With our GOTS certification, we have absolute confidence that our entire supply chain is 100% organic and everyone shares our environmental and ethical values. However, it’s also important to meet face-to-face and to see at first hand how LittleLeaf products are made. We make it a priority to meet and get to know the people behind the emails, and put some faces to names. And for complete transparency, to be able to say to our own customers that we absolutely know our supply chain.
In this article we’ve described our recent visit to the factory in India where LittleLeaf products are made.
When we arrived at the factory, we were struck by the warmth of the amazing traditional Hindu greeting and welcome we received. Everyone stopped work and came outside to greet us and we were each given the traditional bindi red dot on our foreheads and floral wreaths around our necks.
The highlight of our trip was meeting up with our good friends Akhilesh and his family, our partners in India. It was a pleasure to stay with them in their family home, which also afforded us the time to discuss our plans for new products (more on this later).
Akhilesh and his team have such a deep knowledge of the organic cotton industry and put decades of expertise into practice every day, ensuring that only the very finest long staple organic cotton enters our production chain. This is what makes LittleLeaf organic cotton simply the best you can buy. When we meet new customers in person at fairs and they feel LittleLeaf organic cotton for the first time, they nearly all say “wow!” This is because of the incredible quality control that is being applied at the factory to ensure that only the best cotton makes its way into your LittleLeaf products.
It’s always wonderful for us to meet everybody at the factory and to see the work being done at first hand – the expert weavers at work, together with the machinists of course, and then the finishers, adding final touches like our natural coconut shell buttons and flat, non-scratchy labels.
We are very proud of the fact that, very unusually, even the labels we use are entirely made from organic cotton.
We also need a shout out for the expertise of the superb ironers and folders of our finished products, who neatly pack our sheets and PJs into organic cotton drawstring bags, made from off-cuts. The women checking quality control and expertly folding bedding in this video have worked here for 14 years now.
It is always a real thrill to witness the skilled artisans, such as those hand screen-printing some of our very own designs.
Last year, we collaborated with the Houses of Parliament shop to produce a special organic cotton baby range for them and during our India visit we were able to see the designs coming to life. These muslins feature the famous Houses of Parliament portcullis, which symbolises strength and fortitude. You can read more about our work on this special range in another blog article coming soon.
COLOURS & Dyeing
We’re often asked about the lovely colours used for some of our bedding and the colourful prints that are characteristic of LittleLeaf products. So it might be timely here to add a note about the regulations around colours and dyeing that are enshrined in our GOTS certification.
As a GOTS (Global Organic Textile) certified company, we only use low impact dyes, which are classified eco-friendly and contain no heavy metals or toxins. GOTS has the strictest regulations in the industry when it comes to the types of dyes we can and cannot use. Harsh chemicals are prohibited including, for example, AZO dyes and disperse dyes (known to affect human health) and chlorine bleaching. For a detailed fact sheet on the stringent chemical controls implemented by GOTS, please take a look here.
The dyes used on our products must also meet strict environmental standards. We saw for ourselves at the factory the filtration system used to remove the sludge and clean the water. This means that 90% of the water used in the dyeing stages can be reused.
Back at Akhilesh’s house, we found another example that proved what a kindred spirit he is, when we saw how he’d re-used old dye containers as planters for hundreds of young trees he’s growing!
These are the carbon filters, part of the effluent treatment plant which cleans any excess colours left over from printing, so that the water can be re-used.
Similarly, a very important part of GOTS regulations is workers’ rights. Basically, GOTS enshrines the freedoms and rights set out by the International Labour Organisation, such as: no forced or child labour, health and safety at work, freedom to form unions, equality of opportunity and fair pay and working hours. The factory is also certified by the Fair Trade Organisation. It was great to see this social responsibility working in practice and to witness for ourselves the pleasant working environment at the factory and the clear team effort involved.
Going Above and Beyond
The factory is entirely powered by solar energy, the sustainable, economical and sensible choice, given the abundance of sunshine in India. We climbed up to the roof to take this picture of the solar panels in all their glory. At LittleLeaf we’re so delighted to be partnering with a factory in India that took the initiative to invest in its own solar panels so that it could supply 100% solar power to the factory that produces our cotton products – going above and beyond even the toughest environmental standards anywhere in the world.
It’s always great to visit India, it’s such a vibrant and beautiful country with such friendly people. It’s also such a privilege to be able to work with such diligent professionals as Akhilesh and his team, totally committed to operating in the most ethical and sustainable way possible. This shines through everything, and is at the forefront of the way they operate both at home and the factory.
NEW DESIGNS COMING…
One of the wonderful outcomes of our trip was the springboard it provided for us to explore lots of new products. It’s our goal at LittleLeaf to be an eco organic cotton store, where you can eventually replace everything you have that’s cotton in your home with gorgeous certified organic cotton that’s cleaner, greener and better for your health!
When we got home, we set about designing a whole host of new products, such as bathrobes and ‘pop-up’ fabric pots or storage baskets. We’ve also taken on board our customers’ suggestions of things they’d love to see, so look out for luxuriously soft towels coming soon, plus mattress protectors made from an incredibly closely woven organic cotton thread – so tightly woven, it’s strongly water-resistant. Plus, we’re introducing some new print designs in our bedding, pyjamas and baby ranges. Here’s a sneak peak at what’s coming….