This woman-owned business wants to help you have a plastic-free kitchen
From costume designer to entrepreneur, Heidi Barr not only brings greener solutions to your kitchen, but also supports farmers trying to revive crops like flax in America. Her neutral offerings are designed to fit any home, and her passion for agriculture, nature, and all things beauty shines through in this small, female-led team she has cultivated over the course of of the last decade.
Barr has spent much of his career as a costume designer making costumes from synthetic fabrics. They were not recyclable, and certainly not biodegradable. Over time, she realized that this did not fit into her own personal philosophy of living more sustainably.
So she decided to be an entrepreneur – and self-funded. She juggled two jobs until she could create a strong market for Vegetable garden textiles.
It all started with the napkins: simple linen napkins that could also be rented from restaurants. “Food is fabric. And the chefs got it, ”Barr says.
From there, she expanded the line to practical items like coffee filters, reusable tea bags, product bags and aprons. (Her fridge is full of her reusable cloth bags, no plastic, she says. “But that didn’t happen overnight. It takes time to get rid of plastic completely.”)
A nearby woman-operated cutting and sewing facility helps Barr produce the items. The laundry comes from Lithuania. “I couldn’t get everything locally because we lost this infrastructure. But it’s a country that respects organic guidelines and has working standards, so that reassured me. “
Passionate gardener, she decided to give back to local farms through her business. So a percentage of sales always went to local farms. “Some years I help them. The other years it’s like they support me, ”she says, referring to the joy she feels interacting with these farmers.
In 2020, she met one of these farmers, Emma De Long. Both were like peas in a pod, she says, when it comes to farming. De Long was interested in Barr’s approach to fibers; thus, they decided to work together towards the idea of flax grown in Pennsylvania. Flax, explains Barr, is an excellent crop for regenerative agriculture. It doesn’t require a lot of water or chemical inputs and is easy to grow. In addition, it has a growth cycle of 100 days. This means that it can fit into the rotation crop schedule (an important part of regenerative agriculture). “If agricultural diversification is part of the response to climate change, flax fits this bill,” she said.
Barr has also identified a spinner in Connecticut who is willing to spin flax for her. Although the first iterations of this fabric are expensive because the linen supply chain is largely absent in the United States, she hopes it will rekindle interest in the culture and the material.
“It’s in its early days, but it would be nice to grow something here locally and rebuild some of that history that we’ve lost in America,” Barr said.
These personal relationships define Barr’s approach to sustainability, business and lifestyle, she says. “Sustainability is about ideas and relationships. In the kitchen, for example, I like to know the people who cultivated my food, baked my bread, and even the potters who made the plates and bowls I use. Sustainability is an old way of life that generations before us practiced regularly. We have moved away from it and it is time to revisit it.
In terms of starting a business, she has the same slow vision. It took him ten years (and a difficult pandemic year with a lot of “zoom” marketing) to keep his business going. But she likens starting a business to gardening: something that requires regular care, and if you push the plants to grow too quickly (or in the wrong season), they will fly away. “It’s all about slow growth, in nature and in business. “