I am constantly inspired by people who are business owners and parents. People who care about leaving the world a better place for the next generations. People who truly want their life's work to be about making positive change.
Nina Hawkes is the owner of Diaper Kind and a mom of two and is someone I am lucky enough to call a dear and long-time friend. We sat down to talk about all things business, environment, motherhood and of course, fashion.
Hey Nina! I'm really excited to talk to you today! I miss you! Let's start by introducing you to everyone.
Ok, my name is Nina and I grew up in Toronto, but have lived in New York for over 10 years. I started coming to the city because my boyfriend was at OCAD. They'd arrange these cheap trips for students -- a few nights at the hostel and an overnight bus so you could go see exhibits and to the galleries. I started tagging along and now, fourteen years later, we have two kids and have lived here for over a decade.
Our readers always like to hear a little bit about the day in the life. Can you paint us a little picture - morning routines etc?
Well we have two young children, so mornings are ... not smooth, and I don't know if they will be for quite a few more years! But we get the kids out of the house, to kindergarten and preschool, via a cargo bike (exercise and transportation in one!) and then I hop on the subway to work. I like makeup and wear some every day. I don't change up my jewelry very often. I wish I could plan my outfit the night before but I never do...
Oh yes, that morning struggle is so real. You are the owner of Diaper Kind which is a cloth diaper service in New York, New Jersey and Austin. What inspired you to take over Diaperkind?
I was a customer! And always have wanted to do something that supports families who are looking to make more sustainable choices. I think cloth diapering with a service is so easy. It's just instead of ordering single use disposable items from Amazon to your door and taking out the trash a few days later, you have cloth diapers delivered to your door and then swapped out a week later.
My vision is to bring Diaperkind to more cities across the North East -- we're in New York, New Jersey, and Long Island as well as Austin, TX right now. Cloth diaper services are such a valuable resource for their neighborhoods -- diapering expertise, sustainability champions, and then of course just making things incredibly easy for parents. Many families are interested in cloth diapering but then the laundry is just too much -- but 90% of Diaperkind customers are with us all of the way to potty training.
I am a big believer of the circular economy model and we follow it through our buy back program at the store. Can you tell us why you think the circular economy model is something all businesses should start adopting?
So many thoughts on this question! But I think it's important to remind ourselves that consumers and businesses pay for so many of the costs of our relentless linear consumption habits. We all pay taxes for disposal, have our shared green spaces polluted, and feel the impacts of climate change caused by over resource extraction to make these things in the first place. Especially for items that are used one time and for just a short while like water bottles and produce bags, the true cost of these items is so much higher when you consider the entire lifecycle of an item. A business that offers a completely closed loop system is saving customers so much money in the long run! As consumers, it's also one of the biggest shifts we can make -- our collective purchasing power is enormous!
You are definitely one of my most polished and fashionable friends- even with two kids in tow! Can you talk a bit about your personal style and inspirations? How has your style evolved over your lifetime and do you think it is still evolving?
Always evolving! But I hold onto things, because they come back into style . Last week I started wearing a linen suit set that I wore to a grade 8 graduation! I think three quarters of my wardrobe is consignment. Things like suit blazers that just last forever but also jeans and silk shirts. I try to get my shoes resoled as needed to extend their life as long as possible. I do wish I was more adventurous with my hair style.
Do you have a daily uniform or are there certain pieces you always gravitate towards?
Yes, I often have to remind myself that I already own something very similar when I see something I like in a shop! But I think blazers with jeans and a nice shirt work well for my current life stage. In warmer months I love to wear sundresses and I try to avoid wearing sandals in the city. Something about sandals on the subway just eeks me out for some reason. The Small Lot Mary Janes have been in constant rotation for that reason.
Do you have any advice for parents who are trying to figure out the delicate balance between entrepreneurship and parenthood?
I think there is a lot of discussion about balance, but I am more motivated by the concept of living with ease ... I don't mean easy! I just mean working in a way that doesn't feel in conflict with myself. I am so much happier channeling my climate anxiety towards a solution rather than doom scrolling through my phone like I used to. I am excited to be building something my kids can work at when they're older and employ people in our community.
Nina thank you so much for talking to me today and for all your support of the store and me! Before we sign off is there anything else you want to say?
As women we're often told we can have it all, and as we get older, we realize just how hard that is ... and that maybe we don't really know what we want vs what society expects of us ... what we've internalized without even knowing it. Showing up for that discovery (which, if I'm being honest, often feels like running a marathon I've not trained for) has helped me define what "all" really means for me.
Ripple Cami: This is a great layering piece. I like to tie a long sleeve button up over top.
Winona Dress: So beautiful and washable. I loved riding my bike in this over the summer
Ali Golden Merino Cardigan: I’m so impressed with the quality of this piece. I expect to wear it for years to come.
Turtle Necks: These are the perfect layering weight. I love them
If you live in the New York, New Jersey or Austin areas you can find Diaper Kind at www.diaperkind.com.Nina is wearing the Oh Seven Days Winona Dress in pictures 1 and 5; the Merino Cardigan from Ali Golden in photo 2; the Roll Neck Jersey Top from Mijeong Park in photo 3 and the Party Pants from A Bronze Age (sold out in black but available in Bay Leaf) and Small Lot Co. Mary Janes in photo 4.