Conscious Kids: The Irish parenting brands nailing sustainability
The future is sustainable.
Now more than ever, the importance of sustainability is getting the global recognition it deserves. After relentless pressure from climate activists, large corporations are finally being forced to adopt more eco-friendly practices.
But many small business owners have been prioritising sustainability long before international brands have. All over the world, small businesses sell accessories, clothing, homeware and so on to their local communities through ethical and environmentally-friendly means.
Over the past year, many of us have realised the amount of great small businesses that are worth supporting on our island. HerFamily spoke to three Irish parenting brands operating with sustainability at their core.
An award-winning organic cotton brand, Fauna Kids sells baby basics, baby gift boxes and kids and adult loungewear. With products sold online and through selected stockists in Ireland and Europe, the brand prioritises the environment from the products to the packaging.
"Being eco-conscious is a big thing for me," says founder Nadia. "As well as being passionate about print, colour and illustration, I have always chosen sustainability over costs."
Being an ethically responsible business comes with its costs. "Raw materials, garments, packaging and everything in between costs more because it's done better and fairer to the planet – and worker’s wages. I carefully choose my suppliers and constantly work to improve how we work. We are a work in progress."
Their sweatshirts and tees are made from recycled materials and GOTS-certified cotton. GOTS organic cotton is also the material the baby wear line is made from, which also has plastic-free fasteners.
The brand's ethos is as plastic-free as possible. When it comes to packaging, they use paper mailers sourced from another Irish company. Goods from suppliers arrive in biodegradable sleeves. Even stockists receive their Fauna Kids orders in recycled boxes, sealed with paper tape.
"I’m a printmaker so all of our in-house prints are hand-printed on demand using water-based inks," says Nadia. "I never use plastisol."
Like so many small businesses, Fauna Kids makes the most of social media to get the brand out there and engage with customers. Nadia considers Facebook and Instagram as "essential" for her brand. "It’s helped me create trust and a relationship with my customer.
"I can chat on a personal level using direct messaging and I can give snippets of my creative process through stories, reels and IGTV. I’m constantly inspired by what I see on Instagram so it helps with my design process and brand building. I have also met like-minded brands and launched amazing collaborations through Instagram. Facebook ads are a fantastic tool too."
When it comes to looking at future sustainability goals, Nadia is clear in her zero-waste aim. "I sell my defected and sample garments at reduced prices or hand make other items from our fabrics. I have some ‘hand me down’ ideas in the pipeline that I’m keeping details to myself right now."
The brand also hopes to make the way in which their goods are transported as eco-friendly as possible. "I hand deliver locally where I can, using my little ten-
year old Honda hybrid," Nadia says. "Shipping with companies who are in the process to turning electric is a big thing for me too. The brand is growing so sea freight is now possible."
The brand has no plans for global mass-production, accepting that they're at a certain price-point. But Fauna Kids chooses worker and environmentally-friendly garments over more unethical means of production that would cut down on costs.
A family-run online business, Earthmother aims to provide customers with natural eco-friendly products for home and family with the lowest possible impact on the earth. Selling homeware, cleaning products, natural skincare and baby care products, this is the right brand for anyone looking to create a more eco-friendly household.
"There are lots of easy swaps that people can make in their home," says Siobhan of the Earthmother family. "All of our products have been personally tested by us for their quality and environmental impact so our customers can be assured that we have sourced the best options there are available to lessen the impact on the planet."
The brand uses recycled or reused boxes in their packaging, so if you order cleaning products, don't be surprised if they arrive in a nappy box! "We never use plastic packaging unless it's recycled from our suppliers – which is rare, as our suppliers usually have the same ethos as we do and use recycled or paper packaging."
Earthmother has also found social media as a useful way to connect with customers, particularly during the pandemic. They have a hangout group on Facebook for those who share the same organic, eco-friendly ethos or where customers can learn about new products.
"It's a fantastic community of customers and like-minded people who really get and appreciate what Earthmother does," says Siobhan. "While these times are hard, they’re helping to create content for me to share, including photos and product reviews."
Looking forward, Siobhan is hopeful more and more people will make the swap to the types of environmentally-friendly products Earthmother supplies, as lockdown has given many of us an appreciation for the simple things in life.
Another family-run business, this business does exactly what it says on the tin: sell baby bibs, but with an eco-friendly twist. 10% of all sales also goes directly to LauraLynn Children's Hospice, so you can support a great charity while supporting the environment.
As parents of two daughters, the husband and wife behind BabyBibs were inspired to make a good-quality, eco-friendly bib by their first baby girl's drooling habits.
Each bib is double-layered, the first of which is made from GOTS organic cotton. This is the most skin-friendly natural fibre, meaning it's gentle on baby skin.
Justin of BabyBibs explains that no toxic chemicals are used in the growing process of GOTS cotton, which is better both for the environment and for the workers who grow it. The growing process also has less impact on the air and uses 88% less water than that of non-organic cotton.
The packaging used for orders is biodegradable, and reused from supplier deliveries where possible. They try to purchase from Irish stockists as much as they can.
The couple use Facebook and Instagram on a daily basis, finding social media a useful way to advertise their products and connect with customers.
"We love the interaction with customers that comes with both platforms," says Justin. "You get to actually know your customer from messages and feedback."
Justin says they're always looking at ways to make BabyBibs a more sustainable business. Just last year, they introduced the One Tree Planted option at checkout, allowing customers to plant a tree for as little as 85c.