Everyday Pioneers... Catherine Crossley

We're thrilled to be teaming up with the fabulous boutique Dear Jude for our next online pop up shop, bringing you some of your fav kidswear brands! We caught up pre-launch with fabulous Founder Catherine Crossley, to found out more about the sustainability ethos at Dear Jude's core... and some exciting news for the next few months!

Our online pop up shop with Dear Jude launches 11am on Saturday 10th April, featuring some amazing brands (think Indikidual, Fresh Dinosaurs and Jelly Alligator!) at some even better prices. Don't miss out, sign up to our newsletter today to be kept in the loop... and for that all important sneak preview!

What made you launch Dear Jude and how did you get started?

I had been dreaming of starting my own children’s clothing website since I was pregnant with my first child Jude. I have always been obsessed with fashion and when I found out I was having a baby that obsession just moved to kid's clothing. I started discovering some amazing brands that just ticked all the boxes when it came to style, comfort and sustainability and kept thinking how it would be great if they were all on the same website! It wasn’t until the pandemic hit in 2020 that the dream turned into a reality. I had been a freelance make-up artist and all the work I had booked in for that year got cancelled so…..Dear Jude was born! The first thing I did was establish the name and secure the domains. My 2 children India (who calls herself Dear) and Jude were my inspiration, hence the name! I then started building relationships with the brands I loved and trusted and gradually I started to secure some of these brands for the website. It took months and months of hard work but I have learnt so many new skills over the last year and also learnt from many mistakes. However, I am so glad I finally did it and now I have my dream job.

Catherine with her two kids, India and Jude, the inspiration behind Dear Jude

Sustainability is of clear importance to Dear Jude. Do you have a selection process for the brands you work with and how important has this been for you from day one?

Sustainability is very important to me and has been from day one. I wanted to ensure Dear Jude as a whole was as sustainable as possible not just the brands. The brands I choose to work with all share a similar ethos and I wouldn’t stock a brand that didn’t share this. I made sure I knew about the fabrics being used and the manufacturing processes. Not only is it important that garments being made are sustainable but I wanted to ensure that the people who were making them were on a fair wage and had good working conditions. Another idea I had when setting up the website was to have a preloved section as I fully believe quality clothes have lots of life in them and should be loved and passed on. It's these small steps we can all take which will help us move away from the buy it and bin it attitude. I came across dotte last year and fell in love with their website and concept and knew I would like to work with them later down the line so contacted Sam and here we are today!

From your own experience, how can children’s brands embrace sustainability more wholeheartedly in the future?

There are a few things companies can do. I love the brands that are forward thinkers and want to genuinely make a difference but every company can make small changes to become more environmentally friendly. Move to organic materials, ok the cost is higher but non-organic cotton relies on herbicides and insecticides which not only produce more CO2 but also cause harm to the farmers and wildlife ecosystems around them. Use biodegradable packaging or recyclable packaging. Maybe even brands could offer a buy back scheme or recycling scheme? Or use their fabric waste for other things like accessories. Theres a quote by Anne-Marie Bonneau that I always think of when it comes to building a more sustainable world which is, ‘We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly’ and I think that sums it up. If every brand and every person just made a few small changes then we would all reap the benefits from it.

Catherine started her business from home when the pandemic hit in 2020

My biggest piece of advice would be to buy less but buy better. Children don’t need drawers and drawers of clothes. Buy things that can be mixed and matched easily. Also, don’t be afraid to buy preloved clothes.

How can parents embrace sustainability? What advice would you give to parents trying to make efforts to be more sustainable?

I think my biggest piece of advice would be to buy less but buy better. Children don’t need drawers and drawers of clothes. Buy things that can be mixed and matched easily. Also, don’t be afraid to buy preloved clothes. I have picked up some serious bargains on preloved children’s sites and I know they will still be good enough to pass on again once they are outgrown here. Oh and if in doubt, size up! Kids grow so quickly and I always think its much better to have things on the larger side that can be grown into. Trousers and sleeves can always be rolled up and the oversized trend is still pretty big. You will just get much more wear out of it than if you bought something that fits them perfectly for a couple of months but then becomes too small.

Do you have a favourite brand and why?

I genuinely love all the brands I stock but if I had to pick a favourite it would be Fresh Dinosaurs. This is a brand I have loved for a few years now and I always struggled to find UK stockists so I knew I had to bring them to the UK market. Their clothes are fun, unique, comfortable and have a retro/lived in vibe to them! Whenever either of my kids are out and about it's always the Fresh Dinosaurs items that people comment on. Their colour choices and designs are amazing and they totally prove that sustainable doesn’t have to be boring.

Do you have a favourite recent piece or an item that you will always wish came in your size?

I have a few!!! I think one of my favourite items this season is the Fresh Dinosaurs ‘Friendship’ sweater. Its just such a beautiful colour for Spring/Summer. I have noticed a lot of Marigold shades in this seasons collections but this one has my heart. I also love the Beau Loves dresses this season as the fabric is just beautiful and finally I will always be a fan of Pippins jeans! They are such a great shape and they last ages as you can keep rolling them down to grow with the child. I wrote a blog about Pippins Denim when I launched as we are both based in Sheffield so have been familiar with their brand since they started. I mentioned in the blog that I wished they came in my size, so this would have been the product that I would have wanted in adult size... but luckily they now do! They started making jeans for adults recently, wahey!!!!

Whats next for Dear Jude? Any sneak peeks of new brands you can share?

Well I don’t want to give too much away but I am very excited to be launching a new brand on the website for next season called Wander & Wonder. I have been drooling over their designs for the past few seasons and have managed to secure them for next season. I have also just added a ‘Gifts for You’ section to the site as sometimes we want to treat ourselves too, right? In there I have the most amazing candles from La Montana and some lovely homeware from Donna Wilson but watch this space, as some items from brands that I wished came in adult sizes might be doing just that for next season... and will be available on this section of the website!

Remember to set your alarms for 11am on Saturday 10th April for our dotte x Dear Jude pop up shop!

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