Bébénca Organics:“an organic baby clothing brand, has been founded on the core ethic of sustainability and conscious living for all.”
Meet Reshma Koradia, founder of Bébénca Organics. Bébénca Organics is included in our bundles and we love their gorgeous prints. I was intrigued by Reshma’s story - an apparel designer by training who moved into the corporate world and then ultimately returned to her passion. We chatted earlier this year about what drives her and why we should care about how our babies clothes are manufactured. Reshma’s story is really one where we see how one can build their personal values into the core of their brand.
What inspired you to start Bébénca?
I studied fashion in school but after migrating to the US had to take up a corporate job for financial stability in a new country. Prior to launching Bébénca, I worked at Microsoft in the Legal and Corporate Affairs Team and I recall thinking often “how did I get here.” There were so many things I enjoyed about it, but I am a designer at heart and thrive on being creative. I was not fulfilled working on spreadsheets on a desk in front of my computer and over the years and I was struck by a quote “To leave the world better than what it was when we came into it.” In the back of my head, I always knew I wanted to design but it took me two years of back and forth to get the courage to leave my job and just “jump.”
How did you get the courage to make such a major change?
Courage is a gradual thing. Many people say, do what your heart says - but that is so much easier said than done. I just needed time to get comfortable with the idea. I realized, making an impact was really important and I wasn’t doing it in the way I wanted in a corporate setting.
Bébénca has values of sustainability at its core. What contributed to that?
Launching a line that makes a positive impact to our end consumers, the people who make it and to the environment was important. I went to India to explore and understand the manufacturing process - traveling around the country visiting handicraft design houses and cottage industries as well as conventional manufacturing houses. I remember I was in Kolkata (originally known as Calcutta) and came across a river that was completely purple sludge. People probably drank from this river and bathed in this river. When I asked why it was purple, I was told it was because “it was the popular color of the season” so all the manufacturers were using and disposing of the purple dyes in the river. I also remember visiting conventional factories where people were working 14 to 18 hours per day, breathing fumes from the chemicals that are used to prepare and finish the fabric. My eyes started burning from only being exposed to the chemicals in the first five minutes of entering the processing units. We can only imagine what goes on these fabrics that goes on our skins and what happens to the health of these workers who spend most of their lives breathing these chemicals.
That’s when I decided that I needed to do things differently. I decided on baby clothes because that is one product that makes people smile - no matter the age. We all have so much to worry about in the world that the idea of giving people the gift of a few seconds of smiles is extremely rewarding indeed. I call Bébénca Organics my “Smile Project” and also decided to extend these smiles across the supply chain from farmer, worker to everyone involved in the process - this is where GOTS comes in.
What is GOTS and why does it matter?
GOTS is a certification that ensures stringent inspection throughout the supply chain - ensuring good working conditions for farmers and manufacturers, strict chemical usage in processing of fabric, dyeing, printing, as well as how it’s being shipped and stored. This just means the integrity of the product and its purity is protected from the farm to the baby. It is not feasible for a brand to go to the entire supply chain to check if it's all authentic. Therefore, GOTS is great certification that embodies trust in this process that protects all of us. It’s how I can extend my “Smile Project” to everyone involved. As consumers we are so focused on what we eat, but we need to educate ourselves more about what we wear. Particularly babies' skin, which is so porous - if something is manufactured with harmful chemicals, it may cause skin problems at a young age, while the carcinogens found in these chemicals may eventually go into the bloodstream.
Our focus on sustainable practices does not stop here. We use recycled and compostable packaging. All orders placed on our website are carbon neutral by contributing to growing more trees which offsets the carbon emission caused by shipping these products. We don't need to be perfect in practicing sustainability but we must do whatever little we can by making right choices and making small changes. Every little bit helps to ensure a better future for our children. :)
Tell us about some of your unique and favorite styles:
I am inspired by messages and use creativity to share them. For example, the American Pediatrics Association recommends “No screen time under the age of two.” We wanted to share this message with an alternate solution. Through our Nerdy Baby print with the stack of books and a koala bear reading, we hope to spread the benefits of reading to the babies. Our mushroom print, which is all about nature and being outdoors was also inspired as an alternative to screen time.