Recently I had the opportunity to interview Leslie Oliver, Owner of Leslie’s Boutique. Leslie’s Boutique is one of the fastest growing online stores selling cloth diapers and designer baby clothing. I am honored that she took a few moments from her busy schedule to give us insight into how a mother of 5 runs a highly successful internet business.
Autumn: What inspired you to start an online boutique that includes cloth diapers?
Leslie: Actually my experience with Fuzzi Bunz led to me to starting my own boutique. I loved using them so much on my daughter, and when they opened up to a few new retailers and accepted me, I jumped in with both feet. Now my store has designer clothing and shoes, baby gear, and diapering accessories too.
Autumn: How long has Leslie’s Boutique been in business?
Leslie: We have been in business since September of 2007. We are still wet behind the ears, so to speak. We have grown quite a bit though in the past six months. I am in an area where there are no cloth diaper stores for an hour in any direction so I run into curious parents all the time with lots of questions about the “new and improved” cloth diapering.
Autumn: What is unique about Leslie’s Boutique compared to other cloth diaper businesses?
Leslie: Well, there are a lot of great cloth diaper stores out there. I have chatted with quite a few, and I have met a lot of great WAHMs! I hope that customers choose me because of the speed in which they get their orders, our competitive pricing, but more importantly our customer service. We answer our phone even nights and weekends because we know that there are moms out there who run into snags with cloth diapering and have questions and we never want anyone to feel as if they can’t come to us for help. We don’t just sell the product. We help to service the product too!
Leslie: Do you make any of the products you sell on Leslie’s Boutique?
Yes I do! I currently make the wet bags which have been quite the hit. We now have 11 retailers carrying our bags, two of them being outside of the U.S. so we are very excited about that! We also just started doing and changing pad sets. We do have some other ideas in the works right now too!
Autumn: On average, how long does it take to receive an order?
Leslie: We do our utmost best to ship same day. I would say we do 80% of our shipments same day. We make our bags to order right now and so bag orders do take a few days to ship out. Customs can take as long as a week, but that is the longest that an order would take.
Autumn: What do you think the near future for cloth diapers holds?
Leslie: I see wonderful things for cloth diapers in the next 10 years. I still run across people who think cloth diapering is all about “those squares.” When I show them a diaper, they are amazed and actually pleasantly surprised. Diapers such as Rumparooz are so identical to a disposable that it is hard to tell the difference, aside from the cute outer prints and colors, and the fact that you don’t toss them out. I hope that myself, as well as all of the other cloth diaper retailers, make a huge impact in the next 10 years in helping to bring more awareness to cloth diapering and choices that parents have now.
Autumn: What criteria do you use when selecting the products you will sell through Leslie’s Boutique?
Leslie: I have used all of the products that we sell. We actually don’t sell products just because they’re the fad, etc. We sell products that are tried and true. I feel that if you care about your customers, then you make sure you sell them the best. A clothing designer that we just added to our line, Toni Tierney, was so impressive not only with her clothing line, but with her mission statement and where her company is going. She doesn’t even put hang tags on her clothing anymore because she feels that the “self indulgance” of a hang tag is just more paper waste. She uses moms within the U.S. to make her clothing. She buys only US made fabrics. I am so totally thrilled to be adding the rest of her line to our site this week!
Autumn: What advice would you give someone just starting out with cloth diapers?
Leslie: Try a trial or a sampler pack. These packages usually have 1 diaper of about 4-6 different brands. Use the sampler pack for a week and then decide what works best for you. Every baby is different. A diaper that I think works fabulous on my petite daughter may not work as well on someone else’s “healthy” baby boy! We also have beginner’s packages on our site that comes with a package of diapers, a sprayer, some soap and a wet bag. That is one of our most popular packages. It is really nice when you are new to get everything you need in one box instead of having to figure out on your own what items you may be missing that you need.
Another piece of advice is to be patient and understand that there is a learning curve. Family and friends sometimes don’t understand the process and make such a big deal about cloth diapering. Really it doesn’t take any more time out of my day than disposables would, and it really is now second nature to me.
Autumn: What is the best part of your “job”?
Leslie: Being able to be home for my kids. I have 3 in high school, 1 in elementary school, and a 17 month old. I love that my high school kids have someone at home for them after school. I think that is important on so many levels. I love that my daughter has not had to go to daycare. Also, I LOVE my customers. I have saved so many emails from customers thanking me so much for custom wet bags and teaching them about how to wash their diapers and just spending time with them on the phone helping them to figure out sizing. I love that part of my job too!
Autumn: What advice could you give other SAHM’s looking to start a business?
Leslie: I would say that it is great to be home with your children. Just be prepared, because you do have to do a lot of juggling and prioritizing. Having a business, and an internet business at that, is very different than working for someone else in an office setting, etc. You are your own boss which is very nice, but you are responsible for doing everything which can be very hectic. I would say to someone looking to start a business, just go for it. You will never know your potential unless you try!