Behind The Brand Interviews

Interviews with the founders of ethical and sustainable brands to learn more about why it is they do what they do, who made the things they sell and the stories they have to tell of their journey so far. 

Miriam O'Connor from Marlowe

Marlowe has created a timeless baby bag that doesn't compromise on style, ethics or sustainability. Designed for the conscious parent or caregiver, the founder of Marlowe, Miriam has left no stone unturned when it came to providing a one stop product for parents looking for a stylish bag that come with all the necessary accessories for a Mum such as a clutch, a change mat, a bottle bag, wipes holder and tinkle tents. 

All of the Marlowe pieces are made from organic, natural and sustainable materials and are ethically produced in an environment that is a member of the World Fair Trade Organisation (WFTO) called Purnaa. You can learn more about Marlowe here

For now, enjoy this interview with the incredible founder Miriam. 

What made you start Marlowe Baby Bags?
After years of working in the ‘baby business’ as a midwife, maternity nurse and nanny I was struggling to find a nappy bag that was stylish, practical and ethically produced. Particularly as it grew nearer to becoming a mother, none that I would personally want to purchase so...

What has been the most challenging thing you have uncovered since the beginning?
The marketing and self-promotion hasn’t been easy for me, I’m sure this is something that gets a little easier in time - hopefully! 

Within the ethical fashion community, there's a big question that we ask which is 'who made my clothes?'. In the scope of Marlowe, who made your bags? Can you tell us a bit about them?
My bags are made by the staff at Purnaa - who are based in Kathmandu, Nepal.
A member of the World Fair Trade Organisation, they are a world class garment and accessories manufacturer who provide opportunities for the most marginalised. Matt and I went to visit them last year where we spent 2 full days meeting staff members and got to experience first hand the various elements of their great social business. 

Why did you pick the fabrics or materials that you have chosen to work with?
I knew I wanted to use materials that caused as little harm to the planet as possible while still looking great. I was hoping to use a leather alternative for the handles and did a sample in one but it didn’t have the look or durability I was after so decided to go with vegetable tanned, chrome-free leather as opposed to conventional leather. In the future, as more leather alternatives come on to the market - I would love to explore these again. 

Best piece of advice you have ever received?
Be kind - from my Dad who’s also my hero. 

Why was it important to you to make your brand ethical?
This was the cornerstone of Marlowe. If I was adding to the market I absolutely had to do it ethically. I think more and more brands are also thinking along the same lines now too, which is great - we can do better. 

What is something others wouldn't know about starting an ethical business that you think they should?
Perhaps the costs. Obviously using more ethical manufacturing means fair wages etc so costs are higher - but what are your moral costs to not? Again using sustainable fabrics such as organic cotton over conventional cotton is more expensive which then drives the cost of your product up but I think consumers don’t mind spending a bit more knowing they have made a conscious choice. 

One tip you'd give to others who are wanting to start their own business?
Just give it a shot! You don’t fail by trying. 

Where do you envision Marlowe in the future?
Along with the baby bags, I would love for Marlowe to become an ethical nursery furnishings brand.

What or who inspires you to do what you do on a daily basis?
Beyoncé! My boy - Matt and now my son, Wilfred. 

Do you have a morning routine? If so what is it you do to set yourself up for the day ahead?
It has recently changed with the addition of Wilfred and Marlowe launching all at once. Most mornings begin with Matt lighting the fire to keep us cosy and making us coffee - with breakfast too if I’m lucky!  Then Matt has some morning cuddles while I write down some realistic intentions for the day. Some days I achieve them and some days I don’t but that’s life with a newborn and so staring at him completely in love all day some days should be my number one priority! 

One book everyone should read? Why?
The alphabet of the human heart - the a to zen of life. By James Kerr and Matthew Johnstone. It puts things into perspective - executed in a very cute way. 

One documentary everyone should watch? Why?
I’m sure many reading this have probably seen it but The True Cost directed by Andrew Morgan. An honest, raw look at our current fashion industry and why it’s so important we work together to change it. 

Are there any other Movers & Shakers our there in your world that you think people should know about?
Kowtow are a fellow Wellington brand who make gorgeous, timeless, ethical womenswear.
They have recently opened their flagship store here and it's so beautiful. My favourite New Zealand brand for sure. 


If you loved this Interview with Miriam and want to help back her incredible business, head on over Marlowe's Kickstarter page and support this incredible label with less than a week left in their campaign. I know for me I'm excited for the day that I'll need a baby bag and I can purchase from a label that I know not only does good to the people, but also to the planet. 

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