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Thursday, February 23, 2012

February's Group Custom drawings will be this weekend! :)

We will be drawing groups this weekend for the February Group Custom slots! :)  We are going to follow the exact same process we did last month - please read the information below thoroughly so that you don't miss any important components! :)

*If you are new to twinkie tush, welcome!  Please note that this is not the only way to purchase one of our diapers. ;)  Read this page for lots of basic twinkie tush information!

We are planning to post the February Group Custom entry thread on facebook this coming Sunday (2/26) between 8:00 and 9:00pm eastern.  (The thread will then be open for 5 minutes only.)

We ask that for this month you stick to a maximum of 2 groups per household. 

When the entry thread goes up on facebook, please comment on the thread to enter your team!  You may only enter on behalf of one group (but may appear in up to 2 groups).  Your entries should look like these, in which the flying whizbees are entering for the first time in the current month and the skullies have entered in two previous months as well as in the current month:

The flying whizbees: 1 month. Kate, Megan B., Amanda, Karen, Jessica, Sarah, Melissa, Henrietta, Pamela, Megan Z. 

The skullies: 3 months. Susan, Mike, Allegra, Sarah F., Sarah P., Bess

Also within the alloted time (5 minutes) you will need to send an email to twinkietush@gmail.com. The email subject must read something like “Group Custom Entry: Team Name (eg The flying whizbees)”. Your team name MUST be included in the subject line of the email. All group members must be cc'ed on this email.

The email must contain a link to a google spreadsheet or an attached Excel spreadsheet (please do not C&P in the body of the email) containing the following information for each group member:

1 - Full member name
2 - Member name as it appears in paypal account
3 - Member contact email
4 - Member paypal email
5 - serged or T&T preference.

If any of those elements are missing (no team name in subject, any info missing from the spreadsheet, missing team member cc's, etc.) your group will not be eligible to obtain the slot. (This is just to keep things fair, as the Group Custom drawings are pretty competitive.)

Once the entry time has expired, we will review all information and announce the eligible groups for the month. We will then hold 2 drawings as follows:

Drawing 1: Every team that has entered for at least 3 months, including the current month, will be entered in this drawing.

* Each team in this drawing will receive one entry slot for each month they've entered. That means if you've entered for 3 months including the current month, your team is given 3 entries. So for example if there are 5 eligible teams for this drawing and they all have entered for 3 months, with the exception of teams Abby and Darkside who have each entered 4 times, the entry list would look like this:

1 - team Abby
2 - team Abby
3 - team Abby
4 - team Abby
5 - team Boyish stripes
6 - team Boyish stripes
7 - team Boyish stripes
8 - team Cat Lovers
9 - team Cat Lovers
10 - team Cat Lovers
11 - team Darkside
12 - team Darkside
13 - team Darkside
14 - team Darkside
15 - team Elliot
16 - team Elliot
17 - team Elliot

We will use random.org to draw the winning number.

Drawing 2: Every team who successfully submitted their information in full is entered in this drawing, with the winning team again being selected by random.org.

* For this drawing, all teams receive 1 entry slot regardless of the number of months they've entered, giving an equal chance to all who are enter whether they are brand new or have been entering for several months.

Please note that even an attempted entry counts when tallying your group's number of entries. In other words if your group got the email and FB comment in within the alloted time for a given month, it counts even if some info was missing and your group wasn't entered in the drawing(s).

It is also important to review the information below, which covers general Group Custom policies:

* If your group is selected you will then receive a confirmation email in response to the email you sent in. That email will contain a link to your group custom slot, which will be available for purchase at the store. You will have 24 hours to purchase the slot. If a group fails to purchase the slot in time a new drawing will take place using the same list and a second winner will be drawn.

*Anyone from the group can email us, as long as they are willing and able to serve as group rep (the person who collects payments from other group members and communicates with me about velour preferences, etc.) The group rep is also responsible for forwarding information from me to the group as needed and assuring that the group is aware of payment deadlines, etc. Please do not email on behalf of your group unless you are willing to take on the group rep responsibility.

