I recently received a Suma toddler full buckle from Soul Slings. When looking at the description of it on their website it describes this beautiful hand block printed carrier, as well as all their other carriers as possibly showing
“colour variations, loose threads, tiny slubs, snags or unevenness that are characteristic of natural fibre textiles. These variations should in no way be considered flaws or defects as they do not affect the functionality of the carrier. It is the nature of the fabric and these imperfections highlight its natural beauty and uniqueness.”
This blog post isn’t about this carrier, nor about any of their other carriers. This blog post is about the box and bags these carriers arrive in. I mention my stunning carrier and the description of it’s natural beauty through these variations because the packaging mimics what is inside it. Imperfect in the eyes of some perhaps, rough around the edges, but absolutely beautiful and equally importantly, sustainable.
Soul is all about sustainability. Actually that’s not true. They combine form, function, comfort, beauty and sustainability with ease. Each has equal importance. It starts with the fabrics they use, their jacquard fabrics are produced in a mill in Southern India that uses only wind and solar energy and then they send any surplus energy in to the grid to benefit the local community. Cutting out unnecessary waste is clearly very very important to this company. Everything is designed, made and shipped from it’s home in Bangalore.
So on to the bags. well, in a minute.
I did a photography degree. Way back when 98% of us still used film. I loved how physical a process it was. It could be imperfect because of the process and the unpredictability of science behind it (not that I understood a great deal about that!) It could of course also be crisp, perfect. The imperfection and rough around the edges is what I loved. I used fibre based paper, spent most of my final year in the wet darkroom. It also made me really open to the possibilities of what a photography degree could be. In my first year I would never have imagined that my degree show would have been an installation featuring photography, vitrines, empty boxes and incorporate the view of the gallery across the road. Nor that I would get to that by sitting in a room full of detritus from previous years students counting buttons and making greetings cards out of a paint colour swatch and someone’s fake sunflowers.
What does all this have to do with those lovely canvas bags Soul products arrive in? It’s all about repurposing. About looking at things differently and not simply seeing something to put aside/away or worse throw away. My art was about reappropraition of things other set aside as leftovers and I think that’s why these little bags speak to me. They are rough around the edges. They are simple. They are more than just packaging for the carrier inside.
Of course in the babywearing world bags with carriers is not uncommon. Everyone likes a little something extra. They are all beautiful and make excellent shopping bags. The difference with Soul ones I think is once again their simplicity. These unbleached cotton bags show off the core of their business standards yet they are beautiful.
Before we talk more about the bags the box needs a mention too. Who reading this has a stash of envelopes stored somewhere for those parcels you send out at birthdays and Christmas? I certainly do. I can’t remember the last time a bought a padded envelope. Who needs to when you can peel off or cover the last recipient (sometimes to reveal that this envelope is already on it’s 2nd or 3rd addressee) and reuse. I recently received an envelope back after it had travelled to several other people. It made me smile that it found it’s way back and to know that others care about reducing waste by reusing. So the box. It looks like it’s been used before. That’s not to say it’s not fit for purpose and won’t protect the contents. It certainly does. Despite being new it’s been selected by Soul because it uses no plastic coating, it’s as simple and eco friendly as it can be for a new box. And can be added to my pile of envelopes to regift in.
So, back to the bag. Like I already said, they are made of unbleached cotton. Nothing that’s not needed and it’s practical too. Soul suggest that when your carrier is not in use for extended periods this bag is the perfect storage as it contains nothing harsh. It’s all natural.
But honestly, who stores their wraps that neatly 😉. I try to fold mine and put them away but I use them so frequently that often they end up in a beautiful, messy pile. (I’m a big believer in being careful with my carriers but at the same time loving them and living in them without too much worry about them getting dirty and wrunkled). So, my bags don’t get used for that. But they certainly don’t sit gathering dust.
About a year ago I started to crochet. To my absolute delight it turned out I was quite good at it and so my wool collection quickly grew. Some of my projects are quick and easy but some are ongoing. Thankfully Soul bags make perfect project bags. PERFECT! And it keeps all my wool neatly separated. And the fact that it’s a drawstring bag instead of tote bag is great for messy me as I can throw, drop, shove without worrying that it’s contents will spill and the twins will run off with my wool to return with it as a tangled, “scarf for you mummy” or “beautiful dress mummy.” My life is messy, my wool collection is not!
So perhaps the Soul bags are the solution I’ve been waiting for to clean up my chaotic household? I have more bags than ongoing projects so I’ve already started using them for toys. Dressing up bag, building blocks bag. When my wrapping days are over should I just keep ordering from them just for the bags?!
So did I really just write a blog post about some small drawstring bags?
The twins are currently going through a WALL.E phase. We watch it about 3 times a day. They are an inquisitive pair and so we talk about what is going on. Why the Earth has been left behind, what all the cubes WALL.E crushes are made of. Clever Pixar, doing it’s job well. They notice and condemn the rubbish on our streets now. I hope I am teaching them to do better than we are and with companies like Soul getting it out their on a grander scale, it helps the “what difference can I make, I’m just one person” people out there see that we can all make a difference.
So this blog post isn’t about Soul carriers. Neither is it really about Soul bags. It’s about a company that thinks about it’s impact on our environment, a company that shows how larger businesses can make a difference with what they do and what they teach by being vocal about what they do.
Check out Soul’s Website https://soulslings.com/uk/
And their FaceBook page: https://www.facebook.com/soulslings/
They also have some lovely facebook groups which are lovely, friendly communities.
(full disclosure: I recently became a Brand Ambassador for Soul Slings. I chose to do this because I have been a fan of the company for a few years and my official association with them has no impact on the thoughts I have written here).