Fair trade baby store debuts online

When Gaayathri Periasami and her husband Nathan Chinnappa launched their online baby store Baby Peppers, it wasn’t just because she was a new mum, but also because of a longing to bring back handmade vintage craft and slow fashion.

The store’s brand ethos is about socially conscious and ethical shopping, explains Periasami. “We are big fans of sustainable fashion and anything fair trade or ecofriendly or any projects that help in female empowerment giving new hope and financial independence to women, especially single mothers,” she says.

“All our items are ethically sourced from fair trade and artisan communities, providing them with a sustainable income.”

Being of Indian descent, the couple had a natural affinity for sourcing the softest Indian cotton fabrics and vintage handmade products that they were so used to as children.

“The birth of our son inspired us to create our own online space―an avenue to showcase some of India’s finest artistry plus find ways to give back to small business communities in Australia and India.”

The store stocks hand woven recycled polyethylene baskets which are ethically sourced from Baladarshan, a fair trade organisation that helps single mums living in the slums of Chennai. It also stocks vegetable dyed handmade wooden toys made using a 200 year old turnwood art form, also sourced from a fair trade artisan group based in Channapatna, Karnakata.

“We commission a small design studio run by a woman in Uttar Pradesh to handmake elephant plushies and matching quilt sets. The fabrics used on these products are known as Kalamkari fabrics and they are coloured with natural vegetable dyes and produced with seventeen painstaking steps. The fabrics also come from a fair trade artisan group based in Andra Pradesh,” says Periasami.

“Our cot quilts and bedding sets are handmade in Jaipur and all the quilts are hand-quilted by women who work from the comfort of their own homes to ensure that their work revolves around their childcare and family needs. The softest voile is used on our sets and all the fabrics are hand block printed.”

In an Australian first, Baby Peppers is the only store to partner with Kateson, an American brand that has redefined the meaning of pure organics. Kateson organic garments are hand-dyed in plant botanicals (indigo, sandalwood, tulsi, neem, turmeric and vetiver) and ayurveda herbs, resulting in beautiful and subtle hues for their onesie sets.

“The buttons on their garments are made from coconut husks and this may sound humorous and slightly odd but their garments are actually safe enough to consume, not an ounce of anything artificial. And it makes total sense as they are worn by infants,” Periasami adds.

By Marion Gerritsen