Premia de Mar, a quaint Mediterranean coastal town in the commuter zone of busy Barcelona, gained notoriety during the industrial revolution for its textiles mills. The town built up an impressive infrastructure where it created top quality fabrics that were exported around the world. The majority of the Premia de Mar textile mills have since disappeared, but we here at Natural Intimacy are coming together with local artisans to breath new life into the dormant textile industry.
One of our most beloved products is our natural sea sponges. There is a lot of love and synergy centred around these sponges, especially because our headquarters are located just 100 meters from the Mediterranean Sea in a renovated factory, named Can Gravada.
A hundred and twenty years ago, Can Gravada was one of the premier textile mills of Premia de Mar. It was recently renovated and now houses some 20 apartments on its upper levels and light industrial units below. The fusion of original ironwork, brick, and stone with modern upgades and additions make it strikingly impressive. What better location for Natural Intimacy to expand it’s eco-centered enterprise than a recycled factory!
As part of Natural Intimacy’s expansion, we wanted to focus on product packaging. Packaging is more than a short-lived container that will be tossed into the trash by the buyer. Product packaging creates a huge environmental impact, and we were intent on making sure their packaging was plastic free, reusable, and practical.
A reusable, biodegradable storage bag is a great solution for packaging a product and that’s what we did with the pilot project of our IntimateCare sea sponges. Plastic free. Perfect. So we did what seemed so obvious, logged on to Alibaba and ordered a few thousand bags to be shipped to us from China. A few emails, a few photos of prototypes, a few samples mailed out and we nailed the design. Easy and also cheap!
But when you begin to look at it, the textile industry in China is problematic. It’s not clear how regulated the factory emissions are when you see the smog covered cities in industrial zones out there. The fabric is grown seemingly without regulation and sprayed with who knows what types of chemicals. And there is no way to ensure the working conditions of the labors are ethical. If that was not enough, shipping consignments of finished products across continents produces even more carbon emissions.
As we slowly became aware of the issues involved we decided to make local production a priority.
Through local contacts in Premia de Mar we met Elena, who has a small family owned textile factory just a few kilometers from Can Gravada. They mostly produce clothing for clients who are well-known brands. Creating bags for Natural Intimacy products was a simple request, and Elena was super enthusiastic about the ethical component of the Natural Intimacy vision.
Elena was able to source GOTS certified cotton, which means that both the environmental and social impact of the fabric is overseen by a globally recognized body. Production in her local textile factory means we can visit in person to confirm that her workers who make the bags are treated well and contracted correctly.
The Natural Intimacy logo is printed on to the bags at a separate location, also in the Can Gravada factory.
Monica established her screen printing studio there a few years ago, and we’ve had the pleasure of being neighbours with her for a while now. She offers screen printing workshops for adults and kids, and gives printing classes in the town’s printing museum.
Monica was already well connected with one of the only suppliers of GOTS certified organic dyes. She uses these specialty dyes to gently yet deliberately screen print the Natural Intimacy logo on each and every product bag.
Even the smaller details of the Natural Intimacy product packaging are reviewed for local options. The card tags and instruction inserts were printed by Imprint Premiá, located on the high street. And the signature logo design was completed with the input of La Resistencia, another neighbour in Can Gravada who specialise in designing and managing luxury cosmetic brands.
Instead of producing our packaging in China, we’ve brought business home to Premia de Mar. On the journey we’ve learned about global textile certifications and organic fabric and dyes. We’ve sat over steaming cups of coffee with amazing local artisans who take pride in their craft. We’ve immersed ourselves in the process, and we’ve felt the satisfaction of having switched to supporting the local economy.