|Beru Kids: Repurposing Materials Into Stylish Children's Clothing|
|Written by Lanni Lantto - Friday, 03 June 2016|
I love all things upcycled and now that I’m a Mom, I’ve been looking more into upcycled children’s clothing. If you’re like me, you asked for all second hand clothing on your baby registry practically begging people, “It’s okay please don’t buy it new, go to the thrift/consignment store, wash it, and I’ll think you’re even cooler, trust me!” You want to continue that mindset as your child grows and luckily brands are making it easier for us.
7 Questions with Sofia Melograno, Founder of Beru Kids
Eco Fashion World: How did it get started, how did it come to be?
Sofia Melograno: I was studying public health, poverty alleviation and development in Sub-Saharan Africa (mainly South Africa and northern Tanzania) when I met a woman who established a sewing cooperative for HIV+ mothers (who would otherwise be jobless), and simultaneously started a school for their children. Seeing how this woman transformed workers' lives was so impactful and inspiring.
SM: There is so much waste in the fashion industry, so Beru is dedicated to not creating any more. We are making use of what's already available, and repurposing those resources into beautiful clothing for kids.
EFW: Has it been a challenge to find good quality second hand materials?
SM: So, deadstock material is surplus fabric that has been dumped by large scale manufacturers. Let's say, a big brand purchases 10k yards of a rayon challis from a mill, but only uses 8k in production. They have no use for the excess 2k yards, so they sell it at a very low cost to a "jobber." We, at Beru, have relationships with these jobbers around Los Angeles who we will reach out to us when they get new fabrics in or they know we are looking for a fabric in a specific weight, color, print, etc.
SM: As a young company, making a profit in this industry, regardless of what materials you use, is a challenge. I will say that what makes it more difficult is that we cannot produce in large quantities because all of our fabric is surplus. We can’t reorder fabric that is doing well because it probably doesn’t exist anymore, especially fabric with prints. When we’re sold out, we're sold out. Now, there are ways around that. For example, we can recreate a similar print and print that on a solid surplus fabric. However, that is quite costly and we’re making an effort to move away from that process.
EFW: Do you have advice for young designers who would like to source more second hand materials and who are trying to move in this direction?
SM: When I started in this industry, I literally knew nothing. I didn’t even know what a pattern was and I definitely had no idea where to get fabric or what the overall process looked like. Surplus materials are a great place to start as the minimum quantities required for purchase are significantly smaller. One of the places I purchase from has a 20-yard minimum versus a 100-yard minimum at other places.
SM: It’s so hard to choose just one thing as I feel everyday I’m celebrating a small achievement. The greatest success so far has been the positive feedback. When I first started I had so many doubts. Can I do this on my own? Is this good? Am I the only person who likes this? Am I as competent as I think I am? I still feel so new to the industry and know that I have so much more to learn, but knowing that I’m moving in a direction that people are responding positively to has been what keeps me going everyday. Beru is still so young that this year will be a pivotal year for us. We have a lot of exciting things on the horizon.
EFW: Why is the sourcing of ‘materials which would otherwise be thrown away' important in terms of our environmental impact and the fashion industry?
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