*All members of the group must be copied on the initial email so that I can reach individual members if needed.

*Once the spot is purchased it is reserved and you can send your fabric to me as quickly or slowly as you like! The listing will include the cost of the diapers but not the cost of shipping to each individual group member.

*After the group rep pays for the group listing, each individual group member will need to pay individually for their shipping cost. This is not something that needs to be done to reserve your spot but it will need to be done in order for me to ship you your diapers ;) This system is just to facilitate an easier and smoother shipping process on our end which means you getting your diapers more quickly :) After your slot is paid for I will send an email to the group or group rep with a link to a store listing where you can pay for shipping individually.

*After purchasing the slot, the group will send me (at the group's cost) adequate yardage (usually 3-5 yards) of the chosen print fabric and all diapers will be cut from that yardage. All other materials will of course be provided by me :) All velour and snaps will be uniform. I will work with the group on velour choice (contingent on availability) and snap colors will be chosen by me. Extra print fabric will be shipped back to a group member or members or donated for use by twinkie tush as decided by the group. Please note that the cost of mailing extra fabric will be added to shipping cost(s) and that will need to be determined before the shipping listings can be set up.

* Group size can range from 5-10 people. Each group member will choose between a serged or turned and topstitched diaper. I do not recommend serging with woven fabrics. The price for this SYOF order will be $33 + shipping per each diaper.

*We are now opening up the Group Custom entry process to groups that are seeking SYOF twinkie tush night-nights.  Your group will need to provide several yards of velour (6 yards for a group of 10, as an example).  While we are not able to help groups in the search for cotton velour or organic bamboo velour we will require that your velour choice be approved before it is sent in.  We require this to ensure that it is of the highest quality so that we feel comfortable using it to make twinkie tush night-nights, and can stand behind the absorbency.  The cost per person for a Group Custom twinkie tush night-night will be $36 plus shipping.

*All diapers will ship out to the group members 4-6 weeks after I receive the fabric (pending shipping payments of course).

Please let us know if you have any questions about this, and thanks so much! :)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

This week's stocking! :)

After our Big Cartel trial last week and hearing all of your feedback, which we appreciated so much, we spent much of the next few days discussing how best to move forward.

From the seller side, there are numerous ways in which Hyena Cart is a better fit.  The reporting and seller interface is much more along the lines of what we need in a 3rd party cart system.  We found many stumbling points in our BC trial - for one thing, it is not possible to offer priority shipping or insurance.  That creates a lot of extra work for us as we have to ask that customers email us to request those add-ons and invoice them accordingly.  In addition, we lose paypal fees on those add-on invoices that we would not otherwise lose.  That is just one of the several issues we encountered in working with BC.  Some of the problems are things that can be worked around, and some are not.

We love that Big Cartel can handle our traffic without crashing - that is a huge selling point.  And there are benefits to not showing items until they are available - it puts everyone on a more equal footing.  However we dislike the 30 minute cart dump (which is unfortunately not flexible - if it were we would have set it for 10 minutes) and the lack of "pending" status to show which diapers might still be available as opposed to being in another shopper's cart.

We heard a lot of feedback, both on our facebook pages and via email, wishing that the two sites could be combined somehow into the perfect super-cart! :)  We wish that as well!  If only HC could handle the traffic associated with our stockings, and with a couple listing changes on our end, we could probably come close to that ideal.

Karen at HC has been tremendously helpful and generous with her time around our problems on her site.  This past weekend she went so far as to upgrade her server!  We feel that this warrants another attempt at stocking on HC.  We truly feel that HC is the best fit for us while we work on building our own site, provided that the crashing comes to an end.

So this week we will be stocking on HC!  We will run drawings starting at 2pm EST - one diaper in each print and one twinkie tush night-night.  There will be 8 total drawings that will run from 2:00-2:03.  You may only win one drawing.  If you enter and win multiple drawings you will be deleted as the buyer from all but one, at our discretion.  This is only to keep things as fair as possible! :)

Diapers and custom slots will then stock (go live for purchase) at 2:05pm EST.  They will be staggered by seconds and exact stocking times will be visible within each listing.

