I launched Jake & Maya in 2009 with the goal of creating something different at the time, a children’s clothing brand that was stylish but yet sustainable and ethically produced.
I had never designed children’s wear before. I trained and worked as an interior designer for many years so was used to designing but in terms of designing children’s clothing, it was completely new and i had a lot to learn.
I worked very hard, trying to learn as much as I could from my co-workers. It wasn’t just learning the trade but learning about sustainability issues was equality important to me.
The more the brand grew, the more I realised how much more we could and needed to do as a brand.
1, I had real issues with the whole production process. We worked only with local producers but is it really more ethical than working with let’s say a local production unit in India ?
2, We wanted to use remnants and vintage material but were often faced with problems of not having enough material for our orders and had to find alternatives.
3, The other problem we had was all the remnants we ended up with each season. Although we did managed to reduce some waste, we always also managed to create more.
4, We also soon discovered that our target market really didn’t care about sustainability at all. All they wanted was something fashionable for their little ones and at a good price.
5, Finally, I felt as a wholesale children’s fashion brand that was trying do what the market wanted ie. produce at least two collections each year to please the buyers wasn’t a sustainable solution. In fact, it felt like we were actually contributing to the problem, rather than solving it. Each season, we would create more waste and each season, we are encouraging people to buy more and each season, there will be left-over stock at our retailers warehouses. It just didn’t really make sense.
6, On top of this all, children grow out of their clothing so quickly so no matter what we did, however well we design or produce, we will always contribute to a portion of what goes into landfills. So, is all this then just a pointless exercise ?
It was time to re-think our production process, our market and what we really wanted to achieve and how. With other words, we have to start all over again.
So, welcome on our journey of discovery, learning and re-building of a sustainable children’s brand that really want to make a change in the way we work.
There is no shame in beginning again, because you get a chance to build bigger and better than before. ” (Leon Brown)