Meet Emily, Our Lead Diaper Engineer
Hi there. I’m Emily, Lead Engineer at Kudos.
By day I have two jobs. In Job One, I’m a mechanical engineer working with a talented team to push the disposable diaper industry toward sustainable materials and packaging. In Job Two, I’m “Mom to three fascinating humans" and the wife of a “maker of all things.” By night? I’m a laundry folder, nonfiction book reader, and DIY enthusiast. Welcome to my column at Kudos!
When did you start thinking about diapers...seriously?
When my oldest son was 18 months old and my daughter was four months (yes we spaced our kids close together!) we were going through a LOT of disposable diapers and hadn’t found a brand we loved. Balancing blowouts, price, and smell (I am really odor sensitive, especially when pregnant and breastfeeding) felt like we could never win. Plus, my family is based in rural New Hampshire.
“There is no trash pickup, so the ‘yuck’ factor of having to take each of those Diaper Genie sausages to the dump was strong.”
Diapering was actually something we were actively trying to avoid at the time with our oldest son by practicing elimination communication.
How did you find out about Kudos?
Amrita Saigal, the founder of Kudos, contacted me around the time my daughter was born. I was intrigued. “A scent and toxin-free disposable diaper made with sustainable ingredients that really worked against blowouts and diaper rash? Sign me up.”
On top of that, Amrita wanted to build a brand focused on parents and families, helping them to “win” in all aspects of parenting. She asked if I wanted to join as Lead Engineer. I gave it a lot of thought (including a Pugh matrix to objectively compare all my options) and ultimately said yes! I became employee #1.
The founder just magically found you?
I guess I should back up to say that Amrita is one of my college besties and was a bridesmaid in my wedding. I have witnessed her take two other companies from concept to profit. Plus, I loved working with her on our mechanical engineering homework back in the day!
So what does a ‘diaper engineer’ do?
A: My job is to help us make diapers and get them to your door. That includes product development, material selection, product testing, intellectual property management, packaging design, some website administration, and fulfillment. And occasionally I get to write blog content like this. I love doing a variety of things at a company the size of Kudos. In previous work at large corporations, my job was narrowly focused on just one or two tasks. I love wearing many hats and having so many things going on at once.
Let’s get down to brass tacks. How much poo do you have to touch?
Professionally? Surprisingly none so far. Personally? Like, a lot.
Step back a minute. How many kids do you have? And are you crazy?
To answer the last question first - maybe. Those pregnancy hormones can make a mama do crazy things. JK! I don’t think I am crazy. My husband and I just love our kids and want to have a large-ish (by today’s standards) family. We both grew up with just one sibling and envisioned a different, bigger family for ourselves.
As of 2020 I have three children: JJ who is almost 3, Ginny who is 1.5, and Sawyer who is fresh out of the uterus. Yes, that is three children under three years old. Lots of littles, lots of diapers, but definitely lots of joy!
So, more kids on the way? We take it one new human at a time, with regard to how many kids we want to have, so maybe there will be more diaper testers babies in the future.
Do you think your family will help you engineer diapers going forward? Having three kids, all of who are using diapers to some extent at this point (JJ just overnight), makes my work at Kudos particularly relevant to my personal life. My son in particular likes to help me “get data” by pouring colored saline on diapers when I do testing at home.
What does a diaper engineer do for fun?
I am passionate about my work and my kids, so those actually check a lot of “self care” boxes. Other things that I love include cooking and baking with my kids (when possible), exploring our nearby woods and lake, and generally learning about new topics. Lately I’ve been reading a lot about how humans acquire language and other knowledge. It is fascinating! I am also active in my local church and that helps me stay grounded and connected.
I am a total nerd, but my guilty pleasure is watching an episode of Murder, She Wrote. The show is clean, formulaic, and justice is served in about 40 minutes!
Three books you’re loving now. Go!
Home Grown by Ben Hewitt
A memoir about “unschooled” kids on a farm in Cabot, Vermont.
Salt Fat Acid Heat by Samin Nosrat
A combo text book and cookbook with a TON of great recipes!
No Bad Kids by Janet Lansbury
Positive parenting advice from a “respectful parenting” expert. This author is so calm and I feel empowered to talk to my toddlers every time I read this book (I just read it for a second time)!
Question? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org