Meet the Maker: Reusable Nappy Print Designer, Emery

Tagged in: Eco Family Nappies

Emery Smith is a fabric designer who’s created beautiful watercolour-inspired prints for our reusable nappies throughout the years. We caught up with them to hear about their design inspiration, cloth-bum life, and non-binary parenting.

Quick-Fire Cloth Questions

Name: Emery Smith

Age: 38

Pronouns: They/Them

Kids: Devon, 7 and Aubrey, 6 months

Occupation: Fabric designer, accountant, and tailor… with a PhD in astrophysics!

Stash: EasyFits for day and night

Disposables diverted from landfill: 910 in six months

How did you first hear about reusable nappies?

I first heard about them when I was pregnant with Devon. Because we were already composting and buying second-hand, reusable nappies seemed like the natural next step.

We made the mistake of buying the cheapest nappies online and we had little success. Devon was only 3.3 kilos so the nappies leaked everywhere. We wanted to focus on breastfeeding so ended up giving the reusable nappies away within a week.

When Aubrey was born six months ago, the idea of reusable nappies again seemed more manageable. I felt more confident and thought “I can get into cloth this time.”

How have you found using them this time around?

Really good and so much better than the first lot of nappies! In terms of performance, I find TotsBots reusable nappies more reliable than disposables. We definitely have fewer leaks!

Emery uses our EasyFit all-in-one reusable nappies which come with a super-absorbent bamboo core, stay-dry buffer zones and clever stitch-free seams for no leaks.

How much time do you spend washing nappies per week?

About an hour or so. It’s just a few extra loads with the rest of Aubrey’s baby items. Once you get into a routine, it’s easy!

The hardest part is drying them during winter but it’s easier now we have around 25 reusable nappies. Having extras in our stash means we can wash every 2-3 days with plenty of drying time. My top tip would be to put on a delayed overnight wash so your nappies are ready to hang up in the morning!

What advice would you give to others?

Just buy 2-3 to start off and see how you get on. The upfront cost can seem daunting even though you’re saving money in the long run. If you build your stash little by little you won’t notice the cost. Plus, it means you can buy the lovely new print designs as they come out ;)

Did you know that reusable nappies can save you up to £750 when compared to the cost of disposables? Starting slowly is a great way to test the waters and when you’re ready to commit to a full cloth nappy kit, Klarna can help make the cost more manageable. With Klarna, you can pay in full up to 30 days later or split the cost into manageable monthly payments, all without fees or interest. Yippee!

How does it feel using reusable nappies with your designs on them?

It’s amazing. I love seeing my designs come to life. It makes me so happy to think that my patterns will still be around even after I’m not here… that's a bit deep but it still gives me a buzz to think of it like that!

We love your prints! How did you get into pattern design?

I first started learning surface pattern design after Devon was born seven years ago. I was suffering from postnatal depression and needed something to focus on because I felt like I was losing myself to new parenthood. I was drawn to surface pattern design because it has both creative and analytical elements; I've got a background in science and mathematics as well as a love of art. I find creating the repeat pattern can be quite a mathematical process. I basically just learnt as I went along — gradually you begin to get an eye for what makes a good seamless pattern.

Where do you get your design inspiration from?

I began creating colourful gender-neutral patterns for kids because I was quite disheartened by the heavily gendered children’s decor and clothing I was exposed to once I had my own child. A lot of people think unisex means only grey or yellow but I wanted to create colourful dinosaurs, rockets and aeroplanes that would appeal to kids of all genders and interests.

Tell us a bit about how you collaborate with brands

I try to only work with brands and companies who share my ethos of gender inclusivity and diversity. I liked the existing TotsBots range as it wasn’t gender-specific. I was proud to be able to add to this collection with my own watercolour designs.

Plus, gender-neutral nappies are doubly eco-friendly! Pinks and blues limit the ability to hand things down. When you have colourful prints that stay away from gender stereotypes, you can pass them down from kid to kid and save even more money!

Congratulations on becoming a parent again! How has your experience as a non-binary parent been?

During my pregnancy with Aubrey, I spoke to the midwife for hours about my previous postnatal depression and being non-binary. I felt reassured by her and my wishes for gender-neutral terms were all put in my notes. By the end of my pregnancy, I’d seen so many healthcare workers that I didn’t have the energy to explain what non-binary meant. People just assumed I was a masculine woman and I gave up, really. However, social media’s been amazing. I’ve been able to connect with other non-binary parents and I’ve enjoyed raising awareness. Every generation seems to get a bit freer.

At home, we don't practise gender-neutral parenting, we use both pronouns, but we do make a huge effort to not limit decisions based on gender. I grew up thinking certain stuff wasn’t available for me. I always felt forced into dressing a certain way and I worried I wouldn't be loved for being who I wanted to be. We don’t want our children to be limited or shamed by their choice of toys or clothes. That’s why we try to give them a broad range of experiences instead of one for girls and one for boys.

I think that raising my children without society’s gender boundaries encourages them to express and accept themselves from a very young age. We encourage them to love themselves and allow them up to meet their own needs. Noone needs to fit in to impress other people

We love this sentiment from Emery and completely agree. If kids have the freedom to discover who they are from a young age, they’re more likely to have confidence in themselves as they get older.

How have you found having a baby in lockdown?

It’s had its ups and downs. It’s been easier in some ways because there’s no pressure to go out or have people around. But on the other hand, I’ve not met any other parents or babies. Social media’s helped loads and we’re thankful for the Facetimes!

Getting Started with Reusable Nappies

We love Emery’s advice about growing your cloth collection slowly. Remember, even one cloth nappy a day saves 365 disposables from landfill each year. To get started, shop our mixed Trial Kits, featuring one of each style of TotsBots nappy.

Thanks again to Emery for sharing their story with us… and for all the adorable TotsBots prints too! To keep up with Emery’s latest designs and for more on non-binary parenting, follow @emeryasmith. Plus, don’t forget to check out the colourful TotsBots x Emery Smith collaboration prints in Dilly Dally, Rainplops and Splash.