Welcome to our latest edition of Our Featured Maker, we are with Lisa Phillips from Little Leaf Organic. With such a gorgeous baby range it was great to talk to Lisa and to hear their story on why organic cotton versus non-organic cotton is so important.
Tell us about the story behind Little Leaf Organic and how it all started?
Well, it all started as a result of being shocked. I read about the terrible effects of the (non-organic) the cotton industry on the environment and the people who work in it about five years ago, and I couldn’t believe it. This wonderful material, cotton, which we all think of as being a kind, “natural” fabric, was being grown so intensively that it takes a whopping 16% of the world’s pesticides, poisons the land where it’s grown and damages the health of the people who produce it. I was sure other people would be as shocked as me when they knew, so the idea for Little Leaf was born. We use only the finest certified organic cotton, which means our customers can trust that it’s grown and sewn without any harmful pesticides or chemicals and that everyone in the supply chain has been paid fairly. By buying certified organic cotton products, you’re also helping to support those people doing it right, in countries where, sadly, it’s far easier not to. In particular, we wanted to design babywear, since a baby’s skin is so delicate. Certified organic cotton is so much kinder on a baby’s skin, and it’s gloriously soft too! Our own children are now nearly grown up, but I also had clear design ideas about the kind of baby clothes I would have loved to have bought when they were babies – with no scratchy labels at the neck!
Nature and outdoor life seem to be a beautiful theme throughout your collection what is your inspiration?
Thanks! Yes, the natural world is so important in our designs, since Little Leaf is all about organic cotton which in turn is all about sustainability and looking after our environment better. Plus, we’re lucky enough to live in a very rural part of Hampshire, so we’re inspired every day. The Leaf Baby Grow and Blanket, for instance, was our very first design and was developed from photographs of autumn leaves we took in our garden. Our Beach Hut print is a particular favourite of mine, as I was lucky enough to grow up by the sea and love all things seaside-y!
Tell us what’s most important in your designing and creating process?
I think one of the most important things is that our designs are unisex and colourful. From the outset, we were determined to make our products prolong their usefulness by being suitable for girls and boys so that they can be handed on to anyone. With four kids ourselves, we’re all about handing down stuff! Organic cotton lasts much longer too (because the fibres haven’t been broken down by all the chemicals and pesticides used on ordinary cotton), so it will still be in good condition to be passed on to brothers, sisters, cousins, friends… This aspect also means that it works out at a better value than you might think at first glance.
Let’s talk about your chosen Nurture Collective Icons why did you choose them, and which ones mean the most to you?
Organic: It was tricky deciding which 4 to pick! But of course, “organic” had to be in there as it’s what we’re all about. Organic cotton, without the harmful pesticides and toxic chemicals used on ordinary cotton, is so much kinder on your baby’s skin and much better for the environment too.
Ethical: This aspect of our business is so important to us, we want to be certain that everyone in our supply chain is treated with respect, is paid fairly and works in a place that is safe with good social and working conditions as standard.
Sustainable: We have to look after the environment and pass it on in a good state for future generations. With GOTS-certified organic cotton, farmers can grow food and other crops alongside the cotton; it uses far less water than non-organic cotton since it’s grown less intensively and can rely more on rainwater; the factories we partner with are powered by solar power and are carbon neutral.
standards, right from the field through the factory, and workplaces undergo regular inspections to ensure that these high standards are actually maintained. Little Leaf, for example, is certified by the Soil Association here in the UK and we have an inspection from them every year to ensure that we can evidence our compliance with the GOTS standards.
All of the steps in our supply chain are similarly audited by agencies appointed by GOTS and this is so important to establishing trust with consumers about the organic, environmental and ethical standards we claim.
What’s the vision for Little Leaf Organic?
Well, we’ve expanded our range over the last few months to include toddler leggings and T-shirts, and we’d love to go further, maybe designing some more products for adults too, all in certified organic cotton of course!
What piece are you most proud of?
Another tricky one! I’d say our muslins, because we’ve had such lovely feedback from customers, telling us they’re so impressed by their quality and softness, wash after wash. And we’ve just taken delivery of much larger, swaddle muslins to add to the choices we offer.
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