Small Biz, Big Buys: A Small (and Small-ish) Business Love Affair
Shop 'Til You Drop? Not Anymore.
I actually rather not drop (dead) from shopping
I’ve always been an avid shopper. Prior to having my son, I shopped like any normal person would. I saw something, I liked it, I bought it – and, if it was on sale, then I most definitely bought it! Sometimes at that rate - I bought it twice! I really didn’t give much thought to where it came from, how it was made, how it was packaged or how it was sold. I just liked and purchased. Since, becoming a parent however, that has all changed.
The moment I discovered I was expecting I went full-blown granola; and my legal-career perfected skill of performing flawless due diligence, kicked in full throttle. I was reading labels on everything I was seeking for @LittleMrGray. My search didn't just stop at Amazon reviews...
- I was scouring the web for recall reports.
- I was deconstructing ingredient lists.
- I was practically doing background checks on clothing labels.
It got crazy, but in my mind I absolutely needed to – and, I still do.
Not All Buys Are Equal
I made it a heavy priority to try to keep Gray as chemical-free as I possibly could, and I sought out to make his purchases environmentally friendly. Aside from just his, this has essentially been the adopted habit in my home overall (for the most part).
There are just so many things like carcinogens out there, toxic agents, bad ingredients, scary sourcing and poor production practices, that worry me enough to reconsider what and how something can make its way to my baby, and into our home. I sort of became manic with the thought of it alone; so that's when I just simply devoted time to strategizing on how we would make our purchases for Gray.
His clothes and anything of textile had to be of organic cotton, fairly traded, sustainably farmed; and preferably GOTS certified. His toys and furniture had to be free of toxic and lead paints and parts, and nothing could ever come from China. Anything he ate food from, or that was designed to make its way to his mouth; could only be made from 18/10 grade stainless steel or higher, surgical-grade silicone, or glass. Any packaged foods had to be to the highest organic standard, and locally sourced. And, just recently I’ve embarked on a mission to do away with all of his plastic toys, as we’re embracing the Montessori method at home more and more each and every day (post on that to come later).
Purchases With An Impact
In my own little world of an OCD-worthy madness, I have found a huge solace in small businesses, and just the smaller players of the baby and child industry, overall. I’ve somehow managed to stay away from the big billion dollar guys like Fisher-Price, Graco, etc, and instead have given my relationships to small to mid-sized companies, and even single-person owned businesses. The comfort in it comes from knowing that these businesses put just a tad bit more care into the things that I buy for Gray. They happen to be brands that tend to have things that are important to me in mind, like an overall mission of ethics, sustainability, eco-packaging, fair trade, local farming, livable wages, organic standards, charitable contributions, and so much more. All of this, makes it so worth it for me and brings confidence to my purchasing.
There are so many amazing small businesses out there producing items of impeccable quality for your child, they just may take a little bit more time to stumble upon and discover than what's easily accessible at say, Target. The truth is that I think us millennials overall, are increasingly becoming more aware of what we spend on and how we spend; and that includes how our purchases affect us, our health, our well-being and our environment - long term.
Some Notable Mentions
Below is a list of some of my personal favorite individually owned businesses, small to mid sized companies, shops and online stores that I feel are without a doubt worthy of your precious little coins and some key reasons why:
Clothing and Accessories
- Under the Nile – Under the Nile is a beautiful line that offers a great selection of organic GOTS-certified Egyptian cotton clothing and toys. It is a family-operated business that is passionately committed to ethical production, livable wages, ensuring that their employees receive education and health care, and make it their first priority to producing non-toxic baby basics for your little one.
- Burt’s Bees Baby – Although larger in company size than Under the Nile, but smaller than say a Carter’s; Burt’s Bees makes a wonderful line of clothing for babies and tots that is all GOTS-certified! Burt’s Bees Baby is active in philanthropic give-back and they seek to produce all of their items with sustainable materials.
- Anndrew Marie Jewelry - This cute line of baby jewelry goes beyond shiny adornments. The company's owner Melanie White actually created it to meet important needs such as health concerns of children and other special conditions needed notice. There are ID bracelets and necklaces available that can be made to note your child's name and allergy or condition; and in addition to the metals there are also super cute non-toxic teething jewelery items in the line too.
- Super Heroic - Although Grayson doesn't yet just fit into this company's size range (12c-7y), Super Heroic is one to watch and will be a definite on my shop-list in the near future. With three co-founders including one former Jordan Brand design director, investor backing from Magic Johnson; Super Heroic is entering the children's footwear world with sneakers designed and engineered for PLAY. Their first launch, a lace-free unisex sneaker named the TMBLR v1 is priced at an affordable $79 and constructed to provide the needed balance, grip, and movement kids need when they're literally (and actively) doing the most. Gear aside, Super Heroic also engages in year-round direct community give-back with children of urban cities and impoverished neighborhoods.
