On this episode of Ask the Doulas, Alyssa talks with Marissa, the owner of EcoBuns, about her boutique baby store.  You’ll also learn about the new opportunity to register for Gold Coast services!  You can listen to this complete podcast episode on SoundCloud or iTunes.


Alyssa:  Hello, and welcome to another episode of Ask the Doulas.  I am Alyssa Veneklase, co-owner and postpartum doula at Gold Coast, and today we’re talking to Marissa from EcoBuns Baby & Company.  How are you?

Marissa:  Good, thanks for having me!  It’s such an honor to be on the podcast with you.

Alyssa:  Thanks for coming all the way from Holland.

Marissa:  Well, it’s a beautiful day to drive out!

Alyssa:  Yeah, good drive!  So for those of our listeners that maybe don’t get to Holland very often or have not heard of EcoBuns, can you tell us about your store?

Marissa:  Yeah, so we do have the physical store in Holland, which is great, and we offer a full baby registry at the store, so if you’re looking for anything for your new baby, you’ll definitely want to come out and check out the store.  But for our Grand Rapids friends and friends across the world, we do have an online store as well that people can take advantage of.

Alyssa:  Do you sell more online than you do in the store?

Marissa:  Definitely more in the store.  Our store is very relational.

Alyssa:  In the store!  Oh, that’s the opposite of what I would think.  Most places seem to have a bigger online presence.

Marissa:  Yeah, a lot of baby stores will have a larger online presence.  What we found, though, is new parenting is very relational, and our customers really like coming into the store so we can, you know, give them hands-free shopping by holding their babies while they’re shopping or – you know, being a new parent is lonely, and sometimes just having that face-to-face connection is huge.  So it’s definitely worth the drive to come out to the store from Grand Rapids.

Alyssa:  Yeah, I know with things like baby-wearing and diapering, you kind of like to see and touch and feel and maybe even try something with your baby in it.

Marissa:  Yeah, absolutely.

Alyssa:  So I agree that the hands-on thing is really important.  So tell us more about your registry.

Marissa:  So I am super excited about the registry.  The store is about five years old.  We bought the store five years ago, and when we bought it, it was just cloth diapers.  So a lot of people in the community still see us as just a cloth diaper store, which we are.  We have so much fun with cloth diapers; it’s still one of our main product lines.  But over the last five years, we’ve evolved into this whole store.  Originally it was just cloth diapers, but then we have the baby carriers.  We have feeding products.  We have crib sheets.  We have swaddle blankets.  We have high chairs, activity centers, everything that you would need.  And so with the baby registry, we have so many parents who are like, oh, I want to register for all these great-quality, eco-friendly items; I don’t want my family to go out and buy things that I don’t want.  But we needed to do it in a really cool way.  Being a small business, there’s some challenges with creating a baby registry for a small business, but this last year we just launched a new baby registry where you can actually come in with your smart phone or mobile device and scan items right from the store right to your registry.  So we used to do a paper registry, which was okay, but people have a lot more fun coming in now and actually scanning items.

Alyssa:  It’s kind of part of the fun of registering, like at one of the big box stores.  So now you can do it on your phone?

Marissa:  Right from your phone.

Alyssa:  And I have to assume that it felt a little bit antiquated to do it on paper, right?

Marissa:  Oh, yeah.

Alyssa:  People want to feel like – I don’t know, use their technology.

Marissa:  And it was very time-consuming for both the families coming in to register to have to write everything down, and for us, then, to have to go in and input it to the online store.  So that is the cool thing with the registry is that when somebody comes in and registers, it’s an in-store and an online registry.  So families who have family from out of town, we do a lot of in-store pickups for our – so let’s say a family from Grand Rapids or Muskegon, even, is registering at EcoBuns, and their shower is in Grand Rapids or Muskegon.  A lot of times, they’ll have whoever’s hosting the shower just say, oh, just order online and choose in-store pickup, and then Sarah, who’s hosting the shower, will drive out to EcoBuns.  We have everything in a nice big box for them, gift-wrapped and ready to go.  They pick it up and bring it to the shower.  So we try to make it as easy as possible.  You know, and that’s a lot of things, like why are people registering at big box stores vs. someone like EcoBuns, and it’s a convenience factor.  So we like to let people know that we can make it just as convenient with free shipping or in-store pickup options.  Gift certificates are also available.

Alyssa:  Awesome.

Marissa:  Yeah, so there’s a couple gift certificates that you can register for.

Alyssa:  Yeah, tell us about the newest one!

Marissa:  So we’re really excited about this partnership that we just launched with Gold Coast Doulas.

Alyssa:  Yay!

Marissa:  And starting today, you can now register for a Gold Coast Doula gift certificate at EcoBuns baby registry.  So it’s really neat if you’re definitely wanting to go with a doula service, and you guys offer so many different services.  It’s a really great way, then, to be able to register for it to kind of offset that cost.  So we see a lot of, even, second, third, fourth-time moms say, oh, I don’t know what to register for.  My family wants to gift me something.  Well, you know, a postpartum doulas would be definitely at the top of my list!  So it’s a neat way to be able to offset the cost of that service by adding it to the registry.  So we’re really excited about that.

Alyssa:  Yeah, we’re really excited about it too!  And since it just launched, we don’t really know how it’s going to work, but yeah, postpartum services, and then I can imagine that if they maybe don’t want as many hours as they get, we can use that for anything.  You know, we have classes; we have lactation; we have sleep consults.  I think we’ll probably end up using that for whatever service they may want.  We’re really excited.

