SACNU (South African Cloth Nappy Users) was started in 2013 when I was living in Malaysia. I had stumbled across a Facebook group for cloth users in Malaysia and they offered support, answers and encouragement to help people "CD" (cloth diaper) successfully. "Wouldn't it be great if we could have something similar in South Africa?" I thought and so the idea for SACNU was born.
I started the group, invited my mom and good friend (who wasn't even pregnant yet) and then emailed every supplier I could find online with the link. The only person who replied was Amanda, from Doodlebums. She joined the group and added members from her network. The first post was mine and was a picture of my nappies (not-) drying on a tropical island in Asia. The first OTB picture was by Wilma who posted her daughter in a yellow Fancypants and the first question asked was about stinky nappies and ammonia build up.
Cloth Nappies have often been criticised as they stink, leak, cause rash or are difficult to wash - all of this is far from the truth! I knew if there was a support base somewhere, we could help families use cloth successfully. The aim of SACNU was (and still is) to help parents use cloth nappies successfully and raise awareness in South Africa.
The group grew quickly and our first major milestone was 2000 members. We had a massive give-away weekend with loads of competitions and prizes. Our older members will remember the delightful chaos of that party.
Marisa Hendricks. Celeste Booysen and Amanda Huysamen were added as admins for their knowledge and experience in the cloth world. Celeste was replaced by Fulufhelo when her children potty trained and later Gerda Kriek joined the admin team. It was during this time that we started to see the potential for a website. Many moms were asking the same questions and we thought it could help many families if they had a comprehensive resource for all thing cloth. We were so sad when Amanda decided to leave our admin team (she started homeschooling her children and didn't have the time for such a busy group anymore) which was when Gloria SACNU joined us.
The no-advertising rule was the first and only rule in the beginning. The reason behind this was that we really wanted moms to receive advice that was not a sales pitch. We initially allowed second hand sales but once the separate bst group was established, it just seemed easier not to have to admin preloved sales. The Retailer Feedback form was started independently and is not governed in any way by SACNU.
Over the years there have been many break away groups, Cloth Moms in the Kitchen; Cloth Moms in the Library, Cloth Moms in the Garden, Parenting Cloth Bums and Cloth Mums SA to name a few and these have usually arisen because SACNU could not meet the needs of all its members. Many members have left over the years as they have outgrown SACNU and we see this as positive. One should come and learn and then move on. As the group has grown, we understand too that it has lost it's sense of a close-knit family and some members have moved on to find that again.
The group has grown to almost 10 000 members. We have no allusions that all 10 000 are using cloth nappies - we are, however, proud that we have reached a significant number of people and constantly help raise awareness. We also feel that we have achieved our goal largely to help more people use cloth successfully. The retailer market has also exploded since the start of SACNU (ask any of the pre-SACNU brands like BamBoo Baby, Fancypants, Eco Nappy Solutions or Mother Nature). With the large influx of retailers we also had to tighten our advertising rules as SACNU has always been seen as the inroad to gain customers and our desire has always been to keep SACNU free from spam.
In 2016, we launched our website! Amanda Huysamen came back to join the website development team as the idea was born during her time with us. The website had been in the pipe line for almost 3 years and we are so proud of how informative and user-friendly it is. We have received such positive feedback and are confident that it will help any family considering cloth nappies. The website was a huge undertaking though and took months of editing, writing, designing and developing. In order to cover the costs of the website and to compensate for the extensive number of hours it takes to admin such a busy group, we introduced paid advertising on our website.
We trust that we will continue to provide a space that helps our moms and dads cloth diaper successfully and continue to raise awareness in South Africa.