Aubrey Turley, who was born and raised in St. Joseph, Missouri, has become the area’s go-to business for moms who are interested in cloth diapers and other eco-friendly items. How did this former teacher decide to open her own business, and with such an exclusive catalog of items?
Aubrey grew up as a middle child, with two older brothers and one younger sister. Her childhood was a happy — yet busy — one, stuffed with many activities and vacations. “Family was always very important,” she said. “We always had dinner around the table; it was when we talked about our day and were forced to slow down for a bit.”
Aubrey’s mom was a teacher, so their summers were always enjoyable and featured lots of travel. “Most summers we would visit my great uncle at the Lake of the Ozarks,” she explained. “We would spend a week waking up early, fishing, swimming in the lake and playing board games. It was a time I treasured and looked forward to each year.”
When Aubrey was growing up, she always knew she was going to be a mom. She was the girl who loved playing with the babies at family functions, and she volunteered to work in her church’s nursery as soon as she was old enough. She was 3 when her baby sister was born and she was so thrilled to have a baby of her own to take care of. Her baby doll was named Maggie and accompanied her to the store every time she went.
Aubrey and her husband, Michael, have two children. “Michael, Jr. is our fabulous little 3-1/2-year-old,” she told us. “He's amazing. I'm constantly in awe of things he says and does. Magnolia (Maggie) is my sweet little girl. She turned 1 in November and her personality is just awesome. She has always been such a happy girl, she smiles with her entire body."
Before she had children, she envisioned cloth diapering as many people probably still do — pins and plastic pants, the bane of our grandmothers’ existence. “My mom had used a diaper service for a few months and she thought highly of it, but there was no such service available locally and why would I want to deal with all of that when I could just use disposables?” she reported.
When Michael was born, everything was about modern convenience — disposable diapers, wipes and even changing pads. It wasn’t until a high school chum asked why she wasn’t using cloth to get the wheels spinning. And once she discovered how easy, affordable, environmentally-friendly and downright cute cloth diapers were — well, she never looked back.
Aubrey always wanted to be a teacher, so she went to college with that goal in mind. “I got my degree and started teaching in the fall of 2008,” she shared. “I taught public school for three years and decided to resign the day I found out I was pregnant with Maggie. I knew I would never look back and wish I had worked more. Raising my babies has been the best job in the world.”
Starting a business of her own was an easy decision that stemmed from her love of cloth diapering. Once she began using cloth diapers, she became quite passionate about them — like many moms do. She loved to talk with expecting or new moms about how wonderful they truly are, but once she realized that every time she would send them off to an out-of-town store or a website that she was giving business to others — business that she could reap the rewards from herself. “It felt silly to invest so much of my time and then just give someone else the sale,” she said.
Bumper Covers was born from that need — the need for a local cloth-diapering resource and one-stop shop. Aubrey had to learn, hands-on, what it took to start a business. “Once I found the right resource online, I was able to register my business name with the state, apply for my tax ID number, sort out the necessary paperwork for the city and county, and then I was on my way,” she explained.
“I carry the best products,” she said. “I like to tell people that I don't recommend the products because I carry them but I carry them because they're the best and I highly recommend them. If I didn't believe in a product, I wouldn't carry it.”
Bumper Covers carries cloth diapers, of course — AppleCheeks and gDiapers, to be exact — as well as a number of other eco-friendly items for babies, kids and adults. Her current catalog includes CJ’s BUTTer, Strawsome Straws (glass straws), Charlie’s Soap (great for cloth diapering as well as your regular laundry needs), Piggy Paint (non-toxic nail polish) and several other items.
Bumper Covers is not a typical store that you drive up to and shop at. It is a mobile business, which at first presented a few hurdles to potential manufacturers what a mobile business actually is. “Essentially, it just means that I don't have a brick and mortar location,” she told us. “I have the advantage of being able to meet people where they are comfortable. I have met at coffee shops, homes, churches, and most anywhere the customer has suggested. I've done baby showers, cloth diaper informational classes, and other ‘fair’ type events.”
Aubrey also hosts quarterly diaper swaps and participates in fairs and other small business events where she can showcase and sell her items, as well as chat with other parents in the area.
While running her business, Aubrey also parents her two children, and parents them well. She depends on a small network of family and friends to help her out when she needs it most. “This is when having a supportive husband is critical,” she explained.
“He understands that a small business doesn't have normal operating hours and I have to be available for customers when they need me. I've been working on setting ‘Family Hours’ where the computer and phone are off-limits. My customers are incredible and understand that sometimes I just need to be Mom.”
Being a mom has made her a better business owner, by far. Since she deals with child-friendly items, she’s constantly trying new things out on her kids. This is why she feels confident in what she sells — if it doesn’t work, or her kids hate it, then it doesn’t show up at Bumper Covers — period.
If you’re a mom who is interested in starting a business, Aubrey has a few pieces of advice for you. “Don't do it for the money,” she said with a smile. “You have to have a passion for whatever it is that you're interested in because, especially in the beginning, you're doing it for the love."
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