Since 1999, I’ve been attempting to make the mundane astonishingly beautiful while Smallering through Fuzbaby, keeping my business small enough to be sustainable for family and sanity.
Sustainable Smallering. That’s not business? Sure, that’s business. Entrepreneur. Antipreneur. True Cost Economics. However you need to describe it to wrap yourself around it, smallering creates a very different business to biggering. Smallering creates connections, opens eyes, and opens arms. Biggering is business for business’ sake or the sake of accumulation. Accumulation relies on imbalance. Smallering aims at balance— balance between people, between people and their world, between people and the world of ideas. Smallering seeks to sustain its circle—from the smallest circle to the largest circle it can see. [From “Smallering: A New Business Model,” Lori Taylor.]
Along the way, I realized I just want to help people Make Your Own Everything. My family is all about homebirth, homeschool, and home business. We support handmade all the way. We are DIY, and we think you can be, too.
All the while, I have to keep coming back to color, beauty, and elemental balance in nature. That is what inspires me.
Our logo is called the Fuzrise, as in “May the Fuz rise with you,” which is lifted from the Irish blessing (“May the road rise to meet you”) via John Lydon (“May the road rise with you”). Sometimes I do get wound up about things, and I let the song “Rise” guide me: “Anger is an energy.” I try to harness energy in positive ways here.
Making the Mundane Astonishingly Beautiful
The Fuzbaby idea started when an artist’s academic burnout met a baby on the way and the whim to make something colorful and completely ridiculous. While finishing my Ph.D., I was very tired of think-work day after day. I had been in school so long that I missed working with my hands, and I missed color. I had made diapers for my first child, and in 1999 I was in the process of making diapers for my second child, soon to be born. The ideas came together, and I decided to make the most colorful diapers I could imagine. Still, this is how Fuzbaby makes the mundane astonishingly beautiful.
After extensive testing and planning and all of the other prep steps I love so much, Fuzbaby has been selling wool diaper covers and fitted cloth diapers locally since 1999, with the website following soon after. We offered tailored wool covers and our own fitted diaper, then developed a wool snap-in contour diaper set, the Almost-in-One. Later we added more theme diapers, like the Diaper Garden and Elemental Diapers, which echo the colors of our former favorites, the recycled Refuz. Color, color, color. Fuzbaby is color. Fuzbaby was one of the longest running cloth diaper manufacturing businesses still owned and operated by the founder–with the invaluable help of husband Marc.
The Diaper Underground
As the owner of Fuzbaby, I was involved extensively in the diapermaking class of 2000, always encouraging colleagues to value their time and expertise, to increase their business knowledge and professionalism, and to maintain communities of their peers. I coined “The Diaper Underground,” a phrase now commonly used. In diaper years, my 13 years in the Underground come out to about six and a half diaper generations (two years and a child is out of diapers). Some of my answers for my colleagues became articles and frequently asked questions.
I encouraged diaper manufacturers and diapering parents to use the energy of the community to come together. After several years of planning, I joined with others to found the Real Diaper Association, organizing advocates and activists for cloth diapering. Fuzbaby continues to be a member of the community of natural family businesses, including the Handmade Toy Alliance and Real Diaper Industry Association.
Through the time that I have been involved with women starting and running their small businesses, I have occasionally been asked for help. When asked for guidance in writing a small business plan, I wrote “The Work-at-Home Parent’s Business Plan 101.” Over several years, people came to me to request help in planning and selling businesses, as well as writing for their web sites. In 2005 I formalized this as Very Write, in which I specializes in web content development. Very Write started out as part of Very Solutions, three work-at-home mothers who applied our web experience gained in the cloth diapering community to provide web design, web hosting, ecommerce, and search engine optimization. As I left the Verys behind me, my writing and business optimization moved to 3Stream. Now, I am still very busy writing and helping other businesses, focusing especially on helping businesses in my own industry sell more natural baby products.
We Practice Smallering
Fuzbaby is a family-sustaining business. We have had many opportunities to grow into mass production and distribution. Though we have carefully considered these possibilities, we decided we like the sustainable level we have reached. We practice Smallering.
What is Smallering? Using sustainable materials, making shorter chains between producers of natural resources and end-users, paying fair wages, making local connections, advocating responsible consumption, including children in the process, and more. We encourage all of this in the context of natural living. In the midst of this attitude of sustainability, Smallering means growing a business only as much as you want to grow it. Very small, or a bit bigger—but only a size that suits you. Smallering is running your business rather than letting it run you.
We run our business because we like it. When we stop liking it, we will stop doing it.
I created the idea of Smallering after reading what has become our favorite business book: The Lorax, by Dr. Seuss. People like to say The Lorax is about pollution, but that is only the symptom. This book is about biggering, Biggering, BIGGERING. It’s about Capitalism. Pollution, environmental degradation, and displacement of indigenous residents are only a few of the effects of biggering in this classic children’s book.
Read the original smallering article, “Smallering: A New Business Model.”
You Can Smaller, Too
- Support other smallering businesses.
- Start a limited growth company yourself and grow it only as big as you want it.
- Read the Lorax. Think and talk about it. Tell your children.
- Go local. Find a retailer—or, even better, a diapermaker—near you, and buy from her.
- Make your own diapers. Make them out of anything that strikes you as useful or amusing. Look around for suggestions.
- Why stop at diapers? Make your own everything.
Go Deep and Wide to Seek Sustainability
For information on the structure of corporations and the blind irresponsibility of growth, see Jerry Mander, In Absence of the Sacred: The Failure of Technology and the Survival of the Indian Nations (Sierra Club Books, 1992) or The Case Against the Global Economy (Sierra Club Books, 1997). Don’t buy these online. The man wrote his books on a manual typewriter. If you are intrigued enough to look up the book, you should do it face-to-face and locally at an independent bookstore.
If you are concerned about the environment, would you consider Deep Ecology? The Foundation for Deep Ecology supports the idea that, “The well-being and flourishing of human and nonhuman life on Earth have value in. These values are independent of the usefulness of the nonhuman world for human purposes.” Seuss translation: whether or not Truffula trees can be used to make Thneeds, Truffula trees have intrinsic value.
If you are interested in the inevitably deep connections between cultural and environmental diversity, you might find a home with Bioneers. They provide books, radio programming, and gatherings..
Other Things I Do
- Join us on Facebook
- Lately, I’m drunk on beauty at Pinterest.
- Lori’s small business consulting and web content development at 3Stream.
- Lori was also the Founder of Real Diaper Association, a 501(c)(3) charity dedicated to cloth diaper education and advocacy. She is currently Faithkeeper.
- Lori was also one of the Founders of the cloth diaper trade association, Real Diaper Industry Association. She is an Emeritus Director.