Surprisingly, it’s not easy to find a list of sustainable and ethical products for kids online and even more difficult to find a list of Australian designed or Australian made products for children. So this Australia Day we decided to celebrate our Australian designers and small businesses with a list of up and coming kids designer brands to watch.
At FOUND by Flynn we only source products for babies, toddlers, children and the whole family from sustainable and ethical Australian designers. So we live and breathe this space every day. It was a tough decision, but here are the Top 11 designers we think will be making waves (in an ethical and sustainable way!) in 2020.
Modern Monty produce eye-catching, classic toys and educational products that encourage a deep connection with nature, from a young age. They intend for their products to nurture little conservationists.
Designed and operated on the Sunshine Coast, owners Meg and Kelvin also partnered with Brisbane-based artist, Amanda Borchers, whose beautiful artwork truly captures the spirit of the Australian wild.
Modern Monty have selected manufacturers who are FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified, which means that they are independently accredited and they operate in an environmentally, economically and socially responsible way. All efforts are made to utilise natural and organic materials and Modern Monty also offer a range of plastic-free, earth-friendly products.
Tinta Crayons make natural, organic and sustainable crayons, hand-poured and packed in Melbourne. The business was established in 2015 by Maria Fletcher and Maria Porto. As mums of young children, they knew crayons were often chewed or put in kids’ mouths but a safe alternative, free of toxic substances, was hard to find. The solution? They made it themselves!
After many hours of research and testing, Tinta Crayons created a mix that is free from palm, soy and paraffin waxes (a by-product of petroleum) and pigments that are free from heavy metals, asbestos and other toxic substances, Tinta Crayons are safe, eco-friendly and they smell nice too!
The perfect size and shape for little hands, Tinta Crayons are designed to help develop fine motor skills and support learning. From petals and robots, to dinosaurs and personalised name crayons, there’s a unique shape for everyone and ready to help bring ideas to life!
Tinta Crayons also love to support local suppliers and source all their 100% recyclable packaging from within Australia.
Minnow Designs was created in 2016 by two Aussie Mums, Lorraine, a fashion designer and Stacey, a marketing consultant. They produce a range of waterproof, swimmable, water shoes, sandals and booties that protect baby or toddler feet, while they explore sand and sea. Minnow shoes protect tiny feet from hot sand, slippery rocks, and sharp shells or glass. The swimmable booties also protect babies, toddlers and children from sunburnt feet.
Minnow Design’s shoes are designed in Australia. They are lightweight, a snug fit, waterproof and in bright colours and nature-inspired prints that little ones love. The soft, pliable neoprene acts like a sock so your child’s foot can move freely. They are quick-drying, machine washable, easy to slip on and tricky for children to pull off!
Minnow recently partnered with Kakadu Tiny Tots to create the exclusive Kangaroo Dreaming illustration. Indigenous artwork by artists from Kakadu have been adapted into a textile print for Minnow booties. With it’s Aboriginal rock art inspired kangaroos, ochre-coloured soles and vibrant earth tones, this design evokes the beautiful culture and energy of Australia’s First People.
Bonnie Seas is a boutique children’s swimsuit label created by two Sydney mothers who were inspired by their daughters. They wanted to create timeless, sweet and feminine swimwear that captures the essence of being a little girl - bridging the gap between what your little one wants to wear and clothes you would love her to wear.
They are very conscious of living for tomorrow and in particular the negative impact that fast fashion can have on the environment. Bonnie Seas actively work to promote the maxim 'reduce, reuse, recycle' in three key ways:
Their range is produced in limited quantities to ensure responsible manufacturing practices are encouraged;
The high quality of the swimsuits means they can be treasured and then passed on to a little sister or friend to be enjoyed again;
Bonnie Seas have also made mindful choices in their packaging, ensuring limited use of unrecyclable materials.
Nura is both Australian designed and made. It launched in June 2017. The owner and founder, Penny was raised on a farm and enjoyed holidays on the coast. She has used her love of life on the farm and at the beach to influence her collections. They feature beautiful Australian botanicals and animals by Australian designer Edwina Buckley of Lollilu Studio.
Nura translates to country – a word from the Sydney language, the traditional language of the Darug and Eora people. For First Australians, the word 'nura' encompasses culture, nature and land; it takes in everything from landscapes, plants and animals to cultural practices, people, stories and art. Similarly, the Nura brand celebrates all things beautiful about our country, Australia. They are passionate about creating fabrics painted by Australian artists, making garments locally and expounding strong business and charitable values.
Nura’s motto is 'For the joy of giving', which they manifest through a donation of $1 per transaction towards charitable works in Australia or run by Australians. Past donations have supported groups including Nganmarriyanga School in the community of Palumpa, about 350km from Darwin. Nganmarriyanga School is an ESL school, the language most commonly spoken is Murin Patha. They have also donated to CAPS Kurrawang, a school in a medium sized Aboriginal community, located 12kms south-west of Kalgoorlie; Sydney Homeless Connect; and School for Life Foundation Australia who are making a lasting impact in rural Uganda.
Tiny Little Dreamer is a side hustle for photographer, Monica Mikhael. She has designed the beautiful Fifty Questions baby milestone book. This is an eighty page hard cover book where you can capture your loved one’s journey through life through their responses to the same 50 questions every year on their birthday, or whenever you have time to sit down for some time together. Each year features one blank and one lined page to answer the questions, insert photos and write your own notes.
