An Unexpected New Journey for KOOSHOO
My old boss once told me an anecdote I won’t ever forget. It goes like this:
In life, we’re all passengers. To get where we’re going, busses pick us up and drop us off. Most days we get on the same bus, same route, but occasionally a different bus will pull up at our feet. This is the bus of opportunity. You don’t know where it’s going and it doesn’t feel comfortable, but there is something about it that just feels right.
More often than not a little voice inside us keeps us from getting on that bus out of fear, or any number of other excuses. And that’s OK… sometimes. Here’s the catch: the more you turn that bus down, the less likely it is to stop for you in future. That’s why it’s so important to say yes from time to time, even if it’s scary and hard and unknown.
Recently, one of these busses showed up at our feet.
It came in the form of an innocuous conversation with a dear friend who runs one of Canada’s best known ethical fashion lines. She’d recently begun making products in India and described her manufacturing partner along the lines of a Godsend.
Generously, she offered to make an introduction. Most people in this industry are extremely guarded with their suppliers - for good reason - so we didn’t take her offer lightly.
To that moment, we hadn’t even stopped to think about manufacturing overseas. Our business was founded after a trip through Asia in which we’d seen first hand the effects of the West’s infatuation with consumption on the cities of industry in the East. We didn’t want to be party to that and, without knowing how to find a responsible partner in Asia, opted to start our company by making products in Los Angeles.
A direct recommendation like this, from someone we trust immensely and who has stringent social/ethical/environmental values like us, changed things.
We arranged a Skype call with the factory owner, a woman who turns out to indeed be a Godsend.
She grew up with parents in the textile business and at 21 moved to New York to attend the Fashion Institute of Technology. She fell in love with the city and stayed for 12 years, graduating with her degree and going on to work for some of New York’s foremost designers.
A few years ago she returned to Delhi to start her dream business and core to that business is being socially, environmentally and ethically responsible.
She found an airy facility with high ceilings and tons of natural light, hired an incredibly talented team of artisans on fair wages and set hours, got her facility certified by SEDEX, one of the leading bodies for sustainable and ethical workplaces, and sourced out the most responsible dyers, fabric and trim suppliers in Delhi.
She brought to the table everything we’d ever hoped to find in a supplier - and then some. After several long Skype conversations, rounds of samples back and forth across the Pacific and some deep conversations with those we trust most, we made a decision: we’re getting on this new bus.
KOOSHOO is Now Ethically Manufacturing in India
Fast forward and we’re now in the pulsating Indian capital of Delhi. We’ve spent the past 2.5 weeks overseeing the production of our 2nd generation of organic Kids Pants - returning by popular demand! They’ll be available at kooshoo.com and in select retailers in time for American Thanksgiving. The colors are all new - 8 in total - so consider your holiday gifts for three-and-unders in your life covered :)
We’ve also been fine-tuning existing products while here. If you’re a fan of our organic headbands or plastic-free hairties we’ve got some exciting updates just around the corner (those announcements will wait for another blog post).
And there’s more.
India brings to the table a deep-rooted culture of artisans, skilled and practiced in textile arts completely unavailable back in North America. Working in India allows us to introduce embroidery, block printing, traditional weaving and so much more. As designers, the menu of possibilities is almost too much to fathom… but, we’re giving it our best!
Over the past few weeks we’ve designed and created samples of almost a dozen new products. Some have already been approved and will be fast tracked into production (Spring, we’re looking at you!) while others will arrive a little further into the future, once thoroughly tested and tweaked.
Supporting Ethical Business is Making a Difference
So far, this new bus ride has been everything we could have ever dreamt of. No question, bumps are sure to appear but, after five years in business, we know that you need the bumps along the way to truly appreciate the smooth stretches.
Between America (where we’ll continue to also manufacture) and India, the future at KOOSHOO is indeed bright.
One last thought before we wrap this post up: we want to thank you!
Because of your support of conscious businesses like KOOSHOO, values-driven factories are opening up around the world. This is a direct result of you voting with your wallet. We can attest with our own eyes that your purchases are making the world a fairer, cleaner and more conscious place and that’s something you should be extremely proud of.
In deep gratitude,
Jesse & Rachel
P.S. What responsibly-made product do you most want to see from us? It can be anything. Let us know in the comments below.