Hey, Green Junkie!
You’ve heard me talk a lot about fast fashion and the impacts it has on our planet and our wallets. It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of making better choices when it comes to our clothes.
So today I wanted to bring on the owner of Crann Apparel, Karly Hiser, to not just discuss the importance of sustainable fashion but to really dive deep into WHY this is so important.
With her nursing and healthcare background, Karly is able to dive into why choosing better fabrics for her highly sensitive family was crucial and what is really happening when we wear clothes made from non-sustainable and harmful materials.
You won’t want to miss this episode where we discuss,
- How Crann Apparel was inspired by morning meltdowns and skin issues, can you relate?
- What does sustainable fashion really mean
- How to have the least amount of impact when you make purchases
- The most important wardrobe pieces to buy organic, if you have a small budget
- The warnings about polyester
You’ll discover that and so much more in this episode.
If you love this podcast be sure to leave a review and share a screenshot of this episode to your IG stories. Tag @greenjunkiepodcast so I can shout you out and publicly say thanks.
Thanks for listening and being here.
Your green bestie,
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Produced by: Alecia Harris
Music By: Liz Fohle
TRANSCRIPT FOR EPISODE 38
Stephanie Moram 0:07
Hi, Green Junkie. I'm your host Stephanie Moram and today I have the pleasure of speaking with Karly Hiser, the founder of Crann Apparel, and we're going to have a conversation all about sustainable fashion. Karly is a mother of three, a pediatric nurse practitioner and the founder of Crann Apparel. When Karly's son would not get dressed in the morning, (I've been there) she created the best underwear for kids. Super soft and durable. The boxer briefs quickly became a family and neighborhood favorite, prompting Karly to found a company last fall Crann Apparel expanded to include 100% GOTS certified organic cotton sweatshirts, sweatpants and joggers. The softest clothing for children with the most sensitive skin, her company is a member of 1% for the planet. If you love learning new ways you can reduce your impact on the environment, please subscribe to the Green Junkie Podcast on whatever platform you get your podcasts. That way you never miss another green living episode. Hi, Karly, thank you so much for being here. I really appreciate you taking the time to chat with us.
Karly Hiser 1:17
Hi, thank you so much for having me. I'm excited to be here today.
Stephanie Moram 1:21
So the first thing I would love for you to talk about is just kind of tell me a little bit about yourself and your family. And how it is that you you know, started on this sustainability green journey.
Karly Hiser 1:32
Yep. So my background is actually as a pediatric nurse practitioner, so I'm very into health and wellness. So this is a little bit outside my normal comfort zone starting a business. So it started with my son Reed, who you mentioned would not get dressed. And it was just the mornings were terrible. So we really kind of dug deeper to figure out what the problem was, and eventually figured out it was the clothing itself. I also have two other kids Rosie and Steel. And they also have sensitive skin. Ironically, one of Steele's first words was itchy, you know, definitely let's see, no, we are allergic eczema filled family. So that's why we're so passionate about finding things that work for kids with really sensitive skin,
Stephanie Moram 2:21
And how long have you had the store for?
Karly Hiser 2:25
So we've been selling products for about a year. And it's been quite a journey, we make all of our products with our kids, and then they test them. And they are the harshest critics. So I can guarantee that anything that we end up selling is truly kid approved and very soft.
Stephanie Moram 2:46
And have you always you know, I know you mentioned you're a nurse, but have you always been in the green living space? Like, you know, at home, let's say composting or, you know, living more green reusing stuff? Or did it really start when your kids were like, wow, I can't wear this clothing. I can't get dressed in the morning, is that when the sustainability journey started for you? Or was your family more conscious of the environment before that?
Karly Hiser 3:14
Yeah, I think my family's always been pretty conscious. Just because my parents were like the best example of hippies. I just didn't understand everything that they were doing when I was a kid or how important it was. My first degree was actually in environmental studies. And I loved to spend a ton of time outside. But at that time, sustainable fashion wasn't as popular. So I didn't think twice about it. So really kind of circled back around when I discovered that my son was having so many issues with clothing.
