Born in Malaysia, Ennie Lim moved to Quebec, Canada, when she was 5 and was raised around French culture until she moved to Hong Kong at 24. After doing some modeling in Asia and then moving to California to work in tech startups, Lim was eventually inspired by her apparel executive mother to become a clothing entrepreneur herself. First, she created the women’s apparel brand Vie Désir (French for “Life Desire”), where she designed vegan leather jackets, and now, she and co-founder Kendra McPhee have created the 100 percent organic baby line Obébé Organic, based in San Francisco.
The word Obébé is what Lim calls “Franglais,” a mix of French (bébé means “baby”) and English, with an extra “O” for organic. A few of their original items include a kimono-style sweater and pant set, a cotton sleepsack, yarn mouse toys (inspired by the cartoon character that illustrator Valerie Willis drew on their packaging) and fairy tale-printed onesies — all packaged in a signature Obébé book box gift set.
“Kendra and I attend a lot of baby showers,” Lim explains, of why they were drawn to baby clothes. “One day, I was re-packaging baby gifts for my friend’s baby shower in a book box — it just looks so much better than the standard packaging — and I thought it would be so great if the gifts came pre-packaged in a beautiful box that parents could keep. Even better, I wanted to find baby gifts that made a difference.”
Not only is everything organic — eco-clothing is harder to find than you think and “more sustainable for the farmers, the environment and our business,” explains Lim — but for every signature set bought, Obébé Organic collaborates with the Bring Me a Book Foundation to donate a book to a child in need. “Sadly, many children lack access to quality books and don’t have an adult who reads to them,” she says. “We wanted to change that because early literacy is the key driver for language development and the foundation to every child’s success in school and life.”
Learn more at Obebeorganic.com.
Feature Photo courtesy of Chung Li.
This story was originally published in our Spring 2015 issue. Get your copy here.