Andréa Senegal is a stay at home mommy and co-owner of Ginger Peach, where she wears several hats including wedding planner, photographer, natural body product formulator, and Pinterest-inspired risk taker-especially in the kitchen. (She made 8 batches of French macarons for her family at Christmas on a whim!) She and her husband André of 7 years (yes, they have matching names), and their daughters Perri (age 4 1/2) and Alexa (9 months) are now what the average person would consider a “crunchy” family, but it wasn’t always that way. An unhappy accident led them to the “green” side of things.
When they first got married, André and Andréa agreed that what they wanted for their family was for Andréa to walk away from the stress of corporate America to stay at home with the kids for at least a year to see how things panned out financially. Unfortunately, when their oldest was 5 months old, a horrendous trip and fall accident for Andréa resulted in several broken bones, multiple surgeries, limited mobility and a mountain of medical bills.
“MY PLANS TO BREASTFEED FOR A YEAR WERE CUT IN HALF AND WE WERE FORCED TO INTRODUCE FORMULA, AND MY RECIPES FOR ORGANIC HOMEMADE BABY FOOD PUREES WERE SHOVED IN A DRAWER IN FAVOR OF EASY STORE BOUGHT STUFF.”
She returned to work when she was able to, and she and her husband found themselves forced to streamline their lives to make ends meet. This ended up being a blessing in disguise because it allowed them to find and fall in love with a simpler lifestyle. They sought methods for streamlining and trimming excess, and they found many of them in what others would consider a “crunchy” lifestyle.
Breastfeeding, babywearing, using a menstrual cup, recycling, thrift and resale shopping, keeping their hair natural, making homemade spa products, and cloth diapering are all part of the “crunchy” lifestyle that the Senegal’s embrace, and Andréa believes that “at the end of the day, many of those things are money-saving efforts just as much as they are environmental and health conscious efforts.” She believes any parent who battles with the idea of whether or not to embrace a simpler lifestyle is concerned with the same thing: upfront cost.
“I’VE FOUND THAT THE ‘CRUNCHY’ LIFESTYLE REQUIRES MORE UPFRONT INVESTMENT FOR LONG TERM BENEFIT. MOST PEOPLE KNOW THAT BUYING GROCERIES AND COOKING MEALS AT HOME IS MORE ECONOMICAL THAN FAST FOOD. BUT A HOME COOKED MEAL REQUIRES TIME AND MONEY. SO IF YOU ONLY HAVE 10 MINUTES AND $10, YOU MIGHT JUST END UP IN THE DRIVE-THRU ORDERING FROM THE DOLLAR MENU. I’M SURE A LOT OF PEOPLE FIND THEMSELVES AT THAT SAME CROSSROADS WITH CLOTH DIAPERING.”
There is this false idea that moms of color in the natural parenting community are rare or don’t exist. Andréa shares that belief that part of this misconception is due to the lack of representation of parents of color in the marketing and advertisements for natural parenting products. She hopes that strides can be made to improve awareness of the benefits and availability of cloth for all families by making changes in availability, the cloth industry, and in community education within the medical field.
“I’D LOVE TO SEE MORE ETHNIC INSPIRED PRINTS, BROADER ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS FEATURING BLACK AND BROWN FAMILIES, EDUCATIONAL PAMPHLETS IN OB AND PEDIATRICIAN OFFICES, AFFORDABLE TRIAL PACKS, AND AVAILABILITY IN MORE STORES.”
Andréa believes that it’s a combination of upfront cost, too much variation in styles, and lack of cloth education that are some of the biggest factors that stand in the way of a family from trying to cloth diaper.
“[When it comes to cloth diapering specifically,] cost is definitely a factor, plus all the different systems and brands to choose from can be pretty intimidating for new parents (that’s what frightened us the first time around!) Also, there’s a learning curve for cloth. It’s not just a choice for the parents, but every caregiver involved needs to be comfortable with the diapers as well. I don’t know all the statistics, but culturally speaking Black people often operate in village mode: with a network of family and close friends helping each other. So disposables are often easier than trying to give everyone a crash course on cloth. I know that’s limited our babysitting options for Alexa, but my parents who live nearby have been very supportive and have gotten quite comfortable with the diapers. And, me being a stay at home mom allows us to skip the daycare issue. I’ve heard stories of families who only use cloth at home because their chosen daycare won’t/can’t do cloth, or horror stories about cloth diapers being lost, mixed up with another cloth family, or thrown away!”
Andréa loves singing the praises of cloth to anyone who will listen, but she says, “It’s been surprisingly difficult to get folks onboard with the idea,” and that she’s only converted two other mommas to try cloth. She said the turning point for those women who she convinced to give cloth a try was the cost savings.
“[We’ve] spent less than $100 out of pocket on diapering supplies in 9 months thanks to generous friends and family who bought diapers and gave us gift cards for our baby sprinkle.”
She also said that she believes these women “felt more inspired” after adding them to a few cloth diaper groups on Facebook. “It’s great to hear several stories and ask questions before diving in,” she added. When asked if family was a factor, Andréa said their parents have been super supportive, and even if other family members had been a bit grossed out by the idea of washing diapers, overall her village has been supportive.
At the end of the day, the Senegals believe that the choices they make are hardly just for the monetary savings, even though those have been significant for them.
“I ALSO HOPE WE’RE SETTING A GOOD EXAMPLE FOR OUR GIRLS. LONG AFTER WE’RE DONE WITH DIAPERS, THEY’LL STILL BE RAISED IN A HOME WHERE WE RECYCLE AND TRY TO CHOOSE REUSABLE ITEMS, USE CREATIVITY TO SOLVE PROBLEMS, AND ARE GRATEFUL FOR WHAT WE HAVE.”
While they already feel they do quite a bit to streamline their lives and keep things simple, Andréa believes there’s still so much more to explore.
“THERE ARE SO MANY GREAT DIAPERING ACCESSORIES I’M DYING TO TRY! NOT TO MENTION THE DRYER BALLS THAT HAVE BEEN ON MY CRUNCHY LIST FOR A WHILE…WE’RE [ALSO] LOOKING FORWARD TO TRYING SOME NEW [CLOTH DIAPER] BRANDS TOO. GENERALLY WE LEAN TOWARDS SOLIDS MORE THAN PRINTS, PROBABLY BECAUSE LITTLE GIRLS’ CLOTHES ARE ALREADY SO COLORFUL AND FUN!”
We are so glad to have Andréa and her family as part of our customer familia. Andréa said that for the Senegal’s:
“FAMILIA IS EVERYTHING! I’M EXTREMELY CLOSE WITH MY RATHER LARGE EXTENDED FAMILY, AND WE’VE CREATED A NETWORK OF FRIENDS WHO FEEL LIKE FAMILIA. THIS IS OUR VILLAGE. WE ALL LAUGH TOGETHER, CRY TOGETHER, CELEBRATE TOGETHER AND PRAY TOGETHER. DURING MY 6 MONTH RECOVERY FROM MY ACCIDENT, THE VILLAGE STEPPED UP TO TAKE CARE OF ME AND PERRI WHILE ANDRÉ WAS WORKING. WE ARE SO VERY BLESSED!”
Thanks for taking the time to let us interview you and learn more about you and your familia, Andréa!