How Our Ethical Kids Brand Was Born. Portuguese Expat

"Are you crazy? You don't speak Portuguese!" This is what my brother said to me when I told him I was starting this company... 

You have found your way here because you have an interest in kids sleepwear. Perhaps you are a parent, a grandparent or someone who owns a shop. I started Lilala KIDS after moving to Portugal from Australia a few years back. No longer could I buy my favorite brand of pajamas, the ones I tried on my youngest daughter who suffered from eczema at the time. So I started to buy what was available to me, cheap, mass-produced products that simply didn't last. The cuts were bad (in fact with one particular purchase I had to get the scissors out to increase the size of the neck hole so it could actually fit on my daughters head), any decorative plastic printing cracked and peeled after being in the tumble dryer, or hems came down and I was out with my sewing kit. I was completely frustrated.

Portugal was renown for its textile manufacturing prior to the huge rise of cheap production in Asia. Everywhere in the northern part of the country, you will find factories that used to make some of the huge designer brand's clothing - but most of these brands have moved to Asia. Here was a real opportunity for us. We are proud of our gorgeous organic cotton boy's bathrobes and organic cotton girls bath gowns are made right here and we are supporting a country during an economic downturn.

As for our pajamas, well I love organic and searched high and low for a local manufacturer to work with organic Pima cotton, but we had no luck. To remain organic, Pima cotton is still hand-picked (can you imagine that?) by the local Peruvian people collecting the cotton from the plants and offering much-needed work for many people. Of course, I could get non-organic Pima cotton, but that didn't interest me, hence why our PJs are made in Peru.

Every day I get emails from manufacturing companies in India, China, Bangladesh and even Indonesia asking to quote on producing our range but, to be honest, we are proud to be supporting other countries and feel refreshed when I can put on the label: Made in Portugal or Made in Peru to our garments.

The journey of creating Lilala KIDS has been fun. For this mum-entrepreneur, living in a country where she doesn't speak the language, it has been fulfilling and rewarding. Now we are on a journey to grow the brand.

I would be happy to partner with any other mum-entrepreneurs out there having a go at balancing a work/life scenario. If you own a shop, have a blog, deal with kids, I would love to hear from you. If we can help each other, I think the world will be a better place.

Written by Astrid Fernandes
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