As a parent, do you think about the nature of manufacturing practice that goes behind the products you buy for your child, or the environmental impact the products could cause, leaving indelible carbon footprints in the future that you hope your child will thrive? Victoria Chuard does, and she reckons many parents are in the same mind too. Her advice on starting a more sustainable lifestyle and parenting practice? ‘Shop locally when you can, choose handmade when you can, choose reusable when you can.’ Because changes in our consumption pattern can go a long way.
Tell us the interesting stories of the brands you source from?
So many of the brands we work with were borne of the everyday problems that parents face. NumNum and EZPZ mats were invented in the kitchen by baby-led weaning parents who came up with these innovative products to allow their little ones to enjoy food with less mess and more fun. Wrapsody's wraps are hand-batiked by women in Indonesia who are paid fair wages and they have such great wraps for HK's hot, humid climate. BlaBla Kids' dolls have such life in them - I don't know what it is about them, but it's the only doll that my son ever attached to and I've heard similar things from many other parents as well. They are hand-woven by village folk in Peru with the finest Peruvian cotton. All Things Jill's products are the epitome of handmade, wholesome skincare products that are both gentle and smell so wonderful. I use her cloth diaper-safe bum balm for nappy changes, but it also moisturises so well that I used it to heal my son's cradle cap, baby acne and irritated skin too. This one balm was useful for so many skin ailments - less really is often more!
Which is your favourite product?
Oh that's hard. But if I had to pick one, I would probably say I've had the most fun with NumNum Dips. We wanted to try baby-led weaning, which means you try to avoid spoon-feeding when introducing solids, and instead give them foods of different flavours and textures for them to explore themselves and try as and when they are ready. When you start solids at five or six months old, you have to steam or bake or mash foods until they are mushy so that they can easily swallow (if it makes its way into their mouths!), but at that age they're not coordinated enough to perform the scooping motion needed for a spoon nor use their lips to empty the spoon in their mouths. You're more likely to get food flung across the room and plastered onto your wall than in their tummies!
Our very first experiment with solids was a baked sweet potato that we then mashed, and we gave him the NumNum Dip to try it with. To my utter surprise, he stabbed at the sweet potato in his bowl, the sweet potato stuck to the NumNum and then all of that went straight into his mouth! Not going to lie, there was a bit of fumbling and some of it did end up in his hair when he missed his mouth, but he was using a utensil without any help or direction! It was amazing! I have been raving to other parents who want to practise baby-led weaning ever since, and we are so glad every day that we chose BLW over spoon-feeding.
What is your definition of sustainable living and a sustainable future?
Firstly, I think it's important to say that you should strive to do better, but don't beat yourself up if you don't or can't. Sure, there are people who can live and produce zero garbage, but you don't have to go to those extremes to make a difference in your life, in other people's lives or for the Earth. I've come across cloth diapering mums a few times who sought reassurance when they wanted to use disposables overnight because they have a heavy wetter who happens to sleep solidly for several hours (and if your baby does that, hallelujah, let the kid sleep!), and I say to them, you're already doing a great thing for the environment and your baby's health by using cloth diapers at all, don't beat yourself up because you can't use it 100% of the time.
So, I think what I'm trying to say is, the small changes you make to your lifestyle has a bigger impact than you probably give yourself credit for, and you just need to keep pushing to make those small changes in a few different aspects of your life. My latest fascination is with essential oils and I've started replacing store-bought hand soap and the like with homemade hand soap in glass jars that I can reuse over and over again!
Your advice on the first easy step towards sustainable, organic living?
We have an increasing amount and variety of healthier, more sustainable options available to us today than we did half a decade ago, so it's really up to us now to choose better. We buy organic food for our babies, why shouldn't we care just as much about what goes on their skin, the quality of the materials of their clothes, what their food is stored in? Shop locally when you can, choose handmade when you can, choose reusable when you can. These are all things you can do in Hong Kong without compromising on convenience or safety or value. People often associate organic with 'expensive' or 'inconvenient', but it doesn't have to be the case, and that's something that we strive to help with at Petit Tippi!
What’s the best thing about being the founder of Petit Tippi?
I've met so many great parents, some really inspirational and talented mums and dads on my adventure with Petit Tippi, and that's probably the biggest take-away for me. So far, we've only ever gotten positive feedback from our fans and customers, and it really means so much to me to be able to connect, and in some cases help them. Starting this business has pushed me to test my personal and professional limits, and has also pushed me to meet people who have given me a lot of great support in my journey as a new mother and entrepreneur. I am an active member of the breastfeeding, cloth diapering, baby wearing, baby led weaning, baby sign language groups in Hong Kong, so if any of those areas interest you, I would love to give back and share my experiences, my door/inbox is wide open :)