Again, diapers will not stock until 2:05pm EST.  Before that there will be 8 simultaneous drawings, from 2:00-2:03pm EST.

After all items have sold out, we will do our regular custom slot drawings.

We hope that this week's stocking will be crash-free and fun for everyone!  We will of course continue to evaluate the stocking process - we want to make things the best they can be while we work on a permanent solution.

Thanks so much and have a great day!  Make sure to check out previews on facebook around 1:30pm EST!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

This week's stocking - lots of important info! :)

Previews are up on facebook, and we're getting ready to try something new this week! :)

This week we will be stocking on Big Cartel instead of Hyena Cart. This will be a trial only, and we will ask for feedback after the stocking. After tomorrow and after reviewing your feedback, we will decide which temporary solution (Big Cartel or Hyena Cart) to stick with while we build our own website!

Tomorrow's stocking will be at 8pm EST. Here is what to expect:

- Diapers will go live at or very shortly before 8pm EST at http://twinkietush.bigcartel.com. Listings on BC must be put up manually, as there is no clock like there is on HC.

- Once the site is out of maintenance mode and goes live, you will need to click on the category “One Size Fitted Cloth Diapers” via the picture link on the home page or sidebar link on the right to see the listings.

- You will then need to scroll to find the diaper you would like to purchase and click on the specific listing. (We will preview exact diapers on flickr later tonight so that you will know exactly what you're looking for.)

- Once in the listing, click the “Add to Cart” button at the bottom of the item description.

- Once in your cart, please choose your country for shipping (either United States or Canada) and click “Checkout”. Clicking “Update Order” is not necessary as shipping will be automatically added in PayPal. Clicking “Update Order” will slow your transaction potentially allowing another shopper to secure the diaper so only click “Checkout” once your country is selected.

- This will bring you to the paypal portal where you will enter your paypal username and password to process payment. Once you've reached the paypal portal your diaper is secure for 30 minutes.

- Once in paypal, please complete all payment steps to receive an order confirmation that completes your transaction.

Please note that the diaper is not secure until you have clicked the “Checkout” button and are taken to the paypal portal for payment. Once at the paypal portal, you have 30 minutes to complete payment before the diaper automatically relists itself.

Now that you know what the process will be like, a few things to remember:

- This is only a trial. There are positives and negatives to BC. The primary draw for us is that BC is better equipped to handle the number of attendees at our stockings. It is unlikely that the site will crash. That is a positive! :)

- There will not be previews on BC before stocking - that means you will not have a link to the exact diaper you are interested in purchasing. There are a few reasons for this change, the chief reason being that unfortunately the seller side of BC is not as flexible as that on HC. Every listing must be manually changed from "coming soon" to "available" - there is no way to batch edit. We are not able, at this point, to manually change every listing just before stocking. There are several other reasons for the lack of previews and we aren't able to handle this any other way while on BC.

- We are not able to manually "dump" carts. We wish we were! 30 minutes is a very long time. On HC the carts dump at 10 minutes, for reference. However if you cart a diaper you do not wish to purchase, we ask that you please remove it from your cart so that another shopper can cart it.

- We are not able to see who has what in their cart like we are on HC. Therefore until payment is completed, we will not know the fate of any given diaper and will not be able to assist with cart issues.

- In terms of longer term consideration, something to note about BC is that we cannot save listings, even on the seller side.  So you would not be able to refer back to listings as you now are on HC.

- If you live in the United States, only First Class shipping without insurance can be purchased on BC. Those who want Priority Mail and/or insurance are asked to email us within 30 minutes of checkout so that we can invoice you for the additional cost. Insurance is not required but is always recommended. We are very sorry that we cannot offer this option at stocking - we certainly would like to be able to.

- If you live outside of the United States: International packages including Canadian shipments can only be shipped via first class mail, no insurance. International customers outside of Canada should simply select Canada and then email us to finalize costs. This is identical to our HC process.

