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Ilana is co-owner of AppleCheeks Reusable Diapers and mother to three girls - Azure, Phoenix and Ione. She's also the owner of A Jaded Mama, a blog about mothering, small business ownership and all things green. When she's not busy coming up with new product ideas, working on social media campaigns and co-managing the business, you'll find her babywearing, cloth diapering, co-sleeping, breastfeeding, raising school-aged children and reading.

Amy is the other co-owner of AppleCheeks Reusable Diapers and mom to three boys - Bailey, Davray, Sacha, and to baby DAUGHTER, River. She's a dedicated and very attached parent and just adores the company of her enormous, gorgeous boys. When she's not busy juggling the company finances, talking on the phone with suppliers and trying to talk Ilana down off a cliff, you'll find her very involved in her community activities and enjoying the great outdoors.

Beth is the Social Media Coordinator for AppleCheeks Reusable Diapers. You can find her on @AppleCheeksDipe on Twitter or Instagram or the Facebook page! Beth has a little boy, Mason, who is 4, two girls, Audrey, who is 3 and Hayden who is closing in on 1! When Beth isn't busy figuring out fun for the AppleCheeks Fans or blogging on Me as a Mommy, she is avoiding housework, breastfeeding, trying to find some space on the couch or in her own bed, or chasing after her older kids with Hayden strapped to her back!

Katie is the Events Coordinator {aka Party Girl} for AppleCheeks Reusable Diapers. Katie has a little boy, Austin, who is 4. You may recognize her from Pickled Pink, the beautiful swim diaper named in her honor! When she isn't busy party planning or working, Katie is playing with Austin, hanging out with Beth, or glued to her iPhone texting Ilana & Amy from the shower.

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2:13PM

Dragons SLAYED!

If you missed all the hoopla surrounding our Dragons' Den appearance last night, don't worry! In this post we will address what went down and get you all up to date! If you're a Canadian, you can watch the episode here. If you're not Canadian please go here.

So here's the whole story. This will be a long post because there's a lot to say, but we know you really want to know!

Getting on the Show

In March of 2011, after years of people telling us that we NEEDED to go up against the Dragons, we finally decided to take the plunge. So we hopped onto the CBC website, filled out an application, and within two days got a callback inviting us to come to Toronto to pitch to the Dragons two weeks later! Talk about pre-ordained. We not only skipped the entire audition process, but we nailed the application and they wanted us ON.

So after two solid weeks of furious prep work, we headed off to Toronto. Nerves were running SUPER high. We know we had the formula down, but would we lose our cool and forget everything we'd worked so hard to implant deeply in our brains when faced with the acid tongue of Kevin O'Leary?

As we stood on the platform waiting to descend the industrial staircase into the den, we were a collective mess. Amy was worried she might be sick on her shoes, and I was concerned about dropping Ione, who was wriggling like a fish in my arms. Our legs were shaking as we walked down those stairs, plastic smiles plastered on our faces.

And then we were there, IN the den, on the floor, being greeted by Jim, Kevin, Arlene, Bruce and Robert. They were so warm and huge smiles lit their faces when they saw us walk in with our babies. Our fears quickly left us, replaced by the confidence we had been carrying with us leading up to that moment.  

And we OWNED that hour. The Dragons were firing questions at us left, right and centre. I heard my name from five different people over and over again and I'm sure my head was whipping back and forth like a ping pong. It felt just like being at home and dealing with our own children, and we were able to gain control and direct the barrage of questions. Did you see Jim's draw drop when we mentioned our sales? In fact, ALL the Dragons sat up at that moment to take notice because they quickly recognized us as the cloth diaper mavens we are!

What You Didn't See

What you saw on last night's episode was all of 6 minutes of our hour-long interrogation. Amy shot a real zinger at Kevin O'Leary, inviting him to model our adult incontinence line. We laughed, we gaped, we defended and we told them what was what in the world of cloth diapers and AppleCheeks.

Most importantly, we told them that despite our plans for a complimentary business model that does include outsourcing overseas, we remain, and are fully committed to, Canadian manufacturing. And this is what I really want to address in this post because boy, has the rumour mill kicked into high gear out there!

The AppleCheeks line as you know it is a very high end, boutique-quality line of products. We, as a company, are renowned for our amazing customer support, which we love to offer. And part of the reason we can so happily offer this level of support is because our product is of such high quality that our customers are not only happy customers, they are repeat customers! We are involved in every step of production along the way and personally work with our manufacturers to ensure that every AppleCheeks product is produced with the same attention to detail that you've come to expect from us.

