Business cottons on to new style of baby clothes

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A YOUNG Yorkshire entrepreneur, who set up an organic baby clothes business after seeing her niece suffer from eczema, is about to launch a new collection for older children.

Fashion graduate Victoria Thompson began trading in December 2009 and went into the baby clothing business because she felt there was a greater opportunity for her to come up with innovative designs.

There was also a more personal motivation, however, after her older sister’s daughter, Isla Darby, now aged three, was diagnosed with eczema, and Miss Thompson wanted to do something to help her.

She set up Green Nippers, which makes baby clothes and baby accessories, which have been certified by the Soil Association.

The company’s products are sold through boutique stockists around Britain and in Italy, Finland and Japan, and now Miss Thompson is preparing for her next range.

The junior collection will include seasonal ranges for boys and girls up to the age of five and will be on sale from August.

The girlswear ranges from smart dresses to smock tops and T-shirts, while the boyswear includes T-shirts, trousers and dungarees.

Miss Thompson, 24, studied at Barnsley College before going on to study at Huddersfield University where, as part of her fashion course, she learned about ethical manufacturing.

She later turned her attention to baby clothes when her contemporaries were drawn to adult fashions.

She said she found children’s and babies’ clothing more fun than adults and allowed her to product more adventurous designs.

“We have proved that being organic does not necessarily mean that you have to limit the colours to bland and boring creams and browns.

“A bright and lively colour palette has been created for our debut collection and new junior collection, by using 100 per cent natural and organic dyes that have a low-impact on the environment.”

Miss Thompson said that she expects Green Nippers’ sales to reach around £30,000 this year.

She spent between six and eight months designing the new range, which takes about 12 weeks to make.

Green Nippers’ products are made in a factory in Instanbul, in Turkey – certified by Control Union’s global organic textile standard – and are made from organic cotton without using chemicals and pesticides.

Several academic studies have linked pesticides, such as formaldehyde, to the onset of asthma and eczema.

Miss Thompson said: “The reason why Green Nippers’ products are made from 100 per cent organic cotton is so they are not harmful to the environment or to the baby or child wearing them.

“Babies’ and young children’s skin is sensitive and delicate, which allows the chemicals found in conventional cotton clothing to be absorbed and they can then find their way into their bloodstream.

“Organic cotton is soft, cool and comfortable to wear. Organic cotton helps babies who suffer with eczema and it doesn’t contain the finishing chemicals or pesticide residues that are found in conventional cotton, which irritate the babies’ skin.

“Organic cotton is a perfect choice for babies’ delicate and sensitive skin, especially babies suffering from eczema.”

The company’s best-selling baby grows include Apple Blossom and Polly Pintuck for girls, Simon Suit and Rupert Raglan for boys and the unisex baby grow, Vanilla Star.

Miss Thompson, who has seen demand increase after visiting trade shows and retail shows, hopes to continue to double the size of the business each year but said she did not want to produce clothes for children above the age of five.

She has begun offering all the baby grow and accessory products in gift boxes made from recycled materials and plans to introduce new lines featuring underwear and pyjamas.

The firm will keep adding foreign stockists and hopes to capitalise on interest from other countries, including Malaysia and Denmark.

The natural way to grow

Green Nippers uses organic cotton farmed using natural pesticides and largely rain-fed crops.

Victoria Thompson said the soil is fertilised with natural organic materials, which also help retain moisture.

Organic cotton also provides a better income for farmers as consumers are prepared to pay a premium for its quality, and a lot of organic cotton is bought before it is grown, giving farmers security of income.

“Conventional cotton accounts for one quarter of global pesticide use, with alarming environmental and social consequences,” Miss Thompson said.

“Each year there are 20,000 deaths in developing countries from poisoning by agricultural pesticides.”