The question still comes up so often. What’s up with the name Blue Okra? Why would an ethical baby blanket and sleepwear company choose to be associated with a vegetable? Such a good question that warrants going back a little bit into the life of founder and designer, Julie Parker.
When Julie was young, her parents taught in a school in Malawi, a tiny country in the southeastern part of Africa. Though a young girl at the time, clearly Malawi left an impact on her for she returned to that same little spot years later. She recalls a tour of Mbwana, a small village outside Blantyre, in which she observed women drying food. Black-eyed peas, greens, and cornmeal, among other things. And of course, a blue shaded okra. The delicate process, the dedicated work, the abundance of color – all astounding. But the most powerful part of what she observed was that here she was in Africa seeing okra being prepared for consumption, and halfway across the world her husband’s family in the American South consumed the very same thing. Preparation techniques were quite different, but the vegetable the very same. With its sweet, grassy flavor and somewhat reviled texture, okra is the vegetable people love to hate. Abundantly grown in warm, tropical climates, okra is a powerful source of magnesium and antioxidants. And, coincidentally, okra is beneficial for pregnant women, providing large doses of folate to contribute to a healthy pregnancy.
So why name a company that makes ethical baby items after a strange, unpopular vegetable? Because that little vegetable represents so much more than just food at the table. Okra is, and has always been, part of a human experience, transcending time and place. Okra, without anything extraordinary, comes from our planet, ready to give to us in its natural state. We care for ourselves by consuming it with thankfulness in our hearts for what it provides, and a recognition of its bounty by ensuring reliably clean resources. How we live, what we eat, how we shop, what we buy, what we tolerate and what we do – all matter when it comes to creating an eco-friendly world. And what better representation of this commitment than a vegetable that represents the world over how much our planet has to offer when we bother to take care of it.
For Julie, this company and its mission is singular – to create unique baby apparel that does what is right by our planet. From the labor, to the packaging and all of the processes and people in between, excessive detail is paid to how this product and the production of it affects the environment. Blue Okra is constantly working hard to be a trusted brand, committed to offering the ethical consumer an opportunity to buy responsibly and have a collective impact on changing our world, one wonderful baby blanket at a time.
Blue Okra is more than a name. It is a commitment. An acknowledgment that we are undeniably connected – to each other and to the planet – and this connectedness requires us to always act with that in mind. So when you ask what’s in a name, it turns out to be an awful lot, doesn’t it?