This week we’re sitting down with the incredibly kind Charlotte from KiND Organic Essentials - a sustainable kids and baby clothing brand that cares about what you put on your baby’s skin. Charlotte is passionate about slow fashion, being mindful about purchasing, and about working hard to do what’s right. She is incredibly inspirational and just the nicest human being ever. A Dutchie (as she affectionately calls herself), she and her business partner Mieke van den Berk (a fellow Dutchie, friend, and neighbour), import a line of clothing from Gray Label in Europe focussed on using certified organic cotton, ensuring the garments are made by people paid fair wages, and the design of the pieces are minimal yet beautiful. With more exciting things to come in the future, we are so excited for their brand to grow from strength to strength. Her vision is right up our alley and we couldn’t be more excited to share her insights with you!
When we approached Charlotte to take part in our series and we gave her the date that we wanted to publish her post, it was as if it was fate because they are coincidentally launching their new line this week! Head over to their Instagram page for more info or their website to see what catches your eye. We've personally purchased from them many times and their service is impeccable and the clothing really is of the best quality and timeless. Support these gorgeous local ladies!
So here is our sit-down with Charlotte. Enjoy...
When did you start your company and why?
Mieke and I started KiND in August 2018. As new moms we were always on the hunt for nice organic kids and baby wear for our own boys. And because we couldn’t find it in SA we found ourselves bringing everything in from Europe. James, my son, was often called ‘the best dressed kid in the park’ and that made me realize: hey, moms really seem to like his outfits (clean, simple, no logos or other status symbols, just high quality organic cotton in amazing colours and cool styles, like the salopettes he wears - ‘a type of dungarees’). We accidentally found a gap in the market and a need for nice organic apparel for youngsters in South Africa and people love it.
What are your dreams for KiND?
Mieke and I want KiND to be THE GO-TO BRAND if you are looking for awesome European style baby and kids clothing, that is produced in an environmentally friendly way.
Can you explain in a nutshell to the customer who is new to this - why should we be buying organic cotton instead of “normal” cotton clothing?
Organic cotton is cotton produced without using insecticides, pesticides and toxic dyes. It’s safer for baby and kids skin. And it is way better for the environment than traditionally produced cotton.
What do you think about Fast Fashion and how it impacts us as consumers as well as the environment?
Back in the days we would only buy good quality clothes, about twice a year. If clothes where damaged we had them repaired. Today, we go to fast fashion chains (I won’t mention any names, but everyone probably knows who I refer too) who renew their collections on a weekly basis. A dress costs only a few Rands, and because you don’t pay much for it, it is a low quality garment and you don’t mind throwing it away very easily.
The impact of fast fashion on our environment is so high, but the big stores don’t mind how clothes are produced, as long as they are cheap. They also don’t care about the suffering of the people who make them. The seamstresses in Bangladesh and other developing countries often only earn a few dollars per month and work under horrible circumstances. Additionally, the cotton used by fast fashion chains is sprayed with insecticides, pesticides, and dyed with toxic dyes that ruin our planet.
If you care about what kind of apple you put in your mouth, why not care about the clothes you wear directly on your (or on your little one’s) skin? We need to find a way to produce clothes in a more sustainable way. And Gray Label – the Amsterdam-based brand we bring in – does just that. Their apparel is made in a sustainable way, from the crop to the actual product. It is GOTS certified and the people who make the clothes in Porto, Portugal get a good salary and have access to basic human rights. This is the way it’s supposed to be. We as customers – I don’t want to use the word consumers, as that has such a negative ring to it – need to be more aware. Buy less, choose well. Invest in high quality items that last a lifetime – or at least three kids – and don’t buy low quality, badly produced garments that you have to throw away after a single season.
I’d love everyone to go watch the documentary ‘The True Cost’ (it’s available on Netflix). It is about the impact of the fast fashion industry on our planet and on the people who make the clothes. It really opens your eyes.
How do you manage juggling running your company and managing your family life? Top tips for staying organised?
I just try to get as much work done as possible in a day. But I am always there for James (age 2) on Thursdays and the rest of the days from 4pm. My husband is home on Tuesdays. It’s all about finding a balance between career and family. And my best tip: if possible, find a way with your partner to share the care of your children that makes you both happy and able to make a career.
What advice would you give any woman wanting to follow her passion and start her own company?
Just do it. Work hard. Believe in yourself and your product. And it probably takes years, sweat and tears to be successful and that is ok. Us millenials want immediate results and that is in most cases not possible. Building something that lasts takes time.
Take us through a typical day in the life of Charlotte.
We wake up early, then Maurits and I walk James to crèche and grab a coffee at Power and the Glory. Three times a week we go boxing together. Around 8.30 I walk over to our showroom to start my work day. One day we have appointments planned – and Mieke and I cross around town on my scooter - the other day we have customers coming in to the showroom by appointment, on other days I work on planning our socials etc. We do everything ourselves, so there is always work to be done. At 4pm I stop working, go for groceries with James and we cook together. He loves to help. We always eat around six when Maurits comes from work – and James goes to bed at seven, which gives us a whole night to chill, watch Netflix, have friends over or work some more. Maurits and I often say how #blessed ;-) we actually are to walk James to school together and to have dinner every night as a family. I find that very important. And I am so happy that I never have to be in traffic to get to work, it saves me a lot of time to spend with my family.
How do you plan your days - are you a planner? Or do you wing it?
I’d love to say that I just take everything as it comes and that I live by the day, but that’s probably because I am jealous of people who live their lives like that. Haha. I am a planner. I have a list of chores written down in my iPhone Notes and I can’t rest before everything has been crossed off my list. Sometimes I have to tell myself to slow down and to be kinder for myself.
Do you have a mantra, or quote, or motivation, or task that you live by or do? Something you think about or do daily that drives you to be your best self?
If I am kind to others, they will be kind to me. That is what I try to teach James as well.