This article first appeared in our Consumer Revolution issue of My Green Pod Magazine, released on 19 Dec 2019. Click here to subscribe to our digital edition and get each issue delivered straight to your inbox
Twenty-three years ago, JoJo Maman Bébé was a tiny business that operated from a kitchen table in Wales, with stock held in a shed that belonged to the parents of the company’s founder and CEO, Laura Tenison MBE.
Thanks to Laura’s eye for practical clothing and imaginative designs, JoJo is now a go-to boutique brand for families looking for durable and attractive clothes with common-sense features.
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We’re talking covered zips that don’t rub the neck, lightly elasticated hoods, mitten clips and coats that are longer at the back to keep little ones warm. They’re touches that can go unnoticed until you have to deal with them not being there.
The kids’ clothes don’t come cheap – especially if you’re a new parent who’s trying to juggle budgets and survive on half the usual income – but they hold their quality so well that you can hand them down time and time again, or recoup a lot of the initial cost by selling them on when they’ve been outgrown.
Reuse is a common theme at JoJo; if you’ve visited a high street store you’ll probably have seen the From a Mother to Another hand-me-down initiative, which is tied to The Trussell Trust network of UK foodbanks.
What you may not be aware of is that reuse also features heavily in the materials: JoJo’s Supersoft Performance Fleece has been made from recycled fabric and bottles for over 10 years. It’s a top-of-the-range fabric that provides a level of quality rarely found in kids’ clothes.
JoJo Polarfleece jackets, hats, scarves, mittens, balaclavas and wellie-liners are made from recycled yarn that has been spun from fabric chips that started life as plastic bottles. Around 17 large plastic bottles go into every Polarfleece All-in-One, helping to save energy, emissions and waste to landfill.
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Going back to price, the ‘fashion’ fleece usually found in cheaper clothes costs around £2 per metre, while the Polarfleece or Performance Fleece costs £6-8 per metre.
Cheap fabrics can result in enormous damage – from toxic dyes in our waterways to hellish conditions for workers – and on a very practical level they don’t usually feel nice to wear.
The Polarfleece range has a huge following – not because of its eco-credentials, but because it’s lightweight, breathable, water repellent, quick-drying, anti-pilling, machine-washable at 30ºC and available in a huge range of colours and designs.
The waterproof outerwear available from JoJo is also made from recycled materials; polyester clothes that can’t be worn any more are torn into shreds which are broken down and stretched into long fibres that are woven into rolls of fabric to make new clothes. It’s soft, flexible and lightweight, making it perfect for dungarees, all-in-ones, mittens, trousers and hats.
The emphasis on quality and longevity at JoJo could be down to the ‘great values’ Laura’s mum instilled in her five children, including ‘waste not, want not.’
‘Our founding ethos was based on sustainable business practice – long before it was fashionable’, Laura reveals. ‘This is how we achieved B Corp Certification – an accreditation that’s notoriously hard to achieve for fashion retailers. Putting people and planet above profit is part of our DNA and this mantra becomes more relevant to the world as each day passes.’
To become a certified B Corp, a business must complete a tough certification process that assesses its social and environmental impact across all its operations. Despite now being a medium-sized business – and a long way from Laura’s kitchen table – JoJo has upheld its small business ethos and still puts people and the planet first.
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