Creating a business wrapped in kindness

I’ve experienced huge amounts of kindness in my life, often at times when I’ve been at my most vulnerable. This was especially the case when my mum died when I was nine years old. The love, care and kindness I experienced, often from people I didn’t know, has had a positive impact on how I now live my life. 

As I’ve progressed through my career I’ve realised that being kind not only makes my day more enjoyable, but makes the people around me happier, more energised and positive. Indeed, being kind makes work, even at the most stressful of times, infinitely better in every way. 

Many businesses are realising the value of kindness, and are evolving their own company values to match. Mary Portas refers to this as the “kindness economy”, where organisations prioritise people and the planet, before profit. For some, COVID-19 has accelerated this change, forcing organisations to put their people first. Sadly, the pandemic has also exposed certain industries, including fast fashion, which are unable to take this approach. They don’t have space in their business model for kindness. 

It is with this in mind that I am even more excited about the launch of Ducky Zebra, a baby and childrenswear brand that is wrapped in kindness, from our values through to our designs and manufacturing process. And rather than illustrating kindness as it so often is - a sweet, cute characteristic for those that follow the leader, we show it as a strength, sitting alongside other behaviours like confidence and determination. 

“What does ‘wrapping a business in kindness’ mean? For us it means having kindness, compassion and care at the heart of every decision we make, and every product we create.” 

And here are 5 ways we’re doing it ...

1.  Kindness is one of our core values 

An organisation’s values are the beliefs and principles that drive it forward. They impact the experience and relationship it builds with employees, customers, partners, and shareholders. By having kindness as one of our core values we ensure it’s part of everything we do, every decision we make, and every relationship we build.

2.  Designs that ooze kindness and confidence

Girls’ clothes are often pink, cute and impractical. They promote kindness, but not always confidence. Boys’ clothes are often blue, aggressive and adventure seeking. They promote confidence, but not always kindness. Ducky Zebra brings these two characteristics together, allowing all children to celebrate kindness and confidence, no matter what their gender. As part of our design checklist every illustration must ooze kindness and confidence, with characters working together, playing together and being kind towards one another. 

3.  A reminder to be kind and confident

It takes real strength and courage to share a favourite toy, say sorry when we’ve hurt someone, or play with a child that looks lonely. All of our clothes include a reminder, often hidden inside a pocket, to be kind and confident even at times when this might be tough. 

4.  Fabric and manufacturing process that is kind to the planet 

Fashion and textile is a highly polluting industry. It accounts for about 10% of global carbon emissions, and nearly 20% of wastewater. In the UK an estimated 350,000 tonnes of clothing ends up in landfill every year. According to WRAP UK if we could extend the life of clothes by just nine months we would reduce carbon, water and waste footprints by around 20-30%. So, what are we doing? How are we making our clothes in a way that is kinder to the planet? 

    • Organic cotton: our clothes are made with GOTS certified organic cotton to reduce their environmental impact as well as ensuring fair and safe working conditions. No toxic chemicals are used in the growing of organic cotton, and it emits up to 46% less greenhouse gases than non-organic. 
    • Longevity: our clothes are made to a high quality, designed to last and pass from sibling to sibling and friend to friend. Sizing is generous, with features like turn-up cuffs to increase longevity. By ensuring our clothes are durable their life can be extended, helping to reduce carbon, water and waste footprints. 
    • Manufacturing process: our manufacturing partner in India is continually looking for ways to be kinder to the planet. Currently 50% of their power comes from solar energy and soon this will be 85%. They harvest rainwater, which helps to save the groundwater level, and recycle all waste water. Fabric end bits are either given to the charity centre or sent to the mills to make recycled yarn. 

5.  Together, we give kindness through charity 

For every garment bought, we donate £1 to charity. So, the more successful we are, the more we’re able to give. We currently support Chance UK, whose vision is for every child in the UK to feel happy about themselves, realise their potential, and be confident in their ability to build a brighter future.

As a small startup there is always more we can do. We have a weekly agenda section dedicated to “how we can be kinder”, which keeps us motivated. It’s also an agenda item that makes us feel good and happy inside 😀. 

We’d love to get your thoughts on how we can be kinder. If you have any tips or suggestions please send them our way. Thank you!

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