Stephanie Moram 3:45
I love it. I love it. I love it. I'm uh you know, we all start on this, like sustainability, green journey, like different ways, right? You know, some people, it's, I grew up this way or some people, it's because I had kids and I needed to change everything. Because I'm bringing this child in the world and other people's because my kids won't get dressed in the morning. You know what I mean? Like, we all start somewhere. And I just love hearing all the different stories of how people started to get more passionate about the environment. So thank you for sharing that. So we're talking about clothing, you know, how you got started with your company. So can you explain to people like your definition of what you believe sustainable fashion and sustainable clothing is and what that looks like?
Karly Hiser 4:26
Yeah, because there are so many definitions, of sustainability out there. To start off, I mean, sustainable would be using what's in your closet first. And then when we didn't have anything that was working for us in our closet, we searched further. So to find something that sustainable would be something that can be done over and over again, while reducing your impact on the environment and hopefully like maintaining your health. So for us we look for natural fibers because they are biodegradable. We look for clothing that doesn't contain a lot of harm. Control chemicals. So they're chemicals that are used in processing clothing are not draining into the waterways and impacting the textile workers. So we do our best to really limit our impact. But as you're probably aware, anytime you are purchasing something, you're having some level of impact, you just want to make sure that what you purchase is meaningful and useful to you.
Stephanie Moram 5:23
Exactly. And I think that, you know, sometimes people go on the other end of the spectrum, like, I'm never gonna buy something new again. And, and I try to explain to people, it's not about not buying something new again, it's that when you do purchase that new product, having the least amount of impact, whether it's on the environment, and you know, whether it's environmental, or you know, human impact, you know, and for me personally sustainable is wrapping that kind of together, where there's the least amount of impact on the humans that are making the clothing and then also wrapping in, you know, using those natural fibers. So I love that you use certified organic cotton, I love that it's GOT certified. So we do be able to just kind of talk a little bit about what GOT means and what that certification is exactly and why you decided to get it.
Karly Hiser 6:09
Yep. To my core, I'm a perfectionist. So if I'm going to go out and do something, I'm going to do it the best. So when I found out that the GOT certification that existed, and it's considered kind of like the gold standard for organic clothing, that's where we were going, we're going for the best. So that certification takes into consideration the environmental as well as the social impacts. So we wanted to make sure that the workers were treated fairly, that they're not working excessive hours, and that the work conditions are up to a certain standard, as well as making sure that we're using things that aren't releasing a bunch of chemicals into the environment. So that's why we chose GOTS certified cause.
Stephanie Moram 6:52
Just a note. So a friend of mine who I did do a podcast episode with Lonnie Brown. I did episode number 31. What's really hiding in your home? You guys will get along so well. You should find her on Instagram Lonnie Brown. She also has a clothing line, but interior, interior decor, and pillows and stuff like that. So it's all GOT certified as well. So you guys would get along great. And so I love how you got started with your business. Your clothing is super cute. So you started off with the like underwear, right? Like the boxer briefs type stuff. And then you expanded as you saw the need for this type of clothing because there's not a lot of I mean, not a lot. It's hard to find children's clothing. That is good quality and not fast fashion.
Karly Hiser 7:46
Yeah, not easy to find.
Stephanie Moram 7:48
And it's even harder to find when they're not adults yet. But yeah, not babies anymore. That's even like harder to find.
Karly Hiser 7:56
Yeah, it's a challenge. So our son Reed is now a size eight. So we were finding that he kind of grew out of the baby clothing brands that a lot of the times go up to like size five or six. So that's why we started making things for him. So once he discovered how much he loved the underwear, he was like, Mom, I can't wear normal clothing anymore else and I'm like what do you mean? So that's the way it really started to expand. So everything is definitely tailored to kids that have sensitive skin or eczema. Everything's 100% Cotton, which is usually recommended for kids with eczema, like you mentioned is just so much harder to find the older they get unless they're into adult clothing.
