It’s a 21 Bum Salute for Maia!
Many Nappy Returns! The baby who inspired TotsBots Reusable Nappies is 21!
Meet Maia Smyth, the bottom that inspired TotsBots Reusable nappies. She is 21 on the 22nd of May and at the request of her mum, Fiona Smyth our Founder, we are giving her a hopefully not too embarrassing 21 bum salute from TotsBots! We caught up with Maia last week to find out what it feels like to be the inspiration behind the brand, what it’s like growing up with parents who created such a successful reusable nappy business, and most importantly to hear what she plans to do to celebrate her coming of age. We did ask her do a then-and-now version of the very first TotsBots magazine advert where aged just 2 she was sticking her bum up in the air wearing a green fluffy TotsBots, but unsurprisingly she said no to that one and instead we challenged her to balance 10 nappies on her head for 21 seconds with her mum in tow of course…try it, it’s harder than it looks!.
We’re sure you have heard the story many times but how does it feel being the inspiration behind the brands TotsBots and Bloom & Nora.
I’ve never really thought about it that way to be honest, it has always been about their achievement and hard work, it just so happens that I was the baby that they decided to use reusable nappies on and started from there.
What are you doing these days?
Not as much I would be if it wasn’t for lockdown! I am currently studying a degree in Textile Design at Glasgow School of Art.
Do you think having parents who have created a niche eco-brand has inspired you?
Definitely, it’s pushed me to want to do something that makes a difference; something that I believe in with the emphasis on benefiting the environment. It’s a big influencer in my art practice. I am very aware that fashion textile industry is a massive polluter and negatively impacts the environment. My practice looks at ways that I can produce artwork taking this into consideration and it will ultimately help me decide my career direction. I’m really interested in sustainable methods of production…I was lucky enough to accompany my Dad to the Intertex trade show in Munich last year just before lockdown started and that was a huge inspiration for me.
Has growing up with your parents running their own business influenced your career aspirations.
Yes I would say so, it’s influenced me in the way that I’ve always grown up wondering what am I going to create. I’ve been lucky growing up in a creative household especially when so much focus is on academic performance at school, seeing how valued creativity is in our family has been quite formative for me. And having parents who are entrepreneurs has given me more ambition I think than if they hadn’t, as well as the belief that it can happen from small beginnings. I don’t necessarily think that it will be easy but I know it can be done and definitely want to follow in their footsteps.
What inspires you most about your parents?
Their drive and my mum’s optimism, even when things are difficult, they are both very resilient people.
People often describe businesses as your parent’s baby, Does TotsBots feel like a member of the family?
In a weird way yes, it does feel like it’s ours (still). When I was little, being in the factory and seeing the machinists who all knew who were were (and we also knew who had sweeties in their bobbin drawers!), the ones who have been here from the very early days have watched us grow up. It has definitely felt like an extension of the family.
Can you remember your cloth nappies?
No, but I do remember getting that picture taken when I was sticking my bum up in the air, but that is the only nappy I remember (actually that must be one of my earliest memories!) I do remember by brothers’ nappies though and putting them away for mum. I used to love stacking the nappies in rainbow order or by print collection. I remember helping choosing which nappy they would wear that day. I also haven’t forgotten the time mum dropped the lid of the nappy changing station on my head, that was a sore one!!
Most memorable moments from TotsBots/Bloom along the way?
My biggest memories were from Bloom & Nora to be honest as I was consulted lots on that. I was about 14 at the time and mum would ask me about product and print designs, what did I think of the packaging etc. Actually I do remember the Friday night games nights that we would do for the TotsBots Facebook page, helping pick the competition winners. That was good fun and ahh wait…Betty’s tearoom, sometimes we would go down to Harrogate with Mum when Dad was doing the trade show there and Betty’s tearoom would be the highlight of the trip.
Did you ever help out?
I used to love helping mum with the print design colourways if she wasn’t sure about colours, it was nice to have that input and also to know that my mum trusted and valued my opinion. It influences me to an extent now as it started me thinking about colour combinations and design compositions, even just being involved in that small way. Print naming was fun too, mum seems to have endless ideas there.
What do you like about having parents who have set up their own business and created a brand?
You get to choose when they go on holiday! That was my key factor in wanting to be an entrepreneur when I was younger but now obviously am more realistic. Other people were always really interested when they asked what my parents did, this made me realise the importance of what they were doing, challenging the norm and changing opinions.
Is there anything you dislike?
When they were properly stressed, they didn’t bring it home that much when it did come home it wasn’t nice to see them like that, I used to worry about them sometimes.
Are you the eco warrior in your peer group?
More so with Bloom & Nora (I’m not at the nappy stage yet!) but only to an extent really as my peers are all that way inclined anyway. Especially in this day and age, everyone is aware of the environment. I remember when I was younger when Bloom & Nora started, the idea of reusable sanitary pads met with much more resistance, the thing is once people do start using them it always a case of no turning back. I had a massive stash and I’d just dish them out to my friends and bring them over “to the fluffy side” as my mum would say.
Will you use cloth when you have kids?
100%, I couldn’t imagine ever using anything else.
What are you doing for your birthday?
Probably not a lot, some drinks with my flatmates, hopefully the weather will be nice, we might go for a swim at loch Lomond. Thankfully my mum’s plans for a 21 bum salute were well and truly scuppered because of lockdown. She wanted to have the image of toddler me (as seen on the T shirt in the pic) sticking my bum up in the air projected onto the wall at a big 21st birthday doo, so thank COVID for that. She’s been there and got the T shirt anyway!
Happy 21st Birthday Maia, many many nappy returns, we hope you’re not too bummed out at the low-key birthday celebration, sorry, we couldn’t resist the pun there.
If you’d like to find out more about the story behind the brand or would like more information on the lovely fluffy nappies inspired by this lovely lassie visit the Our Story page on the website.