Finally, an Aussie retailer with a caring heart
Written by engage on May 13, 2019
1079 Life marketplace partner Oobi tells us all about their wonderful products and history. Click on the Oobi links below to browse their website and support Life, as Life benefits from a portion of sales.
Oobi was founded 16 years ago by Alexandra Riggs because she found that her passion and skills in design were foremost in creating beautiful products of high quality.
Even though she was going to become a teacher, she discovered at art school that she had a certain knack for drawing sweet and whimsical designs with a childlike quality.
Alex took her design skills, her passion for hand screen printing, everything vintage and a hands-on approach to running a business, to Oobi, where she started a company that has never wavered from that approach.
She says, “We stock our own bespoke products, with everything designed by me. We also print our own fabrics (sometimes unique design, sometimes collaborations or recoloured vintage/retro prints) and create garments for girls aged newborn to 12 years. We create everything from dresses to socks and tights, skirts, tees, accessories, warm knitwear and coats, swimwear (SPF50), sunhats and homewares.
We donate through Good360 mostly though we also help out other charities wherever we can (for example we donated a lot of dolls to Starlight Foundation this year because we felt that was a great place for us to gift our dolls and their clothing). We’re very hands on and considerate about where we donate and always try to think about who needs what we have.”
Oobi’s design aesthetic is bold and unique, with a whimsical direction and a passion for hand-drawn flowers, sweet fruit designs and vintage style. Fit, quality and construction of garments is Oobi’s forté.
Quality, longevity and sustainability are always on their minds. Oobi was the recipient of the City of Sydney Business of the Year which recognised their sustainable and ethical business practices.
Being encouraged in our society to grow up too fast, not being allowed the luxury of a childhood, is a tragedy.
For those who grow up in poverty, they are often forced to see and know too much, to bear responsibilities that they are not yet equipped to deal with. That’s why the “Oobify the World” charity program is so important. Oobi-fy pledges that for every new-season garment you purchase, Oobi will donate a garment to an Aussie child in need.
For some girls, an Oobi gift is the first and only birthday present they’ve ever had, or their first ever Christmas gift.
For some children even as old as 8, 10 or 12 – Oobi is their first gift, just for them. It is our absolute privilege to be able to change that story for someone, in a truly meaningful way.
For other children, more privileged or not, growing up too fast can be as simple as peer pressure, or the noise on social media and retail, pushing them to grow up too fast. Oobi feel that this is something that they can attempt to address too.
Let them be little is an ethos that is so close to Oobi’s hearts, for this very reason.
Oobi are all about allowing children the freedom to love the bunnies or kitties on their dresses for just a little while longer, to enjoy the flowers, to appreciate colour, the heart shaped pocket, the special features just for them too… In Oobi, there’s always time to twirl!
Childhood and the memories that are created are important to the development of amazing, empathetic and compassionate adults. Knowing that someone cared about and for you, gives you a better chance of bringing that compassion into the world as an adult. You don’t have to have had a perfect childhood, but someone had to care, somewhere.
Oobi are proud to have a major partnership with Good360 and more information about the Oobi-fy program can be found here
Allowing children to marvel in the world around them, including the tactility of fabrics, the brightness of a print, the softness of cottons or jerseys, are also important parts of the developmental phases and a wonderful learning experience.
To underestimate the importance of fashion to a child is to miss a really crucial point. It is important, not only to their development, but to their self esteem. That’s why Oobi always aim to design for many different body types too, because no body is the same as any other body.
Alex and her production manager take all feedback on board and have participated in think tanks with mums of children with disabilities too. Oobi’s aim is to ensure that fit and construction makes our pieces
suitable for many children. Memories also play a huge role for an adult, and the special feeling that you get as a child when someone compliments you on your pretty dress, or your bright colours, or your special smile, because you’re happy and feel good about yourself, are impossible to measure in terms of confidence, self esteem and emotional intelligence later on in life.
When Oobi talks about fashion they mean slow fashion. An Oobi collection takes around a year to produce, from inception – the seed in Alex’s mind – to the drawings, designing and development, the spec sheets and patterns created inhouse in Sydney (a rarity!), the office brain-storming, the production with Sedex approved suppliers ONLY, hand printing most fabrics on our own wooden screens, the selling, marketing, handling, dispatching, checking… the wheels have to turn in unison and in harmony because from the seed of an idea to the red dotty parcel that arrives on your doorstep involves a team of passionate, dedicated and like-minded people.
Working ethically means that everyone is on the same page, and at Oobi they all agree that they are here to make people’s lives better, not worse. Oobi want to make people happier and enrich their lives – whether they are wearing their clothes, or making their clothes, or given their clothes!
And you’ll notice, that an Oobi hand-me-down is one that lasts for years! Oobi are 16 years strong and still see their original pieces in social media and out and about on the streets. Handed down from sister-to-sister, cousin-to-cousin. This is the mark of true quality and true sustainability!
You’ll also find Oobi to be fair and empathetic in their business dealings, and should you ever have a conversation with them about an order or an exchange, you’ll see why their customer service is spoken about so highly.
From Oobi’s office in Sydney, Australia to the warehouse in Penrith, to their work from home mums in Australia, and further afield to sewers and seamstresses, and those working in their in-house printing, they spread a net of ethicality, humanity and kindness to ensure that just because they’re out of sight, doesn’t mean they are EVER out of mind.
And even though Oobi’s hand-printers are covered in paint (but PINK paint, working with a product that they also love), they’re smiling, because they are paid a living wage, they are working freely, with an hour long lunch break, and tea breaks and all of those things that we demand for our staff in Australia.
Oobi’s staff here and abroad know that they are cared for by people who are concerned for their well-being and their humanity.
So Oobi-fy the world, even if you never own a piece of Oobi yourself, because what they stand for, and the positive and joyful message that is spread, is a good one. And they know that if you’ve been lucky enough to own a piece of Oobi magic yourself, that you’ve loved it’s quality and sustainability and that it’s been handed down from child to child. Because after 16 years we’re still seeing a LOT of Alex’s first ever garments out and about and shared on social media.
And for a child’s garment to last for 16 or more years, is something everyone can stand behind, every day of the week.