A new owner means we can be looking forward to new things at the community favorite— EcoBambino. A staple of our downtown SLO scene since 2008, EcoBambino offers well-made, safe, ethical, and sustainable products for babies, children, and mamas. Ariana, the previous owner of EcoBambino, has passed on the torch to Abbie—who hopes to carry on her legacy while creating one of her own.
Like so many other people who become interested in sustainable clothing, Abbie’s background is in nutrition. (Oftentimes, people translate their passion for organic and sustainable food to their clothing). Abbie is a powerhouse who hopes to integrate herself into the SLO community and support moms of every background. Abbie has experienced what many mother’s experience— the dichotomous nature of having to either become a “working mom” or a “stay-at-home mom”. These two categories present themselves to new mothers, ofttimes with nothing in between. Abbie has decided that not only is this unfair, it is just untrue. A stay-at-home mom doesn’t necessarily not want to work. A lot of mom’s literally cannot afford to work (as oxymoronic as this sounds). If a woman does not have access to free childcare—like a grandma or aunt—then she must pay for childcare. The price of childcare in San Luis Obispo is no joke. Full time childcare averages around $1000 a month—and this is if you can even make it off the wait list and into a childcare/preschool program.
Abbie wants to offer her employees (most of them moms like herself) an alternative reality. Abbie believes that if a mom wants to work, but is only available for a few hours, two times a week, she should be given that chance. This is unheard of. Most jobs that allow this much flexibility are at big chains that have dozens of employees. EcoBambino is a local, small business with only a handful of employees, but Abbie is adamant that working at the store should be a joyful experience for each employee and that employees' scheduled shifts should fit into their personal lives/family dynamics.
Abbie plans to nourish the evolution of her small business. In the near future, patrons can begin to expect weekly story time, baby music, baby yoga, a larger sale section, and even a secondhand section in the store. Re-organizing the store to include a "dramatic play" and "clothes for older kids" section is also at the top of Abbie's priority list. Coming this Christmas, customers can expect to see big kid clothes (up to size 9-10) from brands like Winter Water Factory, Pact Organic, and Frugi. Dramatic Play items (including toy kitchen items, a farmer's market stand, and dress-up items) will be coming from the organization Tenderleaf. In addition to the calendar events and new store sections, Abbie and her team will be doing more social media promos and giveaways. For example, there is going to be a 15% off special on labor day weekend!
Looking closer at what the products are made of at EcoBambino, consumers might be surprised to find out that not EVERYTHING is made of ideal sustainable materials. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Abbie understands the complex nature of price points. She also understands the reality of children’s clothing—kids grow fast and sometimes our wallets cannot keep up. However, Abbie wants to be an advocate against fast fashion. She herself has fallen victim to the misconception that fast fashion means affordability. The example she gave me was about buying her daughters’ shoes. Abbie believed that she could not afford expensive kids' shoes, so instead she bought cheap shoes that “they would grow out of soon anyway”. But the shoes kept falling apart. Every couple of months she had to buy new shoes to replace the no longer wearable cheap ones. If Abbie had just invested in a sturdy pair of shoes for her daughters, then she would have paid the same price as those 3 other cheap pairs AND she may have been able to re-sell them to make some of her money back.
Abbie wants to provide quality products that will last the families years (whether they are passed as hand-me-downs between siblings or resold). As indicated above, well-made clothing is not always cheap (and neither are well made, ethical toys). While Abbie seeks to phase out brands with less sustainable materials with brands that are more sustainable with similar price points, Abbie still wants to offer products that are affordable for any family. Whether this means a range of brands, or a bigger sale section, she wants her products to be inclusive.
Some of the most sustainable and well-made clothing brands at EcoBambino include:
Winter Water Factory — 100% certified organic cotton, water-based and low-impact dyes, designed and sewn in NY, fun prints
Frugi — 100% ogranic cotton, outerwear made from recycled plastic water bottles, fun prints
L’oved Baby: 100% organic cotton, no Azo dyes, no PVC, nickel or chrome in snaps, no PVC plastics in packaging, lightweight clothing in solid colors
Tea — 100% cotton (organic not specified), ethical working conditions are transparent on their website, fun prints
Zesst -- 100% certified organic cotton, neutral tones
A few of Abbie's other (non-clothing) favorite brands in the store include:
Sweet n' Swag-- baby moccasins following the buy-one-give-one model (for every pair of shoes you buy, shoes are donated to new-born intensive care units, children in Africa, homeless shelters, and oncology units)
Gathre -- multi-functional, non-toxic, waterproof play mats made from vegan leather
Bella Tunno -- BPA-free, PVC-free, Phthalate-free silicone baby products, including: teethers, bibs, plates, spoons, and teething jewelry. Another buy-one-give-one company, for every Bella Tunno product you purchase, Bella Tunno donates one meal to one child to help stop child hunger.
The toys at EcoBambino are traditional. There are no battery operated items at EcoBambino, and all toys are made from wood, recycled plastic, or safe silicone (the dolls are made from fabric). Take a look at Haba, Petit Collage, and Tegu to read more about the materials in the toys, how these companies are making a social impact, and their sustainability plans.
EcoBambino ticks all of the boxes for a local store supporting local families. This store has products for every stage of a child's development--including teething, crawling on the floor, reading with a parent, potty training, solving a puzzle, playing dress-up with friends, and picking out a backpack and lunch box for big kid school!
Go into EcoBambino today and talk to Abbie. Her presence is warm and inviting. Abbie makes you feel at home in the store, and her employees are there to help you on your journey towards sustainability, safety, and education for your children.