As questions about the history of our brand arise in the GroVia Families Facebook Group, I’ve noticed something: I don’t share the story of just how our company and brand came to be very often.
I often reflect on just how far we’ve come since the earliest days of our company, but the whole narrative is not something I generally share. It’s not because I’m not proud of it, it’s just that I am someone who is always looking forward. The excitement of the future is what drives me and our whole team. Our early years laid a foundation that was so strong and unyielding that it’s easy to forget just how important those formative years really were. I lost my corporate job after 9/11, when the recession started, and stayed home with our daughter for the first several months. Then we discovered we were expecting our second baby! I started researching cloth diapers for our new baby since our first baby had had frequent rash issues in disposables. This led me to concept an online store business that would focus on natural parenting products like cloth diapers, slings, and wood toys.
To our surprise, our second baby came very early, and after a NICU stay and rocky start I decided I would definitely not be going back to my corporate job. Instead, I would open that online store and call it Montana’s Diaper Store (2003).
My family and friends thought I was nuts. Well, they didn’t come right out and say that, but the shrugs and indifferent comments were plentiful. All I could think was, “There have to be other moms like me out there who want natural products for their babies.”
I charged forward, fumbling through creating my own Website using a template program, immersing myself in parenting forums like Diaper Pin and BabyCenter, and signing up with vendors. FuzziBunz, Kissaluvs, and Bummis were our first cloth diapers, New Native Slings our first carrier. Haba was our wooden toys line. The first year was slow, and much of my time and energy were spent figuring out creative ways to reach customers. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram didn’t exist yet.
By year two, things started to get busy… really busy. Customers came knocking on the door of our home to buy diapers; there were late nights filling and packing orders… I was getting a crash course in juggling my young children and a home business. Years three and four brought many changes. We added baby #3 to our family. We moved the online retail store from our home to a warehouse and office space, we rebranded the store to The Natural Baby Company, and we began dabbling in designing our own diapers.
By early 2008, we were ready to open our first brick and mortar store in beautiful Bozeman, MT. We had added to our family with baby #4 and had also added to our work family by three more employees. It was at this time that I felt ready to tackle a project that I had been mulling over for a long time: the project that would eventually become GroVia!
The diaper designs came from simply fulfilling functional needs that the brands we were carrying just didn’t fulfill. Our early TNBC brands included WonderFulls, Pocket Change, Haute Pockets, WonderWraps and DreamEze. By the end of year four, we had probably 75 retailers. Amazingly, we were still doing it all with just my husband Duane, myself, and one part-time, college student employee. It was insanity!
My goal with GroVia was to create a line of diapers that gave families diapering choices that were easy to use and functionally superior and that addressed some of the things people considered obstacles when deciding to cloth diaper. GroVia needed to be easy to launder, simple to use, and trim-fitting!
Over the next several months, we created a line of diapers that would literally change the way people thought of cloth diapering. With the launch of GroBaby in May 2009 and the rebrand to GroVia in 2010, we opened doors to cloth diapering for many families who had just never considered cloth before. From 2011 on, we have continued to grow GroVia well as The Natural Baby Company’s online store and brick and mortar locations. We now have two physical locations (Bozeman, MT, and Austin, TX) and one opening in 2015 in Covington, LA.
The GroVia brand has hundreds of retailers in North America and worldwide as well as a network of Advocates who are promoting, demonstrating, and educating families about modern cloth diapers.
Our family has grown to include six children, and our work family to include a team of 16! It’s more than Duane and I ever imagined when our Montana’s Diaper Store Website went live in 2003. It’s a beautiful thing to see.
Kim Ormsby - Founder, GroVia