Through the magical powers of Facebook social networking, I have become quite acquainted with, dare I even say “friends” with the inventor of Hiney Lineys cloth diapers, Sheila Payne. Actually, it all started at a virtual diaper party featuring Everything Birth products and I think we had to log in with our Facebook accounts. I’m not sure.
At any rate, Sheila is an awesome lady and we hit it off pretty quickly because she was reading the Everything Birth Blog posts fairly regularly. After almost a year of chatting about pretty much nothing more than you chat with your favorite neighbor about, it occurred to me that we’ve never even talked business. Here I’ve known her for almost a year and am well aware of what food allergies her children have and don’t have as she is mine, but I never asked her about her diapers!
I own and love one of her diapers, but we’ve never discussed it.
So, I asked her for an interview.
We don’t have enough space to get into everything this adorable Chatty Cathy had to say, but I do want to touch on my favorite parts of the interview.
Mother of Invention
Sheila never planned to sew any diapers at all. She’s always been a cloth diaperer, and said, “I had it all ready to go and as soon as those disposables ran out, on went the cloth! I never turned back! I am pretty hard core. I take my diapers everywhere, including vacations.” Yet, she never in her wildest dream imagined she would ever end up owning a business making and selling them. When her daughter had eczema she tried a few different pocket diapers, but coming from a past in prefolds, it irritated her that she had to wash the whole thing. So, she kind of eased into becoming a diaper maker by cutting up rectangles of the perfect kind of fleece to pretend her prefolds were stay-dry pockets. This was a great idea, but they ended up bunching and shifting. At this point, she was too far into this problem-resolution phase and before she knew it, she was designing diapers.
Now each and every diaper is made by hand by moms and grandmas one by one. Sheila added, “I apply the snaps here at my home and do some of the sewing myself as well.” Sheila had tried using local sewing shops when she couldn’t keep up with the demand herself but when the quality wasn’t up to her liking, she reigned it back in. That’s when she started acquiring help from local work at home moms and grandmas.
The Family Business
Sheila said that her family was a bit skeptical at first but never presented her with any resistance to the cloth diapering idea. Owning Hiney Lineys! on the other hand has not come without family opposition. Sheila says that her two year old doesn’t want her to sell any of the diapers she makes. He wants them all to himself and screams, “My diaper!” anytime he catches a glimpse of one. When she asked her seven year old my interview question pertaining to how he feels about his mom owning her own business, he said, “I thought you’d be a mechanic.” You know how it goes with family, you just can’t please them all. Her husband though is very supportive and happily takes care of the children when she has meetings or expos. Her father is especially supportive of her choice not to outsource to China and is very proud that his daughter’s products are all made in the USA.
About running a business as a WAHM, She says, “It is difficult some days, especially ones like today, where all three are home and nobody wants to play with toys but instead they just want to tackle each other. So, we play games for a little while, then I do some computer work, then I do naps… Mostly I get stuff done during naptime and after they go to bed.”
Sheila has lots of plans for the future of Hiney Lineys cloth diapers including plans to make them even more versatile for families than they already are. I certainly look forward to what she comes up with. One thing she did say about the future though was very touching and reminded me why to me she feels more like my favorite neighbor… When I asked her what her favorite thing about the industry was, her answer came straight from the heart. It wasn’t about changing the world. It wasn’t about changing minds. Her answer was about how the industry changed her…
Q. Sheila, what is your favorite thing about the cloth diaper industry?
A. “Meeting wonderful ladies who also work in the industry. I must say that if I never sold another diaper, my life would be still be better off than it was before I started Hiney Lineys. I have met such extraordinary ladies in this business. I’ve made such wonderful friends and they mean a lot to me.”