It has been a jolly good ride so far!
When Samantha and I decided to launch an ethical and stylish fashion brand for kids in April 2018, we really thought things would go a lot faster and smoother. Little did we know that we had a lot of ground to break.
By the end of last year, we realised that we were in the slow fashion business, which meant that things were, well, slow.
We took our time to develop our brand with help from The Brand Bean, and our first designs with Nasdrovia Division. And then, Samantha set out to search for ethical garment factories in Thailand and faced some hard barriers. For starters, most factory owners had no idea what sustainability actually meant. And one factory even requested a signed contract before allowing her a site visit. Hello transparency!
Thanks to the great advice from Mathilde and Léa, who had been traveling through Asia in search of sustainable fashion solutions, we found Fairsew and the sewing workshop of Pour Un Sourire d’Enfant, who are completely aligned with our idea that there’s no need to exploit people to make beautiful garments.
Finding eco-friendly fabric was another challenge. We couldn’t find any suppliers in Cambodia or Thailand, so we had to import from India. VJ from WhiteArcs, a very patient and accomodating fabric sourcer, helped us buy the GOTS-certified cotton that we needed.
Then, when we found sequins made from recycled plastic (thanks Rachel from The Sustainable Sequin Company!) we were so excited, but couldn’t believe that the standard way to use them was with polyester yarn. Again, patience and goodwill from our supplier helped us solve this issue too.
Once we had all the pieces of the puzzle in order, we could finally start prototyping our garments. And at the end of January, we could see how our garments were going to look like and fell in love with the softness of the tissue, the quality and detail of the handmade sewing, and the elegant and awesome cuts.
Africa, Americas, Asia and Europe
Then lots of things had to happen simultaneously: testing the prototypes, photoshoot, building the website. I am amazed at what we did in such a short time.
And then we launched our webshop in July. Not the best timing, but people ordered on the first day! That was so exciting, as well as the many great reactions on the quality of our garments.
So far, our garments are worn by cool kids in Argentina, Belgium, Cambodia, Chile, Germany, Hong Kong, Ivory Coast, Ireland, Singapore, Spain, Thailand and the UK.
Where do we go from here?
We are part of the #fashionrevolution. It means that we believe in business as a force for good, and making fashionable clothes for kids in a way that is fair to people and kind to our planet.
After a well-deserved break between Christmas and New Year, we’ll start the year with even more energy. We have an alpaca line coming up for winter 2020, and we plan to have our garments sold in some nice boutiques in Europe and Singapore.
Thank you, great people!
We’re building The Extra Smile with lots of great people, including you. Thanks so much for your support in the past year, such as:
- Following us on social media (twitter, facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn)
- Reading, commenting and sharing our newsletters and posts
- Recommending us
- Buying from us
We hope that you’ll continue to cheer for us and everyone in our supply chain in 2020. We can’t do it without you.
Special thanks to:
- Rodrigo and Vincent, our spouses
- Hella, Bénédicte and Maria Paz, our fashion designers
- Anneliese, Sopheak, Sopharit, Dara and Ajay, our manufacturers
- Oil, our production consultant
- Solene and Vanessa, our photographers
- Charles, Manon, Charlotte, Louis and Wolfgang, our models
- Hilary, Julieta, Santiago, Nathalie, Paulo, our brand designers
- Csilla, Eduardo, Mathilde, Léa, our mentors
- Pieter-Jan, Charline, Nathalie, Annelies, Tom, our proofreaders and language consultants
- Isabelle & Bellamie, Isa, Lou & Nour, Teresa & Pol, Solene & Louis, Annelies & Oscar, Marie & Léon, Nirmala & Wolfgang, Axelle, Charles & Diane, Caroline & Charlotte, Soren & Anouk, James, Ina, Chadine, Aurore, Mathias & Romane, Maxime, Stella & Manon, our testers
- Pat & Nicky, our stockists
- Jocelyn, Ruiqi & Anita, our media relations experts
- Our clients, without whom The Extra Smile would be a very short ride.