You know what guys? Internet shopping will get you.
There I was, four years since starting my not made in China challenge, thinking I was buying our toddler rain boots made in Canada, when they in fact, I was importing boots from China. I didn’t know this until they showed up at our house, of course.
Kamik is a Canadian brand with 90 something percent of its products made in North America an with that stat in mind, I assumed I was safe when I picked a pair of space themed boots for tot on the website. ”Assumed”. Kind of like when I recently assumed the nachos at Chili’s were gluten free…
Anyway, after clicking “purchase” it took several weeks for these boots to arrive. Impatiently waiting, suspecting that USPS had lost the package, I contacted Kamik and long story short, because it was taking so long, they refunded our money! So, when I finally opened the box and realized the boots were made in China, not Canada, it seemed like too much of a hassle (or craziness?!) to return the boots (and start my search over for more sustainable boots).
A mistake purchase, yes, but at least I am supporting a brand that makes most of their products here, recycles boots and uses sustainable practices!
Our little man loves splashing, jumping and getting as wet as humanly possible in his new boots! He doesn’t care where they’re made, he’s just happy, so I guess I will be too – just this one time :)
Do you know what makes shopping local so wonderful and extra awesome?
It’s that behind almost every brand committed to fair and local manufacturing stands a woman or man with a vision to make the world better. No bullshit. This is what I find over and over with made right (here) brands.
Some are motivated by sustainability, some by employing their neighbors , some want to bring craftsmanship back. Some, like the founders of Sweedie Kids, found that with their scarf-like bibs, they could make a big impact on the life of bigger kids with disabilities.
“We care about giving, and we do that through “Sweedie Dreams”. When you purchase a Big Kid Bib, you are contributing to Sweedie Dreams because it’s not just a product, it represents our passion for serving those with special needs. For each Big Kid Bib we sell, we give $1 to an organization tied to serving those with different abilities.”
Nowadays it’s not that hard to find cute, made in USA bibs for babies, but what makes Sweedie Kids the most ethical choice is that they’re also making bibs for a market that is so often forgotten. For children who are so often forgotten.
Super absorbent, cool designs and made from Oeko-Tex certified fabrics (i.e. certified safe, sustainable, ethical materials), these bibs get the job done no matter the age of the wearer.
August has been modeling these bibs since he was about three months old. I wouldn’t go as far as saying they make drooling cool, but maybe just a tad bit more fashionable. (They’re also pretty great for when we practice drinking out of a glass. Let’s just say that not all the water ends up in baby’s tummy just yet!)
As a Swede in USA, it’s nice to sometimes show off my Swedishness with fashion. Not just with stripes and Euro stylishness (ha!) but with fabrics from Sweden.
Presenting this scarf; made by small business owner and Dallas-based designer Louise, whom I’ve gotten to know through blogging. It’s an infinity scarf, half Dala horses, a classic symbol of Sweden, and half stripes, my favorite thing. Both fabrics are organic and GOTS certified.
Louise normally spends her days sewing and designing children’s clothes, but it wasn’t hard to convince her to make a scarf for me.
The idea came to me when she gave us the cutest onesie for baby August, and I realized I wanted, no needed, Dala horses too. (Ok, that’s a lie. My inner consumer wanted it!) At least I won’t grow out of my scarf anytime soon, like baby will with his outfit :)
If you’re looking for well made, locally made and handmade kids’ (or maybe adult!) fashion, check out Louise on Instagram @MammaLouiseSyr or on her Facebook page (she’s got a sale going on the month of June!).
Prices vary depending on fabrics and styles. Find out more by reading my wonderful interview with Louise (from 2015) about her business here.
PS. If you’re not looking for a Swedish scarf or baby clothes, I encourage you to contact your local makers – maybe they can make you exactly what you need, or let’s say it, want. Not only working for, but also with customers, that’s the beauty of small business.
Though I have never visited, I think I really like Canada. Their prime minister seems more than capable and most of my favorite HGTV shows are shot there. And when it comes to products, well, I’ve had my Canada Goose jacket for eight years now (still going strong!) and I can’t deny that we really like maple syrup (especially if aged in a whiskey barrel) at our house.
But here’s something else from Canada that has caught my attention recently; super nice rain boots from Kamik.
My friend just got a pair for her son that they both love so far. They’re sturdy, made in solid quality synthetic rubber with removable comfort felt insoles, and obviously waterproof (that’s kind of the point). She paid about 30 dollars for the kids’ style “Stomp”, while most women’s boots are around $60.
