Written by Heidi Baumstark | Photos by Jennifer Gray Calcagno Photography
Solutions for life’s messes. That’s what Ben Avor devised when his company, Purple Uncle, developed baby and toddler products. Specifically, super-soft, absorbent diapers and pants that can be trusted for life’s … yes … messier moments.
Inspired by his Uncle Victor, Avor chose to name his entrepreneurial enterprise in his uncle’s honor. And purple? “Purple is, of course, a regal color and I believe a lot of parents — like myself — treat their children like royalty. There’s lots of symbolism here; my goal is that when people think of the Purple Uncle they think of a loving uncle,” Avor says.
Purple Uncle is an upshot of the pandemic, when Avor became a parent. “My daughter, Esse, was born in October 2020. I spent a lot of time with her because of the whole lockdown, so it all started with her. My uncle inspired the name of my company, and my daughter inspired the product.”
With experience in international banking, Avor, who is originally from Ghana, now lives in Loudoun County, and understands trade and the dynamics of revenue drivers. This put him in a position to find a meaningful product that could be introduced into the market. “One day I looked at my daughter and thought of this idea,” he remembers. “I saw [a] deficiency in the major brands I was using and thought I could make it better.”
Avor and his team have poured their hearts into creating a product that parents can trust and easily access. Clients can choose auto-renewed monthly subscription deliveries brought right to their doorstep, or arrange for customized delivery cycles that fit each lifestyle. Diapers come in sizes beginning with newborns, and pants come in sizes for toddlers who can pull them on by themselves as they enter the potty-training stage. Purple Uncle represents premium quality products at a price point with parents in mind. How? By seeking the best deals from suppliers and keeping margins “greed-free.”
Form & Function
The diapers and pants are hypoallergenic, dermatologist tested, approved for sensitive and eczema-prone skin, eco-friendly with a carbon offset, and made with no fragrances, optical brighteners, or harsh chemicals. Soft and breathable with maximum absorbency, the products are made of six layers so there is no need for “overnight” versus “day” diapers. Diapers fasten with standard Velcro and pants have tear-away sides with a simple pull-up design easy for toddlers becoming self-sufficient. Pants are made to allow for plenty of movement and stretch with no restrictions to a child’s ability to run, jump, and play.
What distinguishes their diapers from others is the polymers, or absorbent gels. “We’re not skimping; we’re putting a lot more of those polymers into our products,” Avor explains. What makes it unique is that out of the six layers, there are two main absorption layers; normal diapers have only one layer. Average diapers are filled with fluff and cotton with not much absorbent quality. When the SAP (superabsorbent polymer) content is increased, marketers charge a steep price and call them “overnight diapers.” The Purple Uncle design features a lot of SAP, but not a lot of thick fluff. So, the products are light, can be worn day or night, and one diaper does it all.
Their products meet U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission requirements as well as EU measures. “And regulations in the EU market are more stringent,” Avor notes, “so meeting those standards makes us stand out.” The long-term goal is to open a facility in Virginia for manufacturing and provide local employment.
When considering aesthetics, Avor wanted something subtle and clean; the focus is on the function as a hygiene product. “We spoke with a mother in Canada, Elle Stefanski, a surface-pattern designer specializing in hand-drawn art,” Avor says. “She designed our logo based on the allium flower, which is purple; the logo is embossed at the front of the diaper, and we incorporated her beautiful allium hand drawings.” Through gentle strokes of a fine-lined pen, the delicate and intricate life cycle of the allium flower is artfully depicted on the products. Tiny seeds are thoughtfully integrated into the design, symbolizing how every baby starts as a seed. With this design, the hope is to offer — for both caregiver and kid — a sense of tranquility and appreciation for the wonders of nature.
It Takes a Village
The company’s website includes a Community Page with tips on parenting, resources, and other products Purple Uncle will be launching. Website visitors can even share their own tips, helping build a supportive community through shared knowledge about raising happy, healthy, and confident children. The blog acts as a forum where customers can submit parenting questions on topics including: expecting parents, navigating the newborn stages, traveling with infants, potty training, bedtime routines, ways to manage tantrums, and more. There is even a section to exchange jokes. Not just “mom or dad jokes,” but good “uncle” jokes, the webpage states.
Part of Purple Uncle’s brand ethos is to emphasize the importance of father figures. “There’s a myth of what fathers are supposed to do and what we’re not supposed to do. With my male friends, we get together and talk about parenting while having a drink; we share tricks about getting kids to sleep, and other tips,” says Avor. “Growing up, my Uncle Victor was such a warm and generous person. I wish everyone had an Uncle Victor.”
On Purple Uncle’s website, one parent in Alexandria, Virginia, commented: “Without a doubt, Purple Uncle diapers are the softest I’ve ever chosen for my little one. Not only are they more reasonably priced in comparison to other big-name brands, but they do a good job at keeping her dry, even throughout the night.”
And a Washington, D.C., customer added: “These are our favorite diapers so far! They’re soft and we haven’t had any major leaks or blowouts. We loved them for our son.”
Avor’s advice? “Don’t just take our word. Get a hold of our product; we can send a sample to put to the test. Pour water on your diaper, and then on our diaper and see for yourself which works better. We’re confident it will be a no-brainer.”
If Uncle Victor knew about Avor’s new venture, what would he say? “He’d probably give me a hug, and knowing who he is, he would have ideas on how to market or improve it,” Avor admits. “He’d say, ‘Ok, I inspired you — and now here’s my take.’” ML
For tips, updates, giveaways, ordering info, and more, visit Purple Uncle’s website at purpleuncle.com.
Published in the September 2023 issue of Middleburg Life.