Hidden Gems is a new series we are starting that tells you about the spots we stumble upon in the city that we didn’t know existed, and can’t help but share. This is completely our own initiative, and we hope you get a chance to check these places out too! If you have a Hidden Gem in your ‘hood, let us know!
Funny story (but I say that about everything) – me and the boys were walking through The Net Loft at Granville Island a few weeks ago, and we were stopped in our tracks by a polar bear. And not just one polar bear, but a whole assortment of them on the cutest little black and white onesie you ever did see. Now, I am not a gusher when it comes to baby stuff, and my boys (aged 7 and 9) aren’t either, but when we saw all the unisex prints in the newly opened Parade Organics Baby Co., the gushing was inevitable.
Back when I had my first son (circa 2006), we didn’t have these options available. I swear it was all blue or white for a boy (and white turned yellow or brown, depending on the, well, you know) – and organic was far harder to come by than it is today. That day was my first introduction to Parade, and walking through the store, I knew I wanted to know more. So while I ignored my kids pleading for me to have a baby, and texted Carina a ton of pictures of everything this imaginary baby would wear, I thought about how to contact Parade without looking like a baby-free weirdo.
I kid you not, the next day, we received and email at Peaks & Harbours from Parade letting us know that they really like the site and how we support local retailers. That happened, for real. This was my chance to find out more about them and not seem creepy! Carina and I made plans to visit their store in Gastown (didn’t know about that one either), and the rest is history – kidding, it’s below…
Parade was started in 2004 by (forward thinking couple) Laura and Bern. Laura was working/experimenting with graphics, design, and screen printing and happened to make a couple of screen printed shirts for her nieces. Everyone obviously loved the shirts, and the buzz got out for her to make more – they worked so well that things took off from there.
After Laura and Bern had their first son, they began looking into Organic Cotton, which was (10 years ago) still very new and hard to get. They started getting samples from India but even though it was high quality, clients were more adverse to the ‘organic” label, thinking it a more “hippie” descriptor for a product – not the hot commodity that it is today. They stuck with it, and have been around long enough to have seen this shift in the market, which I thought was incredibly interesting.
When we sat down with Bern (who is admittedly terrible at self-promotion, but can’t say enough about Laura), we ended up having a great conversation about fair trade and ethical farming and regulations in the organic cotton industry… It was really neat because I didn’t anticipate this in-depth discussion in the back room of a baby clothing and toy store, and it gave me a new perspective on running an eco-friendly business in today’s climate.
When Bern wasn’t forgetting to tell us about the brand, he spoke of the community around the physical shop, and how important that is as a retailer, about how Laura does all the prints herself, and about how he visits the makers in India himself to meet them and hear their stories.
When asked about the future – basically Parade is already living the dream – being able to stay afloat and be creative, work together and have a product they believe in… They are hoping to expand the online presence and really become a Canadian staple for newborn to 6 years clothing. We are trying to convince them to send out the call for brand reps on Instagram, so if you have a bb (or a little guy/girl – the pic below is of Carina’s little man, Gus!), follow them and hopefully they will do it soon! Warning, if you check out their page, you’re going to get baby fever. It. Is. Too. Cute.