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Sunday, September 22, 2013

A year in review, and looking forward! :)

Here we are in mid September and I’m just sitting down to write the year in review blog post I have been mentioning since late August! :)  The fact that I have not had a moment to get to it until now is a testament to how busy things are around here, and how much has happened in the last 12 months!

On September 7th of 2012 we loaded a moving truck and began a huge transition for twinkie tush, taking what then seemed like an impossibly enormous load of the fabric, snaps, machines, shipping supplies, and SO much more that had been filling our house in NJ, and moving it up to our new studio in Ithaca, NY.  The days of our company bursting at the seams in our small house-turned-one-woman-manufacturing-plant were over.  It was the biggest step my little home-grown company had ever taken.  And on September 10th we began training the team that would evolve into the amazing group of fellow diaper-makers I work with now!  I cannot describe how grateful and humbled I am at the daily opportunity to lead this team, to bring jobs to the community we now live in, and to allow the team members’ individual expertise to drive the company forward as well.

In the past year we have followed through on our goal of increasing diaper production.  In fact we have increased production by over 400%.  We are so thrilled to be offering so many more diapers via stockings and custom opportunities now!  If you were with us before the expansion you will remember the days of groups waiting up to 10 months to secure a Group Custom slot!  Now we are delighted to accept the majority of groups who enter each month!  We continue to offer the unique prints and high quality we always have, and have explored new sources for our materials, refining and improving on our diapers all the time.  I am so proud of the fact that such an enormous production increase has in no way negatively impacted our well-known exceptional customer service record, nor our open communication and accessibility.  I am so grateful to be in direct communication with our customer community on a daily basis, to feel that I know so many of you so well and to meet more of you every week!

In the past year we have also introduced new products!  Shortly after our expansion we began offering replacement soakers, and you also met 2 new diapers: our newborn diaper, the twinkie tush teenie tush, as well as twinkie tush simplify, our line of solid cv and obv diapers!  We have made twinkie tush night-nights more accessible via our pre-order night-night 4-packs, and we will continue to explore ways to get night-nights into the homes of those seeking the best overnight solution!  More recently we introduced FUSION, our new hybrid fitted, and have been blown away by the positive response from our customer community!  This past summer we began offering wipes, and just last week we introduced twinkie tush blankets!  All of these are things I am incredibly excited about and I’ve been so thrilled to see you enjoying them as well!

We have some new products in the works, but I can’t spill the beans about them just yet. ;)  Let’s just say that within the next 12 months we plan to bring you a lot of surprises, along with more of what you already know and love!  I can’t thank you enough for the opportunities you give us every day, to grow and to evolve into the very best company we can be. :)

In January of 2013, the incredible amount of work that we (chiefly Mike) and our web developers put into building our web site finally allowed us to realize our goal!  We launched www.twinkietush.com, a one of a kind cart system that has improved our stockings immeasurably and allowed us to stand on our own two virtual feet for the first time! :)  We are so thankful for the hard work that went into the site, and so grateful to be using it every single day in all of the ways we do!

This past year we have continued to offer charity auctions, and in fact we have a charity event running on HC right now to benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.  Make sure to stop by and get your bids in!  Thank you so much for helping us make a difference!

In writing this blog post, I read through the late August 2011 and 2012 blog posts, both of which reflected the state and the goals of the company at the time.  It has been amazing to look back at where we came from.  In August 2011 we were on the verge of introducing stretch fleece, developing a Group Custom drawing process, adding a part-time team member to help me with snapping, and getting ready to roll out the famous Harry Potter theme stocking!  In the post I said "twinkie tush has already grown beyond what I had ever imagined it could."  In August 2012 we were about to load the moving truck for the big expansion. :)  Both of those blog posts included an announcement about a price increase and I am excited to report that this post will not! :)  Throughout the history of the company we have only raised prices when absolutely necessary and I’m very happy to say that at this point we are able to maintain our current pricing structure.

The thread that weaves through each year’s post is one that has only grown and matured as the company itself has grown.  It is a love for cloth diapering, for unique and captivating prints, for finding our place in the world as individuals and as a company, for quality, honesty and integrity.  I said this recently on facebook, but it bears repeating:  As ever, I am brimming over with gratitude for our amazing customer community. Your support, your love, your feedback and your humor inspire us and propel us forward. Big things are coming in the next 12 months. I am so excited about everything that is in store, and so grateful for everything that has come so far. If you've known me for a while you know I can get a little mushy, but that is because every day of my life I have to practically pinch myself to believe that this once small dream has come true, and continues to realize itself in new ways every day. None of it would be possible without you.  Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

What’s next? See you Tuesday for previews! <3

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Our September Fan of the Month: Marissa Brown!

It's September, one of our favorite months here at twinkie tush!  We have a lot of exciting stuff happening this month, and we're so happy to be kicking it off by introducing you to our September Fan of the Month, Marissa Brown! :)  Marissa is an exceptionally warm and generous mama, and a huge part of our fan community.  We have loved getting to know her better through this interview, and hope you will too! :)

Read about Marissa below, and read about how to become twinkie tush Fan of the Month at this link!  We are now open for October entries! :)

Now, meet the beautiful Marissa and her adorable daughter Jillian!

What is your full name?
Marissa  Caitlin Brown

Where are you from? Where do you live now?
I was born and raised in Southern California (Long Beach and Torrance). I bounced around a bit to Arizona (3 years), New York (2 weeks), Los Angeles (1 ½ years), and I’m finally back in Torrance… for now ;)

How many children do you have and what are their ages?
Just one Jillian Rose and she is almost 16 months!

