Behind the Diaper Made in the USA Manufacturer

Behind the Diaper – Thirsties (Manufacturer Series)

Behind the #clothdiapers with @thirstiesinc via @chgdiapers

Thirsties is a fantastic U.S. manufacturer of cloth diapers and accessories, and I’m excited to share a peek behind the scenes with you!

Thirsties products are a beloved part of my stash and I’m always anxious to see what they come up with next. Be sure to read carefully because there’s a hint at what’s to come this year.

Colorado Based @ThirstiesInc - Behind the #clothdiapers with @chgdiapers #MadeinUSA

Maria: How long has your family owned Thirsties? How did it come about?

Thirsties: In 2010 Rick and Sadler purchased the company from Thirsties’ founder, Erin Kimmett. Rick and Sadler both shared the vision of owning a company that was environmentally friendly and Thirsties happened to check that box and many more.

Who is involved in the day-to-day operations of the company and what are their roles?

Some of the @ThirstiesInc Crew - Behind the #clothdiapers via @chgdiapers

As a small company we all have our titles but we all many different hats. You might notice a trend with the last names….there are four Merrill brothers and a Merrill wife working for Thirsties.

Sadler Merrill – Director of Business Development – AKA the boss – works closely with all departments to ensure that we keep producing quality products and provide great service to our retailers and customers.

Johnny Merrill – Director of Operations – Johnny handles purchasing, inventory management, and performs all accounting duties. He also likes to lend a hand with product development projects.

David Merrill – Director of Sales and Marketing – David handles Thirsties retail accounts, manages customer service, and works closely with the team to design and introduce new products.

Jason Merrill – Production –Jason is in charge of the production (cutting) and the inventory levels of the 300 Thirsties products.

Jeri Mill – Office Manager – Jeri manages the front of the house, supports the shipping and production teams and makes sure every employee is spoiled on their birthday with a nice meal and a big cake.

Jessica Oliveto – Customer Service and Cloth Diaper Expert – Jessica prides herself on making sure our customers and retailers are happy. She loves to troubleshoot laundry or fit issues and will go to great lengths to solve the most difficult problems.

Erin Merrill – Social Media and Sales Manager – Another Merrill. Erin is married to David and in addition to keeping him in line she handles Thirsties social media efforts and key accounts.

How many people do you employ?

There are 9 people that work directly for Thirsties. Our team of roughly 20 sewers, many of whom are moms that work from the comfort and convenience of their own homes in Denver Colorado.

What do your facilities look like?

Making @ThirstiesInc #clothdiapers - Behind the diaper with @chgdiapers

We have two warehouses. One warehouse houses all of our raw materials as well as our 90 foot cutting and spreading machine. We cut all of our products in house before sending them down to our talented team of sewers in Denver. Our other warehouse is 30 feet away in the same commercial center and it is where our offices are located and where all of our finished inventory is stored and shipped.

@ThirstiesInc's rows of #clothdiapers - behind the diaper with @chgdiapers

What do you do with the fabric scraps?

We had a company that used to take all of our fabric scraps and recycle them to be used as home insulation. Unfortunately, as of a few months ago, the company is no longer in need of our scraps and we are searching for a new partner.

How do you balance keeping your facilities in the US while still offering a high quality product at a great price (which you do)?

We strongly believe in manufacturing and sourcing as many of products as we can right here in the USA. It can be hard to compete with pricing but we combat that with quality products and the satisfaction of providing people within our own communities with jobs.

How long does it take for a product or print to go from idea to the market?

Depends on the product but it normally takes a lot longer than we planned. When we design a print we allow ourselves a minimum of 18-20 weeks before it is completed and ready to launch to our customers. It takes 9-10 weeks to get the fabric back from our fabric manufacturer and another 9 – 10 weeks to cut and sew the products. The time spent on designing, testing and producing a new or improved product is roughly the same as releasing a new print.

Have you had any product ideas that you didn’t go forward with? What made you decide to scrap the idea?

We started a training pant a few years back and we never got it to where we thought it should be and we moved on to other things. It took a while but we got back on the saddle and are looking forward to the release of a Thirsties Training Pant later this year.

Do any of you have a favorite print or color?

Ocean Life and Fin are the favorites of most of the employees at Thirsties.

