Introducing Quatia Osorio, or simply “Q.”: business owner, mother of 5, and passionate advocate for healthy families, communities and the environment. Q is the owner and one-woman powerhouse behind Mama Blu Diaper Service, swapping soiled cloth diapers with clean “fluff” at customers’ doorsteps, every week, across Rhode Island and into Massachusetts. As a community doula under the name Our Journ3i, Q provides birth and postpartum support and education for “families of the vulnerable and marginalized communities.” Q has also just launched the Chocolate Milk Cafe, a weekly breastfeeding support group in Providence for Black/African American/Afro Latino families.
Kidoinfo: What inspired you to start your business?
Q: Our fourth child, Evangeline, is what they call a “rainbow baby,” a baby born after a loss. We wanted to make sure we gave her the best, from a healthy start in the womb to Earthside. Pregnancy planning begins and ends with plans, changes, and new plans, but we were lucky that our plans didn’t deviate too much from our original best-sought plans: natural delivery, breastfeeding, cloth diapering and baby led weaning. It was in 2011 that Mama Blu formed out of a babywearing group meeting in which I realized that this was something I felt was needed and wanted to share with others. At the time of the idea I had 3 children in cloth! No twins, but two of my own and my niece while my sister was in the police academy in Georgia. It was quite an experience, but I think of all the money and environmental factors that were “saved” during this time.
Kidoinfo: How did you start your business?
Q: RESEARCH. PLANNING. RESEARCH. It takes a lot to grow a business, nevermind a diaper service. I am a member of the Real Diaper Industry Association (RDIA), a non-profit organization focusing on promoting cloth diapering and sustainability, and Real Diaper Association, a collective non-profit organization in which parents and small businesses take the lead in creating a cultural shift to increase the use of simple, reusable cloth diapers.
I often get asked about my business name: Mama Blu is a play off my college nickname, “Mama Q.” Blu happened to be a nickname that stuck with me in during my early cyber days and my favorite color, so it seemed serendipitous to name my business after my passion for both my love for knowledge (college) and the ever-changing digital world.
Kidoinfo: How do you balance work and family?
Q: Ummm… A lot of coffee, herbal tea (to flush out all the overdosing on coffee), and sleep – I love sleep. Also, I have a supportive family. On my sick days or when I’m out of town for business, my husband runs the deliveries and often you catch my youngest son helping me to deliver the new clean diapers. No one helps me with washing, though. Figures, right?
The balance is finding what you love and making time to enjoy the journey. Everyone has to find their own way of balancing. Sometimes I do burn out with five children, a small business, an upcoming non-profit, community work, traveling, an aspiration to become an urban farmer, 2 dogs and well…ME, but those days I just veg out watching anime, cuddling with my little ones, and resting. I really allow myself to take care during these times. Having a home business, sometimes I have to schedule “out of office” work days, which helps to streamline productivity.
Kidoinfo: Do you have any time-saving tricks that you could share?
Q: PLAN your day. Even days when you don’t want to do anything. Some days nothing goes fully to schedule, but I make a priority of must-do’s for the day and get it done. And if it can wait, let it wait. Buy BASKETS to help with quick cleaning and to give children accountability and responsibility for their own property. And honestly, people with children don’t care how “clean” your house is; real friends step over toys or ask if you need any help.
Kidoinfo: If you could give your past self any advice, what would it be?
Q: Take more pictures. Some memories just can’t be recalled, and it’s nice to have lots of pictures to reflect and remember.
Kidoinfo: Where do you find inspiration?
Q: Life is too short to just suck air and die. Do something with the little time you have to live. Make an impact. Take up a cause and make a difference. Inspire yourself to be like you when you grow up.
Kidoinfo: What is the one kid or parent product that you could not live without?
Q: LOTS OF PILLOWS!
Kidoinfo: What is your favorite children’s book or music CD?
Q: Please Baby Please by Spike Lee. My children love this book and the art is beautiful. We are ordering a 2nd copy since the youngest two have literally turned it until pages ripped right off.
Kidoinfo: What do you do with your kids on a rainy day?
Q: Watch anime, play video games, play board games, build forts, have “sleep overs”, eat popcorn, sleep.
Kidoinfo: Do you have a guilty pleasure?
Q: YES! The chorico stuffed clams at Whole Foods are my “pick me up” food.
Kidoinfo: If you had an extra hour each day, what would you do with it?
Q: Umm… SLEEP!
Kidoinfo: Can you share a story or anecdote that is symbolic of your dual life as a business owner and a mother?
Q: You intend the ordinary consequences of your voluntary actions. I read this in a book when I studied paralegal studies and it always stuck with me: to make my actions worthy.
Kidoinfo: How has the experience and on the job training of being a mom prepared or changed you in business?
Q: You must plan and adapt accordingly. I didn’t give birth to the same 5 people. It’s my first time as a Mother of each of my children: I must learn from them and they must learn from me. We are teaching each other. It’s like business – each of my customers teach me and I teach them. It’s great. Often I solicit feedback, suggestions or recommendations from my customers. I am a business-matter expert in cloth diapering, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have anything new to learn, especially with so many new diaper styles still being created to adapt to the different lifestyles of families.
Kidoinfo: What is next for you and your business?
Q: We just received our Green Certification from the Department of Environmental Management. This summer we are vending at the Hope St. Farmers Market, once a month at the Armory Park/Dexter Street Park, and looking forward to building a business relationship with the new Urban Cooperative building planning to break ground this summer. Our partnership with Yummycloud, a natural parenting and cloth diaper store in Swansea, MA continues to provide cloth diaper service to Massachusetts customers. Our hope is that parents at least give cloth a try to help our environment. Maybe we will establish a cloth diaper store locally in Providence, but that requires a lot more customers than I have right now. As far as what is next, continue to work hard, spread the cloth love, and provide quality service and products to my customers and families.
As for me, currently I am starting up the Chocolate Milk Cafe, continuing my work with Our Journ3i as a Community Doula, and in the fall I will take the Certified Lactation Counselor exam.
Chocolate Milk Cafe Details: Fridays, 10am – 12 pm, at Unified Solutions at Roger Williams University School of Continuing Studies on the 3rd floor until August 12th, then we switch locations to St. Joseph Hospital for Wednesday evenings from 4:30 – 6:30pm.
Home Work: Lessons from Work-at-Home Parents. This series of Kidoinfo interviews with parents look at how they manage to squeeze in work time at home (whether working for someone else or running their own business) along with juggling kids, home life, and childcare (or lack of it).