Canberra’s first one-stop shop for eco-conscious parents opens in Kambah today, Wednesday 5 May, presenting parents with a range of modern products to help care for their little ones.
Originating online, Bellelis Eco Family sells a range of eco-friendly products for both parents and babies, including cloth nappies, accessories, handmade products and gifts.
Owner and founder, Olga Imbriano, said she had always dreamed of owning a business, but her eureka moment occurred after trying to balance visiting her father in hospital while caring for her youngest daughter.
She explained that babies can go through between 35 to 40 bodysuits in their first year of life and keeping up with her rapidly growing four-month-old was a challenge within itself.
“My dad had an injury and I had to visit him every day in the hospital, I had no time to shop and go and buy new bodysuits,” she said.
“I remembered with my older one, I use these handy snap bodysuit extenders that I couldn’t find in Australia.”
Belleis launched in May 2018 with a single product, the ‘Snap & Extend’ baby bodysuit extender, which Ms Imbriano manufactured herself.
She sold nearly 5,000 bodysuit extenders in the first 18 months, the website quickly growing as customers asked for more products and brands.
“I’ve always wanted to have a shop,” she said.
“Business online was great but to have an actual shop, it’s very different … it’s really important for people to see it [the products].”
Ms Imbriano said that although trying to run the business from home while homeschooling her daughters was hard, the COVID-19 pandemic was beneficial for the online store.
“There was a big push for reusable products because disposable were not in the shops, the shelves were empty right? It was a crazy time,” she said.
“I started making face masks … We made over 15,000 masks last year. I had four other people helping me because we would sell 800 masks a week and we would sell more if we could produce more.”
While Ms Imbriano had originally planned to open the storefront later this year, everything fell into place when she found the Kambah location, where she can offer more in store.
“Offering more products means that I give the opportunity to customers to come back for different products and their babies grow up too,” she said.
“Opening a shop and giving people the opportunity to come see it, it’s more likely they will start using them. And that’s what we need because 6% of landfill in the ACT is disposable nappies – and that’s just one product around babies.”
The shop will also host workshops and introductory classes for parents who want to learn about using eco baby products, such as how to use and care for cloth nappies.
“This is not a trend that’s dying. This is a trend that is rising … It’s really, really needed. It should be a normality to use cloth nappies,” she said.
“There’s a lot of waste around babies that we can reduce if we try just a little bit.”