I’ve written before about balancing my identity as a reader with that of motherhood, and if there’s one thing I love, it’s finding fun bookish things for my son and me, to showcase my love of reading and share it with him, no matter how small. We have matching Le Petit Prince shirts, one of his old lovies was a Goodnight Moon bunny, and I found Rainbow Fish blocks on Etsy for his first birthday. Books of his are stacked all over our apartment, and he’s always flipping through them.
When my son was about four or five months old, I started to explore cloth diapering. I swore I would never do it, because of the poop—but it’s funny; once you have a kid, poop no longer grosses you out, and the super cute designs of the diapers won me over. On a more serious level, the community was even more important. Most cloth diaper stores also have Facebook chat groups, where parents can talk about parenting, diapers, and really anything—the awful morning you’ve had, problems with nursing, or the epic #momfail that no one else would think was funny. I was struggling as a new mom—it can be lonely, you’re sleep deprived, and hormones are causing mood craziness. I found solace in these Facebook groups, and in the routine of diaper laundry. Cloth diapers were something fun to focus on, in the haze of trying to figure out this mothering thing. One day, I saw a Rainbow Fish cloth diaper that turned out to be from a place called Mom’s Milk Boutique, and I loved it—how perfect for my son, who adored the book The Rainbow Fish.
One day, I noticed that one of the stores I liked, Abby’s Lane, had a Book Club group. I immediately joined, thinking that it was an actual Book Club—only to find that instead, it was a group about cloth diapers that were designed around a chosen book. (Please note, while the Rainbow Fish diaper above is super cute, it is NOT part of the Book Club, just FYI). At various intervals, there would be a release of a limited-edition diaper in a print that was inspired by a children’s book. I was immediately smitten—as a book lover, how could I not be? It was also something I could share with my son, along with reading to him every day.
And so for almost two years now, I’ve followed the Book Club, and even if I don’t buy the diaper (or bib, or wetbag), the prints are always beautiful, and the conversation around the books and reading with our children is something I’ve come to value. I was able to catch up with Stephanie Daniel, the owner and founder of Abby’s Lane, to ask her some questions about it.
What was the impetus behind launching the Book Club?
Over 15 years of parenting my seven children, I had read thousands of books to them, and that had created a multitude of memories and opened so many doors for them. Why not celebrate the act of reading, the love of literature, and foster those connections we made with products you use regularly?
How do you choose the books and patterns?
That is absolutely the best part! I start with ones my children love! It is that easy sometimes; books that have inspired them, been a favorite, hold special meaning…but I also try to look at what our customers love. We are constantly crowdsourcing ideas, and if a particular work is meaningful to our community, I absolutely toss it in the ring. The next step is selecting a charity that will benefit from the collection.
The print that launched the club was “Dreams,” inspired by Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, with the infamous “though she be but little, she is fierce” quote on it. We chose a charity that helps girls affected by human trafficking. Most recently, our “Never Grow Up” print was particularly popular with our fans. Benefiting Comfort Cases, a charity that gives nice backpacks to foster children in lieu of trash bags, the print inspired a great discussion about our hopes and dreams for our children, and our own journeys into parenthood.
Where do you see it going?
Oh boy, a tough question! Well, honestly, it was a bit of an experiment at first. I remember telling Christy (of Smart Bottoms) that I would give it 3 months to see if it caught on, and hopefully we would have a good 12 month run. Going on 2 years now, it is a fantastic surprise, and we love how it is growing! This month, we launched a new schedule of content to take our fans to the next level of exploring their love of reading with more contests, structured discussions, and actually getting into a group spirit of reading books together.
As time has gone on, the group has evolved to talk about all sorts of things—fun fandoms, bookish-themed nurseries or baby showers, new books coming out (for kids and adults), and the everyday work of parenthood. I have a feeling that long after my son is out of diapers, I’ll keep coming back to this bookish community.