The textile industry is one of the most polluting in the world, with children’s clothing being a significant contributor. Babies and kids grow up quickly, so families are understandably inclined to buy very cheap clothes to spend as little as possible for something that will not last. This problem is exacerbated by the fact that cheap clothes do not last long and do not have resale value, meaning more of them need to be produced. People are looking for solutions, and the mission of Mini-Cycle is to provide an alternative to fast fashion. We hand-pick the most sustainable, durable, ethical, fashionable and comfortable kids clothing on the market.

The disruptive element of our business is that we guarantee to buy back everything and then 're-commerce' the same item, creating a closed-loop circular economy. Essentially, we take ownership and responsibility for all products we introduce to the market, and ensure that we maximize each piece of clothing’s utility throughout its life cycle, cradle to cradle. Our goal is that each garment is worn and enjoyed by up to six different children in an effort to reduce, reuse and recycle. An item nearing the end of its life cycle can be refurbished, repurposed and/or donated to pass on its memories and continue its journey. Each piece will tell a story about our impact on the planet in an attempt to educate the world and change consumer behaviour.

Top tip: The circular economy is a great concept for thinking about how sustainable your operation is. Are you keeping materials in circulation for as long as possible through reuse or recycling? You can read more about this in our latest packaging study.

Close-up of a pile of t-shirts

I am a mother of two girls with a Master’s Degree in Environmental Science and I teach Strategies for Sustainability at McGill University. I understand the time is now to make a change. Radical solutions are necessary and had to be implemented yesterday. The goal is to rethink the way we are living and reengineer the existing systems. I have a vision that I am ready to share and achieve in order to make the world a better place for our children and future generations.

I was fortunate enough to live and work in Bangkok for 4 years. I spent a lot of time travelling around Asia and witnessed the impact of fast fashion first-hand on our planet. Self-driven research, books and documentaries, my master’s degree, being a mother and a teacher of sustainability at McGill have all come together to lead me to the point I am at in my life. The ethos behind Mini-Cycle is a business model that takes into consideration not only profit, but also people and the environment. As far as companies that are pioneering this revolution in the fashion industry, I am particularly inspired by Eileen Fisher and Patagonia and their emphasis on supply chain transparency and their take back and repair programs.

Work station with custom tissue paper

We try to bring consciousness to all the actions and decisions we make as a company. Mini-Cycle is an extension of ourselves and not a name to hide behind in an attempt to diffuse responsibility. One way we do this is by targeting a goal of zero waste throughout all of our business operations (i.e., packaging, shipping, customer service) to limit our impact on the environment. We also take tremendous pride in what we choose to put out on the market and assume ownership of these items throughout their life cycle, hence the buyback guarantee.

Our partners and suppliers form an integral part of our brand identity, and we try to educate and learn from each other to build a community of like-minded businesses. The mission is to source ethically-made, organic and as local as possible. As we grow, so does our impact. So, the foundation of our brand identity is to educate consumers, retailers and manufacturers of the devastating effects that fast fashion is having on the world, so we can work together to transform the industry and build sustainable solutions for the future.

Kid's drawing of 'mini cycle'

Sustainability lies at the foundation of Mini-Cycle's principles. It means thinking about the future, and coming up with solutions that will last long-term, and implementing these long-term ideas that can grow and adapt with the trends of society. Circular economies make sense on multiple levels, both economically and ecologically, which is a critical factor on a planet with an expanding population and diminishing resources. We are trying to be as close as possible to net zero, net green, zero waste. The main challenges we face are waste produced by our suppliers, CO2 emissions from shipping, and also transparency when it comes to the process and life cycle of manufacturing clothes.

Jad Robitaille wrapping clothing in custom tissue paper

Finding eco-friendly brands and suppliers that share our philosophy and ideals can be difficult and time-consuming as well. One of our first challenges was sourcing affordable, sustainable packaging, looking specifically for a 100% compostable solution, and that’s how we found noissue! We chose noissue based on their compostable mailer solution - we were looking for a way to have more sustainable packaging and reduce our shipping footprint. After thorough research, 100% compostable mailers proved to be the ideal solution for our needs. We were able to combine this with compostable shipping labels, so our customers can simply put the packaging in their home compost after receiving a shipment. We would love to customize our mailers in the future to tailor it to our business. We are looking forward to ordering custom tissue and soy-based ink stickers for the same reasons once we run out of our previous supply!

Top tip: Our eco-mailers are made out of corn starch, which is why they biodegrade on your home compost heap! It's a great alternative to boxes for brands who are shipping lightweight and soft products. You can check out our eco mailers here.