Hair & Body
- Earth Mama Organics – Earth Mama Organics (formerly Earth Mama Angel Baby) makes my absolute favorite lanolion-free nipple butter ever. It's a multi-use product that can go on any dry or chapped skin, that is toxic free, insanely moisturizing and absolutely amazing on the skin. Aside from that, Earth Mama is a glorious female-owned business that produces organic, herbal and toxic-free products. It's mission is to make and provide safe and herbal alternatives for pregnant, postpartum, breastfeeding women and babies of all ages; and to help educate people about traditional plant medicine and safe personal care. Earth Mama has earned a wealth of organic certifications across multiple high-standard agencies, and is devoted to empowering and coaching women through family planning, postpartum care, and infant-loss therapy and awareness.
- Babo Botanicals - Babo Botanicals is an expansive skin, hair and sun care line that just so happens to make truly some of my absolute favorite and staple products both for me and Gray. More than just an oil or salve mix here and there, their formulations are all luxurious to the touch and invigorating to senses. E V E R Y T H I N G in their baby line is excellent. The best diaper cream. The best sunscreen and sun spray. The baby washes. The eczema care. The creams. The hair care; even lice care...It is seriously all heavenly excellent! I will be rolling out some more coverage on Babo Botanicals very soon because this is a brand that I feel so strongly about, and I just need you all to get so, so involved with them. Perfection in product aside, Babo Botanicals is also a heavy advocate of natural healing and promoting the power of plants and organic ingredients within their products. As they say, they "believe that beauty starts on a farm and moves to the face" and with a statement like that they put special care into creating products, especially for sensitive consumers, that are hypo-allergenic yet high-performing without dairy, soy, gluten or high-allergy nut oils. Babo Botanicals is strongly committed to urban farming which educates children on gardening and nutrition and believes that every child should have first-hand experience to the cycle of plant life. They screen every product for the safety of babies and pregnant women, and seek to provide a line of products that can be used for the entire family.
- Oyin Handmade - Oyin Handmade is a hair, body and skin product company that makes great ingredient-safe products for the entire family. I wrote about using their Hair Dew hair lotion in this post on Grayson and have been really happy with them since. In addition to the Hair Dew I have since used other products in the line and have been equally satisfied.
- bloom Baby by bloom +KIND - THE. BEST. BABY. WIPES. IN. LIFE. That's pretty much all you need to know, but if you're seeking more: I discovered these wipes by accident on Amazon; you can see my write-up about them in this post by clicking here. I was trying out baby wipes, left and right and I couldn't find anything I loved. They were either too thin, too small, turned brown (ahem, Water Wipes), or smelled bad. bloom Baby wipes are perfection. They are large, and thick - almost like a paper towel. They are insanely soft, and they are made with safe and all-natural ingredients, formulated for sensitive skin, gentle for eczema, hypoallergenic, made in a nut-free/gluten-free facility, animal cruelty free and organic. They are also made with natural water from a glacial aquifer in Long Island, NY. To add to the boost - they are also a USDA Certified Biobased Product by the U.S.D.A. I normally get the large box of 640-wipes (8 packs) and each box is always packed with a wipe holder, and the box itself comes with great parenting tips and even a baby feeding schedule template.
- Petit Collage - is a beautiful line of toys that incorporates the desires of those seeking battery-free, wooden, and plastic-free options; all the while putting modern taste and design at the forefront! I adore their toys for Gray, and love how much thought process goes behind their development - for his development! Their toys are all ethically produced and designed using recycled materials, FSC-Certified wood. At least 80% of their paper products are made from recycled or recyclable substrates and they choose renewable materials such as bamboo for their mobiles. They're big on prioritizing the use of responsibly-sourced materials, and print with vegetable based inks and waterbased paints. All packaging is designed to optimize space, thereby decreasing the energy required for transport. Petit Collage's packaging is minimized to avoid unnecessary waste and uses recycled content whenever available.
- Kabrita - What has grown as my darling favorite and staple in our lives, Kabrita is a woman-ran company that produces European-quality goat milk formula. It is the best formula on the market now in my opinion, and it is considered to be second in line to breastmilk. I love Kabrita because it stands behind breastfeeding as a first option and the quest for normalizing it; but they are also out to set themselves as a company that can provide superior and confident formula nutrition for your baby, in the event that breastfeeding may not work for you. Kabrita's mission is to educate parents on the important science behind the nourishment of your baby and is eager to show its consumer why its goat milk formula has advantage over the cow-based formulas on the market. Day after day, Kabrita works with impoverished families in various communities and acts as a source of accessible toddler nutrition for those in need. You can see all of my Kabrita posts by clicking here.
Last But Not Least...
Etsy has become an everyday stop for me as I'm always searching for new items for our son. I love it to purchase non-toxic wooden toys, nursery and playroom items and even organic clothing. I always ask what kind of wood the toys I'm purchasing are made with and same goes for paints used. Etsy is a whole world of talented and skilled independent business owners that are looking to meet your needs in any way, so definitely check them out!
Shop Our Picks!
If you're ever interested in seeing a full rundown of products I have tried, tested, love and wholeheartedly recommend, please make sure to bookmark my Amazon store. It is updated constantly and contains a lot of the products belonging to the most of the companies mentioned in this post! Click here to see it now!