Small Shop Love: Sustainable Waterproof Outerwear by Faire Child
I don't know if you've heard but it rains a lot in Vancouver (huge understatement). My kids live in rain gear in all seasons and I find most gear can't stand up to that much wear and it's often ugly. So I was thrilled to find a company that is making beautiful rain gear that is made to last and sustainably made, in Canada no less! In speaking with the team at Faire Child I feel like I've gotten an education in outerwear and the possibilities in sustainable clothing. Aesthetically speaking the rain pants are the cutest I've ever seen and the adjustable straps are genius. I had trouble deciding between the rain coat and the anorak as they are both equally adorable. Theo is going to get years out of the pants and coat and I don't doubt they will stand up to Mae wearing them for years after.
Also the material is so light and soft which I didn't expect from waterproof clothing. Trevor grew up in Prince Rupert which sees more rain than Vancouver, so he is very specific about outdoor gear. We've often disagreed on outerwear as I want it to look nice and Trevor just wants it to function. This is the first time we have agreed on outerwear for the kids! Trevor was especially impressed by the sealed seams (something that I wouldn't have noticed). We spent a rainy day at the beach recently where I captured Theo playing in Faire Child. Theo is wearing the 5/6 Rain Coat and Pants. He is small for his age, still fitting size 3/4 clothes at 4.5 years old.
The women behind Faire Child kindly offered to answer some questions below about their company. The care and attention to detail that has gone into the creation of this line is truly inspiring. Thank you to Beth, Alissa and Tabitha for sharing and creating something so functional and beautiful for our kids!
I'm often complaining about the lack of beautiful, classic, well-made rain gear for kids. But instead of complaining about it, you solved the problem! How did you get the guts to start your own company?
Once I became a mother, I felt I had the guts to do anything! The act of giving birth was the most challenging and rewarding thing I have ever done. My now-toddler reminds me daily that there is no right or wrong way to do something. I admire her persistence and unending willingness to try new things. It altered my once crippling view of perfection and made me much more accepting of failure, thus allowing me to be more creative and free. Within a year of having my daughter, I was on the path to starting the business I had always wanted.
Can you tell us a bit more about your unique fabric and manufacturing processes as I know this is a key component for your company?
So glad you asked! We are huge champions for the fabric we use and for the innovative textiles being made by Sympatex. I discovered the fabric through the Sustainable Angle Fashion Expo in the UK. Sympatex has taken advantage of the unique properties of PET, commonly used in water bottles, and harnessed them into an amazing textile.
As far as the manufacturing process goes, after the PET bottles have been recycled, Sympatex processes them by crushing the bottles into small bits that are then reformed into a yarn. These yarns are woven into a textile that is 100% recycled, 100% waterproof, windproof, breathable, soft and lightweight and moisture wicking. There are also Bluesign and Oeko-tex certified which means no harmful chemicals have been used to make the fabric. Using rPET, or recycled polyester, as opposed to traditional virgin polyester, helps divert waste from landfills and reduces our dependency on petroleum as a raw material. It takes 19 average water bottles to make a Faire child rain coat in size 5/6.
The end result is a fabric with amazing properties. We are confident that children can spend the entire day outside, comfortable, in any season, in this fabric. The real kicker is that the fabric is also recyclable, so it never has to end up in a landfill. We have set up a take back program so that after many, many years of use the garment can be returned to us and we take responsibility for recycling it.
If you want to get into the real nitty gritty of the fabric’s eco-impact – The rPET (recycled polyester) fabric we use from Sympatex has a 32% reduction carbon emission, a 94% reduction in water use and a 50% reduction in energy use when compared to virgin polyesters.
If you’re super interested in even more details about our manufacturing process, please take a look at our website – https://fairechild.com/pages/about-the-fabric
How was starting your own Kickstarter campaign? Any advice for anyone considering doing the same?
Running a Kickstarter Campaign was definitely full of ups and downs! Going into it, we were a little naïve, but we were so overwhelmed by the amount of support we received. Designing a thoughtful campaign and having a good quality video was paramount for us in making sure we communicated our message effectively. As a new company, we wanted to ensure our first impression was a good one.
If we were to give advice to anyone on the fence about doing Kickstarter – it is definitely a huge benefit to have strong networks around you and people who are willing to share your campaign. Especially having likeminded organizations and individuals around you who support and share your project. It can be feel awkward and presumptuous reaching out to people and asking for help, especially being so new. Having said that, the response was incredible, and we are so happy with the outcome.
