We were so excited when Better Basics founder Sam Rayner first approached us to work on a collabo last year, it felt like a great opportunity to work not only with a friend but with another brand that shares the same values as Osei-Duro. Sam and OD co-founder Maryanne first met at university where they shared an interest in sustainable business practices and creativity and this felt like a unique opportunity to put into practice their shared interests and the values of each brand.
We are sitting on a mountain of fabric scraps (waste not) and we’re always l looking for new creative ways to use those scraps so when Sam suggested the idea of making cloth napkins we were in.
Each set of napkins was ethically produced in Vancouver, in partnership with Jonnon by women facing employment barriers.
The set includes 4 napkins with our hand-dyed batik fabric, making each set unique and the perfect addition to any table setting.
Better Basics is on a mission to make living sustainably easy and elegant. Female-founded in Vancouver, Canada they make home and self-care products that eliminate plastic and toxins.
We've asked Sam a few questions about her work and life in this short interview, please find her thoughtful responses below along with some images of the process and finished products:
What is your relationship to Osei-Duro? How did we meet?
Over ten years ago I met Maryanne, one of the co-founders of OD. It's hard to believe it's been that long! We were actually both getting our Masters degrees in business but wanted to use that knowledge to further our creative careers rather than the traditional finance or consulting approach. We bonded over our unique approach and I always loved Maryanne's style and creative eye. I've been a longtime Osei-Duro fan and love all of the clothes I've collected over the years.
What do you do, and how did you get started?
I launched my business, Better Basics 2 years ago. We are on a mission to eliminate single-use plastic and toxins in self and home care. I came to develop this brand after I learned that only 9% of what we put into the recycling bin actually gets recycled, the rest ends up in a landfill, our oceans, or incinerated. Beyond the plastic, what's in the bottle is also an environmental and human health concern. Many ingredients in common household cleaning and personal care products have been linked to being carcinogenic or endocrine-disrupting. We saw the opportunity to create a home line that would reduce waste, provide high-quality natural products and be design and function-lead.
What do you love most about your work?
I love getting to create solutions to everyday, useful products and seeing the impact they can have out in the world. There is nothing better than hearing from a customer that they love our products and they have made their lives easier or reduced waste.
What are you working on now?
We are working on new personal care products, packaging, and new business channels including more community and retail opportunities to reach customers across North America. We are B Corp pending and evaluating which local environmental charities we'd like to support through the growth of our business.
How has the collaboration experience been for you? Any insights or stories to share?
This collaboration was such an organic blending of creative minds. We were looking to expand our product line into more homewares that were upcycled AND shifted people from using single-use items. I started thinking about fabric napkins, and somehow along the line, they have been replaced with paper in many homes. We'd love to bring people back to the beauty of using cotton or linen napkins with patterns and colours and give them joy. It's not only sustainable, but it's just a better quality experience.
Having long admired the craftsmanship and vibrant patterns of the hand-dyed fabrics from Osei-Duro, I reached out to Maryanne to see if they had any offcuts available and might be interested in a collaboration. They were onboard.
After the Osei-Duro team sorted through what was available in their warehouse, we need to find a production team to press, cut and sew the napkins in Vancouver, Canada where Better Basics is headquartered.
Part of our mission at Better Basics is to find ethical production partners for all of our products. Knowing this project was fairly small and simple, we thought it was the perfect opportunity to partner with a social enterprise that supports people with barriers to employment.
Through some hunting, we were introduced to Jonnon. Operating out of the downtown eastside of Vancouver, Jonnon is a local social enterprise run by Azadeh, an expert with 40 years of experience in garment and textile manufacturing and production that she now lends to training and supporting people with barriers to employment.
Jonnon is on a mission to make the fashion industry more inclusive. Jonnon provides employment, in a flexible work environment, for people facing barriers to employment (i.e. newcomers, mothers, and those who cannot work full-time for any reason). 100% of the production cost of these napkins goes directly to these makers. With this intentional, resourceful production model, every napkin has supported the local Vancouver community.
Where do you find inspiration?
I find most of my inspiration in nature. Living in the Pacific Northwest, I’m surrounded by a rainforest that is full of life. I love to watch the vibrant colours of plants throughout the seasons, breathe the fresh air in the forest, and let my feet lap up the waves of the ocean. I am very lucky to have so much access to nature, and I find when I am outside the thoughts in my mind are quiet and I feel calm, serene, powerful, and creative.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I'm an entrepreneur and a new mom so every day is very different. I like to start my day with my family in bed, while the baby enjoys his morning milk. We then have our breakfast together and he heads to daycare where I spend my time creating product briefs and sampling new products, developing digital marketing content, analyzing our business projections, and lots and lots of coffee dates with the entrepreneurs or makers who inspire me.
Describe your perfect day off.
On a warm beach with a yoga mat, my family, fresh food, blasting reggae.
What advice do you have to offer someone who is just starting out?
Stay true to your convictions and vision, and believe in yourself. There are so many small failures or upsets along the way when you start a business and so many people who will offer advice good or bad. You need to know your path forward and do it for the values-alignment with who you are and what you want to create out in the world. I believe with heart and hard work, success will come.
Where do you live and how does the landscape or cityscape influence your creativity?
I’m absolutely inspired by my surroundings! I live in Vancouver, Canada where we have an intersection of mountains, forest, and ocean all within 30 minutes from my home. I spend most of my free time outside.
What are the top 3 places we should check out in your area?
Bowen Island (hike Mt.Gardner and eat at Tuscany restaurant or Tell Your Friends cafe), Trout Lake farmer's market followed by Flourist cafe Vancouver, and a walk around Queen Elizabeth Park.
What music are you loving right now?
Carrtoons, Bob Marley, Raffi.
You’re hosting the dinner party of your dreams. Who is invited (anyone, dead or alive) and what’s for dinner?
At the dinner table would be Oprah, Bob Iger, Dr.Dre, AOC, and Deepak Chopra. We'd be eating some sort of squash risotto sage dish, burrata and fresh tomatoes and peaches, and sablefish. Followed by some sort of fruity dessert.
Recommend something to us!
Stop wearing makeup? Make your own face serum using this recipe: 1/3 part jojoba oil, 1/3 rosehip oil, 1/3 argan oil, a dash of Frankincense, and a dash of your favourite essential oils (reco Jasmine, Neroli, Orange).
Anything else you want to share?
Check out www.betterbasics.co, @betterbasicsco, please like/share/comment and try some of our products!