A while back I was shopping the organic bedding section at ABC Carpet and Home and I stumbled upon the most beautifully dressed bed covered in Indian paisley printed bedsheets by Raksha Bella
–a new brand that I was thrilled to discover. Raksha Bella is an eco-friendly line of 100% certified organic cotton bedding that is hand block printed using non-toxic, low impact dyes. The line is produced by a group of fair trade women workers in India who are recovering from poverty. Raksha Bella was founded by Carrie Peters who is truly passionate about sustainable design and what I love most about the brand she has created is that it embodies the idea of sustainability in every way possible. Even the company’s San Francisco Bay office is “green” both in its design and its operations. (The office is run on solar power and includes an organic vegetable garden out back.) I reached out to Carrie recently to learn more about Raksha Bella and she was kind enough to fill me in on how the brand started, where it’s going and also share her insights on sustainable design. I hope you enjoy the interview.
What is Raksha Bella in a nutshell?
Our company’s name is also its creed- Raksha, pronounced (ra-k-shaw), meaning protection in Sanskrit, and Bella, the Latin classic for beautiful. Appropriately, Raksha Bella’s philosophy is to protect what is beautiful with our devotion to hand-made organic textiles.
What inspired you to design a line of bedding?
I was a decorative painter and I started getting concerned about the paints I was using. I began to research and use non VOC paints before they reached the mainstream marketplace. That led me to researching more ‘green” products for the home. Textiles became a main focus for me, especially the plight of organic cotton and what’s happening overseas. I took a trip to India and fell in love with the artisan world there, and saw a great opportunity to heal the planet with my love for pattern, design and color and my passion for sustainability in a place that really needs it.
How are your textiles are made?
The cotton is grown in certified organic cotton co-ops in India, milled in a GOTS certified mill in Dehli, then printed by hand with wood blocks in Jaipur with low impact AZO-free dyes, and cut and sewn by women self employed by the Grameen banking system for the poor who are recovering from poverty and empowered by their work.
Why was it important to take this humanitarian approach to your business in addition to simply being “green”?
I believe that eradicating poverty is the next step to sustainability. I believe that empowering women, who are raising the next generation, is a way to make culture changes more sustainable. Women make cultures thrive, vibrant, alive. Without happy women, happier children are fewer. They are our future. They hold the promise to change that is most effective because they grow up with the values needed to full and more long term change.
What does sustainability mean for you?
Sustainability for me means long term, healthy tending, maintenance, adoration and protection of the planet and people.
How do you practice sustainable design in own life?
Most of my home is painted with non VOC paints, I collect all extra water and pour it onto my potted plants and I have solar panels on my home. I love the Center for Creative Reuse and Recycle—a local favorite–all reused and recycled things people throw out—its so incredibly creative.
Are there any other “green” brands for the home that you love besides your own?
Peace Industry rugs & American Clay.
Do you have plans to introduce any new patterns or products any time soon?
Yes! We have our new loungewear collection coming this June/July designed in collaboration with Erica Tanov, and our new prints for our bedding line. For fall we are playing with texture and the ancient and beautiful Japanese dye technique Shibori.
A big thanks to Carrie and in case you were curious about the new products, here’s a sneak peek at some of Raksha Bella’s new bedding patterns and loungewear. These should be available on the Raksha Bella website
in a couple of weeks!