Stephanie Moram 8:39
Yeah, and you know, for me personally, underwear is like underwear and pajamas were the two things that if I could only buy organic, like certified organic and good quality was always pajamas and underwear. Like those are like the number one things yes sweatpants and joggers. I was like, we do buy for my kids. A lot of you know, we do do secondhand shopping but we also I do buy a lot of like sustainable clothing, you know, like the certified organics and natural stuff but underwear for me were just so important. So I know you got started because your son went to put his underwear but like, do you feel that underwear and pajamas are kind of like the two if somebody had to choose let's say I can either get underwear and pajamas cuz my budget doesn't allow me to buy all the clothing sustainably made. Do you feel that underwear and pajamas are like two of the ones that people should invest more in?
Karly Hiser 9:37
I do. Especially the underwear because it's the closest to your skin. And a lot of the chemicals that are present in traditional clothing contain endocrine disruptors, which can impact how a kid develops. So there's not a lot of research on how much it develops, or impacts developments. But it's not something I really wanted to risk like I want the closest thing to their skin. To be non toxic, and then same thing with pajamas, you know, they're sleeping in it all night long. We don't know how much the chemicals in clothing impacts their skin, just know that they spend a lot of time in their pajamas, you know, definitely want to make sure that they're comfortable at night and sleeping well.
Stephanie Moram 10:17
Exactly. I'm kind of the same mindset, like, why take the chance, if I have the financial means to get the organic cotton underwear and pajamas, and they're cute and nice, and my kids will wear them, then why not do it? You know, that's kind of how I kind of, you know, approach a lot of things, I can get the pajamas and the underwear. And also my daughter is older. So she wanted to have like tank tops, and like, you know, the little, you know, I guess they're called training bras. And so I made sure that they were organic cotton, like 100%, I was like there's, you know, there's other cute ones out there. And I was telling EJ, you got to go that route. It's just let's not take a chance, you know, like you're growing or developing. So that was another thing now that she's 11 that I was very adamant when it came to the organic cotton that we also got the organic cotton and got certified as well. So you mentioned non toxic, you mentioned, like chemicals and the impact it can have on humans, but also on the environment. So you have sustainable clothing, which means it's made of, you know, the natural fibers and all that kind of stuff. So what would be non toxic, I guess I don't want to say toxic, but clothing that, you know, might not be made of natural fibers like what's the impact of buying those potentially, though, like clothing? Like what is non toxic clothing? Is that for you sustainable as well? Or is it just another piece of sustainable? Does that make sense?
Karly Hiser 11:50
Yeah, I think the non toxic piece is definitely a part of sustainability. And for us again, like it started with my son's skin and still reacting to like clothing that was just 100% cotton and not free of harmful chemicals. So like some of the things that have been found in clothing that's really kind of frightening. It's like high levels of lead and fast fashion P-Foss, which can be like in water repellent clothing. Formaldehyde, you know that like new clothing smell that you experienced in the store is just so many different chemicals like I read over 8000 chemicals can be used in manufacturing clothing, and that's really quite frightening because you don't know what's in your clothing.
Stephanie Moram 12:33
And it's also not even, you know, even if you're using natural fibers, let's say conventional cotton. Yes, it's natural. But the chemicals like the harmful chemicals are using on growing that cotton is also very high. So it's not even you know that we're using synthetic fibers, it's also some of the natural fibers can also be laced with a lot of questionable chemicals as well as being put on our skin, correct? Correct? Yep. When you look at natural versus, let's say synthetic. So a lot of companies now are using like the recycled plastic water bottles for the clothing. So I haven't done any episodes on really on microplastics. So I'd like to just maybe touch on that a little bit because you went the route of using the certified organic cotton, right. But there's a lot of companies out there I own leggings that are made of recycled water bottles. So what is the problem that you foresee with using a lot of these like polyesters recycled materials? Like what is the impact on us? What could be the impact on our water when it comes to these this clothing that a lot of people are making now?