Marissa:  We have a full list on our website of the services available, so if you want to go check it out, you can head to the EcoBuns registry and search for Gold Coast Doulas and it will pop up, and you’ll see the full list.  And it will also link back to the Gold Coast website if you want more information on all the fun things that Gold Coast has to offer.

Alyssa:  It’s so exciting!

Marissa:  I know!

Alyssa:  So I love that you have all these options; everything that a mom wants or needs, and they’re all eco-friendly.

Marissa:  Yeah, we try really hard to –

Alyssa:  You’ve done all the research for them.

Marissa:  Exactly.

Alyssa:  Which is huge.

Marissa:  Yeah, yeah.  There’s so much out there.  I always tell people, especially with the cloth diapers; people will come in and they’ll say, oh, I don’t even know where to start, and I’ll say, I own a cloth diaper store and I get overwhelmed on what’s on the internet!  Everyone has opinions; everyone has best practices, and a lot of it ends up being very regional as far as types of water and laundry, and it gets so overcomplicated, and that’s where we say, take a breath.  It’s not meant to be overcomplicated.  Just come in and talk to us.  The cool thing about being a small business is we can change things as often as we need to.  For example, if all of a sudden we have a diaper that the manufacturing changed on it and people hate it, it’s very easy for us to say, our customers no longer like this.  It was cool five years ago, but our customers hate it now; something has better has come out.  So we can kind of move and shift faster than bigger companies can, which is really great.

Alyssa:  Do you educate people about cloth diapering?  Do you have community events?

Marissa:  Yeah, so we do a cloth diaper class.  We actually call it Buns Bootcamp, which is a little play on EcoBuns, and we do that two to three times a month.  It’s a $25 class per couple, so we’ll usually see the partners come in.  We do invite, if a couple is having maybe a grandparent take care of the baby, we invite the grandparents into the class as well.  It’s $25 for the class, but then at the end of the class, you get a $10 off of a $50 or more purchase the day of class.  It’s about an hour long, hour and a half, depending on who’s in the class and how much talking we get into.  And it’s a fun class because it does get really overwhelming, but the class kind of brings it back, and my goal is to make sure that no one walks out with their eyes glazed over, you know, that we’re not doing too much information.  Just enough so that you guys feel educated in your decision that you make.

Alyssa:  I wish I would have known about that.  I wanted to cloth diaper so bad; bought the whole shebang, spend hundreds of dollars, and had zero education, so I gave up after weeks.

Marissa:  And that’s huge.  We have so many parents who say – you know, we’re an email away.  We have a lot of parents email us pictures, like why isn’t this working?  And a lot of times you don’t know what questions to ask, and so we can look at something and say, oh, this button just needs to be here, or this insert needs to go like this, and boom, all the problems are solved.  But, really, we’re the first generation who isn’t going to our parents and grandparents for advice.  We’re going to the internet for advice, and that’s shifted the way that a lot of parents handle parenting decisions, even.  And so it’s nice to have a trusted resource that you can go to who has kept up with modern parenting, who knows the products that are out there, who knows what the current and best practices are, to be able to go to and ask advice.  So that’s huge, and we do that with our carriers, too.  We do free fit checks on carriers purchased from us.  Any time a carrier is purchased from us, it automatically comes with a free half-hour lesson on how to use it.

Alyssa:  So awesome!

Marissa:  You know, so many times, you get a carrier home, and it overwhelms you, and then you throw it back in the box, and you never pull it out because no one taught you how to use it, and we don’t want that to happen.

Alyssa:  It’s amazing.  Okay, so tell me again if someone from Grand Rapids registers at your store, they don’t necessarily want to drive to Holland, you actually do deliver to them?

Marissa:  Yep, so we do shipping.  So we have free shipping on orders over $75, and then we offer first-class and priority shipping, so it’s super easy to get people their products.  And I know the Amazon two-day shipping is huge, but first-class shipping from Holland gets to Grand Rapids in one day, so it gets to everyone really, really fast.

Alyssa:   That’s really awesome.  So tell our listeners where to find you and how to register.

Marissa:  So if you want to come to our actual store, we’re in Holland on the corner on James Street and US 31 in the Holland Town Center.  If you’re familiar with Holland, it’s the old outlet mall with the big orange ropes on them.  So we’re right between Carters and Gap Outlet.  So from Grand Rapids, if you want to just plan a whole shopping day, Carter’s is there; we’re there; Gap’s there.  It’s a great day.  Otherwise, we’re online.  We are at www.ecobunstore.com.  Our store in Holland, though, is open seven days a week, so we’re there Monday through Sunday.  Monday through Friday, we’re there from 9am to 7pm.  Saturdays, 10am to 7pm, and Sundays, noon to 6pm.  And we have Lake Michigan, so it’s definitely worth the drive from Grand Rapids!

Alyssa:  Right, and now it’s beautiful!

Marissa:  And we do offer – so every other month, we have Gold Coast Doulas come out for a really fun Mom’s Night Out, our prenatal edition.  So again another really fun reason to come out to the store.

Alyssa:  Yeah, come meet the doulas and check out the store!

Marissa:  Yeah, absolutely!

Alyssa:  Awesome.  Well, thanks.  We’ll have you on again to talk about – I think we need to talk about cloth diapering and we should talk about baby-wearing.

Marissa:  Yeah, absolutely.

Alyssa:  So we’ll you back on another time.

Marissa:  Awesome.  Thank you so much.

Alyssa:  Thank you so much!  Let us know what you think.  Check out EcoBuns online and then as always you can check us out at Gold Coast Doulas.com.  Find us on SoundCloud, iTunes, and don’t forget to subscribe.  Thanks for listening!

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