Clean and green
It’s not easy to pigeonhole Stephanie Oppitz. And that’s just the way she likes it. She effortlessly juggles her different roles as a blogger, co-founder of a new Waldorf school in Dresden, and mother of three. But above all, she’s the founder of up-and-coming Dresden-based startup WindelManufaktur, which makes innovative cloth nappies. It’s difficult to choose between the many charming designs in the company’s range. The 3-in-1 nappies are all washable, kind to the skin and beautiful. Perhaps most importantly, they are produced in a sustainable manner.
Stephanie Oppitz is not expecting to change the world with her invention, but does hope to make a small contribution. “When you realise that every baby generates up to a tonne of nappy waste, it really makes you think,” says the lively 30-something. At some point, the nappy waste produced by her own three children (now aged nine, seven and five) became simply too much, but the cloth nappies available at the time were not an option as they were “impractical and time-consuming”. For about a year Stephanie Oppitz experimented with designs for the perfect cloth nappy, which needed to be environmentally friendly and practical. She even taught herself how to sew. That was back in 2014. Today, around 700 nappy parcels a month are dispatched from the factory in Dresden’s Neustadt district, after having been lovingly handcrafted by her 10 employees. The company’s customers are mainly located in the German-speaking countries, but increasingly also in the US, Scandinavia, China and South Africa.
And if there’s one thing that Stephanie Oppitz can boast, it’s a strong network – in Saxony and around the world. She likes to tell the story of Amazon, who just recently awarded WindelManufaktur their top prize for the best brand building. This came after she had taken part in the Internet retailer’s support programme “Entrepreneurs of the future – locally and around the world” alongside 23 other companies. She was also very flattered to have won the audience award in this year’s futureSAX ideas competition. That was no surprise, though, as her community of fans on Facebook, Instagram and elsewhere numbers over 15,000, all of whom were able to participate in the online vote for the audience award.
The fact that her doctorate fell by the wayside at some point during this journey is almost incidental. She only briefly regretted it, having been on the point of writing her thesis, but “The Monitoring of Architecture in the GDR 1953–1957” had gradually been overtaken by new ideas anyway. And if there’s one thing the trained architect doesn’t like doing, it’s looking backwards. “I’m always on the lookout – for inspiration, new ideas and projects,” she says. So it’s hardly surprising that she already has her next project firmly in her sights. In early October, the existing range of nappies, flannel wet wipes and nursing pads will be expanded to include another product line: the feminine hygiene brand Von Ocker und Rot.
Here again, the focus is on making products that appeal to customers as widely as possible. “I’m always on the lookout – for inspiration, new ideas and projects. For example, we recently developed a swim nappy that looks more like a cool pair of swimming trunks with integrated leak protection.”