100% Organic Cotton Fabrics
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I found it intriguing that during his inauguration speech Trump spoke of bringing jobs back to the USA and of buying American made goods. So, in response to that directive, I decided to investigate if the inauguration swag being sold on every street corner was made in the USA?
In stark contrast.... the vast majority of these were hand-made in America. I only found one person actually selling the "pink pussy hats".
To me, this illustrates that perhaps both “sides” do share some of the same values with each other. Do you think we should be "buying American"?
UPDATE: Apparently all "official inauguration swag" is made in the USA but alas I couldn't find any in DC at the end of January.
Ok, you asked for it... How did I end up having lunch in Timber Cove with Laurie and Tony from Sapphire International Ltd. (the makers of the Breganwood brand organic towels)? Well, the connection started in Kansas City. I was a keynote speaker for the Surface Design Association's annual conference (Off the Grid*). I was the first speaker of the week long events which is my favorite place in the line up since after that I can relax and enjoy the experience without my nerves getting in the way.
Well, I believe it was the following night, I was approached by a lovely woman who said (paraphrasing) "I could have given your lecture." Pardon me? "Truly, your story of feeling fed up with mass market and leaving to do your own more thoughtful thing, that's me too!" The conversation continued and I must admit our lives were pretty synched. No, Jennifer Libby Fay doesn't have an organic cotton line of fabric, but she did design for mass market (like me) and she left that world to create her own-one-of-a-kind fine art. She lived part time in Fayetteville, AK and part time in Bodega Bay, CA.
Now, the odds of anyone attending the lecture in Kansas City knowing where Gualala, CA is were slim . . . but having someone actually live a mere 1.25 hours away in another small coastal town was really quite extraordinary. So, how does this relate to Sapphire and China production? Well, Jennifer's husband is a mover and shaker with his own green line of kitchen products. Jennifer felt we should meet. It was Bill who eventually introduced me to Laurie and Tony over Caesar salad with pacific salmon overlooking the coast at a restaurant midway between Bodega Bay and Gualala. Laurie and Tony were on a business trip from Hong Kong and I had the good fortune of our chance meeting.
That lunch happened exactly 2 years ago today, October 18th, 2009. As my hubby always says, "You never know where a conversation may lead." In this case from Kansas City to California, Australia to China and then some.
*Note: They recorded the event and you can purchase a DVD recording of my talk and the others from the conference, in case you are interested.
When I attended my first All Things Organic conference and trade show back in 2004, I rode the bus back to our hotel with a buyer from China. We got to talking, he owned a natural foods store in China. I asked him why he came all the way to Chicago to source products for his store. Couldn't you get anything you needed in China? I have never forgotten his response: "They'll lie to you and tell you it is organic but it isn't." Oh my. That answer from a Chinese man about his own country's organics convinced me to steer clear of Chinese produced organic fabrics.
I have been approached by many "organic" fabric producers from overseas in the last 6 years. It only takes 2 questions: "What is your organic cotton fabric certified to?" and "Who is your certifier?" If they can't answer those basic questions I know they are clueless at best and potential frauds at worst.
Then I met Laurie and Tony from Sapphire International Ltd.. (Our meeting was one of those incredible small world experiences -- too long to go into here -- but if you are interested post a comment and I will post that story later.) As we ate lunch at the Timber Cove Inn there was an instant connection. Not only were they also members of the OTA, they knew about GOTS. They had been to the same Organic Exchange (now the Textile Exchange) conference I had. These were not phonies. They knew their stuff. We commiserated and collaborated, brainstormed and shared stories. They showed me videos of their weaving facility (in China) and explained the process.
When they asked me to create an Australian animal theme towel collection for their Breganwood label of course I said YES. Now, I must admit, I am a print designer by trade....NOT a woven designer so this was uncharted territory for me. Add to the complexity that they were experimenting with a NEW 4 color Jacquard weaving technique and it was an uphill battle getting the design figured out. The learning curve on this project was exceptionally steep but many emails and skype conversations later.... you can see the finished product above and below. I think we both learned a lot.
From the moment we met, I was impressed with Laurie and Tony. I am confident in their ethics and their commitment to true organic production. Yep, an Australian themed organic towel, designed in California and woven in China. It's true, textiles are indeed a global industry and there are good, honest, thoughtful people EVERYWHERE!
For your chance to win one of these cozy towels, just "like" Breganwood on facebook and then leave a comment on which Jacquard towel is your favorite before Sept. 30th. They will also have a booth at the upcoming ABC show in KY (booth 4402). Feel free to stop by and tell them hello if you are attending the show.
A couple of weeks ago I attended a lecture at the Gualala Arts Center given by Karma Singye Dorji titled Bhutan: Kingdom on the Cusp of Change with images by photographer and artist, Jeanne Gadol. I loved finding out that in Bhutan the most common greeting (like our hello/goodbye) is So Kuzuzangpola which means may your body and spirit by in balance. Imagine having that reminder told to you several times a day. Bhutan also monitors GNH (not GNP) which is the Gross National Happiness. Obviously the Buddhist roots in this country are strong.
I just liked that and wanted to share it with you. While I am on the topic of things I like, here's a link to a recent article in my favorite business magazine, Fast Company, about Walmart and Swedish clothing giant H&M launching pilot sustainability efforts at major textile mills in China.
Lately there has been some interesting reports that if you haven't heard about already, I want to bring to your attention:
1. ADHD linked to pesticide exposure - yep, another example of short term problem (bugs on our plants) creating an even bigger, more complicated and widespread problem. Using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, researchers led by Maryse Bouchard, a researcher in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health at the University of Montreal, analyzed the levels of pesticide metabolites in the urine of 1,139 children and found children with above-average levels had roughly twice the odds of being diagnosed with ADHD. By eating only organic fruits and vegetables you can reduce your exposure to these toxins. The abstract of the paper published in the journal Pediatrics is accessible online.
2. Genetically modified cotton stops one bug but fosters another - yep... you guessed it. Our GMO cotton seeds have yet again created another problem to worry about. In this LA Times article the focus is on China. Although Bt cotton (genetically engineered) has reduced bollworms from the fields it has created a new pest called mirid bugs. Researches from Cornell University first noticed the problem in 2004 "when they surveyed 481 farmers in five Chinese provinces. They suspected something was amiss when they discovered that Bt cotton farmers were using more pesticides than farmers planting conventional cotton." Does anyone else think this is insanity?
3. Don't forget last week The President’s Cancer Panel Report: “Reducing Environmental Cancer Risk: What We Can Do Now,” was submitted to President Obama. What was the advice of this report by Dr. LaSalle Leffall, Jr., an oncologist and professor of surgery at Howard University, and Dr. Margaret L. Kripke, an immunologist at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston? You guessed it - choose food grown without pesticides or chemical fertilizers , antibiotics, and growth hormones to help decrease exposure to environmental chemicals that can increase risk of contracting cancer. Organic products avoid the use of these chemicals. If you want to read the entire 240 page report you can down load it here.
Do you need any more reasons to support organic agriculture? I don't. Our CSA starts this Friday. I can't wait to see and taste what local, organic treats await! Yes, organic is more expensive in the short term but when you factor in ADHD, more pests and potentially cancer, I think the cost is actually very affordable!
Founder of Harmony Art organic design.