Snug Organics: Keeping Babies Safe from Chemicals

22 Jul, 2012

Erin Royer with LeoErin Royer was concerned about hazardous chemicals in our environment, but she was especially worried about children because of their developing immune systems. The former elementary schoolteacher and conscientious mother of two took her concerns about these issues and acted upon them. Along with her husband, Erik, she founded Snug Organics to provide completely safe and healthy sleepwear for infants and toddlers—something not so easily done in today’s chemical-laden clothing industry.

The concept actually began for Erin while she was teaching. “I noticed the rising rates of kids with learning disabilities, ADHD, obesity, and really crazy amounts of allergies, which we had to be aware of as teachers,” Erin told Organic Connections. “It just seemed to me that each year there were more and more kids with those problems.”

When Erin had her first child, she discovered one of the major contributors to many of these conditions. “After I had my first son, I was looking for pajamas for him for the winter and, living in Colorado, he needed something warm. All that I really found were the fleece blanket sleepers. I’m a person who does way too much research on every single thing I buy. I was looking online and started seeing information about flame retardants, and how those are required to be on polyester-fleece sleepwear.

“Flame retardants have been linked to many of the childhood epidemics—ADHD, obesity, learning disabilities, a large number of hormonal issues, and even cancer. I saw a lot of these in my classroom as a teacher, so I definitely took notice. It’s scary to think that all of those chemicals are more concentrated in children, because they’re so much smaller than we are and their bodies can’t get rid of that toxic burden like ours can.

“For my own child, I started looking for a sleeper made of natural fiber and possibly something organic that would really keep him warm, and there was nothing out there. So I decided to have one made.”

Shortly after this, Erin resolved to share the fruits of her labors with others and created Snug Organics. “We started very slowly and just took baby steps,” Erin said. “I found a family that sews in the Denver area and ordered my fabrics within the US, and I just began with small batches of sleepers. My husband happens to be a graphic designer, so he was able to do the branding and the website. We’re now in our third year. I’ve been working on it for four years and we’ve been up and running for three.”

Erik had no problem in supporting his wife in her endeavor. “Erin is one of the most driven people I know and pours her quiet strength into every aspect of Snug Organics,” he said.

In addition to flame retardants, Erin’s sleepwear solves a number of issues inherent in mass-market products. “Our sleepers are made of organic cotton sherpa, which is a beautiful fleecy cotton fabric,” Erin explained. “It’s similar to polyester fleece but it breathes, where polyester actually keeps heat inside. Polyester can cause kids to overheat and get sweaty.

“Another issue for me was that the Academy of Pediatrics recommends no blankets or pillows inside cribs due to SIDs—infants can suffocate on them. I kept thinking, ‘How am I supposed to keep them warm without being able to put anything in there?’ So whatever my son was wearing needed to be really warm or he was going to be waking up, and waking me up, all night long. Other organic sleepwear that was on the market was thin ribbed cotton, and it’s just not warm enough. So we offer something that is warm enough and is still natural.”

As her company has grown and demand for her products has increased, Erin has managed to keep up with the demand—again, something not so easily done. “We went with merino wool a couple of seasons ago, and it was very hard to source. That’s actually true of any fabric that isn’t covered in chemicals. Wool is one that, if you don’t get it organic, has a lot of finishing chemicals in it.”

But concerned parents obviously want what Snug Organics has to offer. Based on client needs, they will soon be adding another product line. “Next month we’ll be offering a 100 percent alpaca sleeper,” said Erin. “We have sold wool in the past and customers are requesting it again. Alpaca is quite similar to cashmere and it helps regulate body temperature, so it’s an excellent option for kids. I found alpaca in Peru, and it isn’t certified organic but it’s raised completely without chemicals.”

As Snug Organics continues to grow, Erin has many great plans. “I would like to be better able to keep up with demand, so I need to find a larger manufacturer for our sherpa sleepers,” Erin concluded. “That’s been our only challenge—running out of them and not being able to make them fast enough. I also want to add other sleepwear products to our line; I’d like to do some summer sleepwear and some organic long johns that can go under the alpaca. Then, who knows, maybe some bedding!”

For more information on Snug Organics and their products, visit www.snugorganics.com.

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