Ilana Grostern: Pioneering Sustainable Business Practices
Meeting with Ilana Grostern, co-founder and co-owner of AppleCheeks™ and Buster Fetcher user
Some people live their lives in perfect harmony with their values… This is the case with Ilana Grostern, co-founder and co-owner of AppleCheeks™, a revolutionary washable diaper company she founded with Amy Appleton out of Montreal.
Let’s meet this uncompromising woman who cares deeply for the future of our children and our planet.
From Maternity to the Birth of a Business
Ilana has always been concerned with the environment, so when she became a mother she naturally went to cloth diapers as the eco-friendliest solution, as opposed to contributing to the negative impact of disposable diapers.
After experimenting with different brands available on the market, it became clear to Ilana and her friend Amy, also a young mother, that there wasn’t anything out there that perfectly suited their needs.
In 2007, our two friends decide to focus on a project that turns into a success story: a store offering eco-friendly diapers to families. With a focus on environment, sustainability and reusability, they knew they were addressing a need. Their vision was quickly rewarded with positive feedback and astounding demand.
Thus, AppleCheeks™ is born in 2008, an online store offering eco-friendly diapers and accessories.
The Heart of the Business: Customers
A brilliant and passionate woman, Ilana focuses her efforts around the values she cherishes the most: her children, protecting the planet, and her business, with the goal of offering effective solutions to issues young Canadian families are faced with in caring for their young ones.
However, Ilana wants to do more than that… Of course, she wants to offer the best product possible, but also the best possible customer service in order to help parents select the best solution for their newborns and the environment.
The level of customer service at AppleCheeks™ is Ilana’s pride. They are directly in contact with parents and their service is truly personalized. Through this direct contact and the feedback received, our two entrepreneurs were able to improve their products and optimize their offering.
Currently, AppleCheeks™ is THE reference in Canada and their expertise is unmatched in this niche.
Ilana and her business partner are also committed to offering products made in Canada, by employees who are fairly compensated in order to support the Canadian economy and fight against cheap labour, which goes against their business values.
In a nutshell, AppleCheeks™ is a proud Canadian company offering products designed and manufactured in Montreal with materials sourced in North America from trusted suppliers who have been working with Ilana and Amy for many years now.
Products for All
AppleCheeks™ has significantly contributed in improving the concept of cloth diapers offered on the market.
Their shop offers different sizes: size 1 (for newborns) to size 3 (65 lb), as well as one-size diapers that grow with the child.
Designed with super absorbent cotton, their diapers are exceptionally comfortable and they adjust to each child because no baby has the same body, and yet nothing is more important than their comfort and hygiene.
AppleCheeks™ truly is an all-in-one solution, one of a kind on the market.
In an effort to meet the needs of ALL parents, Ilana and her associate even developed new products for children with disabilities fitting up to 100 lb. We can only praise such an inclusive initiative!
Whether in product development or in her daily life, Ilana always considers the specific needs of children – her own included – and tries to spend as much quality time as possible with them. A true challenge for an entrepreneur who doesn’t count the time invested in her business. I know all about the family and work balance, having created a number of companies while raising two kids.
On a professional level, Ilana and Amy’s biggest challenge is to continually educate young parents of the benefits of cloth diapers. A strong trend a few years back, it has slowed down recently. And so AppleCheeks™ continues to tout the virtues of these products on their website and on social media.
A big challenge, yes, but a successful challenge, since AppleCheeks™ has established itself as the most dominant brand on the market. A visit in the Dragon’s Den in 2012 (https://www.cbc.ca/dragonsden/pitches/apple-cheeks-diapers) was a huge boost for both entrepreneurs.
Making a Difference in the Community
Ilana believes there is more than just sales though. She wants to make a difference in her community by helping her customers make green choices. For this to happen, she realizes how important it is to have competitive pricing and be accessible so that people who want to buy can do so.
One of the solutions to this challenge has been to reduce shipping fees. To do so, the reimbursements AppleCheeks™ receives from Buster Fetcher for packages delivered late have really helped. These funds are reinvested in their operations which allows the business to offer reasonable shipping fees and thus reduce the final cost for the customer.
Obviously, Buster Fetcher and AppleCheeks™ don’t have much in common in terms of services offered, but one thing they do share is putting their customers first and helping them to make choices that will benefit them in the long run.
Yes, AppleCheeks™ is making a difference in the lives of many young families as a Canadian business with a social and environmental mission.
A truly conscientious business approach!