We didn’t start NINA to simply sell stuff. Neither of us would last very long in that kind of business anyway.
That’s why, behind the scenes, we’re pushing to have a positive impact in the world with every sale.
This means using more sustainable materials, getting to know the makers behind our products, and giving back to local communities. Nothing is completely sustainable or ethical. But there are better choices – better fabrics, better packaging, better suppliers and better collaborations.
Some of our first products in the NINA collections are baby clothes made from organic Peruvian Pima cotton. It all started whilst we were in Peru for several months.
We've met most of the clothing suppliers in and around Lima (and we feel very lucky to be working with our partners!). We’ve been inside our garment factory, numerous times. We’ve had whatsapp video calls with the cotton farmers who grow the cotton. We spent time getting to know cotton farming communities. Hearing the stories. Often feeling frustrated at the injustices of global supply chains. But also laughing a lot together over avocado on toast.
Our approach is a bit different to other companies - only 6% of clothing brands can tell you where their raw materials are from.
The clothing industry is pretty ugly when you dig into it. Children are still being taken out of school and forced to work on cotton fields. Garment factories are still locking up their garment workers and throwing away their passports. Spates of suicides in cotton farming communities are not uncommon.
Making clothes is often not great on the environment either. The clothing industry accounts for 16% of global pesticide use and 30% of global carbon emissions.
Consumerism and non-stop advertising means we live in a throwaway culture in which our things are not made to last. No wonder there are so many clothes thrown into landfill or sent abroad to flood other countries’ textile markets. The industry is hugely destructive to the environment.
So yes, there’s a really ugly side to it. It hit home when we were living in Peru. That’s why we’re going slowly but surely into running an impact-driven business.
If you’re working in sustainability or ethical business, we would love to hear from you. We’ve also got big ambitions around the circular economy - if you're involved in the circular economy, we would love to chat!
Read more on our blog here.