Blue Canoe's first home was a small cottage that sat in a small redwood grove in Northern California. The space burst with the energy of four industrious women all starting their own clothing businesses-from hemp hats to hand painted silk.
The main room was dominated by a large work table. The walls were lined with industrial sewing machines and shelves overflowing with fabrics. We stacked colorful cones of thread on top of the low ceiling beams and somehow found space to display and sell our goods. Two talented seamstresses cut and sewed one day a week for each of us.
It was a noisy, friendly place where the four of us brain-stormed ideas, traded resources and information. helped walk-in customers and hammered out ways to build our businesses.
My first purchase was a $200 roll of undyed cotton/lycra fabric. I did all the designing and pattern making, some of the sewing and all the bookkeeping, garment dyeing and purchasing. Marketing meant going to craft fairs. I divided my time between growing my business, waitressing and building an organic. off-grid homestead with my husband and two sons.
My first design was a two-piece swim suit styled for comfort and movement. I wasn't much of a sunbather and needed a suit that would stay put when I played volleyball or body surfed.
My suits were instantly popular here in Humboldt County. Women began buying the tops to wear as bras because they were cotton and comfortable. I gradually expanded the line and converted entirely to organically-grown cotton when the fabric became available. I found a natural niche of wholesale prospects gleaned from the Co-op America Green Pages.
The business moved to a building beside Benbow Lake and, inspired by a hand-made wooden blue canoe I noticed standing out among the familiar green fiberglass models. I named my company Blue Canoe.
Back then, there were only a couple of other apparel companies using organic cotton. They're not in business now, which makes Blue Canoe the longest-running successful organic cotton clothing company around. From the beginning, we were known for our "un-granola" styles and fabrics. We were called "the pioneer of stylish organic clothing."
Sixteen years later we maintain not only our commitment to organic cotton and manufacturing in the USA, but also to providing truly stylish, beautifully fitting and functional clothing. Our line has expanded from a few bras and panties to a full line of European-quality lingerie and loungewear, active apparel and fluid bamboo travel/casual wear.
Our main office still sits under the redwood trees, beside the lake, but our lifestyle looks are at home in hip, urban San Francisco where all our clothes are made.
Sixteen years ago, I followed my dream. Thousands of customers later, I can see that was the right thing to do. I hope you'll love wearing Blue Canoe as much as I love creating it!
Organic farming incorporates biologically based rather than chemically dependent growing systems to raise cotton crops in several important areas.
Soil - Massive amounts of chemicals are used in the growing and processing of cotton. Chemical fertilizers can have a number of harmful effects on the environment, including the contamination of ground and surface water, beneficial insects and surrounding plant and animal wildlife. Organic cotton farming utilizes natural compost, frequent crop rotations, and cover crop strategies in place of synthentic fertilizers. In order to achieve organic certification, organic cotton fields must be free of synthetically derived chemicals for three years.
Pesticides - Even when used according to directions, pesticides can be extremely harmful to people, wildlife and the environment. According to one recent pesticide study in California, cotton ranked third among California crops for total number of worker illnesses caused by pesticides. In addition, fish, livestock, birds, beneficial insects and soil microorganisms can all be negatively impacted by pesticides. In organic cotton farming, farmers cultivate a diversity of natural enemies that prey on insect pests, and introduce them to the fields at well-timed intervals. Weeds are controlled by hand labor or flame devices rather than herbicide applications.
Harvest - In most areas, cotton plants must be killed before harvesting. Organic cotton proctices are certified materials and lack of water rather than chemical applications to achieve this ready-for-picking state. Though some organic farming operations use machines for harvesting, many rely on the hand picked method, ensuring a higher quality of cotton and also a higher standard of living for devloping countries that produce cotton.
BLUE CANOE & THE ORGANIC COTTON STORY
According to founder and president of Blue Canoe, Laurie Dunlap, utilizing organic cotton in the company's line of yoga and bodywear was one of the easiest business decisions she has ever made.
"I have always embraced the whole concept of natural fabrics and organic materials," she said. "for activites such as yoga, Pilates and any holistic fitness activity, having clean, pure, non-toxic fabric next to your skin is crucial."
Blue Canoe has manufactured yoga apparel and bodywear since 1993 and uses only organic cotton in its stylish, functional line of apparel.
Dunlap said after the manufacturing process, Blue Canoe utilizes fiber reactive dye that works only on natural porous fiber and is absorbed rather than coating the fiber. According to Dunlap, it's the least toxic of dyes, takes less water, uses less energy and produces less waste.
"It's definitely a conscious and deliberate choice, but one that's definintely worth it. We hear from our customers all the time and they truly appreciate our commitment to the environment," said Dunlap. "People are concerned about the environment, and about the choices they make. We all want the same thing: a healthy and secure future for our children. People are looking for alternatives to chemical-ridden clothing and we're happy to provide a great alternative."
source: Blue Canoe and the Cleaner Cotton Campaign- produced by the Sustainable Cotton Project.
Copyright (c) 2010 Body Body. All rights reserved including but not limited to photography, text and layout.
| bodybody.com | www.bodybody.com | http://bodybody.com | http://www.bodybody.com |