It’s Uncle Mo here again!
The progress that LH has seen over the years was achieved in part because we stay aligned with our values, are guided by our purpose and answer four questions for ourselves and our community.
It is 2023 and this is where we stand now.
I have changed my mind about a lot of things and my opinion might evolve on these topics as well. The one thing that won’t change for sure is the underlying principle of who we are and our business philosophy.
We don’t shy away from the fact that we are a for-profit business. But that doesn’t mean that we don’t do business differently. For us, the focus is always on interacting with our community of customers in a caring, compassionate, and authentic way. We also take pride in using our platform to acknowledge, normalize, and celebrate some of the messier parts of life. The fact that we can do all of this while making some money to pay our bills is a neat bonus.
If you talk to any member of the Lil Helper team, from the CEO to the warehouse wizards, they would each be the first to admit we are by no means a perfect bunch. Our intrepid lil band of tree huggers has made our fair share of mistakes and suffered some growing pains. But the Lil Helper brand is built on vulnerability, accountability, resilience, and perseverance. This is why we will always make lemonade out of any lemony situations that come our way. And if we can’t- the least we can do is learn and grow.
Proud of our products. Proud of our team. Proud of our community and the work that we do. All too often we make ourselves small or downplay our good work, so as not to seem boastful. But at Lil Helper, we normalize putting our best ideas out there and celebrating the big and small wins.
Life is hard. It’s a commonly acknowledged phrase but most of the time we still feel like it is something that we aren’t allowed to admit. At Lil Helper our mission is to help our customers find moments of joy in the midst of the mess. From creating products that take a lot of 💩 (or blood, or sweat, or…), to using inclusive language, to sticking groan-worthy dad jokes on every available surface in the hopes that you’ll smile; every product, post, and decision revolves around embracing, celebrating, and finding fun in the hard. Because life will always be messy, but it is way too short not to smile in spite of that.
Messes may be an unavoidable part of life but they don’t have to be a miserable part of life. The “Designed by Rocket Scientists” tag on our products isn’t just a weird flex or a way to make Mohammed’s mom feel better about his career path. It is our way of letting you know that when you look to us for solutions, you are going to get something that is thoughtfully and meticulously engineered.
What Sets Us Apart
If you aren’t being kind and having fun every day, then you’re doing it wrong (in our not-at-all-expert opinion.) Lil Helper was founded by dads looking for a better way to diaper their kids. We empathize with our customers because our first customers were us. And even though our product line has expanded and our community has grown, we still want to find ways to meet our customers where they are and find the funny in the messy parts of life. From multi-functional products that grow with your needs to easter eggs in our prints, we always look for ways to put the “fun” in FUNctional.
Despite being long and annoying for our copywriter to spell, capitalism has become a bit of a “four-letter word”. And, in a lot of ways, the bad rap that capitalism gets is pretty valid. But if Lil Helper is good at anything, it’s going against the grain and being a bit weird. That’s why we are committed to proving that it is possible to be a profitable business and still be ethical, authentic, accountable, and (most importantly) kind.
Everybody loves the buddy system. Because we all need a lil support sometimes. Which is why we build everything as a system. Whether you are moving from disposable diapers to cloth or making the switch to reusable menstrual products, you need to make sure you have the right system to find success and adjust to your sustainable new lifestyle. We encourage customers to only buy what they need if they need it but we offer a variety of tools to create the system that is the perfect fit for you.
Manufacturing - How we make?
When we started LH, we wanted to make all products locally, eventually in our own local facility in Canada. We also didn’t know anything about textile or manufacturing. Costs of producing items here especially with our quality standards was restrictive and it would inhibit us from serving our customers in the way we hoped to. If we can make products locally and offer them to our patrons at reasonable prices, we do.
We always wanted to offer our products at a reasonable cost, not affordable because something that might be affordable to one person might not be to someone else. Even as my station in life is improving, I can clearly see that the definition of affordable has changed for me. We never wanted to compete on price. We never wanted to be Walmart (the irony of LH being available at Costco and Walmart is not lost on me). Our products are not cheap, they were never meant to be.
The first thing that comes to mind for a western consumer when they hear overseas manufacturing is sweatshops. I’ve been doing what I do for over a decade. Started when I was 26. I am 38 now (in 2021). I have seen sweatshops in India, Canada, China and Bangladesh. I have seen excellent facilities at all these locations as well. Just because a worksop is in a particular region doesn’t mean it treats its people poorly. Good people who do good work exist everywhere, they are difficult to find and/or charge a premium- both are fine by me.
The bulk of our products are made by a few small workshops in China. I have personally visited each and every floor where our products are made and visit them still, several times a year. Although I don’t speak Mandarin, I’ve communicated to the workers and told them how much our patrons enjoy the effort that they put in each thing they make, more so because of the details we request. They smile that big smile that you only expect from people you know and understand.
Some of the workshops have produced things for us for more than 10 years. Their kids call me Shūshu Mo (Uncle Mo). We see each other as family. I visit their homes when in China. We do things for each other that you can only expect from family, not business associates.
