Sunday, February 28, 2010
MICHAEL BURKE email@example.com | Posted: Friday, February 26, 2010 6:00 am
RACINE - A local woman who has turned cloth diapers into a viable online enterprise will bring her business to a Downtown storefront.
Michelle Schimian, 28, of Racine has leased 430 Main St., the former Monfort's art gallery which closed in December. She hopes to open a retail RG Natural Babies store, also the name of her online business, in April.
Schimian launched RG Natural Babies in April 2008. Her endeavor is a throwback to the pre-disposable diaper days when people had to deal with dirty diapers - not just toss them in the trash.
Friends had recommended cloth diapers to her, based on their desire to reduce cost, waste and their babies' possible exposure to chemicals in disposable diapers.
After trying cloth diapers and finding them both tolerable and cost-effective, Schimian decided to turn them into an online business and borrowed the RG in the company name from her daughter, Rachel Grace.
Despite a recession and plenty of online competition, her sales continued to grow last year - albeit more slowly than before, Schimian said.
"I think a lot of people are looking to save money," she said, "and even though the up-front cost is more with cloth diapers, you save a lot of money in the long run."
Using cloth diapers with more than one child increases the savings, and they can ultimately be resold to recoup part of the initial cost, Schimian says.
She has close to 30 wholesale accounts for such product lines as BumGenius and Fuzzi Bunz. She keeps inventory at home and fills orders at night but said Thursday, "It's taking over a little bit."
The store's approximately 4,000 square feet will give her plenty of display space, work space for the online business, a play area for children while parents shop, and space for her own children to be with her at the store.
Besides diapers, which come in many styles, Schimian carries such items as pail liners and wet bags, bibs, baby shoes and organic crib mattresses.
For a while, Schimian expected to go into the former Downtown Racine Corp. space in the Arcade Building. But she said the building's owner, Kimberly-Clark - maker of Huggies disposable diapers - declined to rent to her. "I was quite surprised they thought we were such a threat," she said.
A Kimberly-Clark spokeswoman said the company typically does not comment on the "nuances" of its business dealings, and was unable to comment.
For more information visit http://www.rgnaturalbabies.com
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
Now our club, River City, also hosts volleyball tournaments and I have asked our director to place bins on each court so that the players maybe more inclined to recycle.
It isn't much but it is a start and maybe other clubs will see what we are doing and make changes as well!
P.S. We did win our tournament, this weekend too. They are 15's and we played in a 16's tournament. And now they may go to Nationals in Orlando! I am so proud of them. :)
Monday, February 8, 2010
Congratulations to Amylisse on winning our $10 gift certificate to RG Natural Babies.
We will give away another $10 gift certificate to My Baby Pumpkin, LLC when we get 100 followers!
Friday, February 5, 2010
This was in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel today and found it rather innovative.
Josh Fraundorf (left), president and co-founder of Sweet Water Organics, holds fish food while Henry Hebert carries a net with yellow perch he scooped out of fish tanks, which are below the plant beds. The company hopes to develop a market for the once-common fish.
Sweet Water Organics has turned an industrial Bay View building into a fish farm that could bring back a Friday night staple
By Karen Herzog of the Journal Sentinel
Perch have largely disappeared from Lake Michigan, but Milwaukee diners soon might be able to order the popular Friday night fish fry species once more from local waters.
Just in time for Lent.
A new generation of yellow perch is being netted about a mile from Lake Michigan at an urban fish and vegetable farm called Sweet Water Organics, which mimics the Earth's natural ecosystem in a cavernous industrial building. Harnischfeger Industries once used the Bay View neighborhood building to make mining cranes.
Decades ago, perch were hauled out of Lake Michigan by commercial fishermen. The fish with a sweet, mild flavor ruled fish fries until - for reasons biologists still don't completely understand - perch fisheries collapsed in the 1990s. Most Wisconsin fish fry perch now hail from Lake Erie and Lake Winnipeg, at a hefty price of $14 to $16 a pound.
Sweet Water Organics aims to make perch a local fish again, though the price won't necessarily be less, the owners said. They hope the Sweet Water experiment will spawn more fish farms in vacant industrial buildings around the city to help feed Milwaukee's collective appetite for perch and to make Milwaukee a cutting-edge center of sustainable aquaculture.
"We're on a Great Lake and don't have access to any of that fish," said Peter Sandroni, chef-owner of La Merenda, a tapas restaurant at 125 E. National Ave., so he finds this new opportunity exciting.
"The fact it's local will make it high quality," he added, "since it goes from water to plate in a matter of hours."
Co-founded by roofing contractor James Godsil and business partner Josh Fraundorf, Sweet Water Organics is the first commercial test of Will Allen's innovative aquaculture model for perch - an eco-friendly system unveiled two years ago at internationally acclaimed Growing Power, a nonprofit urban farm at 5500 W. Silver Spring Drive.
One year into operation, Sweet Water Organics employs three full-time workers and has produced 3,000 perch (three fish to a pound), which are hitting the local market this weekend. The farm hopes to be producing 3,300 pounds of perch every two weeks within a few years. Sweet Water also has raised about 45,000 tilapia but isn't banking on that species in the future.
The fish are raised in 10,000-gallon, rectangular pools in two- to three-tier vertical systems. Designed to mimic a wetland, the systems use gravel and plants such as lettuce, basil, tomatoes, chile peppers and watercress to filter fish waste. The vegetables produced in the system are sold to restaurants and grocery stores.
The urban farm is not set up to spawn or process fish. But that, too, is part of the three- to five-year expansion plan, Fraundorf said.
