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RYE, NY — Creating kids’ clothing that is rugged, reasonably priced and produced sustainably is a tall order — Rye-based Cotonly founder, Sadia Sharmin relies on more than just her fashion sense to make it happen.
Sharmin told Patch that growing up in Bangladesh served as something of an inspiration for her fledgling children’s fashion label. She recounted that watching her older cousins play in clothes that would someday be hers was akin to shopping.
“I want that for my children, but clothes don’t last like they did then,” Sharmin said. “Being able to hand clothes down doesn’t just save money, it’s also the best thing for the environment.”
Sharmin explained that creating clothes durable enough to last from generation to generation was no easy task. Sourcing quality and sustainable materials in quantities appropriate for a small business proved to be one of the company’s greatest challenges. She said the company works with the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) to ensure the quality and sustainability of the fabrics used in the all cotton Cotonly line.
Sharmin said large minimum orders for quality, sustainable, ethically produced cotton can help feed the demand for sweatshop labor — something she has taken great care to keep her company far away from.
“Growing up in Bangladesh,” Sharmin said, “I’ve seen firsthand how devastating that side of this industry can be.”
Sharmin’s experience outside of the fashion world helped her to create a model that allowed Cotonly to keep costs low, while still investing heavily in quality materials and ethical production practices. After graduating from MIT, she used her unique skillset to help companies, including Microsoft and IBM and in e-commerce at Amazon and Sears, to help create scalable platforms and processes — a familiarity she put to good use in her latest venture when creating the sustainable production process used to manufacture Cotonly’s line.
Sharmin explained that using 3-D modeling lets Cotonly maintain an impressive line of fashions for both girls and boys that can be quickly ramped up or even produced on demand, without having to rely on huge warehouses or factories with dubious practices.
While the environmental and ethical bona fides are certainly laudable, it’s talking about the design and comfort of the Cotonly line that makes Sharmin light up. She noted that here is an array of unique options for girls — and uniquely, a few more colorful options for boys than you typically see on the racks. Sharmin said she always felt the boys’ color palette was a little muted so she ensured that Cotonly’s boys clothing is full of bright, vibrant colors. On the girls’ side, she reports that the crop sweatshirts and ruffled sweatshirts have been particularly well-received.
The Cotonly children’s clothing line comes in sizes 2 through 12. Prices range from $20 to $50.
You can see the one-of-a-kind Cotonly line at a holiday pop-up at Woodbury Common Premium Outlets starting on Black Friday through the end of the year, or at the White Plains Holiday Market from Dec. 6 through 15. All items are also available online at
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