These workshops have become better with time. They provide meals for the folks who work there, creches manned by grannies where mothers can drop off their babies and come back to feed them and the best part is a beautiful siesta after a hearty lunch. These are good people who treat their employees well.
We don’t choose factories where I cannot speak to the owners directly. I believe accountability starts from the top, especially when it comes to fair practices. Price is never a make or break factor when choosing one facility over another. We work with people we like who can make stuff that I would be comfortable putting on my own child. There is a quick/cheap/efficient way of making stuff overseas and then there is the right way, at LH we always take the right way.
Product - What do we make?
None of the products we make our perfect. Perfection cannot be improved upon. All our products are continuously improving with time and feedback from you. Whatever you choose to invest in now will help us make it better for your next child or your sister’s baby.
Everything we make is CPSIA tested, even if the certification is not needed. It is our way of making sure that you, your family and most importantly your babies are never in harm’s way because of something we did or didn’t do. All our products BPA free, phthalate free and heavy metal free.
All the products we make have to provide you value for your money. One of the ways we intend to stay in business is to find ways to stretch your dollar. Be it with upping our quality, adding features to existing products or providing more services
All our products are a solution to a problem. If a product is not solving a real problem, we don’t make it. We’ve gone astray a couple of times but we tend to find our way back.
Because we have a platform and can influence people, we have a certain responsibility towards our audience. It’s difficult to be cheeky, witty and on the edge without crossing the line. We’ve crossed the line a few times, but when we do, we choose humility over excuses and finger pointing.
We provide support to you and anybody who has a LH product in hand, doesn’t matter when you bought the item or from whom. We listen and talk to you long after the warranty is gone. We will treat you exactly the same way we would want to be treated.
We are adults and we treat people who deal with us, like adults. And as adults we have our own journey through life. All our products are exactly like us- adults. They are all in the process of maturing soon. Some of our products are already matured or just happy to be as they are, where they are. Your constructive feedback is the collective consciousness of these otherwise lifeless products. Thank you for your active participation- I appreciate it.
People - Who do we work with?
We want to work and spend more time with more people like us. We all come with our life experiences, our goals, our strengths for LH and the small community we have the privilege of serving.
We like to hire from within active LH users. That’s why the person who is serving you is more or less like you. Talk to them like you would talk to an adult friend and we will help you out in whatever way we can.
Our team is all around. I am at the warehouse, which is my home, just outside of Toronto in Markham, ON. I work on the second floor and the business is run from the basement by 3 fantastic women. The rest of the team is spread across Canada, US, India, Pakistan, Philippines and China.
Only LH customers understand how it is to serve a new or returning patron, much like yourself. To treat them just like they were treated when they were in your shoes. Join our Unsnapped on FB where almost our entire team talks and interacts with our patrons, if and when they want to engage.
None of us are really qualified to do what we do. I am an aerospace engineer whose biggest claim to fame is that he’s helped make a simple and convenient poop catcher. We are all here because we like to work for LH. We all see LH as an organism that is changing, evolving and getting better with each member that joins us.
We want you to teach your peers. Tell them how you are doing what you are doing. You move forward by teaching someone else your job. By making things better.
Culture - Why do we work?
We are a business. We have an inventory of products we make that requires capital and a tremendous investment of time and effort. We have bills to pay and mouths to feed. We have to turn a profit, or at least try to so we can stay around to serve our people.
People always come first. Even before profit. We will always do what’s in your best interest. We will not force or oversell to you. We will treat you like adults. We will reciprocate the kindness that you’ve shown us over the years. We are good business people to deal with, but in general we are good people.
We welcome everyone who might want to partake in the joy of the products we offer. We are joyful people who love what we do and our products and service are a reflection of that. Moms, Dads, Grand Parents, Uncles and Aunts - any and all people are welcome to our long table. We like pets too.
We are constantly changing and hopefully getting better. Give us feedback. Tell us when we do something dumb and we’ll straighten things out. Also tell us when we do good, so we can keep on doing what we already do and don’t iterate something that’s going well.
Talk to us, we try to be everywhere. Email, Toll-Free Phone, FB, IG, YouTube, TikTok, Twitter, SnapChat, GIPHY. Here’s my personal cell, if you’d like to say hello: +1 647 885 4642 (I am on WhastApp). Sometimes when people buy from us they make a substantial investment and I want them to know who they are doing business with.
With the investment of money, we know there is a commitment of time as well. Some of our products might take a try or two to learn. That’s when we shine, if and when you need help. You might find more uses for existing things and show others. You are encouraged to lead your peers. We’ll cheer, we’ll learn, we’ll do better.
All of us, including me, Sophia, Zara, have a tremendous appreciation for being able to do what we are doing. We hope to do it for as long as we are grateful for this opportunity. We’ve been like this since our start in 2011, just before I didn’t have the language or the confidence or, who knows, the proof to say it here, like this. Thank you beautiful human.