- Drawings are not available on BC and will still be done on HC. Keep an eye on the facebook page - I will remind you when drawings are up!

- We have also opted to keep Hello Charlotte James and twinkie tush wool on HC. There won't be wool this week but there will be new HCJ custom slots stocking on HC at 8:15pm EST! :)

- Please remember that this is a new experience for us as well! We have tested BC and its stocking process as best we can but nothing compares to a live stocking. There may be moments of frustration tomorrow for all of us, but we feel it is important to give this cart system a try! :)

Please let me know if you have questions, either here, via email, or on facebook, and thank you so much for sticking with us as we continue to work on finding the best temporary solution! We are close to beginning work on our own site and are extremely excited about that, but the site won't be built overnight. We will need to remain on a 3rd party cart until our own cart is ready.

Thank you as always for your support! See you tomorrow for stocking!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Tomorrow's stocking - previews and stocking details

As I mentioned in the post below, we have been encountering more and more crashing and error code problems associated with the increasingly high traffic at our stockings on Hyena Cart.  While we pursue the ultimate solution, which will mean our own site along with a cart system that can support our needs, we are looking to another 3rd party hosting system as a temporary measure.  We'll have a lot more info on that very soon!  But of most timely importance, here is info about tomorrow's stocking, which will take place on Hyena Cart:

We will be using a combination of stocked listings and drawings this week.  Within each print there will be 2 drawings and 2 or 3 stocked diapers.  The stocked diapers will go live within seconds of each other, at 2pm EST (check listings for exact stocking times).  Then at exactly 2:14, the first round of drawings will run - one diaper in each print and one twinkie tush night-night.  These drawings will be open for two minutes only.  You may only win one drawing.  If you enter for and win more than one, we will re-draw at our discretion.  You will not be able to choose which diaper to keep.  For that reason we strongly recommend only entering one drawing.

After the first round of drawings is over, at 2:16, please take a moment to see if you are the winner and to decide if you'd like to enter the second round.  at 2:17 the second round of drawings will launch - again one diaper in each print and one twinkie tush night-night.  Again, please only enter for one diaper and please only enter if you did not win one of the first round drawings.  This second round of drawings will be open for 2 minutes as well.

After all of the ready to ship diaper drawings are completed we will post our regular custom slot drawings. :)

We hope that this (slightly complicated) process will allow for more opportunities to secure the diaper of your choice and will help to prevent site-wide crashes.  Please let us know if you have any questions about this process and please understand that it is not a permanent solution but only a temporary measure.

Previews are up on facebook and listings will be up by tonight!  Stocking is tomorrow at 2pm EST.

Thanks so much!

Basic twinkie tush information and welcome to new fans!

It’s been a long time since we had a basic informational blog post!  We are rapidly approaching 3,000 fans on facebook and we get emails almost every day from new fans with questions about how stockings work, what a group custom is, and what goes into our diapers!  So we wanted to put together a one stop blog post for all of the basic twinkie tush info! :)

First of all, welcome!  My name is Gretchen, and my husband Mike and I own and operate twinkie tush!  twinkie tush is named after our almost 3 year old twins, whom we called the twinkies when I was pregnant. :)

We opened up shop in December 2010 as a small WAHM company – I made something in the realm of 30-40 diapers a month and stocked every 2 weeks on Hyena Cart.  After a short time we moved to weekly stockings.  I did everything myself in those early days.  Within a few stockings, we were selling out in minutes each time.  We quickly realized that the demand was high for our one size fitted cloth diapers, and we took steps to increase production.  In April of 2011 we brought on our first team member, Sara, to cut fabric! :)  Since then we have added 3 more part-time team members – Jackie and Anne help with diapers and Jen does all of our knitting.  Mike’s role grew exponentially over the first year of business as well!  We are a close knit team and lots of love goes into making our diapers and wool!

So what else goes into our diapers? :)  Four types of fabric, to start with.  There is the inner lining which is either organic bamboo velour or cotton velour depending on the diaper.  Then there is organic bamboo fleece and stretch fleece in between the inner velour and the outer print fabric.  And finally the face of the diaper - the print!  The vast majority of our diapers consist of knit outer prints (jersey, interlock, poly cotton lycra, etc.) but on occasion we use woven prints as well (aka quilter’s cotton).