Karly Hiser 13:41
Yeah, and so I think the problem is really twofold. And for us, our number one priority was to get our kids dressed, so they needed to be comfortable. So we started by taking out the polyester, polyester tends to trap in moisture. And when the moisture is trapped, it makes skin feel like very like sweaty and irritated and just not very happy. So we started by taking out the polyester. And as we did more research, we really discovered that there's a great environmental impact because there's so much polyester in our clothing. So what happens is every time you wash your clothes, little tiny fibers are released, and those fibers make their way into our water. So it's estimated that textiles produce 35% of microplastic pollution. And polyester really hasn't been around for that long. So it's a little bit terrifying to think about what the environmental and health consequences are going to be.
Stephanie Moram 14:42
Right and you have, like not necessarily a solution, but like a recommendation for people like if they are buying polyester, or like should we buy less polyester. Are there companies out there that can help with trapping the tiny fibers when you're washing them?
Karly Hiser 14:59
Yeah, so as much as possible, like I recommend using natural fibers just because they'll biodegrade over time, it's more difficult to recycle polyester clothing over and over, there's only so many times that you can recycle polyester clothing. So for things like leggings, yes, makes sense. Like polyester is like nice and stretchy. Definitely makes like, good athletic apparel. So if you have some like leggings that you love and are not willing to part with, I would recommend using something like the Guppy friend, which is like little bag you can put them in. And that traps the microplastics they're not released or something like the Coral ball, there are also filters that you can put on your washing machine. I will say I have not personally tried the filters, but it would be interesting.
Stephanie Moram 15:49
Yeah, I haven't tried the filter, I do have a Guppy friend bag, I have two of them. And if anybody's wondering, it's just like a big, you know, like laundry bags, you want to put your delicates like in a little bag, just explain to the audience. It's kind of like that, but really big. And what you just put anything that's synthetic in it, and you put it in the wash, and you wash it. And what it does is those synthetic fibers will now not go out into the water, they'll stay in the bag. But I do have a tip for everybody, because I wasn't sure how to get the fibers out of the bag. But I did figure it out. And I was like, okay, I have to wait till they dry. Because I was trying to get them out when I just took it out of the dryer out of the washing machine. And everything was wet. And I was like this isn't working. I don't like this Guppyfriend bag anymore. I mean, I realize I do have to let the bag dry. And then I shake the bag and all the fibers fall to the bottom of the bag. And then I scooped them out and I put them in the garbage. And then you're gonna have people say, Well, you're putting it in the garbage. Well, I'd rather the little microfibers end up I guess in the garbage then in the water, because we drink the water that ends up in the ocean, the fish are eating the microfibers. And then we're eating the fish. So it's just a cycle, right. So make sure to put your microfibers in the garbage. And wait until the bag dries. That's my pro tip. I don't know if you have any tips on how to pick up the bag. But I really like it. And one thing that a lot of people use, I know it's not clothing related is the people use a lot of you know those synthetic, you know, to clean your house, a lot of I don't even know what they're called the different companies that use like the microfibers to like clean. So it's great to have a Guppy bag because I just put all my microfibers in the bag when I washed them. And that's what led me to get the Guppy friend bag because I realized I had those microfiber cloths and I'm like I keep washing them. Because I'm like I need a GFI certified bag to put them in. And that's what led me to buy mine. But have you used the Coral ball? It's almost like, is it made of plastic? Or is it? Have you used it before?
Karly Hiser 17:51
I haven't used it. I was reading about it. Yeah, I have to. Yeah, so I have tried the Guppy friend. But I have not tried the coral ball so that in the filter on my like list of things I'd love to try.
