Our Story

by blueokra, October 7, 2018

Blue Okra is an ethical manufacturer of baby blankets and children’s sleepwear based in Redwood City, California, in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Started in 2017 by Julie and John Parker, Blue Okra makes high quality baby blankets, swaddles and sleepwear featuring unique designs. As parents of four boys, Julie and John know the challenges that parents face every day in choosing products that will be best for their family.

Julie is a graduate of the Los Angeles Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM), and has worked in the industry as a designer, production pattern maker and in sales. She has been very concerned about the negative effects that fast fashion is having, particularly on laborers and on our environment.

With her husband John, they set out to build an ethical company whose guiding principle is to create quality baby products that would not cause harm to people or to our environment. This is borne out of a concern for the safety of babies and their families, the working conditions of laborers, and the environment we are leaving to our children.

Our Mission Statement

To make the best quality baby blankets and sleepwear that honor people and the environment. Our goal is to ensure that everyone throughout our supply chain is treated with respect, is paid a living wage and has good working conditions. We are continually improving our use of organic, renewable and recyclable materials. We do good in the communities where we work by giving of our time and resources. And we seek to grow, learn and share the knowledge we’ve gained with others.

There is no formal definition of an “ethical company”, but more and more people are aware of both the social and environmental costs of business. Blue Okra looks at ethical manufacturing in three major areas:

  • Every year, 8 million metric tons of plastic end up in our oceans. It’s equivalent to five grocery bags filled with plastic for every foot of coastline in the world.

    National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS)
     – We examine our entire supply chain in order to create baby products that are safe for people and our planet. The long-term effects of exposure to pesticides and other chemicals, such as those used to process bamboo fibers, can be dangerous, so we prefer to be abundantly cautious and use only organic cotton. Our products are unbleached and undyed because the processes of bleaching, printing and dyeing can be toxic and can generate toxic waste. We use only USA made fabrics and notions – made from USA grown organic cotton – to reduce our shipping carbon footprint and to support American jobs. Lastly, our minimal packaging and even our office paper is made in the USA from compostable post-consumer material to minimize waste and to ensure it’s recycled or disposed of responsibly.
  • Labor – There are 30 million slaves in the world today, and 78% of them are in the labor industry. While some countries like the USA have minimum wage laws which help protect workers, many do not. Even where such laws exist, enforcement is critical if the laws are to be effective. That’s why it’s important for any company that wants to lay claim to being ethical to know their suppliers. Globally, there are emerging standards and certifications for Fair Trade, but they vary widely. While Minimum Wage is a good and necessary step toward protecting workers, we also get to know our suppliers to ensure that they are providing good working conditions for their employees, and we are working toward bringing a living wage to our entire supply chain. 
  • Quality – As an antidote to fast fashion, we believe in making the best products possible and in giving good value to our customers. We make products that are durable enough to be used, loved and cherished by families – even those with multiple children – and then be passed on to another family so they can be reused and cherished by others.