A chat with Wee Gallery #EcoBaby
I had my first child this July and as anyone who follows my work knows, over the years eco-design has become more and more important to me. This summer with the arrival of a new person in my life, my search intensified. As a little background, my experience is in the field of sustainability and environmentalism – I love beautiful design which doesn’t cost (us) the earth. I wanted, and want, to find baby products (toys, clothes, toiletries, you name it) which are suitable for the most delicate and sensitive skin, whilst being beautiful designed and cleverly executed with long term durability. Sustainability went without saying, as did affordability because let’s face it, having a baby is expensive. One of the brands I discovered on this journey is US company Wee Gallery, the brainchild of graphic designer Surya Sajnani and her teacher husband Dave Pinto. Founded in 2002, the duo focus on creating simple black & white graphics on children’s toys and homeware, and apparently it’s all down to the science.

For example, newborns can only see 12 to 15 inches away and as a result are most aware of their parents faces and monochromatic shapes. In response, Wee Gallery’s well conceived products are incredibly stimulating – featuring repeating geometric shapes in black and white, and high-contrast visual patterns to promote infant brain development. A simple but impactful idea which is well executed through a wide selection of products online or in stores. The steady growth of the company – to more than 1,000 retailers, including Anthropologie, the Gap and Selfridges – reflects the popularity of its work. I caught up with Surya Sajnani, the formidably talented graphic designer behind Wee Gallery, for an interview about her exceptional brand!
 

– PLEASE INTRODUCE YOURSELF AND TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOUR BRAND?

My name is Surya, I’m a mother and graphic designer, and I started Wee Gallery with my husband 16 years ago when our son was born. I studied botany and zoology in college and fell in love with animals and nature, and how our world is built. I also love the simplicity of a child’s world, so combining the two is super fun to me. I love old things, books, and kids art.

– HOW DO YOU APPROACH SUSTAINABILITY/TRANSPARENCY?

We try our best in every situation to keep manufacturing sustainable. We work with factories that are socially-conscious, and use materials that earth-friendly. We have to weigh the pros and cons in the case of each product. For example, our original playmats were filled with organic cotton stuffing, but they did not hold up very well in the washing machine. So, we switched to eco-polyfill because it wouldn’t do much good to have a beautiful piece that doesn’t last. Also, we are excited to be switching to a biodegradable plastic packaging for our fabric items coming out of India. That change will be made in 2019, now that we have the option available. We revisit our products with every run and try to improve where there’s space.

– LET US KNOW A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THE RANGE OF ECO PRODUCTS AVAILABLE?

Our paper products are manufactured in China by Leo Paper, who are socially conscious, and use FSC certified papers, and environmentally friendly inks. Our fabric products are made in India.  The factory is GOTS certified and follows ethical manufacturing processes.

– WHAT WERE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES YOU FACED WHEN TRYING TO GROW THE BRAND?

When one is growing a business, there’s a temptation to make more products than necessary just to increase sales. We try to design products thoughtfully, and make sure that the things we make have a right to exist! This process is slower than the traditional curve, and that’s the most difficult part – patience!

Wee Gallery – Beautiful black and white toys, room decor, flash cards to stimulate baby’s visual development and perception. The perfect present for newborns and kids. Visit the official website to find out more.

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