Tiny Little Dreamer is Australian owned, designed and printed. It is gender neutral and features inclusive language for LGBTIQ families.
Little Renegade Company is a small business based on the Gold Coast producing hats, clothing, bags and accessories in sizes to suit babies to adults. The owner, Amy, always had an interest in design (sewing bibs and clothing for her soon-to-be mum friends) but chose a career in teaching. In 2014, when on maternity leave she searched unsuccessfully for a baby hat not covered in an unfashionable baby print and also one that fit her baby’s head properly. She decided to create her own range of baby caps that were tiny and could adjust and grow at the same rate as her child. Little Renegade Company produce caps that are fashionable, affordable and great quality.
Everything by Edge of the Forest is handmade in the Bega Valley, Australia. They are perfect for babies, children or adults! They are designed to be cuddled, played with and inspire imagination.
Their toys are super soft and cuddly. They also make great companions for kids with sensory issues, the different textures have been proven to calm and nurture even the littlest of minds. Edge of the Forest use different materials - minky, wool felt, quilting cotton, bamboo fleece, corduroy, with a bit of tulle and lace thrown in for good measure. Parents will also value that the toys are machine washable.
There are so many beautiful characters, but we especially love the enchanting bilbies. They are handmade from homespun cotton with adorable wool blend crocheted scarves.
The Bega Valley is where the bushfire crisis devastated the region and continues to be a threat. Edge of the Forest was named because they are just that, so they were evacuated in the most recent fires and their property and family was at risk. Fortunately they have come through the other side, but the challenge now is for all NSW South Coast businesses to recover and rebuild. The founder of Edge of the Forest, Cat, has started a Facebook Group called 'Support the South Coast & Beyond’ https://www.facebook.com/groups/486990375292463/
The Rest was started by Lotte, former school teacher, designer with a background in Industrial Design and mum to three boys.
All Lotte’s products have rest in mind. For example, wraps to snuggle in, linen to snooze in, poufs to unwind, a 'Restwear' range of pjs, baby sleepwear and more.
All products by The Rest are GOTS certified, which guarantees you will receive genuine organic cotton from India that limits the use of toxic bleaches, dyes and other chemical inputs during the production process. The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) is the toughest textile processing standard in the world for organic fibres, due to its independent certification of the entire textile supply chain. The aim of the standard is to protect the organic status of textiles, from harvesting of the raw materials, through to environmentally and socially responsible manufacturing practices, all the way to labelling and packaging.
GOTS certified also checks that the company manufacturing their products look after their employees with appropriate working conditions, rights and wages that comply with the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
The Rest are dedicated to sustainability and want to leave a minimal footprint where ever possible. Lotte states on her website, 'This is a learning process and we are always open to new and greener ways of doing things'.
Porter Green directors and sisters, Jane & Mary, are passionate about developing products which will leave the world a better place for their children & grand-children.
They produce a range of products, such as the Fegg cup. Made from fda-approved food–grade silicone, fegg is dishwasher-safe & unbreakable. Light & portable, fegg can go anywhere. It’s useful at picnics, the pool, barbeques, at the beach, camping, indoors or outdoors.
The fegg is reusable – not single use & disposable. In addition, silicone is more inert than plastic, which means it has a lower chance of leaching chemicals into food when used for food storage. Lastly, silicone also endures extreme fluctuations in temperatures - from very cold to oven hot - without melting, cracking or otherwise degrading, keeping your children safer from toxicity.
One.Chew.Three is a small business on the Sunshine Coast, run by Elisa Reeves. They produce handmade, non-toxic, baby-safe teethers, teething toys, necklaces and chewable teething accessories made from silicone. They only use high quality, 100% food grade silicone beads that are free from BPA, lead, cadmium, phthalates, PVC and latex. They will not absorb odour or support the growth of mould, fungus or bacteria.
Their supplier sources their beads from reputable manufacturers that have had their quality management system independently certified to ISO:9001 standards. All silicone beads have been tested to ensure they comply with the Australian safety standard AU/NZS ISO:8124:3:2012 - migration of certain elements.
Their wooden beads are made from non-toxic, natural and untreated wood and the teething rings are made from hard maple wood, making them perfect for extended chewing and drooling. They don’t treat any of their wooden materials with oils or waxes to avoid sensitivities and allergies, but individuals can do this themselves if they wish with coconut oil, olive oil or bees wax.
The accessories have been designed with both mum and bub in mind - modern and stylish for mum, functional for bub!
Supporting Australian Designers This Australia Day
We have very few Australia Day traditions and it’s difficult to agree on what we should be celebrating, if at all, or when. However, one inclusive thing that we could all do, is support Australian designed, Australian made and Australian small businesses.
It would be terrible if it became another materialistic, discount day for the big retailers. I’d like to see us celebrating diversity, creativity, innovativeness and courage for lesser known small businesses, brands and unsung heroes. Particularly those supporting indigenous artists and causes. Hopefully this Australia Day let’s spare a beer or wine and help small businesses doing great things to help our environment and create a more sustainable world.
Who, or what is FOUND by Flynn?
FOUND by Flynn is an online service that aims to bring to the world a selection of unique, high-quality, kids products by Australian designers. Founded by early childhood education professionals and mums, Nicole Campbell and Cindi Pereira.
We source and only select kidswear, toys and accessories by Australian small businesses who exhibit the following essential values: