Jenny Barrett runs two labels: babyblack and Supernatural Kids Clothing. Babyblack is a line of two styles of soft, certified organic cotton baby growers in black fabric, “I think babies look really cute in black and it’s quite hard to find uncluttered black organic cotton clothing for babies” says Jenny. Supernatural Kids Clothing produces dresses, t-shirts and treggings (trousers/leggings) for 1-4 year olds using 50% organic cotton (GOTS) and 50% Modal which is made from beech trees. A more sustainable alternative to cotton.
What inspired you to start a fashion line using organic and natural materials?
It was a no-brainer really – I couldn’t contemplate using fabrics for babies and children which may contain any number of unknown nasties which might harm their bodies and harm the people who manufacture the fabrics and garments. Also, it’s our responsibility to look after the future of these little ones, so seeking out organic farmers and producers was the only way forward for me – the textile industry is notorious for polluting the environment.
The idea behind Supernatural Kids Clothing was to find alternatives to cotton which, organic or otherwise, isn’t great for the environment as it takes masses of land and water to be produced. There’s an insatiable world-wide demand for cotton, we just love the look and feel of it, but this demand can’t be sustained by our Earth. To cut down on cotton consumption, my idea is to mix it with fibres like Modal and Tencel (made from eucalyptus trees). These new fibers have been produced from natural sources with the help of state of the art technology, which itself has been designed to produce fibres in a clean, efficient and regulated way. The result is soft, natural fabric which washes and keeps well and doesn’t need to be tumble dried – one of the worst things we do for our environment. So Supernatural Kids Clothing clothes are not just natural-they’re SUPERnatural!
What have been some challenges you have faced?
It is really been difficult actually. Although I’ve been trading for almost a year now with babyblack, it took me nearly two years to finally source the right fabric producer and garment manufacturer. It is difficult to find people who will supply exactly what you need, without you having to buy huge amounts. Because I’m not buying huge amounts it’s difficult to keep the prices down, and because I want to work ethically and in a fair trade way, I have to be prepared to pay premium prices for the goods. Finally, because I really want my organic, ethically produced goods to be accessible to as many people as possible – after all things will only change if more people make the change happen – I have to be as competitive as possible. That means taking very small mark-ups in the hope that business will gradually build so that I can order in greater volumes in the future to keep my costs down – I’m certainly not in this for the money!
Has it been difficult to find quality organic materials?
Yes – good quality at a reasonable price – especially as cotton prices soared last year. Also, if you need fabric in a certain colour and of a certain feel (I go for really soft fabrics) and don’t want to order thousands of metres, this all adds up to make the right product difficult to find.
What measures do you take to ensure your products are ethical?
I met the organisation (Zameen and Textile Station India) through the Ethical Fashion Forum (EFF) who are closely associated with them. I haven’t been out to visit them in person so this is largely all done on trust, but I feel confident to work like this until I’m in a position to go and see them in action myself.
As a business what policies do you have to minimize your carbon footprint?
The business is just me at the moment. I re-cycle paper, I always go for the most eco-friendly option that I can when producing printed paper work and packaging and I opt for slower, less fuel consuming modes of transport to have products delivered to me when possible. I have a lot more work to do in this area to be honest, but Rome wasn’t built in a day, so I have to be prepared to be patient before I eventually, hopefully start to tick all the right boxes and get to grips with minimizing my carbon footprint.
Do you have any advice for living a greener lifestyle both as a business and as an individual?
To me, the most important thing is to just DO IT!!! Even if it’s only a small thing. It’s very difficult to be perfect in this area – if you are, then hats off to you, if like me you’re not, but you’re trying, then that HAS to be better than not trying at all. Allow me to quote – “I’m just trying to change the world – one sequin at a time” – Lady Gaga. (I love that).
Where can we find Super Natural Kids and babyblack clothing?
You can find the lines at: