Growing up in a family of entrepreneurs, Alison Diamond, our NJMOMpreneur of the week, knew she wanted to have a business of her own one day. But as she pursued a career in journalism, her entrepreneur dreams went on hold until her father approached her with an offer—help him develop a stink-free, environmentally-friendly diaper disposal product. Though diapers were not even on her radar at the time, the idea of starting a business from the ground up was enough to convince her to join him. Over five years and one baby later, Alison is the proud co-founder of PurePail, a diaper pail line that debuted in Target, Amazon, and BuyBuyBaby in July. We sat down to chat with this busy Hoboken mom (who recently moved across the Hudson) about the challenges of launching during a pandemic, how her son’s diaper changes were part of product development, and the best Indian food in her new neighborhood.
Being a co-founder of a diaper pail company is certainly unusual. How did you start PurePail?
My parents are entrepreneurs (my dad has over 175 US patents), and it was always a dream of mine to start a company and run my own business just as my parents did. But I got a degree in journalism and headed down that path, working at CBSNews.com, CBS This Morning, and then as Multimedia Producer on the marketing team for the French Culinary Institute. Five years ago, my father approached me to help bring a new line of odor-blocking waste disposal products to the market. I can’t say I grew up longing to make, market, and sell a line of diaper pails, but it was an opportunity to grow a business from the ground up. I had faith in the quality of my dad’s products and knew we could build something great together, so I decided to give it a shot. Our company, Dooli Products, was founded in 2015, and our new brand PurePail, finally went live in July 2020. I know I made the right decision—I’m proud of our unique and mindfully-engineered line of diaper pails and all that we’ve accomplished during this time. There have been a lot of ups and downs growing these products (including multiple rejections), but it’s paid off, and now we have amazing partners on Amazon, BuyBuy Baby, and Target. And they’ve certainly come in handy in my personal life since my son was born two years ago, and I use them every single day.
Tell us about PurePail and how your experience of being a mom has helped shape the product.
I am incredibly proud of PurePail. It is everything we hoped it would be back when we started our company. When my son was born, we were already working on PurePail, so all my hands-on experience went into product development. My baby unknowingly helped improve our diaper pail systems one stinky diaper at a time. I was able to test it in real-time, which made it easy for us to make product improvements and last-minute changes. The final product opens with one tap even when you have your hands full, and it’s more environmentally friendly than other diaper pails. Our patented odor-blocking technology is all in our lid, which allowed us to design some cool travel products. I learned quickly as a mom that those travel products are crucial because it’s a dilemma when you have a dirty diaper at someone else’s house. What do you do with it—do you toss it in their kitchen and hope it doesn’t stink? So, we came up with two travel solutions for moms to pack in their diaper bag: The PurePail Go, which folds down to 3.5 inches and holds up to 12 diapers, and the PurePail Hang It, which can be hung from anywhere and holds up to 20 diapers. Recently, we’ve started potty training, and we keep the PurePail Go next to my son’s small potty for wipes. I’m even learning something new about our products every day as a parent, which is great.
You began working on PurePail before you had your son, so how did you adapt as an entrepreneur when you became a mom?
Being a mom and an entrepreneur is a work in progress because having a company is also very much like having a child—you commit to it fully. My flexible hours make it easy for me to spend quality time with my son. On the flip side, I did not have the luxury of maternity leave. I was induced and was working up until a few minutes before I left for the hospital. I was pitching for investment when my son was a newborn and met our current investors when he was only eight weeks old. Yet, I am showing my son that hard work pays off, and you can do anything if you are determined. My parents set this example for me, and I can only hope to pass it on to him.
Your product launched during a pandemic—what challenges did you face and overcome?
In many ways, we are fortunate that the quarantine happened in March just as our product was in the final stages of production. During the shutdown, we had time to think through our initial product launch, retail strategy, and inventory requirements. We were able to be light on our feet and pivot quickly without any issues or delays. I think the most challenging part was when my son’s daycare closed—my husband and I both work full time and had no extra help to take care of our son from mid-March through late-July. It has been and continues to be a challenge with our 2-year-old doing his thing and us trying to work. One day, I’ll proudly say that I launched a brand during a pandemic with a two-year-old right by my side.
You recently moved across the Hudson — where are some of your favorite NJ places that you’ve discovered?
My husband and I moved to Hoboken just before the pandemic hit, so we haven’t been able to take full advantage of our new living situation. However, we both have family in NJ, so we have some overall favorites. We spend a lot of time down in the Wildwood area, and Diamond Beach is hard to beat—it is so beautiful and doesn’t get too crowded. In Hoboken, we love taking our son Andrew to the splash pads at Legion Park and Columbus Park. Our favorite restaurant is Karma Kafe — their Samosas, Tandoori Stuffed Bread, Chicken Tandoori, and Chana Palak are incredible.
What is something you wish someone told you early on about being an NJMOMpreneur?
You can do it, even though it will be challenging. My advice to someone starting would be to don’t give up on yourself and continuously push forward. Also, make sure you have a great support network. When my son was a newborn, I joined a mom’s group and went every Tuesday morning. It was exactly the break I needed to take myself away from work, and ultimately, that time to myself made me more productive.