What started out as a little hashtag to promote Spray Pal’s business (and cloth diapering at large) during an Intuit Superbowl Commercial Contest in 2013 has turned into one of the most popular cloth diapering mantras of all time.
I’ve been thinking about the phrase, and how it’s grown to embody the spirit of the cloth diapering community. This year I’ve been fortunate enough to work with and see Jen Aprea from Spray Pal a few times through MommyCon events. When our travel lined up again, this time in my birth state of North Carolina, I arranged an interview so that everyone could learn more about how the #makeclothmainstream hashtag came to be.
#MakeClothMainstream. It gets right to the point, doesn’t it? To outsiders the term is confusing… diapers is totally redacted so the phrase could mean anything really. Yet in the cloth diapering world “cloth” always refers to cloth diapers so we KNOW what the phrase means.
Jen Aprea’s husband Dave created the Spray Pal and together they’ve been making cloth mainstream and a little more accessible. It’s not easy selling people on a product that reminds you, just by existing, that cloth diapering isn’t all fluff and rainbows. There’s poop, lots of it, and you have to have an intimate relationship with it in order to make cloth diapering work.
There was a real fear in the industry about the Spray Pal when it first came out that it would scare people away entirely because it offers a solution to one of the biggest reasons people refuse to use cloth. Won’t people think this big shield is too much? Will people get overwhelmed or confused? It was an entirely new category and a road untraveled. Other poop accessories existed (the potty pail and the diaper duck come to mind) but none of them aggressively marketed the way Spray Pal did when they started their #makeclothmainstream campaign in 2013 to try and get a Super Bowl commercial for their small business.
They made it really far but didn’t win the commercial. The hashtag they used for their campaign, however, was a HUGE winner.
Since 2013 #makeclothmainstream has gone on to embody a community and a movement. It’s optimistic, punchy, and catchy. Even though people on the outside may not “get it” that doesn’t stop cloth diapering parents from putting decals with the phrase on their cars, buying t-shirts with the hashtag, or even buying diapers with the term embroidered on the bum. There have been more than 45,000 photos posted to Instagram using the hashtag since 2013. Most of them are adorable pictures of babies wearing cloth diapers or stash shots. A few are spam images that are less about promoting cloth and more and self-promotion. Unfortunately there will always be spam on hashtags but the overwhelming majority of the images are a testament to how much people love their cloth diapers.
I don’t think Spray Pal planned to start this movement but the movement was started and they’ve done a pretty amazing job of fostering it. Jen has become the queen of collaborations, bringing brands together for events and campaigns like the #makeclothmainstreamchallenge that DDL was happy to be a part of.
It’s been a fun ride watching the community rally behind #makeclothmainstream and seeing the real live conversions happening on social media. In 2008/2009 Twitter was where the cloth diapering community came together using the boring, but effective, #clothdiapers hashtag. Instagram and Facebook are now the new centers of communication. Word of mouth is cloth diapering’s best friend. Keep sharing those photos and spreading the word about how amazing cloth diapers are. I’ve personally seen cloth diapers come so far in the 7 years I’ve been “on the ground.” Will it take another 7, or 14, to be “mainstream?” I have no idea but I can’t wait to find out!