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Circular Kids’ Clothing Startup Earns B Corp Status

Circular children’s retailer Borobabi, which allows parents to buy and rent pre-owned apparel for growing infants and toddlers, has achieved B Corp status through its unique business model and commitment to sustainably made garments.

Former chemical engineer Carolyn Butler founded the New Jersey-based e-commerce company during the pandemic to address the issue of waste in the kids’ clothing market by revamping its supply chain. Children typically outgrow garments in a period of a few short months, making purchasing high-quality apparel an impractical financial burden for parents. Borobabi allows parents to order and keep items until their kids grow out of them, charging a monthly fee as long as the clothes are in use. Parents can ultimately choose to purchase the clothing at a reduced price, or return it so it can be rented or bought by a new family.

“Achieving B Corp Certification is a powerful recognition and true testament to our innovative team and our mission-driven culture,” Butler said, noting that the achievement is “just the beginning” of the brand’s efforts to curb carbon emissions and textile waste in the apparel industry.

“Going forward, our certification will also provide a roadmap for ongoing improvements to our business and our impact,” she added. The accomplishment solidifies the company’s goal to care for the planet by “putting it first in our processes and decisions.” The brand’s founding premise earned Butler the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s “Circular Economy Pioneer” award in 2020.

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Non-profit auditor B Lab certified the brand based on its mission-driven business model, surveying Borobabi with more than 224 questions about processes and practices. The retailer earned an overall 91.2 points, scoring above the 80 points needed to achieve B Corp status. It saw high marks for its efforts in the area of “toxicity”—denoting the ecological soundness of its apparel inputs, which are largely certified by the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), Oeko-Tex, and other groups, as well as “conservation,” as the company keeps products in use longer through rentals.

The retailer sells and rents clothing made from organic materials.
The retailer sells and rents clothing made from organic materials. Courtesy

Since its launch two years ago, Borobabi’s data shows that it has saved 39 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions and 10.7 million gallons of water through its operations, along with negating the consumption of two metric tons of virgin cotton by reducing the need for new raw materials.

Only garments made by brands that use organic inputs are introduced into the product pipeline. According to Butler, the company has also developed end-of-life solutions for garments that don’t find a permanent home. “We work hard to take responsibility for the full lifecycle of our elevated childrenswear,” she said. “We recycle and compost our brands to avoid the harms of landfilling.”

“Rarely have I seen a new business with such fiscal potential while also being so positively mission-driven for what the world needs now,” Eugene Castagna, an advisory board member, investor, and former president and chief operating officer of Bed Bath & Beyond, said. “They are a model for climate change- and equity-focused efforts through business,” he added. Borobabi is female-owned and run by an executive team 75-percent comprised of women, while 87 percent of the staff identify as female.

“We believe every family should have access to ethically and sustainably crafted—and beautiful—clothing,” Butler added. “Our natural and organic clothing gets used to its fullest potential by our network of families.”