An online directory where beauty converges with the unique, Verde Baby serves as an eco-fashionable stream of consciousness for apparel, toys and accessories for the under three set. Established in August 2015 by mother of one, Chantelle, whose passion for effecting even the smallest of changes is what sets her business apart from its peers. The word ‘verde’ comes from the Spanish for green and this ethos weaves its way through Chantelle’s brand from her support of local Australian made wares to her collaboration with fair-trade and non-profit organisations in other rural parts of the world, such as Bangladesh and Kenya.
“I love that I am able to make a difference to a lot of people through the products and companies that I choose to work with,” she says. “Knowing that each piece by purchase to resell is helping a woman in a rural country or a mum trying to make a small business for herself makes me proud of what I do and inspires me to keep pushing forward with Verde Baby and what we stand for.”
Taking her experience managing large early learning services and repurposing it into her new venture, Chantelle’s inspiration for Verde Baby was sparked quite by chance when she attended the annual Life Instyle boutique trade fair with her mother. “I could not believe how many beautiful businesses there were that supported such great causes,” she says. Intent on creating a client-base for the beautiful products she’d discovered, Chantelle recalls that as her eureka moment: “That was the moment I decided that we can make a difference – however small by supporting these smaller businesses rather than the large overseas manufacturers and I believed that a lot of people would prefer to support these smaller businesses with their purchases as well.”
Finding true beauty in the notion of handmade, Chantelle recognised the the implicit unique quality of handmade products and the beautiful materials often used to create them, not to mention the creative talents of the maker. Confessing to being quietly envious of those with that creative knack, Chantelle’s appreciation for these individual gifts is what drives her desire to support the handmade community. She explains that “knowing that someone has spent time and love making a certain piece makes a product more special to me as we should be celebrating these beautiful skills.”
With so many beautiful handmade pieces in her roster of wares I have to ask which is Chantelle’s personal favourite? “I have the biggest soft spot for our hand crocheted Humpty Dumpty!” she says. “He is hand crocheted in rural Bangladesh and I love that he is gender neutral and connects with the nursery rhyme that I grew up with and love sharing this with my daughter. Did I mention that he is also just super cute?!”
Shining the spotlight on the incredible women in rural parts of the world who make up the other side of her business, Chantelle’s vision for Verde Baby will in time offer a glimpse into the lives of those women. “I want to share how our purchases are making positive changes in their lives and continue to inspire people to be conscious about their purchases,” says Chantelle. However, she admits that placing these products into the market has come with its own set of challenges. “Finding suppliers that support these wonderful women in rural countries in the right way has been no easy task,” she says. “I first came across one of my suppliers through a trade fair and fell in love with what they are doing for women in Kenya, this then got me on the right track as to exactly what I was looking for in my suppliers. I now spend a lot of time searching online for more organisations similar to these and networking with them to try and get their business into Australia. I also spend time finding out as much as I can about how these women are supported and the sort of working conditions they are in. I am slowly finding more beautiful companies who are trying to make a difference as much as I am.”
From the people behind her products to those who receive them, Verde Baby customers are treated to an all round experience that encompasses not only the exquisite wares on offer but advice and support on their parenting journey. With the majority of her clientele being formed of mothers, Chantelle wanted to create a space where they could connect and share ideas in a positive and supportive way. “I think mum’s need to support each other more as a community rather than compete and compare which we just see on social media far too often.” Looking ahead to her hopes for Verde Baby’s continuing development, Chantelle is determined to lead by collaborative example and encourage her customers to share their views and opinions in a safe and welcoming environment.
Trawling small community markets and networking with other small businesses on social media may occupy much of Chantelle’s time, but she asserts that it is very much family first. “Balancing family and business is a constant practice and always needs adjusting,” she says. “I often try and get orders packed first thing in the morning and then go for a walk with my daughter down to the post office and try and include her in running my business as much as possible so she isn’t being ignored. She loves when I pack the orders as she often plays with the tissue paper and ribbon whilst I’m trying to get them wrapped!” Striking that balance between work and family can pose an immense hurdle to most of us but Chantelle has a beautiful philosophy on the subject: “I always make a point to enjoy my daughter everyday, whatever her mood! As we will never share this day again and each day she is continuously growing and accomplishing something new and I don’t want to miss a single minute of it.”
It is her love for her daughter that serves as a key source of inspiration and direction when it comes to sourcing new products for Verde Baby and Chantelle asserts, “if I don’t feel comfortable giving it to my daughter to play with or wear, I won’t stock it.” So, with a view to continuing to grow her business and raise awareness both of her brand and what it stands for, Chantelle admits that the biggest lesson for her in all this has been learning to let go. “I’ve had to learn that it’s ok not to get it all done in one day and that there will always be tomorrow to complete orders and respond to customer queries.”
Letting go of fears, anxieties, expectations, disappointments, and security and subsequently learning to trust in her decisions and choices, Chantelle sets an incredibly inspiring example to other women hoping to make even the smallest difference in this big wide world of ours. Her message is ‘conscious buying’ encouraging people to think about what they’re acquiring, its provenance and not only who may benefit from having it but who may benefit from having made it. So during your next online retail foray, think green, think Verde Baby.