Meet Elizabeth Bold, the incredible founder of Little Emperor.
Meet Elizabeth, the incredible founder of Little Emperor.
Elizabeth had always held a desire to celebrate the beauty of childhood, imagination and playfulness, so she decided to create a company that focused solely on that. As Little Emperor grew, so too did Elizabeth’s knowledge of the fashion industry, and the growing environmental and social impacts it was ultimately having. She soon realised “this business had to be so much more than its end product”, so she switched it up a little…
Intrigued? We were too.
Find out more about Elizabeth and Little Emperor:
What made you start Little Emperor?
I think it was a burning desire to create something meaningful. Childhood should be such a magical time and I just love how imaginative children are. I wanted to contribute to this somehow. I still remember my favourite items of clothing from when I was little and how I felt wearing them. It’s my hope that some of our customers will one day say “I had a dress when I was little with dreaming whales all over it, and I had the best days wearing it”. At the same I was setting up Little Emperor, I was also experimenting with an environmental blog about ways in which we as individuals can feel empowered to create change. I wrote about trying to make conscious purchasing decisions, and about how every time we spend our money we’re sort of voting for things without always realising it. As consumers we support brands and their business practices every time we buy something. Little Emperor was in its infancy at the time, and I realised I absolutely had to make it into a business with the sort of values and business practices that I, myself would support as a customer.
Do you have a morning routine? If so, what is it you do to set yourself up for the day ahead?
I do! Every morning I get a juice from my local juice bar and they serve it to me in my KeepCup. I keep hoping that other customers will see this as normal and start bringing their reusable cups also. Hot tip though, use a glass or ceramic cup. I used my plastic KeepCup which meant my takeaway coffees thereafter tasted like grapefruit juice! Not cool.
What’s the biggest barrier you’ve found to succeeding as a socially conscious business?
I used to worry that being an ethical, organic cotton children’s brand, people might assume our clothes are automatically more expensive. Luckily I’ve found the price of organic cotton has reduced significantly in recent years as more and more brands support the industry. So I’m happy to say that our clothes are the same price as any quality non-organic, non-transparent children’s brand. I think the biggest barrier I’ve experienced is not in the socially conscious space, but just in the business space. Being a ‘start up’ is incredibly tough no matter what, and then surviving past the ‘start up’ phase and sticking with it can require every ounce of your resilience, endurance, and self-belief at times.
Within the ethical fashion community, there’s a big question that we ask which is ‘who made my clothes?’. In the scope of Little Emperor, who made the things you sell? Can you tell us a bit about them?
I’m so excited to report that we can! Like many people, I was outraged and angered by the Rana Plaza tragedy, but so relieved to see the Fashion Revolution movement borne from it. I made it my mission to find factories that are committed to doing the right thing by their workers, and who have the proper accreditations and audits to back up their claims. I was super excited that Little Emperor could take part in Fashion Revolution Week 2019, and we proudly shared some beautiful photos on our social media of the skilled workers in our partner factory in India. I also made the recent decision to publish the names of our partner factories on our website to demonstrate our commitment to transparency, and to the Fashion Revolution movement.
Why did you pick the fabrics/ingredients you have chosen to work with?
We’ve chosen to only use Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certified organic cotton. This certification ensures strict social and environmental criteria have been met throughout the entire supply chain. I also hate the thought of the large volumes of pesticides used in the production of conventional cotton running off into soil and rivers, damaging ecosystems and causing harm to cotton growers. I can’t support that.
Best piece of advice you have ever received?
I don’t think this is something anybody told me, but it’s something I’ve figured out through experience. I’ve noticed that people, who may be well meaning, can often be quick to tell you what you can’t do. But what I’ve realised they’re trying to tell you, is what they can’t do.
What’s next for you and Little Emperor?
Oh I like this question! Little Emperor has been such an evolution to date, it’s always changing and getting better I hope. I think the next thing I want the label to focus on is the end of life process for our garments. We offer free repairs for all our garments regardless of their age. However, if the garment is beyond repair, I need to really figure out how to recycle cotton fabric, so that the material has a circular life and doesn’t end up in landfill. I think that’s the next chapter.
One book and/or documentary everyone should read/watch? Why?
This has absolutely nothing to do with ethical fashion, but just because it’s my fave. I’m going to say Love, Simon (both the film and the book). It fills me with sunshine every time I watch it.
But in the ethical fashion space, two must-reads are Rise and Resist by Clare Press, and The Conscious Closet by Elizabeth Cline.
Are there any other Movers & Shakers out there in your world that you think people should know about?
Way too many to list. But some of the change makers and lateral thinkers that have consistently inspired me are Laura Wells (model and environmental scientist), Kelley Sheenan (Founder of Peppermint Magazine), Zoltan Csaki and Eric Phu (Co-Founders of Citizen Wolf).
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