Friday, 7 December 2012

A Fair Christmas Fayre

The Fair Christmas Fayre starts tomorrow at the Horniman Museum and runs on both days of the weekend. It is London's longest running ethical market place and this weekend there will be over 30 stalls selling fair trade, recycled and Eco gifts to help make your Christmas feel good!

I am thrilled to be part of this fantastic event (and that it is being held at the Horniman, South London's gem makes it even better) and although This is Wiss is not an obviously Eco company I do share many of the principles of the Fair Christmas Fayre.

Since becoming older, wiser, and a mother I have become increasingly Eco aware. We do as much as we can in our day to day lives - recycling, grow our own veg, waste as little food as possible etc - and this philosophy continues into my designs and materials used for my products.

Because my target market is babies and children, and of course their parents, I think carefully about what materials I use and where possible I use natural fabrics. My Square Bear & Square Hare comforters are made using organic cotton and bamboo blended terry towelling. Bamboo has natural antiseptic properties and is very absorbent but just as important, it washes well too!

My Changing Mats and Waterproof bags are made with 100% cotton outer layers. I used washable nappies when my son was a baby, and these waterproof bags made it simple to use them whilst out and about. I swapped the clean nappies for the soiled ones, plus any wet clothes, and the bags kept everything away from the other contents of my bag. At the end of the day the bags could just be washed along with our clothes.

I use a lot of felt in my products; it comes in a range of great colours and is easy to work with. I use a 50/50 wool blend felt because it feels so much nicer than a synthetic equivalent. It can only be surface washed as the wool makes it shrink, but it gets softer as it gets older. Natural fabrics age beautifully and I like to think that my toys will be played with for many years.

As a parent, I prefer to buy toys that will last not only materially, but that will engage the child over a long period of time, and maybe lend itself to many ways of being played with. I try to design with this in mind too.

However, practicality comes above everything else - my products must function well or what's the point? Sometimes a natural fabric just won't work in which case I choose the best synthetic substitute. My squishy dice need to be able to withstand a lot of manhandling, throwing and usually a lot more chewing! The first range I made weren't able to be washed so I sourced a replacement. The new range of bright dice are made from neoprene, which is machine washable. So although they aren't the greenest option it does mean that the dice should be able to last for many more years.
Above all, my main claim is that all This is Wiss products are 100% handmade in the UK! I've had to enlist my mum to do some sewing in Suffolk this year, but everything else is made by me in South London!

There are many things that I can do to make This is Wiss a greener company, and in the new year I will be looking into what more I can do. I am starting to send out more orders so the first thing will be to source some recycled packaging! If anyone has recommendations I'd love to hear about them.

I can't wait for this weekend and will enjoy being part of The Fair Christmas Fayre both as a seller and a customer. You too can have a green Christmas! See you there?

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