The people who work for AppleCheeks Cloth Diapers are wonderful people. We can tell you that because we know them personally. We employ stay-at-home moms, and Amy goes to church with two of our snappers. We connect with our production team on a regular basis. One of our snappers just had her first grandbaby and little S. is, of course, using AppleCheeks on her newborn bottom!

The segment of our time with the Dragons that made it to air only focused on that in which the Dragons were interested - an idea for the growth of our company that respects the bottom line that any investor would expect. The goal of AppleCheeks has always been to make the paradigm shift that is required for many to embrace the idea of cloth that much easier to attain.

The difference between AppleCheeks and some other companies who have made the decision to outsource manufacturing is that we believe that there is room to both continue to manufacture in Canada, as we have been doing for the last four years, AND expand to manufacturing overseas. The latter is based on an entirely different business model that will not impact on what we have worked so hard to achieve for our premium boutique line. Our commitment is to our local economy and all the people who have come to depend on us first and foremost.

Here are a few things that we would like you to keep in mind in regards to what you saw on tv last night:

• AppleCheeks premium boutique line will be available exclusively at boutiques. You will never see this line available in any big box store.

• Filming for Dragons' Den took place in April of 2011 and the episode went to air in January 2012. In the meantime, awareness of the AppleCheeks brand has only grown, and our reputation as the go-to Canadian cloth diaper company has only been more firmly established.

• The next stage development of our company is NOT imminent. It requires a huge amount of work on our end, and our focus is on our local manufacturing. In the meantime, we are approaching the next stage slowly, as we have many, many values that it is essential that we maintain, including fare wage practices that are non-exploitative and respectful of human rights. Before becoming a cloth diaper advocate, Amy got her degree in International Development and worked in the domain as well so this is NOT just lip service; it's where our passions and concerns lie!

• Transparency is key for us at AppleCheeks. We will never sneak products into our lineup that we claim to have manufactured here that have been manufactured overseas. Everything will always be clearly spelled out on the packaging and marketing.

• The main impetus of pitching to the Dragons was to get some fabulous publicity for our lovely brand and to inspire people to consider cloth and to head to their local retailer to ask for it. And guess what?? That's already worked! Yeah for local retailers, yay for more people choosing to cloth diaper their babies! We really want to see cloth diapers on all baby bums. As well, look how many people who had not previously considered cloth because they didn't realize how accessible the options are have not had their eyes opened to the possibility?

Amy and I are ALWAYS willing to discuss anything that concerns our customers personally! Feel free to contact us through our Facebook page or we're both available at 877-827-7538 (extension 1 for me, extension 2 for Amy) to chat personally, or you can use the Email Us form to get in touch and we'll get back to you as soon as possible!

 In the meantime, we thank you for your ongoing support of our company and hope you're now reassured that our priorities have not changed now that we are national television STARS! JK ;)

 

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Reader Comments (6)

All good news!

January 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDeb Lussier

Such an exciting adventure! I am so excited to see where all this leads for you two and all of the Apple Cheeks team! You dedication to your brand is beautiful! :)
Courtney

January 19, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercourtney fisk

Congratulations, ladies! I hope that someone does figure out a way for those of us who aren't Canadian to see your episode. Thank you for sharing the details in this blog post. I've said it in email and I'll say it again here- the fact that you two are so approachable, transparent, and dedicated to your brand AND your customers is what attracted me to Applecheeks initially, and the reason I keep coming back. :)

January 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterApril G

Praise to you, my paradigm shifting sisters! You were both brilliant! Your knowledge and commitment shone through any nerves you may have had. Nobody looked like they were going to puke on their shoes. You were confident, and beautiful to boot. We are SO SO SO SO proud of you! I never worried for a second about the overseas mention, as I know your heart are full of integrity. My best wishes to you for the massive success you deserve.

Big hugs,
Lesley

AWESOME job ladies!!! I would LOVE to see you in Sears or Walmart Cloth diapering is becoming mainstream and we need strong brands to be there to support it.

January 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLittle Miss Kate

Congratulations on your deal, ladies! It was well deserved.
I really hope this helps your distribution because I have been looking for AppleCheeks swim diapers EVERYWHERE, but nobody seems to have any in stock. Send some out to Calgary please, my girls want to go swimming! =)

January 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTwin Mom

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