Stephanie Moram 18:04
So for everyone listening, it's just a ball you put in the washing machine and it bangs against her clothing. And then from what I understand you everyone can Google it to find more information. It hits the clothing and kind of traps the fibers into the ball. So they're not ending up in your water. I would think the bag probably does a better better job because it's in a bag. But that's also an option as well. I've never tried it, but it's something that I would like to try as well. And I did see the filter. I was just figure trying to figure out how would this fit into my laundry room?
Karly Hiser 18:39
Stephanie Moram 18:43
But, yeah, so I feel like microplastics are our conversation that is coming up more and more now. And people are starting to be like, Okay, maybe we should move more towards the natural fibers, right? Talking about clothing. And you know, what is if you could give like one tip, you know, maybe more than one because I like lots of tips. Your favorite tips, let's say favorite tip, so I'm not maxing you like when it comes to sustainable clothing when it comes to lowering your impact on the environment. When it comes to fashion. What are a couple of tips that you can offer people that might be a little bit overwhelmed with the information out there?
Karly Hiser 19:23
Yeah, I would say like first and foremost, use what you have in your closet. I think most people would be really surprised by how many pieces of clothing they actually wear. So I would go through your closet, figure out what you have. And if you're not using it like swap with friends, that's really the most sustainable way to go. And then after that after you've like use what you had you swapped with friends then look for sustainable companies and definitely my tip would be to keep in mind the ethical piece as well and then look for certifications like O Tex certified or GOT certified definitely. We want to make sure that you're purchasing something that has a certification just so you know that what you're getting is actually organic and ethically produced.
Stephanie Moram 20:09
Yeah And is there any other fibers that that you either tested or that you do like but you're just sticking with the certified organic for now there are other fibers that you like.
Karly Hiser 20:21
We use Tencel Lyocell as well, which is super soft, especially when blended with organic cotton. And then we also have one of our T shirts is an organic cotton hemp blend and I love that T shirt for children because it is so durable. So hemp is a good one too.
Stephanie Moram 20:39
So I have my opinions on bamboo but I would love to know what you know, we kind of went off track I was asking like you're like we'll go back to the tips. What is your thoughts on bamboo as a clothing?
Karly Hiser 20:55
Yeah, so we do not personally use bamboo. So bamboo grows really quickly, but it is a plant and it's kind of tough. It takes a lot of processing to get to a soft material. In my personal opinion, it's not quite as durable as Tencel Lyocell or Tensile Modell. So we tend to shy away from bamboo just because of the amount of processing and the chemicals that have to be used to make it into a really soft product.
Stephanie Moram 21:22
Right. And I've also done when I've done like some research on bamboo, like a lot of water is used, I believe in the process of creating that bamboo.
Karly Hiser 21:32
Yeah, it's hard to turn that plant into fabric.
Stephanie Moram 21:35
Right? And that's always what when I would get clean, like, you know, I'm not gonna lie, like I bought bamboo posing and stuff like that. But I always wondered, that was always my question. Like, you're a really big plant. You become a washcloth like, like, this isn't like the weird questions I asked myself when I was like, how did that happen? Like, what needs to happen for that to become that does a water does a lot of water have to be used to chemicals have to be used? Because yes, it might be quote unquote, natural. But if you have to the bamboos not being sprayed, right. That's not being sprayed. It's once it's cut down. Yeah. What like I was always questioning like, what harmful chemicals could be used in the processing? And that was always my question. Yes, it's natural, because it's coming from bamboo. But what is being used in that process? And so that was when I came to like, realize, like, maybe I'll just like stick with the organic cotton. And the more natural fibers like I like linen and stuff like that. I like hemp and the other ones you mentioned that I probably going to not say correctly, so I won't. But that was always a question I had was about what is being used. So that's why I don't really use it that often. Because I'm just wondering how sustainable it actually is.
Karly Hiser 22:46
Yeah, no, I agree. I think in the future, there's going to be a shift towards different fibers, I think hemp is becoming really popular, especially because it doesn't require as much water to grow. So it's a really great option.
