Blue Ullu is a little label that creates the cutest and softest ecofriendly knits for babies and children. All their products are hand knitted by artisans in India. Elise, the women behind Blue Ullu started her label a few years ago and since then it became very successful! We were allowed to take a peek behind the scenes and asked Elise some questions about her label and her work…
Dear Elise, please tell us a bit about who you are, where you are from and what you do.
HI, my name is Elise, I am the Owner and Designer of Blue Ullu. I was born and raised in the wine country of Sonoma California. I lovvvvve kids, beautiful textiles, yoga and my awesome family.
Can you tell us how the founding of your label Blue Ullu came about?
I moved to India when I was 18 and within the first two months of living there, I knew that I wanted to work with some sort of textiles and women. BUT I was 18 J I had no idea about Indian culture, language or even my own privilege of being a woman from a western country. Luckily I had time on my side and many years later, when my daughter was born, we were gifted a hand knit sweater and hat set from my neighbors. It was an instant light bulb I said “YEP, that’s it!”
Tell us a bit about the Blue Ullu concept.
We believe in growing products from the very root up and knowing each part of our chain personally. Since I started Blue Ullu when my daughter was 18 months old, I wanted to be able to go to work, with my baby on my hip. I started by inviting a few women in the village I lived in to come over for an hour a day. We came up with a plan on what would work for all of us as equals and began from there. Not only when it comes to our employees do we want to start from the ground up, but also our materials. One of the most important parts of our business is how we get our materials and where they come from. Knowing each part of the process is integral to sustainability.
What is the story behind the name Blue Ullu?
I wanted a bold, bright logo that kids would think is cute and ask, “hey mum, what does Ullu mean?” Ullu in Hindi means owl. Anything that can spark a conversation with kids about other cultures, languages and travel is a conversation worth having! I want kiddos to ask “Where is India” and “Who is Shreshta” (the artisan’s name who makes your garment is on the tag as well). Then they could go to our social media and see who made their clothes.
How important is sustainability to you, personally and for your label?
For me sustainability is knowing and thinking about our behaviors when we buy and act. Sometimes it is incredibly hard (let’s keep it real! It IS hard). Between so many cute products in the world and sustainable products at such a high price sometimes, it can be hard! My motto is less is more- buy less, at a better quality and things will last longer. Trends aren’t cool. Having a healthy planet for my family’s future is!
For Blue Ullu, we are working on some major ideas to change the most challenging part of sustainability which is the price. That’s for our future and it’s a secret. J But for now, we try and make every step of our process sustainable and continue to be better!
What do you pay attention to in the materials you use?
There are two things that are most important to me when thinking about materials. Firstly, I want our products to be 100% biodegradable. This means only materials that are natural and not blended with polyester or any type of petroleum. I want Blue Ullu’s legacy to be a company that doesn’t contribute to the massive landfills. By concentrating on designing products that are built to last and pass on for generations and when they eventually do enter a land-fill, they biodegrade. I also pay attention to the dyes used. One of the most eye opening experiences for me was visiting a manufacturing plant where the chemical dyes were not regulated. Employees had huge boils on their necks and faces. It was incredibly sad. I want the safest, all natural dyes going on our garments to keep our customer’s children safe.
Why should people buy your products? What makes them different?
People should buy our products because they are incredibly cute and ridiculously soft. Touching our clothes is like petting a bunny. Also, there are only a few companies creating hand knits still and keeping the tradition alive is so important. We really strive to be and do the best we can in all areas and hope that our customers see the effort we make to have a high standard.
Where do you want your label to be in five years?
In five years I hope that Blue Ullu is a label the represents change and acknowledged in the industry for being so. I hope we change 100 women’s lives within 5 years.
Do you have exciting plans for your label?
I do! I hope to partner with other women centric workshops around the world that empower women and create beautiful garments. I also hope to be able to bring products to families at a reasonable price – it’s so challenging for family to make sustainable decisions because it IS more expensive. We are working on a plan to change that while still creating ethical jobs. More details coming very soon!
When you look back on your work and life in 20 years, which memories do you think will be strongest?
My hardest and most beautiful challenge was forming our first women’s group. I will forever be blessed with the memories and laughter of those days.
Thank you so much dear Elise for this inspiring interview!
Here you can find more information about Blue Ullu!