A mum and daughter from Accrington have launched a slow fashion brand to help stem the tide of waste material

Great British Life: Eco-friendly clothing company Little Elephant was launched by mum and daughter Carol and Rachel Jackson from AccringtonEco-friendly clothing company Little Elephant was launched by mum and daughter Carol and Rachel Jackson from Accrington (Image: not Archant)

Elephants never forget and the memories of traditional skills have helped an Accrington mum and daughter launch a successful children’s clothing business.

Carol and Rachel Jackson started The Little Elephant last year and have already attracted a loyal - and growing - customer base.

‘It has been astonishing and to be honest, it’s still hard to believe,’ says Rachel, 24, who took a break from writing her Masters in English Literature to join forces with her mum. ‘Mum is the seamstress. She always made my clothes when I was growing up, using skills learnt from her mum so I suppose you could say we’re a traditional Lancashire female dynasty!’

Carol had no thoughts about turning her skills into a business until last autumn when several factors came together: she turned 60, a new niece Alice was born and, when shopping for clothes for her, she began to be concerned by the amount of ‘fast fashion’ for children.

‘I think we’ve all got used to it, picking up a child’s outfit with a tin of beans in the supermarket and, of course I can see why that is tempting - for one thing, children grow so quickly - but as a society, we’re all becoming more aware of the damage that fast fashion can do to the planet.

‘Children’s clothing alone represents a substantial amount of the tens of thousands of tonnes of material that ends up as landfill. I did a double take when I learned that but it gave me the jolt I’d been waiting for, so I cleared the kitchen table and began,’ says Carol, who is proud to say that The Little Elephant range is anything but fast: each outfit is made when it is ordered from the website, in order to reduce the amount of waste.

The Little Elephant collection marries vintage and modern styles, giving a contemporary twist on a classic silhouette.

‘At the moment, we design and make only girls’ clothing up to the age of three but we are working on a range that will go up to the age of eight and, as we’re constantly being asked about boys’ clothing, that may well be our next project, ‘ says Rachel.

All the material they use is 100% cotton and is sourced ethically. And the outfits all have elasticated waists and extra buttons so they will grow with the child.

‘And even when they do grow out of it, it will still have plenty of life left, ready to be handed down to a sibling or friend. They wash well too and I should know because one of my jobs is washer-in-chief, something I didn’t think I’d be adding to my CV when I began my Masters in Literature,’ says Rachel.

Many clients choose an outfit from the website for an occasion and some will ask for a bespoke one-off piece in The Little Elephant style. One recent commission was for a bride who wanted her child to have a romper suit which would complement her dress.

And while many businesses have been hit hard by the Covid-19 outbreak, Rachel says a sense of optimism has helped them escape the worst of the effects.

‘Our clients are hugely loyal,’ she says. ‘Coronavirus has had a small effect on the business but for the most part, people are looking ahead to the time when life is back to normal and they want their children to be beautifully dressed for when that that happens.

‘We’re optimistic people - that’s why we called our company The Little Elephant because elephants are a sign of good fortune,’ says Rachel who is sending trunk loads of packages around the world - all in eco-friendly packing of course.

To find out more, go online to the-little-elephant.co.uk.