Technical support comes from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Great Lakes WATER Institute, which in July delivered the 3,000 yellow perch that are now at market size.
Fred Binkowski, a senior scientist with the institute and a fisheries biologist, sees great potential for urban fish farming.
"Perch is the icon of the Friday night fish fry," he said. "We want Milwaukee to be the aquaculture center of America."
He predicts urban aquaculture will take off in cities such as Milwaukee that are flush with empty industrial manufacturing buildings.
"The technology could be used anywhere, but urban settings are the best, where the demand for the fish is, and where you could create jobs and eliminate transportation issues of food being shipped great distances," Binkowski said.
Milwaukee has about a dozen former heavy manufacturing buildings that are vacant, according to commercial real estate broker Robert Dufek, who focuses on industrial properties. Many of the city's obsolete heavy industrial buildings have been demolished so the land beneath them can be put to new use, he said.
City Development Commissioner Rocky Marcoux has toured Sweet Water and endorses the new use for the building.
Sweet Water has fielded calls from people in other cities interested in setting up similar systems, Godsil said.
Godsil, 65, and Fraundorf, 35, along with four other investors, put about $500,000 into the start-up. The building at 2151 S. Robinson Ave. is leased from developer Steve Linder.
While the fish get most of the attention, the vegetables are more profitable. The basil, watercress, lettuce and other greens grown at the indoor farm have been sold to La Merenda, Café Centraal and Beans & Barley.
The aquaponics behind the system combines fish farming (aquaculture) with hydroponics. Fish are fed commercial fish meal. A beneficial form of bacteria converts the resulting fish waste into nutrients, which then are used by the plants that grow in the same water. The plants in turn purify the water as they consume the nutrients, creating a healthy environment for the fish.
The plants grow on planks above the fish tanks.
"It's kind of like 'Pirates of the Caribbean' when you walk all these planks," said Sweet Water horticulturalist Jesse Hull.
Green technology even heats the water. Warmth generated by high-intensity lighting is captured in 300-gallon water tanks, which transfer the heat through coils into the fish water.
Compost also plays a role in nurturing the plants. Grocery distributor Roundy's Inc. donates food scraps to be turned into compost.
Sweet Water hopes to gain additional income from the sale of wheat grass, worms, worm castings and compost, plus tours, training and installation of aquaculture systems for other ventures.
Developers made some pleasant discoveries in the building. An abandoned 11-foot wide, 4-foot deep railroad bed that runs through the center turned out to be the perfect size and depth for fish tanks. These tanks are the next to be stocked with fish.
Get your perch here
If you can't wait to try the city-raised perch at a restaurant, bring a cooler to Sweet Water Organics at 2151 S. Robinson Ave. in the Bay View neighborhood between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday or Sunday and take home fresh, local perch for $5 apiece (each weighs about a third of a pound).
Perch will be sold "in the round," meaning they'll be whole, on ice. You'll have to clean and fillet them yourself, as the facility is not set up for processing. Sweet Water will have a chef on hand to demonstrate how to do the filleting.
Eventually, the fish farm expects to have an on-site retail store.
Tom Daykin of the Journal Sentinel staff contributed to this report.
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
So what are you doing today to make a difference?
I hope more businesses will stand up and take notice of what Thirsties out of Colorado is doing. They are installing solar panels to power their entire warehouse. There will be enough power produced to give back to the local energy company as well.
To see the full story go here.
And remember it is that simple if each of us do 1 thing to save energy today, can you imagine the impact we can make on the world around us.
Monday, February 1, 2010
empowering families, improving the environment
As Miracle Diapers has grown so has the number of families they assist. In 2009, they helped over 450 babies directly, more than 100 babies through sponsorship and local distribution, and assisted other charities with the same mission as well!
To better serve those families Miracle Diapers reaccessed it's structure and practices. They have:
• New leadership with Roxanna Jolly—CEO and Lisa Johnston—Operations Manager and Board Chair
• Relocated their headquarters to Katy, Texas
• Restructured how they process and accept applications
• Opened a retail store for fundraising
• Founded a new membership program
• Welcomed several new board members from the cloth diapering industry
In it's fifth year Miracle Diapers wants to continue moving forward and has decided to take on a new name that better describes the organization and it's mission.
Miracle Diapers is now The Cloth Diaper Foundation.
“We felt that a more appropriate name would help the community have a better understanding of who we are, as we have often been mistaken for a diaper manufacturer. Our desire to move forward and build a legacy of support for the cloth diapering community will be reflected in our new name: The Cloth Diaper Foundation.”
-Roxanna Jolly, CEO, The Cloth Diaper Foundation
Monetary donations fell last year do to the economy. Which means there are more families out there for The Cloth Diaper Foundation to help! While diaper donations are always appreciated, we must be able to financially support organizational growth. Let's make this happen together and spread the CD love. Visit http://clothdiaperfoundation.org today to find out how you can help!
So after I got home last night, I was watching the Pro Bowl on TV and it was raining. Then that got me to thinking, how do others wash their car. I taught my husband a unique way when we met. I wash my car in the rain, even if it is only 50 degrees out. Then I am not using extra water. Then for the crazed car enthusiasts, you can dry the car in your garage so you don't get any water spots.
And my last random thought comes from me taking the garbage out. So we have been slowly moving away from using plastic bags, we are bulk shoppers so have a lot to get rid of in the house. Well once they are gone we are going to be using a pail liner, like the one most use for cloth diapers. Then we will not get anything but paper bags if needed at the grocery store. Do you remember when you could only get paper? That has been such a long time! So check with your local garbage collection company or city and see if they require you to use bags. Most do not!
I told you I had a lot of random thoughts on a Monday Morning. :)