Stephanie Moram 22:59
So back to our tips. You said like shop your closet, right. And I think people miss that sometimes, where it's you have that clothing in your closet, if you love it, then wear it if you don't swap with your friends, you can donate it to like local thrift shops. Or if you know that there are stores that take clothing, like small local businesses that take clothing, that's also a great option as well. So any other tips that you could offer when it comes to fashion for kids for adults?
Karly Hiser 23:29
Yeah, so I mean, we go, like pretty simple, because I want to be able to mix and match what I have in my closets and make sure that I'm getting as much out of a certain piece as I can. So I'm pretty big into keeping it simple. And then just kind of sticking with a color palette that works for you. So that you can kind of mix and match and make like a bunch of different outfits out of a couple of different things.
Stephanie Moram 23:51
Yeah, and I think the the biggest problem well, there's a lot of problems with fast fashion, but one of them being it's fast. You know, it's that constant. The trends, right? Like, oh, I need to keep up with the Joneses. You know, like I need to, like keep getting the new trends. But, you know, sustainable fashion has come a long way from like 10 years ago, even you know, you can find some really cool stuff now that is more trendy, but also classic, where it can still last. It's not that, you know, five minute trend where like the puffy, I don't know, I'm just gonna make like the trends at one point where like, you know, say really big shoulders like that didn't last very long. And then say all these companies are making that well. You could potentially find something similar to that in the sustainable world, but it's more classic so it'll last longer and that's also why I'm so attracted to like the sustainable fashion because it's not always the real trendy thing that might die out in like a month.
Karly Hiser 24:51
Yeah, I agree. 100% like leaning into your personal style and just loving what you have.
Stephanie Moram 24:56
Right like I love leggings so they have been in style for like a really long time. I don't care what anyone says. Anybody says that, like, leggings are not cool. They're cool to me, and I'm gonna keep wearing. As we like close out, I would love for you to share with everyone where they can find you. And anything else you want to let people know about, about your brand social media where they can find you your website and stuff like that.
Karly Hiser 25:28
Yeah, so you can find us at www dot Crannapparel, which is c r a n n apparel.com. We're also at Crann apparel, on Instagram. And on Facebook, we have a line launching in the fall that has some new like nature inspired prints. So I'm super excited about that. And just looking forward to doing like a little bit more mixing and matching.
Stephanie Moram 25:53
I love it and have one more question. Sorry, everybody, you mentioned prints. So that's also another issue within fashion, like the print that's used on like clothing. So what are you doing differently for prints that would make it a little bit more sustainable.
Karly Hiser 26:09
So we use low impact dyes for everything that we do. It's all done at the GOT certified factory. So they very nicely make sure that what the chemicals that they're using are not harmful, or at least not known to be harmful to humans.
Stephanie Moram 26:23
Perfect. That was my last question, everybody. Thank you. Thank you so much for being on again. You can find Carly at Crann Apparel on social media and also on her website and you can check out all the awesome clothing that they have for kids. So if you are looking for more green living and non toxic inspiration, I have a couple of other episodes you might be interested in number 31 I mentioned earlier What's Really Hiding in Your Home with Lonnie Brown. Number 30 We also talk a bit about fashion Changing the Fashion Game with Camille Lee and number 22 is a solo episode with me Eco Impact of Fast Fashion. You can stay connected with me Stephanie on Instagram at Green junkie podcast and don't forget to subscribe to the Green Junkie podcast on the platform you're listening on. If you're curious about zero waste, living, sustainable fashion or wondering how to read food cleaning product labels, I've got you covered for direct access to me your green living expert, click the link in the show notes where you can ask me questions and get a customized plan on how you can live a greener life. Hop on a one on one call with me or ask me your questions via email – if Zoom is not your thing. I will be your personal #greengoogle and you can pick my brain. Thank you for listening, and I'll see you next Tuesday Green Junkie.