I’ve run into Kamik boots at DSW and West Marine before, but the best selection is, not surprisingly, online on their website. (Oooh, polka dots!) Shopping there also makes it easy to check which boots are indeed made in Canada and which (few) are not.
Most of the styles are 100% recyclable and just like (my favorite brand) Oka-B takes back their worn shoes for recycling, Kamik gladly accepts their old boots back for that same reason. But before you go that route, they suggest that if you think your boots have a little kick left in them, you should just buy new liners and keep them going a while longer. Recycling is, as always, our last resort after reuse, repurpose, reinvigorate, relove and regift. Speaking of liners and recycling, their so-called Zylex liners are made from 77% – 97% recycled water bottles. Pretty good.
I do have one little beef with them. They have separated the boys’ and the girls’ boots into two different pages on their website, which I find very unnecessary and 1950s like. Kids should be allowed to pick their rain boots based on interests and color preference, not automatically be put in a gender box suggesting that girls like pink strawberries and boys like black. I for one would have loved the boys’ navy blue rain boots with coral soles. That’s like my perfect color combination!
Kamik’s men’s (or women’s!) game and work boots are built in the USA and range from $130 to $180.
My friend took these beautiful pictures of her son making a splash and having a blast in his new boots. In Houston, we’re never short of puddles to play in and thanks to Kamik, we’re never short of made right (here) rain boots either.
Browse boots here but check your local stores first to save packaging and trucking :)
Okay, I must admit that when my friend invited me to come to a LuLaRoe Clothing pop-up boutique at her friend’s house, I didn’t know what to expect. A boutique at someone’s house, at a specific time, made me think of the Tupper-wear parties my mom was invited to back in the 80’s. You know, a bunch of ladies sitting around, getting information about a product and feeling obligated to buy something since the hostess was serving tartlets, and the worst part; free samples no one needed.
Knowing my friend, who supports my blog and sustainable lifestyle, I figured it would be ok. She had already told me about LuLaRoe and the fact that most of their clothes are made in USA, so I wanted to support her party and her friend’s newly started business.
As soon as I got there it was kind of obvious, that this was not a “tupper style” gathering. Colorful, soft clothes, in every single pattern you can think of, were hanging on racks in a (great smelling!) living room. The shop owner and homeowner, Martine, greeted me, was super friendly, introduced the brand and basically said “look around, if you like something let me know, no obligation”. NO samples. NO snack foods. NO demonstration. Yes!
Of course, there was some chatting and socializing, as we all tried on different dresses, skirts and tops. Miraculously, no matter the body shape, the clothes seemed to flatter everyone, including yours truly. I looked pretty good in a tight dress I tried on, but being an inside-of-the-box-pattern person, who’s scared of figure hugging dresses, I backed out from looking like the Little Mermaid (that’s what the pattern reminded me of! Forth from the left in the second picture), and went with a black and white pinstriped pencil skirt (see, not very pattern-adventurous am I?) instead. Only $32!
I did ask, and found out that the tights by LuLaRoe are made in China, while the rest is made in California of domestic or imported fabrics. That’s fortunate for me, since I don’t wear tights!! They have women’s and girls’ fashion, and yes, there are mommy-and-me outfit opportunities here, if that’s your thing.
I’ll make sure l show you how I styled the pencil skirt in another post (Coming soon!). For now, I hope I’ve clarified the concept of a pop-up boutique… it’s a small, calm, temporary shopping haven, inside of someone’s home.
If I’m invited; I will definitely go again. Maybe next time I’ll find another color combination of stripes. There is hoping.
[Official LuLaRoe pictures are from Instagram @lularoe_martine]
NOTE: After this post was published, LuLaRoe have started to produce more garments at international production sites (Mexico, China, Vietnam). If invited to a pop-up, check the labels. I wouldn’t purchase any LulaRoe goods online without first checking where made. This is one of my most read posts, unfortunately the once Made in USA company seem to have deserted their original patriotism.
My friends crack me up. As they follow my journey to shop local they find themselves being super excited over the most random things they find and buy for their kids, that are made right here (or there if they are there) and they have to tell me! Immediately. This leads to me receiving the weirdest pictures EVER in texts. And yes, sometimes I have to text them back on not only say “awesome, go you” but also “what is that?”
So I am blogging kids stuff, two posts in a row…. But hey, all for a good cause! Here’s a collection of some locally made stuff they’ve bought. Read on for explanations of these cryptic photos!
1. The Water Float. I suspect this picture was taken at Academy Sports when this mom of two was shopping for floats needed for the weekends at the grandparents’ lake house. I researched this company and all Lazy Bunz floats are made in USA – a great resource to keep in mind!