How/when did you find twinkie tush?
My cloth diaper BFF Michelle bought Jilly her first twinkie tush (Cocoa Cozy) for Christmas and we were SOLD. Since then it has been an adventure.

What is your favorite twinkie tush print of all time?
Um…. Mermaid Song… or When in Rome… or A Thousand Ships… or Je T’aime…

Clockwise from upper left: Mermaid Song, When in Rome, Je T'Aime, A Thousand Ships

Do you have an ultimate ISO print?
Probably Je T’aime! I’ve been extremely lucky to be able to score and buy a lot of amazingly gorgeous diapers from twinkie tush so I have a pretty solid stash.

What is your favorite personal non-parenting related, non-work related hobby?
Reading. I’ve been a book worm almost since birth. In elementary school I would spend recess reading so when I got in trouble they would make me get up and play instead! I had special permission to sit inside reading usually. I also recently started making handmade cards, that’s pretty fun!

What makes you feel most inspired or grounded?  How do you take care of yourself and your spirit?
I am a stay at home mom by choice. It is what I wanted as soon as I found out I was pregnant. She will only be little for such a short time, I want to experience all of it with her. She inspires me some days with how incredible she is. Other days, her hilarity keeps me grounded. When I am too into myself, the computer, tv, mommy drama, etc, she reminds me that life is now and to live (and love) in the moment. That’s all we truly have.
I have trouble taking care of my spirit outside of being a mommy sometimes. I don’t like leaving her with anyone (other than short periods with my parents), so I try and take advantage of reading a book or playing a game when she is asleep. Baths used to be a source of relaxation but for her they are games!

What is your favorite activity to do with Jilly?
Shopping? Nahhh! Probably the park. I love the way her face lights up and she runs around (and usually tries to play with older kids). The world is a whole brand new fun exploration for her and it is such a wonderful blessing to be able to experience that. I could probably say breastfeeding too. She is such a go go go child that I don’t always get cuddles, but breastfeeding insures we get lots of cuddle-hugs.

What is/was your favorite place to visit?
Hawaii. I’ve only been there once and I really hope I can make it back there. I have a hard time relaxing and the idea of tropical beach and no plans is heavenly.

What is your favorite book?  What about your favorite movie?
I can’t pick just ONE!!! Honestly, I love Stephen King, Jodi Picoult, the Matched Trilogy, Hunger Games, the list goes on and on. I don’t always have enough patience for movies. Despicable Me? Wreck it Ralph? I like to watch a lot of documentaries.

What is something surprising about you, that people might not guess upon meeting you?
Online, I can be pretty outgoing and “loud” and opinionated. In person, I am really very shy and have a hard time speaking up.

What twinkie tush attribute and/or philosophy do you most appreciate?
Community. Many mommy or diapering communities can have a huge undercurrent of competitiveness or drama. Its rather disconcerting and off putting. That drove me away from a lot of places. As I was settling into the twinkie tush community, it became very obvious how friendly people were. How mamas truly wanted to look out for each other. One time one of my in search of diapers went up for sale and literally FOUR people tagged me. I got an amazing diaper and proof how much online friends are real.

What would you tell someone who has yet to try a twinkie tush diaper?
Just do it. I watched my friend love them and switch over to them for what felt like forever (in reality it was probably only a month or two!). You won’t regret it. Just take the (very fun, exhilarating, adorable) leap!

Tell us your funniest cloth diapering or parenting story!
One that comes to mind was this past weekend! I was working on body parts with Jilly and we were doing “toes” and “nose”. She has toes down, but not so much nose. So I asked her “Jilly, where are your toes?” She grabbed her toes and started grinning and clapping (yes she congratulates herself on a job well done!). “Good job! Now where is your nose?” She pulled her toes to her nose and started laughing SO hard!
On the cloth diapering side… I just think it’s funny/cute that she LOVES her diapers as much as I do (if that’s possible). She has to have them first and carries them around hugging them.

Tell us about one of the most meaningful parenting experiences you have had.
Birth. Hands down. I had an inspiring home birth after a fairly difficult pregnancy. My birth experience lasted about 12 hours and while it was a complete comedy of errors (went into labor on Mother’s Day, boyfriend was 2 hours away visiting his parents, got locked out of my apartment, water tub wouldn’t work), I wouldn’t change any of it. I started noticing contraction like feelings at around 3:30pm and I hid it from my mom for a few hours because I was pretty sure that it couldn’t possibly be real and I didn’t want to get anyone riled up for false labor. (Because at 40 weeks, 2 days that was likely right?!) I finally called my midwife at 7:30 (and hinted – not obviously enough – to my boyfriend that it was time to come home). Then I headed home at 9:30. I got home and couldn’t find my keys. Anywhere. 30 minutes of looking and nothing. Didn’t have the landlord’s number. Called boyfriend – he called the landlord and explained - landlord came over and let me in and proceeded to talk faulty plumbing with me. Boyfriend finally got home at 11pm and I sent my mom home figuring it would still be awhile. Contractions started getting more intense and I made him time them and then call the midwife. She said I didn’t sound very far along but came over to check me. 8.5cm with a bulging bag. Time to call my mom back an hour after she left! Finally at 2:43am Jillian Rose was born. My midwife actually told me that I was a natural. I was dozing between pushing and quite blissed out. Then to fall asleep in bed with my boyfriend and our brand new baby after, wonderful.

Thank you again Marissa, for sharing about yourself with us in this way.  It was wonderful to learn more about you and Jilly and we are so thrilled to have you as part of our community!