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Natural Home / Textiles //

Clothing / Shoes

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Blue Canoe's first home was a small cottage that sat in a small redwood grove in Northern California. The space burst with the energy of four industrious women all starting their own clothing businesses-from hemp hats to hand painted silk.

The main room was dominated by a large work table. The walls were lined with industrial sewing machines and shelves overflowing with fabrics. We stacked colorful cones of thread on top of the low ceiling beams and somehow found space to display and sell our goods. Two talented seamstresses cut and sewed one day a week for each of us.

It was a noisy, friendly place where the four of us brain-stormed ideas, traded resources and information. helped walk-in customers and hammered out ways to build our businesses.

My first purchase was a $200 roll of undyed cotton/lycra fabric. I did all the designing and pattern making, some of the sewing and all the bookkeeping, garment dyeing and purchasing. Marketing meant going to craft fairs. I divided my time between growing my business, waitressing and building an organic. off-grid homestead with my husband and two sons.

My first design was a two-piece swim suit styled for comfort and movement. I wasn't much of a sunbather and needed a suit that would stay put when I played volleyball or body surfed.

My suits were instantly popular here in Humboldt County. Women began buying the tops to wear as bras because they were cotton and comfortable. I gradually expanded the line and converted entirely to organically-grown cotton when the fabric became available. I found a natural niche of wholesale prospects gleaned from the Co-op America Green Pages.

The business moved to a building beside Benbow Lake and, inspired by a hand-made wooden blue canoe I noticed standing out among the familiar green fiberglass models. I named my company Blue Canoe.

Back then, there were only a couple of other apparel companies using organic cotton. They're not in business now, which makes Blue Canoe the longest-running successful organic cotton clothing company around. From the beginning, we were known for our "un-granola" styles and fabrics. We were called "the pioneer of stylish organic clothing."

Sixteen years later we maintain not only our commitment to organic cotton and manufacturing in the USA, but also to providing truly stylish, beautifully fitting and functional clothing. Our line has expanded from a few bras and panties to a full line of European-quality lingerie and loungewear, active apparel and fluid bamboo travel/casual wear.

Our main office still sits under the redwood trees, beside the lake, but our lifestyle looks are at home in hip, urban San Francisco where all our clothes are made.

Sixteen years ago, I followed my dream. Thousands of customers later, I can see that was the right thing to do. I hope you'll love wearing Blue Canoe as much as I love creating it!