2. The SuperGate for Kids. This picture is actually clear! It’s a safety gate for kiddos, just in this case it’s actually for Buster, the dog. Easy enough, here is a link to this made right here product.
3.The Mysterious Spiderman. I got this picture and thought it was a toy of some kind. I asked this busy momma and she said it’s actually a kid’s toilet seat for potty-training! How cool; that it is made in USA! Here’s more info.
4. A Tag. Luckily, this picture was accompanied by an actual text. This is a twin mattress by Hampton and Rhodes. I tried to find out if ALL their mattresses are made in USA but I am not sure. Anyway, they are available at Mattress Firm so go there and check tags for yourself (if you need a mattress, that is!)
5. A cute paper bag on the side of a baby stroller. My sister sent me this from a shopping spree with her son in Europe (that’s where they live). That bag contains the cutest baby mittens from a German company called Macarons. All made in Germany and only available in Europe (shop local!). I am so impressed with their story and style; their webpage is full of inspiring kids and kids’ fashion you have to see!
You guys are awesome – go you! Thank you for letting me inspire your choices! Goes to show that made right (here) items can be found everywhere, all you have to do is look for them.
I know I don’t put a lot of kids stuff on the blog, simply because I very rarely shop for kids or babies. I am also a firm believer that parents make sure their kids have what they need, so I doubt I need to get them anything for that reason; no random kids’ presents from me coming your way!
Anyway, I came across this amazing lady snooping around some of the pages I follow on Facebook, who has her own sewing workshop in Dallas, “MammaLouise sews”. I immediately contacted her and asked if I could feature her custom-made kids clothes on the blog; and she said yes! This small company of only one dedicated seamstress (Louise) stands for all the things I love in “not fast fashion”; eco-friendly, sustainably made, custom and great quality. Here’s what she had to say:
How did you start your business and why? *** When I was about 10 years old I had a wonderful teacher in textiles, who inspired me a lot. She taught me all the basics of sewing, and when I got my first baby 4 years ago my interest for sewing came back. When he was almost 1 year old, I bought a new overlock sewing machine, which quickly became my best friend! In the beginning I just made hats, bibs and pants, but when my second baby arrived 2 years ago I started to make everything. Now my kids only wear my own designs and it’s so fun!
These two kiddos of yours – Are they the inspiration for your collections? *** YES! I want to make cute clothes that they can play around in and I test every single design on them first. My idea is that the customer chooses everything how they’d like it, and I “only” stitch it all together. In that way each item is unique and hopefully I end up with a satisfied customer.
Where do you buy your fabrics and how do you decide which ones to use?*** Most of the fabrics I have are from Sweden and Europe. I also let my customers design their own fabric (if it’s possible to get it printed) if they place an order with me to make clothes from that same fabric. I have a lot of custom fabrics that I have designed and printed, which are unique for MammaLouise. The custom fabrics are GOTS-certified.
What does it mean that fabrics are OEKO-TEX® (like you mention on your webpage) or GOTS-certified?*** OEKO-TEX® Standard 100 is an independent test and certification system for all types of textiles tested for harmful substances – from threads and fabrics to the ready-to-use items that you can buy in the shops.
Only textile products that contain a minimum of 70% organic fibers can become GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) certified. All chemical inputs such as dyestuffs and auxiliaries used must meet certain environmental and toxicological criteria. The choice of accessories is limited in accordance with ecological aspects as well.
These standards really mean that the fabrics are safe for the little ones and eco-friendly.
Your adorable baby clothes are made to order: how does it work and what’s the waiting time?*** It depends on how much I have to do and how big of an order you place, but I try to be ready to ship within one week.
What’s your favorite thing to make?*** Hard question! Since I have two little boys; I like to make dresses in very pink or girly colors. But, I LOVE what I do, so everything is fun to make!
What are some of your own favorite eco-friendly brands for children’s clothes and accessories?*** Everything that is eco-friendly is GREAT but since my kids only use clothes made by me, I don’t have any favorite brands except my own; MammaLouise :)
If you are interested in having some custom clothes made for your babies; contact Louise directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and check out (and LIKE) her Facebook page for more cute pictures and information! She just needs to know what size and what you like, and you can work it out from there. Super convenient!
Prices range from $15 to about $40 dollars depending on what you are looking for. That is so affordable! Isn’t it amazing how a place like Carters or Target will charge almost the same for a bulk order, non-organic, made in China or Vietnam outfit? Imagine the profits they make! Here’s an opportunity to instead, get something very special with that unique European flare (we all want!), without breaking the bank. Yay.