Back in the 80s, Alice and John Oldland moved from Toronto, Canada, to the lakeside village of North Hatley, Québec, where they opened a gift shop called the Little Blue House (la Petite maison bleue). Alice, a painter, was inspired by the surrounding countryside and designed a series of aprons featuring her whimsical farm animals. The aprons sold like hot cakes and it wasn’t long before other stores wanted to sell them too. And thus, was born the Little Blue House gift line. Alice and John quickly grew their cottage business supplying stores with the best cow and pig aprons the world had EVER seen! Soon after, cows and pigs gave birth to moose and bears; aprons led to apparel and many other gift items.
We have come a long way since the small gift shop in North Hatley but one thing’s for certain, we continue to place a heavy premium on trust. We deeply value the connections and trusting relationships we have built over the years with our employees, our suppliers and our customers located all over the world. We work really hard to make sure every decision we make is the right one. It matters not just to us, but to our customers, to the communities we’re involved with and serve, as well as the environment.
- Azo dyes are the most widely used colourants in the apparel industry as they offer bright high-quality colours that last. Without getting into a full-blown chemistry lesson, in the simplest terms, Azo dyes (or Azo Colourants) contain compounds. These compounds are called amines. Under certain conditions, some of these amines become carcinogenic. Over 20 different cancer-causing amines are banned, but sadly, not everywhere.
These banned amines are not only used to dye fabrics and leather, they are used to colour beads, sequins, threads, yarns, buttons, zippers and various other finishes. And equally troubling, some of these Azo dyes are also used to colour food!
At Hatley, we took a stand a long time ago to never source anything that was coloured with Azo dyes. Other, safer and less dubious low impact colourants exist. If we wouldn’t let our own kids wear apparel that contained Azo dyes, why would we choose to make and sell garments that are, when you, our customers, share the same safety concerns as we do? Babies and young kids are especially vulnerable as they put everything in their mouths! We will never allow the use of something that is known to cause cancer into our products.
-As the organic cotton apparel industry grows, so too do the certification requirements for the use of organic cotton labels. We chose GOTS because it’s the most recognized, certifiable and comprehensive standard for organic cotton in the world.
As a family business, what particularly drew us to GOTS is that it factors in environmental and social issues in its certification process. When you buy a piece of our fully GOTS certified clothing, it means that not only are you purchasing a high quality organic cotton garment, but you are also helping to further reduce the amount of water and energy required to make them, to eliminate toxic chemical contamination and carcinogen exposure to workers, to improve soil health and integrity which in turn is great for the farming industry and to increase ethical employment, locally and throughout all the different organization that have a hand in making our garments.