Here at Rainbow Nation the health of our planet and our children’s health is very important to us. Equally important is the health and wellbeing of the people who produce the things we sell.
As you may already know we care about sustainability and specialise in ethically produced clothes and toys. This month I thought I would talk to you about us, some of the brands we carry and the reasons why.
How did Rainbow Nation begin its journey?
A very niche market for the time, Rainbow Nation Clothing began its journey in 2005 when Lisa discovered a South African Brand (Keedo). She couldn't find anything in the UK that compared to the brands ethical practices and original in-house designs. This was the birth era of ethical and fair trade clothing, and many brands we now stock have established since 2005. Since then, the business has evolved as the demand for more ethical and recyclable products has increased. Lisa has dedicated many hours searching for other brands with exciting designs and ethical production to fit with the company ethos.
Over consumption of fast fashion and poorly made mass produced plastic toys are contributing to massive issues for the environment we live in. According to the .GOV website, the UK alone produced 27 million tonnes of household waste in 2020. An increase of 2.1% of the previous year.
Many of the clothing products we see, even in the UK, are said to be full of harmful chemicals thanks to the raw materials either being synthetic or sprayed with pesticides. The dyes are also regularly found to have many chemicals in them and many people with an array of different sensitivities find that these new clothes can upset them.
Lisa’s vision was for something different. She wanted to provide high quality, organic and fun clothing that would stand the test of active children and be passed from sibling to sibling and family to family. When it came to toys the same principles applied. Toys made of high quality materials that wouldn’t easily be broken and discarded. She saw a gap in the market for something different and an opportunity to help others make positive choices in their shopping.
What does a company need to do for us to consider stocking them?
Well firstly, a great selection of original childrens designs. Allowing children to be children in their clothing is really important.
The clothing ranges need to be designed to ensure flexibility in wear; being able to mix and match to create a variety of looks depending on your mood and the occasion. For the customers this means you don’t have to have so many different items of clothing to create a new look. Saving the pennies and the quantity of clothing you need to buy.
Our brands need to take great lengths to ensure the products they make are both environmentally friendly and ethical. This means it’s not just about how the clothes look or what they are made of, but also how they are made.
Does it matter where the products are made?
No is the short answer. It’s not about where the product is made but the conditions it is made in. Most, but not all, of the clothing we supply carry the GOTS and Fairtrade logos. However, not all brands pay to have the logo attachment even though they follow the guidelines set out.
Lisa deals directly with clothing and toy companies so that she can confidently verify production in a fair and ethical environment. Ensuring that their practises and ethos are strong in ensuring that all workers involved in the production of their products are treated well and paid fairly. Just because a product is made in India, or China, it doesn't make it any less worthy of your purchase if it is covered under any of these Industry standard labels. Lisa also goes to lengths to ensure that she deals directly with family owned or created brands, so that she is able to easily see the traceability and accountability in practise. All brand headquarters are easily accessible too, so if customers have questions or concerns before ordering, we don't have to guess, we can access answers directly from the people that know!
What exactly does GOTS and Fairtrade mean?
“WHAT IS FAIR TRADE IN A NUTSHELL?
- BETTER PRICES PAID FOR SOURCE PRODUCTS
- (FAIR PRICES PAID , AS SET FOR THE INDUSTRY, PLUS FAIR TRADE PREMIUM PAYMENTS)
- STRONGER SELLING ROUTES TO MARKET
- (SUPPORTED LINKS TO BUYERS, ENSURING STABLE INCOMES)
- IMPROVED CONDITIONS FOR ALL ASSOCIATED WORKERS
- (FARMERS, FACTORY AND DELIVERY WORKERS ARE GUARANTEED EXCELLENT WORKING
- CONDITIONS, LIVING WAGES, AND WORKERS RIGHTS)”
“WHAT IS GOTS / OEKOTEX IN A NUTSHELL?
- ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY MANUFACTURING
- (CONTROLS ON CHEMICALS, TOXINS & MAN MADE PRODUCT USE)
- STRONG SOCIAL PRACTISES FOR ALL WORKERS
- (FAIR PAY, NO CHILD LABOUR, SAFE WORK CONDITIONS, FAIR TREATMENT)
- TRACEABILITY FROM SOURCE
- (ENSURING STANDARDS ARE MET THROUGHOUT, FROM RAW PRODUCT TO FINISHED ITEM)
- ITEMS 100% FREE FROM HARMFUL SUBSTANCES”
What other things do we consider when looking at what products to bring to our customers?
Our carbon footprint. - We look to source products direct in the UK if we can and as locally as possible, although some brands are worth importing where we find nothing comparable available elsewhere. When importing we buy larger orders less frequently.
Alongside 'current season' clothing lines, we specialise in end-of-line stock from many of our suppliers such as Kite, Frugi, Little Green Radicals and Sterntaler to mention a few. This means that we purchase end of line products when the season ends. We put them away and then when the season returns the following year, we bring out these past season items.
Well, in doing this we can pass on the discounts to the customer so they can still get really good quality products at great prices.
You don’t have to think about buying things for next summer in the sale, store them for a year, only to get to the following summer and find they do not fit. You can buy what you need when you need it at sale prices.
Saving items from landfill. Simply buying the end of line stock means someone gets the chance to love something that may have ended up going to landfill.
We regularly review the brands and makes sure they still have the same values which they were chosen for originally. If we find the brand does no longer follow the same ethos we stop stocking their products. This does occasionally happen with brands and we are always sad to see them go but our values are non-negotiable and if a company we have selected specifically for these values doesn’t uphold them then we are unable to continue to work with them.
With our other products we 'road-test' to make sure the items meet customer expectations, have quality production methods, and are designed for longevity. This can be from the materials they are made from, to the product design itself allowing an item to be used for many years in different ways, as the child gets older. Some items may not always be the cheapest versions on the market, but you can be assured that the ones we choose to sell are fantastic value for your money.
We aren't perfect but we do everything within our power to provide a good selection of toys and clothes with as many of our core values as possible.
So there we are, I hope you enjoyed learning a little bit more about us this month. Thanks for reading.
Rainbow Nation Clothing.
P.S. If you would like to know about our favourite brand values, click the links to find out more.