Interview: Jannine Barron of Nature’s Child

February 25, 2007 at 5:58 pm Leave a comment

Nature’s ChildNature’s Child sells quality, earth-friendly products for natural pregnancy, babies and children. Their products are made from the heart, care for the earth and encourage individuality, self-esteem, trust and creativity. Earth Mamas Web talks to Jannine Barron, creator of Nature’s Child and mother of two about what it’s like being an entrepreneur, an environmentalist and a mother.

What inspired you to create Nature’s Child? What were your intentions?
My children and the lack of natural products available for them was the inspiration for Nature’s Child. There were virtually no natural alternatives for basic items six years ago when I was pregnant with my first child. I knew what I wanted like a belly oil and a pre-natal yoga video, but they just didn’t exist. Anything I did find took determination and research or importing them from Europe and USA. It seemed crazy and I was sure I was not the only person wanting natural alternatives to disposable, plastic products and mainstream information.

My clear intention became, to create a place where natural, organic, chemical-free products for pregnancy pampering, birth preparation, baby essentials and children’s play were readily available. And by creating such a store, more parents would be inspired to create natural products. It’s really only been in the last couple of years that products have even been created to create Nature’s Child. The timing is right for a store like us. The products are becoming available and the demand is increasing. When I began to research the idea, I found that America and Europe had lots of natural products and dedicated organic, natural stores, but no-one was doing it here in Australia.

So how did you start Nature’s Child?
Nature’s Child has been a dream in different forms since the birth of my first son six years ago. There wasn’t even such thing as a pregnancy belly oil then. My midwife told me to get some almond oil and rub it on my belly. I remember thinking, why isn’t there just a bottle with a label on it saying pregnancy belly rub so I can be sure it is the right thing to use? Since that time, mothers all over Australia thinking the same thing started creating such products. My product was the hug-a-bub, which I created with another mum in 1998. Even then though, I just wasn’t satisfied with one product only. Since I couldnt create all my dreams, I realised it was easier to encourage other inventors and create a place where it would be easy to buy them all.

I began to refine the idea to earth-friendly products only when I began looking at my own parenting habits. I was fascinated by nappies in particular, different ways of folding, different styles. I was thrilled to find pre-folded and fitted varieties and proceeded to purchase samples of everything i could get my hands on. I didn’t realise at the time that this passion was actually research for future brands that I would sell! I also sought out parenting publications in Australia and Overseas, reading everything I could get my hands on – about alternative products in particular. America and Europe are advanced in this area with many exciting, earth-friendly products, lots of organic stuff. In Australia, there was very little and those people that were creating pure products tended to be small cottage industries without a platform for marketing.

The first catalogue was called Nature’s Belly, Baby and Child. I pulled it together with another visionary mother with similiar ideas from Murwillumbah. She had similiar idea’s at her shop “Mother Nature’s”. ( Who has since gone on to create earthmamasweb!!) It made sense that we should experiment together with a mail order catalogue. Our first, one colour catalogue with a mailing list of only 2000 was a hit. The response was great and we got tremendous support from many mums relieved to have earth-friendly options for day to day products. We knew then that we had struck a chord. Twelve months later, after continued research, Nature’s Child was born in my spare room. We now have a shop in Byron Bay, a website and national mail order business.

What is the philosophy behind Nature’s Child?
Simply said, to honour the beauty and wonder of pregnancy, birth, babies and childhood. To do this in a way that cherishes our natural instincts, our natural environment and it’s resources. From the beginning, we wanted to be as pure as possible. We wanted Nature’s Child to be a place that parents can know and trust that our products are the healthiest possible products for our kids and our environment. Organic, re-usable, recycled and natural is the philososphy. We made a very conscious choice to only sell products that are made from the heart, care for the earth, nurture self-esteem, trust and creativity. It was also essential that the products are convenient and user-friendly. it was also very important to me that I was familiar with all the products from personal use, or had close firends feeding back to me. If I’m not sure about a product, I give them away to a few people for research purposes. They have to be high quality as well as earth-friendly. They have to work, They have to be useful and beautiful. I think our philosophy is best laid out on the “About us” page of our website under the subheading Our Service, Our Vision, Our Mission.