About the velours: organic bamboo velour is just about the softest, silkiest fabric you can imagine when it's new and unwashed.  The term organic bamboo velour or obv refers to industry standard obv which is made up of 70% bamboo, 28% organic cotton, and 2% polyester.

Cotton velour is almost as heavenly soft when it's new but not quite as silky as obv.  Cotton velour is made up of 80% cotton and 20% poly blend.  Cotton velour or cv tends to stay softer longer than obv, which is part of why some people prefer cv.

About the fleece: organic bamboo fleece or obf is made up of 70% bamboo and 30% organic cotton.  It is an extremely absorbent fabric which is why you will find the many layers of obf in a twinkie tush diaper lead to extremely high levels of absorbency all around! :)

In late Summer 2011, we began incorporating bamboo stretch fleece into our diapers as well.  Our customers have given us incredibly positive feedback on the new fit they achieve with this uber-stretchy material!  Stretch fleece is made of 70% Bamboo, 25% Organic Cotton and 5% spandex. 

Stretch fleece is included in all knit prints and in twinkie tush night-nights but is not included in woven prints.  The reason for this is because a diaper is only as stretchy as its least stretchy component.  In the case of a woven that would be the outer print.  Nothing is gained in adding stretch to the inner of a diaper when the outer prevents any stretch from occurring.  However, shortly after introducing the new stretch fleece fit we adjusted our woven pattern to allow for longer wings.  This gives the illusion of stretch and our customers report that the new wovens fit amazingly well!

The other materials that go into twinkie tush diapers are polyacetal resin snaps and thread, as well as our labels.  All snaps and fabric are certified lead free.  We use US-based vendors and suppliers whenever possible.

So now that you know what goes into a twinkie tush diaper – what does it all look like?  Here are some photos of our unique “soaker sandwich” system.  This system is part of what makes twinkie tush diapers highly sought after, as it provides incredible absorbency.

We also made an instructional video when we first started out!  This will show you a bit more about using a twinkie tush one size fitted cloth diaper!

In addition to our standard fitteds we have designed a nighttime diaper called the twinkie tush night-night.  Take a look at some photos of the twinkie tush night-night below and on facebook:

Now about pricing: Our standard one size fitted diapers are priced at $35.  Occasionally we stock imported or out of print outer fabrics and we raise the price of individual diapers to offset our own costs.  We never mark up because something is scarce or highly sought after.  We only ever mark up if we have paid more first.  twinkie tush night-nights are priced at $40, as they contain significantly more fabric (both velour and fleece).

The reason our high-absorbency fitteds have a relatively high price point is because of all of the materials that go into them, as well as the fact that they are handmade domestically.  The cost of the velours and fleece is substantial.  Why is it worth paying more for diapers made with these high end materials?  Because there is nothing gentler and more natural to put next to your baby's skin.  There is nothing softer, more breathable or more luxurious.  We stand by our materials with pride.  We also consider it very important to pay our team members a fair wage.  Those things necessitate the price point we reside at.  One thing we have never done and won't ever do is to raise prices for the sole purpose of increasing our profit margin.  Any price increases have been and will be a direct result of greater material cost and/or labor cost.

My own cloth diapering journey began as a stay at home mom (SAHM) on a fixed budget, and a fair price point is something that is extremely important to me.  Now, as a WAHM and business owner, it is my mission to provide high quality luxury diapers at a fair price so that as many people as possible can enjoy them.

We’ve now covered who we are, what goes into our diapers, how to use them, what they cost, and why.  So how do you purchase a twinkie tush diaper?

