At the beginning of the year, we added something to our shop that many of you have long been waiting for – rubber bands!
As a commercial customer, you can buy since then pull-in and perforated rubber bands in different strengths. Of course, we are very happy about the new arrival in our portfolio and your response has been really overwhelming so far. What we still owe you, however, is a portrait of the one to whom we owe this great cooperation. That’s why we met with Mandy Geddert last week and drilled her with questions. But read for yourself who Mandy is and what she does when she does not deal with the subject ‘rubber bands’!
Hello Mandy! Could you please introduce yourself very briefly!
Hey, my name is Mandy Geddert. I am 48 years young, married, have two adolescents at home and work in the most beautiful neighborhood of Berlin, in Oberschöneweide.
Many may know you as the founder of the children’s fashion label ,CharLe’. When did you start the label, what motivated you, and what difficulties have you had to deal with?
In March 2010, I founded the sustainable children’s fashion label ‘CharLe – sustainable kids fashion’ with the goal of developing youthful and aesthetically pleasing organic clothing for children.
Why create clothes that grow with you? Well, children grow incredibly fast, especially in the first years of life. Constantly, another clothing size is needed. This costs nerves, time, and money. So it only makes sense to develop garments that carry a child for a long time and that ideally can be passed on to a sibling afterward.
Exactly those reasons have hooked me to start my own label because it did not exist back when my kids were little. Incidentally, there was hardly any organic clothing in beautiful cheerful colors. Our clothes, we are five today, fit over 2-3 control sizes. We have taken into account that the materials we use are correspondingly robust.
However, the biggest difficulty at the time was finding a production facility in Germany. Today we produce almost exclusively in our own house, in Berlin. We produce large quantities in Saxony.
What do you value with your designs and their implementation?
The designs should be child-friendly and aesthetically pleasing. Because we do not use patterned fabrics, the biggest challenge is actually the designs and the combination of different colors to make children feel attracted to our garments. You can reach children much faster via prints and patterns. We always have to put a little more creativity on it. 😉 We also process a bit of nostalgia of other centuries in our designs. Simply, because we think it’s beautiful.
In the implementation, we are very clear on the prevention of waste. This means that this aspect is already taken into account in the sectional design. Unfortunately, a few scraps of cloth can not be avoided. From them we sew doll clothes, small balls, and decorative accessories. Or we donate leftovers to day-care centers, who tinker with it. Basically, we have virtually no waste for the ton.
What difficulties do you have to keep fighting and – more optimistic – how do you solve them?
This question is the hardest one to answer for me. Several years ago, I would have written that it is difficult to find suitable materials for my business, such as biological substances and ingredients. But that is not so frustrating today. However, I often find the bureaucracy and laws in Germany quite tedious.
In fact, it is also difficult to find good employees who are artisan and curious, who want to build something together, who do not find problems a deterrent, but who are challenged and have fun designing and making children’s clothing. I had to search a long time until I found my very own wonderful team. With everything else I see it more athletic: What does not exist, I attack myself, if it is important to me.
What does sustainability mean for you : at work, but also privately?
To consciously live and consume. I always consider whether I really need something or not – at work and also privately. I fix a lot. Green electricity, biological cleaners, sustainable office supplies, regional foods etc. are standard.
We ship our clothing climate-neutral in recycled or used cardboard and print our catalogs and promotional materials in the region as ecologically as possible. Our customers can drink with us a delicious coffee or a Biobräuschen if they want.
Which means of transport I use or whether I go on foot or take the bike, usually decide the time factor, the weather and the distance. Sustainability in all areas of life is no empty phrase for me!
Since a while you offer about your site also certified rubber bands. Our customers are really happy! What exactly led to this decision?
The search for an ecological alternative to the conventional rubber band, which we put into our children’s clothing, was unsuccessful. About seven years ago, there were only rubber bands according to the ‘Ökotex’ standard. That did not convince me. And so I went in search of a specialist with a pioneering spirit and found something in Austria.
However, it took me a year of persuasion until the weaver wanted to go on this adventure with me. Why? He himself had converted his production decades ago to conventional tapes in order to be able to play in the global tapes market. But since he has the knowledge how to make tapes from natural materials and what to pay attention to, he was eventually convinced of my idea to at least try it. Christmas of the year 2012, I held the first real organic rubber band in all its beauty in my hands!
What would be the ideal fashion as well as consumer landscape for you? Which forms of exchange do you consider sensible and important in order to make sustainable fashion (production) a matter that at some point may no longer be urged only by a minority?
Less instead of more. Quality before quantity. Individual craft instead of industrial mass production. Regionality. Appreciation. More together. Use synergies. Responsible action. Charity. Acceptance. Honesty. Openness. Modesty. Fulfillment.
I could also go far and answer in complete sentences. However, I deliberately chose the short version, which allows more space for own thoughts. The last noun is rather a result of the previous one.
Thank you for this informative and above all very inspiring interview …
… and to you and all of our Blog-readers a nice and relaxing weekend!