Tell me about the type of people who make and supply products to Nature’s Child?
What I love about most of the creators of the products you find at Nature’s Child, is that they are parents, inspired by their children to create beautiful products and to work flexible hours that suited family life. This inspires us so much that we have made it a mission at Nature’s Child to support small business; and particularly home-based business. When there is more than one type of product available and they both meet strict earth-friendly criteria, we choose a home-based business over a large company providing the same product.

Do you think that as consumers, parents have power to affect postive environmental change?
Each one of us is a parent in a billion throughout the world. So it is very clear to me that every choice every one of us makes affects the environment and the climate of social change. Mothers in particular are the greatest networkers. We love our kids so that means we are very opinionated, demand the best and care about their future, in a way more passionate than we care about our own. We influence each other easily. The creams we use on our kids skin, the food we demand for them, the nappies we use, how we teach them to dispose of rubbish in their home. When you put that together, it is easy to see that of course we have the power to affect positive environmental change. We can affect buying patterns and therefore manufacturing processes. We are an important link in the chain that can demand purity.

What are the main things parents need to be aware of when purchasing produucts such as toys and clothing for their children?
When it comes to clothes, I always ask myself the question, can their skin breathe in that? When it comes to toys, I always ask, is there plenty of room for imagination, is it durable, what will happen to it when they are finished being playing with. I also ask what is it made from and are the materials safe, especially if my child is young enough to want to suck on it still. Many parents boil plastic toys thinking they are cleaning them but the chemicals used in processing are more likely to weep out by doing this, exposing a young child to chemicals. ( see our link to the Greenpeace site on this )

How did your own experiences of parenting affect you?
It seemed the most natural thing in the world for me to have a homebirth. It was a logical step to explore attachment parenting. I was open to all ideas and when my son was three months young, I started a parent support group in Byron Bay. We filled the community centre easily with mothers looking for support. Being an area known for it’s alernative ideas and a well known pregnancy support group, I heard many ideas and theories every week. This was a huge help to us all and the most wonderful resource I could have had for parenting. Amongst my own social group, I was fortunate to have experienced mothers who’s wisdom had a great impact on me. The bottom line, like most parents, is wanting the best for my child. And the best for my child means the best for the environment too.

What toys do you purchase for your own children?
When it comes to toys, kids will love anything they find, especially plastic! My kids get their plastic hit from the Local Toy Library. An invaluable resource that cuts out wastage and it great fun for the kids. In my own home, there is inevitably a bit of plastic, it’s hard to avoid. But primarily, you will find beautful wooden toys that will last for years. I prefer them not just because they look good, but because in my experience, children respond differently to wooden toys, they tend to leave the most room for imagination and creative play. I like simple outdoor activiites for the boys so I prefer to spend my money on things like a great sandpit and outdoor activity gym. As their parent, I feel that I can choose what they have exposure to and can control that exposure for quite a few years while they are young.

The questions I ask, myself are what affect it will have on them, their psyche and what will happen to it when it is no longer wanted? If it ends up in the garbage eventually, how is it being recycled? How do you find the time as a mother to run a successful business like this? Night time is when most of it happens. I am limpeted to my computer, recieving and packing orders, marketing and responding to customers. I also have a few days during the week while they are at preschool. Of the many conscious choices I made, one of them was not to compromise my mothering. That is why it has taken a bit longer to set the business up than it possibly could have. But then again, this year was a natural time to launch it, not just because my youngest was turning four and I had a bit more time on my hands, but becasue the products were ready. There are quite a few things in our range that have only been lauched this year anyway. It was a natural time for me both personally and from a product point of view.

What is your future vision for Nature’s Child?
Nature’s Child could easily become a whole department store one day. But I believe it is best to go slow, at a natural pace, research and respond to my market as it grows. Listen to my customers and get it right, over getting it done fast. I would love to see a totally organic section. A larger homewares section and lots of homemade, quality stuff that supported smaller parent-run industries.

Check out Nature’s Child at www.natureschild.com.au

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Entry filed under: Baby, Birth, Children, Interviews, Pregnancy.

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