At NINA we work with brilliant partners all over the world to create exceptional quality baby clothes and accessories.
We do things a bit differently than most baby companies. We make irresistible and thoughtful products, collaborating with emerging artists to create unique pieces you can’t get elsewhere, and connecting you with the artisans and cotton farmers behind the things you buy.
We’re on a mission to set the standard for responsible consumption for the next generation. We work closely with our partners to design products around the principles of lasting quality, sustainable design, honest value and positive impact. It takes quite a bit longer but it’s 100% worth it.
It all started in Peru. Emily was there working with a girls’ rights charity. Oli was there for the ceviche and the hammocks.
One day we went to the largest market in South America – Gamarra. We wanted to find some fabric and a tailor to recreate Oli’s favourite ever summer shirt, which had gotten old and tattered. We didn’t find much apart from piles of fake Nikes and rip-off baseball caps. It struck us as a bit odd because we had heard about this luscious cotton that Peru was famed for – Peruvian Pima cotton. But we couldn’t find it.
And so, the search for Peruvian Pima cotton began.
We wanted to know where exactly this cotton grew in Peru. Quite literally.
We chanced upon an old presentation online written by a cotton farmer called Cesar from Piura, in the north of the country. We got in touch with him and he was fortuitously in Lima for a meeting with Peru’s Minister of Agriculture. We arranged to meet at a café in a shopping mall. It would have been an odd sight - two weathered, elderly gentlemen and two sunburnt, naïve tourists, enjoying mocktails together.
Over drinks we learnt about the cotton industry in Peru and what’s going on with Peruvian Pima cotton. Cesar told us proudly about the incredibly high quality of Peruvian Pima cotton, unrivalled globally, talking technically of staple length and micronaire. He told us how this cotton has been grown in Peru for centuries, since the Incas. It’s a native cotton, unlike a lot of cotton globally which is grown, pumped full of chemicals, in places it was never intended to be.
Cesar also told us about the challenges. That the cotton industry in Peru is dying out and that this exceptional cotton could soon be gone forever. Peruvian cotton farmers are struggling to sell their cotton on the global marketplace where lower quality and cheaper cotton has been winning for many years because of fast fashion. Their great quality cotton gets blended with inferior cottons and mis-marketed. And voila, the Peruvian Pima cotton that many Peruvian farmers are so proud of gets lost in global supply chains forever.
A few weeks later we decided to take Cesar up on his offer to visit the cotton fields in the north.
His hospitality was bottomless. He picked us up in a car he had rented for the day (lovingly referred to as “the batmobile”) and introduced us to his team at the co-operative before we headed off for the cotton fields. We walked through the fields with the farmers, learning about the natural and sustainable techniques they have always used.
We decided then and there that we wanted to promote this precious and beautifully soft cotton whilst guaranteeing decent incomes for cotton farmers.
It made complete sense to us to start with baby clothes. The softest clothes for the most delicate skin.
Between the farms and the factories we visited in our final weeks in Peru, we discovered a vast chasm. It was hard to find suppliers who could confidently tell us they were using 100% Peruvian Pima cotton. It was getting lost in supply chains, even in the country where it was grown.
Fortunately we found Javier Senior, his family-run business, and their remarkable story. With his own organic cotton farm, here was someone who could guarantee that the cotton used to make the clothes was 100% Peruvian Pima organic cotton. Not only that, but a true 'caballero' who provides breakfasts for some of the poorest children in Cajamarca, the poorest state in Peru. And someone who was willing to take a chance on two sunburnt, naïve tourists and our back-of-a-napkin sketch of a business plan.
Going from idea to reality since then has been a lot more complicated! With countless product varieties, colours, sizes and specifications, we’ve spent the best part of two years to get to this point. Being a small business means we’ve had to wait for surplus fabrics or bigger companies’ fabric orders to latch on to so that we can get the colours and the quality we want.
We’re so excited to share with you the baby clothes & accessories that we’ve been so excited about....
Not just because they’re lovely products that we’re sure so many people will cherish for years, but because of all the people, the cotton farmers, the artisans, and the stories behind them.