What is your best selling product? Has that changed over the years as cloth diaper trends have shifted?

The Duo Wrap is our best selling product and has been since it was introduced. When used as an AI2 or with a prefold the Duo Wrap offers an absorbent and economical cloth diapering solution.

What can we expect from Thirsties in 2015?

New prints (maybe something geared for girls), new colors, a training pant, and some products of the natural fiber variety.

Is there anything else that makes Thirsties special that you’d like to share?

We feel fortunate to be involved in the cloth diapering community. Thank you to all of our retailers and customers that have supported us through the years and made us who we are today.

Thank you to the Thirsties team for giving us a look behind the scenes!

For another look at Thirsties, check out their brand video:

You can shop for Thirsties products on their website or at cloth diaper retailers everywhere. Keep up with Thirsties on Facebook, @ThirstiesInc on Twitter, follow Thirsties on Pinterest and the Thirsties Blog (they have a weekly giveaway)!

Did anything surprise you? Did you catch the 4 new things 2015 will bring? What are you most excited about?

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Maria is an aspiring "fit mom" of 3 children, writing about cloth diapers, going green, and her life as a single mom. Maria works with many companies within the cloth diaper industry and beyond, providing social media management, product development, and other services.
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  • Vicki Hall
    May 6, 2015 at 11:06 pm

    I can’t wait for the training pants .

  • Melissa C.
    May 6, 2015 at 4:13 pm

    Natural fibers? Hopefully they’ll replace the microfiber in the Fab Fitted with their lovely knitted hemp!

  • May 6, 2015 at 3:11 pm

    Hey Maria,

    Since you’re doing these, any chance you can ask one of the diaper manufacturers about SEALING PUL by using a hot dryer? Either first thing when you get it or if you get bubbles? Seems to be a BIG urban legend on the chat boards and no one knows the answer!

    • May 6, 2015 at 10:14 pm

      I have heard WAHM brands suggest that to seal sewing holes made in PUL but I don’t know that it really helps. I will make sure to ask someone knowledgeable when I have the opportunity!

  • May 6, 2015 at 12:57 pm

    This was amazing. This is a company I love, and I have had the pleasure of having communications with David, and later on had a lovely message from Jessica, and you can tell how proudly and beautifully they represent Thirsties. To me it is obvious that not only the product makes the company, but the people that put their hearts in it and wear the “shirt” or “diaper” proudly, lol. Great work!

  • May 6, 2015 at 12:37 pm

    Thirsties diapers are my favorite brand and comprise most of my covers and AIO’s. I live the fit and the prints, and the double gussets on the covers are bulletproof! I am wondering if there is another word for the “sewers”…maybe sewing specialists, or sewing engineers?

  • Anel
    May 6, 2015 at 12:19 pm

    Loved this!!! That would be cool if they did a walk through your for customers, like the tea company does in Colorado. 90 foot cutting machine, whoa! I love that cake is important 🙂 crazy to think it takes that long to make a product; waiting a few days for fluff mail is long enough! Lol. This makes me want to move to Colorado, learn how to sew , and get hired! Lol I wonder what the hiring process is like. I love the ocean series; can’t wait to see what’s next!

  • Keara B.
    May 6, 2015 at 12:03 pm

    I’m loving your Behind the Manufacturer series. 🙂 I’d love it if they came out with a hemp or bamboo fitted! Can’t wait to see their new prints.

  • May 6, 2015 at 12:00 pm

    Hi Maria,

    Now you have me wanting to jump over to Colorado to visit Thirsties (which was already on my wish list). They are my personal favorite. Seriously, I would feel like a kid in a candy store in there. Oh my gosh – all that Thirsties fluff in ONE PLACE!!! Gah!! Too much – too much – my brain can’t handle it. LOL 😛

    I did catch the new product hints for this year. I’m excited for more natural fibers. I’ve been using the AIO with a hemp doubler on top for my daughter at night. She is very sensitive to microfiber and the doubler is serving double duty as a barrier and added absorbancy.

    Thanks so much for sharing the behind the scenes with us. Who’s up next?

    • May 6, 2015 at 2:10 pm

      I have another U.S. manufacturer coming up in mid-June!

  • Brittany P
    May 6, 2015 at 11:04 am

    Great interview! I’m interested to see what the “products of a natural fiber variety” will be. 🙂

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