With spring well under way in the UK one of my favourite things to take note of is new life. Flowers growing, baby lambs, the sun coming up early… I love that stuff. But this year, more than ever before, new life isn’t just reserved for the fields near my family home.
That’s right guys, it has happened. I have entered the adult world where my friends are getting married and having kids. It’s not just a concept, all around me people are embarking on new stages of their journeys and bringing actual new lives into the world. How did I get here? I don’t know. Am I having a slight freak out about the concept of being a ~real adult~ and not an ~adult in training~? Maybe. When the first of my friends had a baby, I had no idea what to do, where to look for gifts, or what was even a useful gift to get them. I was thrown into a new world full of tiny clothes and colourful toys, and I didn’t know what was helpful. Luckily for me, I discovered the wonderful Baby Peppers, who make finding ethical, eco and non-toxic gifts for babies and parents super easy. I may still be adjusting to the idea of real adulthood (although playing with your friends babies is awesome), but Baby Peppers is making that transition much easier, and helping me be the best friend I can be.
Gaayathri, Baby Peppers founder, is a fully qualified lawyer, and was working full time before falling pregnant. After giving birth to her first son, she felt inspired to create her own meaningful, affordable ethical business. Maternity leave gave her time to look after her new child, but she felt she could also use her time wisely for a purpose that gave back (which, can I just say, is incredible to me). Being of Indian descent, Gaayathri had a natural knack for sourcing the finest Indian cotton fabrics and vintage handmade products that she remembered from childhood, and longed to create a business that returned to handmade items, vintage craft and slow fashion that don’t cost the earth. The kind of slow that requires artistry, technique and lots of time. And so, soon after the birth of her child, Baby Peppers was also born: showcasing some of India’s finest artistry, finding ways to give back to small business communities in India, and utilising techniques such as hand block printing, basket weaving and making organic vegetable dyes.
The list of reasons why Baby Peppers are great is a long one, so let me break down some of my favourite ethical treats you can find for your friends:
Plastic toys are cheap, but they’re also not a favourite for the environmentally minded among us. Once broken that plastic toy can only end up in landfill eventually, however a wooden toy is much more durable and likely to last (which also means they work out as a better financial choice too). In fact, there’s a ton of benefits to wooden toys beyond health, which you can read about here. Baby Peppers wooden toys are handmade from sustainably sourced wood, using a 200 year old turnwood art form and sourced from a fair trade artisan group based in Channapatna, Karnakata, making them the kind of classic craftsmanship you’d want to hold on to for years and pass down to future generations. If your Baby Peppers wooden toys do reach the end of their life however, it’s not problem. While some wooden toys can be difficult to compost if they’re varnished of painted, Baby Peppers toys use natural vegetable dye and natural lac, meaning that (if necessary) they can be disposed of in a sustainable way, whilst steering clear of any toxic dyes or paints in the meantime. Their designs are colourful, classic and super cute gift material.
Baby Peppers cot quilts and bedding sets are handmade in Jaipur, with all quilts being handmade by women who work from home in order to be flexible to their family and childcare needs. Their organic fabrics are hand and block printed with natural dyes, the oldest and most laborious form of textile printing, and only the softest voile is used. They also commission a small, women-run, design studio in Uttar Pradesh to handmake elephant plushies and matching quilt sets. These fabrics are known as Kalamkari fabrics, and come from a fair trade artisan group in Andra Pradesh before being coloured with natural vegetable dyes and and produced with seventeen steps. When it comes to the idea of slow fashion, Baby Peppers really know how to go slow, with ten skilled artisans needed to create one yard of fabric. The results are beautiful, durable and unique, as the skills of many combine to create the perfect piece of fabric.
As well as their products, Baby Peppers also have colourful, kid friendly ethical storage options. Their baskets and tote bags are made from 100% recycled polyethylene, keeping that pesky plastic out of landfill. These storage solutions are ethically sourced from Baladarshan, a world-renowned fair trade organisation in South India. Baladarshan supports female basket makers in the slums of Chennai, mostly single mothers, who handweave the variety of baskets and bags that Baby Peppers sells. Buyers learn the name of the individual who made their basket, which is written on the eco white kraft swing tag.
On top of all this, Baby Peppers are also the only Australian store to partner with Kateson, an American brand changing the game when it comes to pure organics for babywear. Their organic garments are hand dyed in plant botanicals (indigo, sandalwood, tulsi, neem, turmeric and vetiver) and ayurveda herbs, creating beautiful colours for their onesie sets. Even the buttons on their clothing are made from coconut husks, meaning there isn’t an ounce of anything artificial, so keeping kids away from anything potentially harmful, whilst dye waste water is also used to nourish the surrounding land.
I think Baby Peppers are great at making the idea of ethical, eco-friendly parenting seem a little less daunting and a little more achievable, whether this is a lifestyle choice you make for yourself, or you want to treat your friends to something beautiful and useful without causing harm to the earth or other people. Having a baby is both super hard and super rewarding, and in that time of change the last thing I want to do as a friend is attempt to force my lifestyle choices or thoughts onto others (not that I ever want to force them, but I think one should be especially sensitive to the needs of new-parent friends). Instead, Baby Peppers provides genuinely gorgeous gifts that I think most people would choose in a store, they just also happen to be ethically crafted, eco-friendly and timeless creations that will last a whole lifetime.
Baby Peppers aren’t trying to jump onto an eco trend for fashionable or rich parenting, instead they’re working to supply beautiful, affordable products that will be well loved in the homes they go to. Having spoken to Gaayathri myself it is clear how much passion and dedication goes into Baby Peppers; they communicate openly and often with each fair trade artisan group they work with, and they are diligent to make sure they don’t just work with anyone who says they are ethical, but instead that they actually understand their supply chains and materials comprehensively. On top of that, well their products are just lovely. I’m so happy to have found them, and I certainly feel a little less stressed about the idea of baby gifts!
Until next time, stay magic y’all.
Post created in collaboration with Baby Peppers.