Manufacturing organic home furnishings

I have the opportunity to interview a manufacturer of home furnishings, bedding and furniture and I’d like to know what questions you’d like me to ask. I’m highlighting this company because it is yet another established sewn products company that is committed to sustainable manufacturing practices. See, most people think that people in the apparel industry don’t care about safe, responsible and humane practices but it’s just not true. We are out there. The company is A Natural Home and before they started this venture, they’d worked in the apparel industry for 15 years. From their website:

Our mission is to provide organic products for the home that are durable, affordable, and environmentally friendly. The simple goal is to create a line of organic and safe home accessories that are expertly made and affordable — and to manufacture them in a small community in Ohio.

We do what we say, and we take full responsibility for our actions. We treat our suppliers, distributors, customers, and employees with dignity, respect, and fairness. We follow the principles of “fair trade”.

We believe in the family, and encourage the people we work with to take an active role in the community re: education about organics and living a simpler life. We provide education for others to learn the benefits of organics and how one person can make a difference in their community and the world. We respect the work of traditional craftsmen and craftswomen and do our best to allow them to work at home rather than in a distant factory.

What’s interesting is that their furniture is manufactured by the Amish. Pretty cool, huh?

If you go to their site, the “about us” button doesn’t take you to the “about us” page, use the link for “information” or this link instead. Like me, they are a Co-op America member. By the way, consider joining Co-op America. It’s a juried membership organization, you have to be certified fair trade etc. I don’t get much business from it but I think it’s important to join trade organizations that reflect your values.

Please leave whatever questions you’d like me to ask the company under comments. If you’re interested in producing bedding, furniture and home furnishings, this is an unparalleled opportunity.

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4 comments

  1. Pat Lundin says:

    Hi Kathleen,
    I read your blogs with great interest and have purchased your book and pattern making DVD. I find all of your information invaluable as I am a total novice, making a career switch from social worker to the sewn products industry. It is really great fun to get my mind around so much new material while planning my venture.
    Regarding today’s blog, I really like the website they put together and my questions for the folks at A Natural Home is this: how did they go about getting their web design..did Yahoo do it for them or did they use a do-it-yourself web design program? Also, because I too am planning a sustainable business using organic textiles, who was their inspiration? And, lastly, how did they select their textile supplier? Did they get submit specifications to several or what? That last question is one I am grappling with right now. Thanks Kathleen!

  2. Alison says:

    My question has to do with balancing the needs for a sustainably manufacturable product with those for one that works.

    As a chihuahua owner, I have heavily varnished bare wood floors everwhere except the kitchen, where the floor is bare linoleum. My furniture has metal legs; sitting furniture is upholstered in vinyl (see http://loglog.peghole.com/2003/20031222.html) and padded with washable throw pillows. I have one Ikea pull-out bed with a washable fabric slipcover that I am sure is treated with something extremely toxic to keep it stain-free and spill-resistant and easy to wipe hair off of.

    I am afraid that making more environmentally-friendly choices would mean weekly waxing of the floors and scuttling vinyl and 3M finishes in favour of smelly, hairy, stained sitting furniture in sustainable hemp.

    Alternatively, getting rid of my pets. Which I am not going to do.

    Is my vision of my choices too extreme?

  3. Jo says:

    How do they reconcile the need for natural, non toxic, untreated materials with the zillion regulations requiring everything we sit on, lie on etc to be treated with more chemicals for fire retardency?

  4. Hi,
    We’re an American manufacturer of Organic and natural material mattresses that also sells sustainably grown hardwoods frames and beds and we’d love to be interviewed by your website if you have any interest.

    Feel free to check out our line of premium Organic and natural ingredient mattresses or go to our about us page to learn more about our futons and commitment to the environment.

    Thank you for your time and hopefully we’ll be hearing from you!
    Rio from The Futon Shop

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