – the ABA and the ANA go together like……”
“A’s with a letter between? brahahahaha”
“what if we came up with a way to generate the money?”
“we’d have to sell something”
“I’d sell my body but it’s kinda second rate these days”
“I’d sell my kids but that’s against the law”
“what could we sell?”
“we’re an advocacy group, we don’t sell stuff”
“[radio announcer voice] Advocacy; we sell the idea so you can sell stuff”
“we need to come up with a product”
“like they have in America”
“only WAY better – way way better”
“yes, yes I like your thinking”
“we could put nappies in it”
“there could be a poster”
“we’d need brochures printed”
Someone chimed in from the sidelines “and t-shirts” and suddenly we realised we weren’t alone!!
The referee blew her whistle, called the match a success and announced the idea was a clear winner – on the proviso we could come up with the goods within the week. We’d been given permission to go forth and create.
And feeling rather flushed with the vigorousness of the game, so indeed we did!
Now, in the essence of full disclosure, I should preface describing the next step in this collaborative process by explaining a little bit about how my brain works. It’s fair to say there are not a lot of people in my circle of acquaintances who work like me. Worse still there are even fewer who would volunteer to actually work with me on any kind of project, let alone a vaguely creative one. On projects like this my head turns into a vacuum on reverse and I start spewing out bits of ideas that I’ve sucked in and stored in the dusty recesses of my mind for a bazillion years. All these ideas come out in a never-ending stream that is almost impossible to gather and form into some cohesive kind of plan. Many have tried and many have failed. To make matters more dire, I’m my own worst enemy. So exhausted from the ideas spewing am I, that I usually leave all of them scattered on the floor. Though if I’m feeling really enthusiastic I’ll reach down and pick just one to follow through on. (You’ll be pleased to know all those ideas get sucked back into my brain to see another day).
So here I was with my arch nemesis.
Sorry, my colleague and co-collaborator. Who actually has a name, so I’ll just call her Carly to be easy. It was just me and Carly, a lingering recollection of our stream of consciousness and the slightly confronting fact that unlike me, Carly is a get-to-it-hop-to-it-let’s-get-onto-it-right-here-and-now kinda gal. Whilst I was still basking in the glory of the ideas of the day before… Carly – she was on the phone. “I’ve called this person, this person and this person and they’re in! They think cloth nappy advocacy kits are a great idea. Who are you going to call?” I’m fairly sure, as I choked on my coffee (or perhaps it was swatting at my kid to shut up in case I’d misheard) I felt an ever so slight twist of panic in my gut. Clearly, Ideas Girl, you’ve met your match in Miss Make it Happen (I feel a t-shirt coming on).
Get Into Cloth was born.
We were off and racing towards an August 1st launch. And we had nothing except a few punters who were prepared to cough up money and sponsor our crazy venture. It was time to poo or get the nappy back on.
I called some people. Carly called some more people. I had some ideas. Carly gathered them up and formed them into some kind of cohesive plan (a miracle!). We designed and phoned and number crunched and emailed. We deflected cranky people and squeezed money out of our treasurer. We wrangled favours and emergency fix up jobs. I had personal stuff and Carly ran with the ball. Carly decided to forgo working on our amazing project in lieu of buggering off overseas skiing for a few weeks. Being the good sport I am, I ran with the ball. And some how. By some (other) miracle. In all of this we managed to put aside looking over our shoulders at what the other person’s business was doing (partly because we didn’t actually work on our own businesses the entire month we worked on this!) and collaborated so effectively that we’re almost, almost, almost at the point of launching something we know is a saleable product. It’s original and professional and just a little bit very fantastic!
As trite as it sounds our Get Into Cloth kits are a mirror to the greater collaborative power of the ANA.
By working together, not against each other the cloth nappy industry can achieve great things. Pooling our strengths and skills, limiting our weaknesses, harnessing the power of collective enthusiasm, combining our resources to present a united and professional face to this industry is what this Association is all about.
In actively seeking out, working together with and providing great resources for people who already spread the word about cloth we can create collaborative relationships that build our Association, our individual businesses and knowledge about cloth nappies in general.
By collaborating with the ABA and being part of their conference in Melbourne we are placing ourselves in front of a wider national audience than we could ever do as individual businesses. The girls who will give up their weekend to work the stand at the conference, to sell our Get Into Cloth kits and help launch the ANA, are speaking on behalf of all our members when we can’t all get on a plane and be in Melbourne.
In working within our communities and collaborating with other organisations, the ANA and it’s members are taking part in the ultimate advocacy program – we are simply being seen, doing what we do and believing in what we do.
Working together is the backbone of the ANA.
For me, the Get Into Cloth project has been about putting aside the needs of my own business for a short period of time to try to grow the entire industry. It has also been about stretching and challenging my skills, building new and different and quite frankly, better, more open, competitive relationships. Most of all it’s been motivating to have surrounded myself with enthusiastic, passionate, dynamic and fun people.
Disclaimer: in reality just one of us got on our soap box and said the first two lines in the ping-pong game, with absolutely no possibility of anyone else having the opportunity to say anything. at. all. I know for sure I did the ever so slightly embarrassing radio announcer voice thing. And I’m pretty sure neither of us offered to sell our bodies or our children – but I guarantee the thought was there, so enthusiastic were we to get this thing off the ground. But we totally did walk away from the meeting high on ideas and raring to get us some Kit action! We also don’t have t-shirts – yet – but we did put in a proposal for them!