I'm excited to introduce you to Coco & Leelee, featuring colorful organic clothing for babies and toddlers, owned by Jaci Cutforth!
Describing herself as just a little bit fanatic about a healthy organic lifestyle, Jaci's passion for creating organic children's clothes is as vibrant as her products. Fun and Frolic is her latest collection and we talked about her company and she shared how she's raising her children and running her business on an organic farm in North Dakota.
Hi Jaci, could you tell us about the kinds of products that you make?
I make colorful organic children’s clothing and hand distressed denim in sizes NB-4T.
There's got to be a story behind your shop name?
As a matter of fact, there is. The first thing a mama thinks about when naming her business is her children. I have seven. I didn’t know how I was going to pull off including them all in the name! Then I thought of our animals.
I decided to go with one of our milk cows and the bull, Pippy and Peanut. I thought that was pretty cute. Then I did a google search and found there was actually a little boutique by that name!
After seeing a picture of one of my daughters, I remembered how she couldn’t say my oldest daughter’s name when she was little. Instead she called her Leelee. I put that with Coco, the nick name for my eldest son. Because these are the names that the younger kids called them, I felt like it did indeed include all of my children.
What inspires you?
I’m really passionate about being a good steward to the earth God has given us so there was no question that the clothing line would be anything other than organic for this very reason.
- GMO cotton is one of the top 3 genetically modified crops in the world and it is responsible for 25% of global insecticide use, mainly glyphosate. This is what makes up the majority of the population's wardrobe.
- Gylphosate is linked to a long list of health risk, destroys the topsoil, harms wildlife, pollutes water ways and is showing up in air, rain and water samples across the world.
Also, when I looked at the majority of the organic children’s clothing lines, I saw a lot of neutrals and muted colors in very specific styles. These were all very cute, but there is an entire chunk of the population that is not into that look.
My goal is to create designs that are a little more mainstream to attract more people to buy organic for a broader impact. At first the idea of organic may not be of much importance to them, but as I share and educate through my content and social media they realize the importance of choosing organic and make it an everyday habit.
My children of course are the inspiration for my colorful designs!
Are there certain colors and/or patterns that inspire you the most?
I love bright colors, florals, stripes, and polka dots. All my life I’ve been drawn to color. I think it is very fitting for children as well. They are the epitome of energy and happiness. That is what I think of when I see beautiful bright colors.
Do you dye and sew all of the clothes yourself?
All of the solid colored knits and the lace are hand dyed by myself.
I wanted 100% organic cotton and had a hard time finding the colors I wanted and certainly no continuity between the ones I did. I looked into dyeing fabric and found that I could have any color I could ever want!
I use fiber reactive dyes which is the strongest bond in nature. This means that the dye doesn’t leach and remains vibrant wash after wash. It doesn’t use heavy metal mordants (to affix the dye) like many other dyes. All these attributes make them more environmentally friendly.
What was the inspiration/theme behind your latest collection?
I just launched our summer collection Fun and Frolic. The boys collection has an ocean theme and the girls has what I would call a garden playdate theme. The girl’s collection is very girly and the boy’s is very much boy. They do have several overlapping colors and prints, but they are each still very unique.
I like your idea of a program to return gently used items that can be resold. Will buyers receive store credit when they do this?
Exactly. It works like this: A customer buys items from Coco & Leelee. Their child loves and wears them again and again. Then they grow out of them. At this point they can return unstained pieces to Coco & Leelee for store credit equal to 15% of the original purchase price. Then we will offer the gently used clothes for sale on our site.
Did you know that the average person throws away 60 lbs. of clothes a year? That’s crazy! These clothes make up 5-10% of the landfill waste in America.
So, we think let’s donate them. Sadly, the majority of clothes that are taken to second hand stores and charities do not always benefit those intended. About 90% of the clothes donated to places like the Goodwill are sold to textile recyclers. This sounds great, but the truth is third world countries are being inundated with our excess. Some of it does indeed get resold in these countries at low prices. This too sounds good. Let me explain the problem.
This is destroying the local textile market. Twelve African countries have banned the import of used clothing in order to combat this. Others are looking to do the same.
The other issue is that there is just so much of this second-hand clothing that it often sits in giant heaps. Much of it isn’t even biodegradable but made from synthetic fibers. Haiti is a prime example. It has become a dumping ground for our cast offs. There are landfills that consist almost entirely of donated clothes. We have to ask ourselves is this really helping?
At Coco & Leelee we make clothing that is constructed to last. We encourage people to pass it on to friends, family, neighbor or co-workers. If that isn’t an option, then they have the opportunity to return it back to us for store credit. My hope is for this program to cause people to think about their buying choices and what they choose to do with their clothing when they are done with it. More and more people are buying second hand for at least part of their wardrobe.
We are just one little business, but you have to start somewhere. Getting people to think about things differently can go a long way.
What can people expect to see from your shop in the future?
With the launch of our summer collection we expanded our size range to 4T. We will continue to expand our sizes and I have visions of a tween line. In the near future we will be adding underwear! I’ve made underwear for my youngest kids for several years. It is so much fun to make those tiny little panties!
Do you have any promotions going on that you’d like to share?
I thought I should do a special one just for your readers as a thank you for having me on your blog.
- They can use the code SPLASHESOFCOLOR for 15% off until July 1st.
- See the Fun and Frolic collection and more at Coco & Leelee and follow her on Instagram: @cocoandleelee
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