Saying Goodbye to Harmful Chemicals at Carry Maternity

“It really started when I was a young mother, and I was facing an illness,” she says. “That really motivated a lot of changes, so a big part of my devotion to the store being a clean environment has to do with my own health, and the health of women.”

Although women are expected to drop unhealthy habits like drinking, smoking and even caffeine from their lifestyles, Patknows there are plenty of lesser known factors in our environments that can be just as damaging. Toxins in everything from beauty products to cleaning supplies can all be absorbed through women’s skin, which can be harmful for both soon-to-be mothers and their babies.

“The number one reason we wanted to do all natural is that we’re so much more informed today about pregnancy and our body, the vessel that carries the child, being a clean environment,” Pat says. “Some women actually even prepare before they get pregnant, and really clean up their act.”

Part of that, she says, is eschewing products that let of gases and chemicals that can have a negative effect on the body. In the Carry Maternity store, Pat says she and her staff are “returning to the origins of cleaning,” using basic, natural materials that our mothers and grandmothers might have used, like baking soda and vinegar.

Generally speaking, she says that the women who come into Carry Maternity are well informed, and eager to learn more about how to create healthier conditions for themselves during pregnancy.

“I think it’s natural that women are also looking at what they’re putting on their body, what they’re putting in their body, and what’s in their environment,” she says. “Women are pretty committed these days to not just parenting, but the process of being pregnant as well.”

Some of Pat’s favourite all-natural products include:

J.R. Watkins Naturals Window Cleaner – works on mirrors, windows, glass tabletops, without leaving streaks or residue.

Whip-It Premixed, Ready To Go Formula – plant-based multipurpose “supercleaner”, capable of breaking down tough stains while disinfecting.

Nutribiotic Grapefruit Seed Extract – one of nature’s powerful disinfectant, it can be diluted to use on hard surfaces instead of bleach.

Carry Maternity is Made in Canada

Stitched into each piece of Carry Maternity’s house line is small reminder of its origin, something that owner and designer Pat Gillespie views with quiet satisfaction. They may not stand out, but tiny ‘Made in Canada’ tags set the shop’s signature items in stark contrast to the myriad brands whose offshore practices are so controversial.

As fast fashion lines have become ever more ubiquitous on the streets, the quality of both their products and their ethics have come into question, so for Pat, keeping her line’s production local was an easy decision on several fronts.

“To start, we can be really responsive to what we see customers asking for, and the turnaround time is very quick,” she says. “I can produce something within two to three weeks.”

That means that when inspiration strikes, Pat is in a position to see her vision through from start to finish, on a shortened timeline. Once her designs are drawn up, she can have a hand in their execution at the Toronto factory where her garments are created.

“I can supervise the pattern making process, the fittings – everything is done with me involved,” Pat says. “I have a long history with the manufacturing house that I deal with. I’m confident of their quality, standards, and their work conditions.”

And her ‘Made in Canada’ policy ensures that the items her customers ultimately take home are exceptional, since each design is only produced as part of a small run.

“Because we produce locally, we can do small quantities,” Pat explains. “So when I choose a print, it’s not a mass production piece. It’s unique, but you’re not paying a premium for it.”

Her desire to keep her production in Canada has a moral undercurrent as well as those practical ones. Carry Maternity’s concern with community extends to Pat’s business practices, and she has no interest in outsourcing production to places where the industry has had a detrimental effect on other societies.

“I think people really do care about where their clothing comes from,” she adds. “We’re aboutcommunity, and about family health, so it really follows through that we also want to be sure that our clothing is made in an ethical way.”