We currently stock our store on Hyena Cart every Wednesday.  In order to participate in stockings you will need to have a (free) HC account and you will need to be signed in to that account at stocking time.  We alternate between 2pm and 8pm (EST) stockings.  When I refer to a “stocking” that means that at a set time, listings go “live.”  At this point, and for nearly a year now, all diaper listings sell out within seconds.  This means that it is necessary to be online and ready to click “add to cart” at the precise moment of stocking if you want to purchase a twinkie tush diaper this way.  We know that it can be very frustrating to try repeatedly to purchase one of our diapers, to no avail.  We have worked diligently over the past year to increase production and now make 200-220 diapers a month.  We will continue to work on increasing production and making the stocking process more fun and rewarding for everyone!

In the past few weeks stockings have become even more frustrating as it has become more and more clear that we have outgrown the capabilities of Hyena Cart.  The traffic in attendance is simply more than the site can handle.  We have tremendous love and respect for Hyena Cart and will continue to maintain a presence there for drawings and special events, but we plan to move away from the site for regular stockings in the very near future.  This week (2/8/12) will likely be our last full stocking on HC.  More to come on that soon.

On Tuesdays (the day before stockings), we preview the prints we will be stocking on our facebook page.  Many customers will stop in to check out previews so that they can plan which diaper(s) they will try for on stocking day.

It has become twinkie tush tradition that after the regular listings go live on stocking days and once payment is completed on all listings (usually about 10-20 minutes), we post drawings for custom slots.  That is something that happens, and will continue to happen, on Hyena Cart.

That leads me to the second way you can purchase a twinkie tush diaper: via custom slot drawing.  We have drawings after the stockings, as I just mentioned, and we also run weekly custom slot contests on our very active facebook page!  Sometimes we tie in a theme and sometimes it’s just a random number drawing.  If you would like to enter a custom slot drawing, keep an eye on the facebook page!

About custom slots: on the facebook page we usually offer custom slots that can be used for in stock prints (click here for an album which shows our in stock prints for customs), SYOF (which stands for send your own fabric) or twinkie tush night-nights.  On HC the slot designations are specified in the listings, so when you enter a drawing you are entering specifically for an in stock slot or a send your own fabric slot.

The third way you can purchase one of our diapers is via a Group Custom slot.  The Group Custom (GC) process has evolved quite a bit over the past several months.  Please see the most recent process laid out in full here. It is definitely not a simple process, but it is what we have come to out of a fervent desire to be fair.  Our GC slots are in extremely high demand and it is important to us that we make things as fair as possible!  GC slots are offered once a month at this point.

What do you need to know about our community?

On our main fan page and fan discussion page there are very few “rules”.  Our main request is that all members show respect for others and for twinkie tush.  To that end we don’t allow name-calling, cursing, or promoting of other brands.  This has not been an issue for us – to date we have not had to take action against anyone, which we are very grateful for!  We have come to know we can expect the very best from our truly fantastic customer base.

We have no rules or clauses about the secondary market.  Once you have purchased a twinkie tush diaper you are free to use, gift, sell, or trade it (or anything else you choose) as it is yours.  If you are looking for a previously owned twinkie tush diaper, a good place to start is the fan discussion and B/S/T (buy/sell/trade) page.  We just ask that you follow through with a sale or trade once it has been posted, and that you specify exactly how you intend to sell and at what price point.

We have an active community on facebook, both on the main page and on the fan discussion page.  We are incredibly grateful for our amazing fan base.  We consider our customers some of the most intelligent, supportive, kind and fun people we have the privilege to know.  We often run photo contests – we are running one right now in fact!  Details here! – and on occasion we’ll host themed trivia contests and the like.  We love the interactive spirit and the sheer fun we have with our fans, and we are continually motivated to do our very best for them!

What are our customers saying about us?  You can find that info here and here! Customer service is extremely important to us – we are always responsive and available and we consider it our responsibility to ensure 100% satisfaction with our products.

So now I hope you feel you know quite a bit about who we are and what we do!  We are always available if you have questions or feedback.  You can reach us at twinkietush@gmail.com.  

Here are some other important links:

Hyena Cart Store: http://hyenacart.com/twinkietush/ (www.twinkietush.com will also take you there!)

Thank you so much for taking the time to learn more about twinkie tush!  :)