- Written by Aleksandra Gavrilovic
BELGRADE - “We are two very enthusiastic and industrious friends and godmothers, who have put our idea into practice and succeed in persevering in it every day”, two young entrepreneurs, Sonja Drakić and Violeta Matijević, told the Home of the Good News. Just two years ago Sonja and Violeta launched a completely new and different product on our market – bamboo diapers.
Initially, Sonja, who is a graphic designer, and Violeta, who is a nurse by profession, wanted to ensure healthy childhoods for their own children.
The idea was conceived at home, literally. Sonja ordered cotton diapers for her little girl from abroad. Given that the procedure of ordering and sending was complicated, the two friends decided to bring bamboo to Serbia.
Bamboo Healthier than Cotton
In foreign countries cotton diapers have been on sale for a decade, but here it is still inconceivable. When we decided on our endeavour, Violeta and I, knowing nothing about the textiles industry, began our search. What was interesting for us from the very beginning were diapers made of bamboo, which is essentially naturally anti-bacterial, and an ecologically pure raw material. It is farmed without watering or the use of pesticides, it grows as a weed and in comparison with cotton it is much more profitable and healthier. Bamboo entered the textile market less than ten years ago and is not very popular on the market.
Soon we began our search for bamboo which lasted almost a year. We finally managed to overcome that goal and embarked on designing a model, for which we employed three women, with whom we are still working, who know about textiles and help us make the final product as good as it can be, says Sonja.
Although the initial period was lengthy, they invested most of their energy in educating mothers, about what textile bamboo diapers were and why mothers should wash their diapers in the 21st century.
”We marked our educational start in health-care institutions, maternity clinics, pediatrics, parenthood schools, where we established good contacts and where their employees regularly pointed to the importance of diapers made of natural materials and are very healthy for a baby’s skin”, Sonja said.
Bamboo diapers are healthy for babies, but also for the environment. In the past two years Violeta and Sonja, listening to the needs and suggestions of young mothers, learnt a lot and made new models of bamboo diapers.
”The suggestions, criticism and proposals of our customers mean a lot to us, because that is the only was to upgrade our production. There were mothers who asked what was the purpose of diapers which are washable, as well as those who are very satisfied with our product and happy that someone in Serbia makes something like this,” Violeta added.
Bamboo of Significance for Environmental Protection
Besides its anti-bacterial effect, bamboo is also very important for protection of the environment and ecology, which is not particularly developed here.
Given that I live in a suburb where trash is collected only twice a week, I was surprised to find that every day I had a bagful of rubbish, just diapers, and in a week’s time, if the sanitation department skips a collection, I have a huge bag full of dirty diapers, and I cannot even imagine the quantity that would accumulate in two years. We know that it takes five hundred years for those diapers to break down, and I always ask myself if I want to do something like that for the future generations.
The damage done by disposable diapers to the environment is shown by a story told by Sonja and Violeta to the Home of the Good News.
”A woman we met travelled to India, where she gave birth. It was very difficult to purchase disposable diapers, one had to travel to the next city to buy some. The locals were very puzzled at her use of disposable diapers, and wondered why she would use a diaper that she would throw away after just three hours. When she returned to the village where she lived in India, which had no sanitation service, dirty diapers kept amassing in her yard. Once dogs began to carry them away, they had to dig holes in their own yards to bury diapers. After that experience, the woman could not wait for her mother to bring from Serbia any kind of cotton diapers she could find”.
Textile Diapers Far Cheaper than Disposable Ones
Many mothers decide on buying bamboo diapers on economic grounds, because over a period of two years textile diapers are two to three times cheaper than disposable ones. Although the initial cost is higher, as it is necessary to buy up to 20 bamboo diapers, they pay for themselves within six months.
These diapers are never thrown away, but can be used successively by more children. They are easy to use and are made for several generations of children. They are washed at 40 or 60 degrees, can be boiled, very little detergent is needed, which is not artificial, without softener or bleach, which can damage the textile or irritate the baby’s skin. They are dried next to a radiator, and in the winter they take a day to dry, says Sonja.
‘Daj daj’ Diapers
The enterprise, named ’Daj daj’, offers three types of diapers, protective underpants and underpants for toilet training.
Listening to mothers and their suggestions, we made the ‘Two in One’ model, with a protective layer ensuring quicker changing, as well as underwear for toilet training for children aged three of four. A large percentage of children have rash problems, and use antibiotic cremes while they are in their first year. This problem is not resolved in the correct manner, and the majority of mothers of kids who have rashes come to us.
The bamboo diapers are made for ages up to two, because practice has shown that it is the right age to wean a child from those diapers.
The product has made major advances in the United States and Canada, andall the large companies began as small family businesses. We are able to make about 1,000 diapers per month.
The materials used by Sonja and Violeta have an Eco tex certificate, a German certificate recognised throughout the world for textiles which contain no harmful substances, and the diapers cost from 920 to 1,450 dinars, depending on the model and size. We organise sales drives, with price cuts and gifts. Diapers can be ordered via our website, ‘Daj daj’, or by visiting us in Belgrade.
Our website is primarily educational, and users can get all the information they need from it can. Those who are in Belgrade can visit our office in Svetogorska Street, which is also a showroom.
We are planning to make a caravan through Serbia, perhaps next year.
The two young enthusiasts say they believe in their idea and that thanks to criticism and support of people who they are in contact with they are persevering with their enterprise.
”Our idea is that as many people as possible hear about us, for us to help them in this manner, and to endavour to remain in contact with mothers in order to upgrade our products and expand our range of diapers”.
Source: Home of the Good News