The Pfaff Family have been manufacturing and retailing garments since 1908. The family business was started by Nicks great grandpa and went down the generations to Nick himself for many years before he went on to work in the denim industry. He worked with Levis for many years and set up a chain of Jean stores in the UK and this is where he fostered the belief that quality never goes out of style and that clothes were meant to last.
I was in art school when I had to leave at 18 to have my first son. Being a single mum with little money, nappies were a weekly cost I just could not afford. My mum bought me a pack of 24 flat terry nappies, three plastic wrap pants and some safety pins. Using washable nappies meant I never ran out of nappies and had such little waste. I never looked back.
I started working with Nick in the Jeans business in 1991 and Vicky started working with us managing one of the stores with her sister, Shell working in another. Being a working mum had its ups and downs especially when baby number two then three came along in close succession. I continued using washables but found that there were no alternatives to the flat squares unless you wanted to spend a fortune and to me, that defeated the object. We are talking over 20 years ago and ‘going green’ was only just coming into fashion.
My mum was a seamstress so she taught me how to cut the Terry Nappies up, add a little elastic and velcro and make my own nappies for the babies. I loved them as they did away with the pins but they were hard to dry as they were so thick. We tried and tested a number of options on the babies as I needed them to be fully adjustable as I found the babies were at their fattest just before they started to walk - then they slimmed down again. This ever-changing shape meant that we needed to design a nappy that could change the leg and waist independently. Then we started on the wraps. Because Nick was determined that anything we made would last we searched far and wide before we settled on a form of Gortex, a poly/cotton that was laminated with breathable PUL covering, ensuring it could be washed many, many times whilst keeping supple and soft.
We were one of the first nappy companies to go online. Back in the days we even needed a tab to show people how to shop online as no-one really trusted the internet yet. We were amazing at the reaction to our nappies - people loved them and we spent every night sewing at the kitchen table with Nick overlocking, myself sewing, and my mum finishing for us. My dad had the most important job of looking after the babies.
It was not long before we found that we could not keep up with demand making all the nappies ourselves every night so I sent Nick off with a nappy in his case to all the different denim factories that we had been working with for years. After a few expensive mistakes, we settled on the family-run factory in Turkey that we still use after nearly 20 years.
This gave us the freedom that we had never had for all those years in physical retail so we took the kids out of school, loaded the van up and went travelling. We were fine as long as we could get internet coverage and of course while we could all fit in our little camper van.
When we got to 6 children we had to upgrade to a larger van and so we went further afield. We went to Australia and New Zealand and fell in love with space and freedom here so in 2007 we took our young family and emigrated to New Zealand where we now live on Waiheke Island just outside Auckland.
The love of the fashion industry has remained with me and now I work with one of my daughters and have a store selling beautiful cashmere and merino wool in the day and nappies at night. Vicky and Shell still run the UK and after 24 years of working together we have laughed and cried together and will continue to do so for many years. We have stuck to our original plan with the Little Lamb - to sell our fantastic quality, long lasting nappies without frills, packaging and expensive marketing to keep the prices down. I will never forget the reason why I started using washables in the first place. I strongly feel that washable nappies should not be an aspirational product but one that everyone can choose to use.