Brooke and Elise Ratima are the co-founders and twins behind Sunna Studios, a new children’s clothing line is all-natural, ethical and organic, and hand dyed in their rural Auckland backyard studio using natural dyes sourced from plants. The aesthetic it captures is one of simplicity, slow living and beautiful pieces that will last the test of time. Here, they talk about their vision for a more conscious consumer-led world.
Co-founder Brooke Ratima says the idea for Sunna Studios came from wanting to create something that was in line with the twins' values. Elise studied fashion and textiles at AUT and has been in high-end fashion retail for 10 years.
When Brooke had her first two children, it ignited an entrepreneurial spark and the pair founded Made Mini Store, an online store stocking international children’s labels. But they also wanted to take it one step further and create their own line of little one’s clothing, so Sunna Studios was born.
Collection one is available now and consists of a run of just 150 garments with 50 in each style, while collection two is coming two with a larger run of 1000 garments with 100 in each style. Currently, the clothes are just stocked through the Sunna Studios site.
Brooke lists Rudy Jude in Maine in the US and Australian-based Tanica Sans and Dazed but Amazed, which naturally dye muslins and bedding in beautiful shades, in terms of eco-brands the pair have been inspired by.
She says the creative process for crafting each garment starts with a mood board compiled of images they love.
“[It features] a feeling, architecture, nature, colours, a moment… Inspired by these, we create our collection. We share our thoughts together, we review, make changes, and this is on repeat,” she says.
“Nature is a constant inspiration to us, big lovers of our planet. Not a day passes where we don't appreciate this beautiful home of ours. The colours, the movement of a light breeze, the sun and his light and shadows, the natural beauty of everything surrounding us, the list could go on. Nature inspires us constantly while creating and moving through each collection.
“Our planet is truly beautiful and we are inspired to look after it, to have our children grow up in a world that is healthy and green. We are inspired to work with our planet, not against it.”
The choice to dye everything naturally was due to not wanting to contribute any further damage to the planet by using synthetic dyes.
“It is also baby clothing we are making – a naturally dyed garment is created with no toxins, and is gentle on skin,” she says.
The pair use natural dyes extracted from plants, using everything from avocado stones, to leaves from trees, to roots, bark and flowers collected from their garden. In terms of dyeing the garments, Ratima says the biggest challenge with using eco-dyes is replicating the exact or similar colours.
“There are so many variants that contribute to a colour: season, temperature, rainfall, soil age of a plant, the list could go on. Of course, with avocados there are different types, grown at different times in different locations. We follow the same method, and 95 percent of the time it’s close. We have had some surprises though.”
She says that while the pair were a little naïve initially going into it, they have since done a lot of research, watched tutorials and experimented to get the hang of natural dyeing.
“Our first major challenge was dyeing with merino, something we hadn’t done before getting our first samples back – the trick we figured out many trials later is no heat. It was a lot more smooth sailing after that,” she explains.
With collection two launching soon and new wholesalers to be announced, there is a lot on the horizon for Sunna Studios to be excited about.
Brooke says the pair have big dreams, but their goal is encourage conscious consumerism and build a strong platform from where they can promote this message. Watch this space.
This story originally appeared on Idealog.