One other thing to be mindful of – those Kickstarter fees and payment processing fees – yowza!
I loved a recent post you did about how to layer Faire Child with other clothing to make it work for all seasons, even winter! Living in a small space, I love the concept of having less gear that works all year round. Could you share more about that here? And share some of your favourite brands for layers?
Yes! We are huge evangelists for layering. It really makes such a huge difference. By learning a few basics of the unique properties of various materials you can use them to your advantage. Our rain gear can be used year-round as an outer layer and by understanding a few layering principles you will know how to get the most use out of your garments.
We aren’t huge fans of traditional outerwear, specifically snow gear, because they don’t actually keep you warm and dry for that long. In a way, they are trying to be a three in one - the base, insulating and outer layer – and not really doing a great job at any of them.
In the fall and winter, we advocate for wearing a base and insulating layer. Fabrics like merino wool are breathable and wick away moisture. They are really great as a base layer in the winter. A fabric like cotton shouldn’t be worn as a base layer in colder temperature because it soaks up moisture, instead of wicking it away, and so when it gets wet it stays wet and makes you cold. Our favourite brands for base layers are Luv Mother, Simply Merino or Ruskovilla (ed. note yes, we love Simply Merino too! Theo is wearing their top in these photos).
Fleece, wool and down are great insulating layers for chilly weather. It’s best to pick sweaters that aren’t too bulky. We love the wool overalls made by Disana and Mini Mioche has great fleece insulating layers, too.
As temperatures get warmer in the spring and summer you can ditch that insulating layer and use cotton and linen for your base layer. Red Creek Kids has adorable linen garments and we love the organic cotton in the Knit Essentials Collection by Petits Vilains (ed. note: agreed! PV is a favourite for us too!). So thankful for so many amazing Canadian-made options!
I know we are fellow Canadians but I'm pretty sure the weather is a bit more extreme on the East Coast (correct me if I am wrong?). What are your best tips for getting outside with the kids despite the weather?
We definitely get our fair share of wet, cold and windy weather – and often all at once! Our winters and springs are so humid that you have to take extra precautions to keeping that chill away. And Nor’easters are definitely a thing. The saying ‘If you don’t like the weather, wait a few minutes’ truly applies to Nova Scotia!
Proper clothing – for yourself and your children - really does make a huge difference for getting outside with the kids. Obviously, in that rainy weather, having waterproof outerwear with sealed seams is key. Sealed seams, while super common in high-end adult rainwear, are extremely rare when it comes to children’s outerwear. Likely because it is costly to manufacture, and kids tend to get new jackets every season. To that end, we’ve tried to create garments that can grow with your child and which are durable and unisex so they can be passed from child to child. Our outerwear can also be layered up or down, so it is useful for all seasons.
Between us at Faire Child we have a couple rambunctious toddlers who love to be outside. We have found that keeping it simple is key – it doesn’t have to be a huge trek or ordeal. It can be a neighborhood stroll, building a snowman in the backyard or walking to the closest park. It’s the fresh air and not rushing that feels so rejuvenating about the outdoors for us and our kiddos. Make it an adventure – you’ll get those imagination muscles working too!
We try to make sure to layer up properly and wear cozy hats, mitts, wool socks and waterproof booties. We’ve found that once those hands or feet get cold, it’s game over in about ~2 seconds.
What is the best part of running Faire Child?
The luxury and privilege it is to be able to run my own company. I’m super aware of how lucky I am to be able to do this and while it can definitely keep me up at night sometimes, it is the most rewarding opportunity.
What is the worst part ;) ?
It’s not the worst part, but definitely the most difficult part has been holding Faire Child to a very high standard in terms of sustainability. We wanted to make sure what we were creating for the next generation was truly not just less bad, but more good. Often seemingly small decisions become huge hurdles, like finding compostable shipping labels and poly bags. We’ve had a few setbacks as a company because it is just so important to us that when we put something out into the world, it all speaks the same language. The marine grade sliders on the backpack are recyclable, the snaps made from re-used brass and the elastic, thread, webbing, etc, have all been painstakingly sourced. Many sustainable options are brand new or still in the middle of research and development which can create delays - we are so excited for a day when these will be the only options available!