Fast fashion has a disastrous impact on our environment; and as the industry grows, so does landfill. Meet Emeline, founder of The Preloved Peach. She is a mum on a mission to encourage circular fashion and to reduce waste by giving hand-me-down baby clothes a second life with a new family.
How did the idea of The Preloved Peach come about?
With an abundance of nieces, nephews and friends with kids we were so fortunate to be given a lot of hand me downs as well as gifts of baby clothing when I was pregnant. From memory, the only item I bought for our son before he was born was a Bonds Wondersuit to take to the hospital. When our not so little Jakobi joined us, he never even fitted any of the newborn sizes, then he grew out of the next size within weeks rather than months, and then the same again with the following age bracket. I had so many clothes just piling up - some never worn - some only worn once, I couldn't keep on top of them. I looked at charity bins to donate them to, but they were all closed due to the Covid lockdown, then I went to Facebook Marketplace and was so overwhelmed by the amount of baby clothing there that I just felt the whole process of preloved clothing deserved so much more than what it was getting. On top of this I was realising more and more how much of all these clothing items would end up in landfill, I was consumed with guilt over the information I was learning daily about landfill in Australia and beyond. I thought why couldn't purchasing preloved clothing be a lovely experience, where you feel good putting your money into something that can help the earth a little and be a really thoughtful gift that has a preloved story to tell. It was from here that The Preloved Peach was born.
How does it work?
Worn, washed and wrapped with love!
Initially along with our own contribution of boys clothes I also sourced some girls items from Facebook Marketplace and made my very first bundles, now I receive donations from other Mums all around the country wanting to find new homes for their very loved baby clothes.
I take the preloved baby clothing and wash them in ultra sensitive washing powder, suitable for babies delicate new skin. Dry them on a low intensity dry cycle and wrap them up into their beautiful bundles all ready to go to their new homes and families.
Every bundle is made to order and are mixed items ranging from vesties, onesies, leggings/pants, dresses, overalls, jumpers, t-shirts, hats, bibs and more, items are selected based on the stock I have available, but I aim to work with peoples specific requests. For every 5 bundles I sell, I donate 1 to young Mums and babies in need, so far I've been able to donate 15 bundles to new Mums/bubs in need which is amazing! Nothing goes to waste here, items that are slightly damaged or have stains beyond reason to sell on, I work with a local social worker who helps me to get these items to the right charities who can make good use of them.
You’re a one-man ship at the moment. How do you handle the juggle as a business owner, mum, fiancé, friend, Pilates Instructor etc?
Boundaries! I had never felt the need to set boundaries for myself prior to becoming a mum, I realise now flexibility was such a luxury. I've had to learn the tough lesson of not only setting boundaries on my relationships, on my time, my energy, on basically every facet of life, but also having to communicate those boundaries to those around me. Managing the load comes in ebbs and flows, some weeks I feel completely on top of where I need to be and what I need to be doing, other weeks I have to really check myself and re-prioritise where I'm putting my energy. I've also found it helpful to accept that it's ok to not get the balance right all the time; if I feel I haven't put enough of myself into my family that day, the next day I'll make sure I switch off from work and social distractions in order to be fully present with my family.
What has been your biggest small business challenge?
Setting people's expectations. Not everyone gets what my business is about and thinks of it as an online store like all others with endless choices. As flattering as that is, purchasing preloved isn't the same as purchasing brand new - but that's the whole point! My business is all about circular fashion, reducing waste & landfill and raising eco conscious families. People that get what my business is about, say receiving their bundles is like getting a Christmas present - as they have no idea what they're getting - it's a complete surprise and people put a lot of trust in me to get it right for them. Others that donate love knowing their precious baby clothes are going to be looked after and another little baby will get to expand its wear.
What has been your biggest win?
The power of social media blows my mind every day! An online follower shared my business page with her friend who happened to have over 20,000 followers and work in the postnatal space. I woke up the next morning to over 20 orders and had no idea where they had come from as I had my notifications turned off at the time (boundary!). Once I jumped onto my Instagram account and saw my followers had tripled and I had an insane amount of messages, I realised what had happened. The orders just kept coming in, I had to close down my stock on my website for the rest of the day so I could make sure I had enough clothing stock to fulfil all these orders coming in at once, it was the best day and I have so much to thank that share for as that event really gave my business the awareness it needed to grow people's mindsets of preloved! I absolutely love that now I've got Mums who had purchased newborn bundles coming back and purchasing their next sizes AND donating back their newborn bundle, it's circular fashion in its most organic form. I get to e-meet so many Mums and bubs and become a part of their new motherhood journey, I feel like it's becoming a bit of a community and that feels really special, I feel very humbled by the impact The Preloved Peach is having.
What does the future hold for Preloved Peach?
Firstly I'm working to get older kids sizes in the mix, then there is so much preloved out there that goes far beyond clothing. I get requests all the time for accessories, toys, books, even nursery furniture and other baby items. When I have capacity I hope to grow The Preloved Peach to include some of these items too.
Tips for simple changes people can make to live a more eco conscious lifestyle.
I came across a great saying recently, "We don't need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly, we need millions of people doing it imperfectly." I love this because I feel it's so relevant to people just wanting to do a little better than what they have been. We do not run a fully sustainable, waste free home, but it's been really important to us to raise our new family with eco conscious values. I selected a few key areas of our life and home where we've made manageable eco conscious changes, taking the pressure off doing eco perfectly can be a more realistic and consistent way of living a sustainable lifestyle.
For us we started with really committing to the fogo & recycling waste system, we use our own bags for shopping and try to opt for fresh produce not wrapped in plastics, then my fiancé started to grow more of our own veggies, fruits and herbs and I've gone down the path of reusable nappies for our son. I try to stick to an 80/20 rule of balance with most things in life. My son wears preloved clothing about 80% of the time, I save new purchases mostly for special occasions and always choose things that will last him as long as possible and preferably from brands supporting sustainable manufacturing and materials.
Other simple starting points can be as easy as changing to glass jars for storing foods, using keep cups, opting for reusable straws and cutlery, supporting other businesses that recycle and are plastic free, utilising toy and book exchanges with the local library. You don't have to do it all but even one small change can help grow and nurture an eco conscious generation.