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Natural Awakenings Naples and Fort Myers

Shop Local for a Greener Eco-Wardrobe

Jul 31, 2012 07:37PM ● By Yvette Lynn

An Internet search for eco-friendly fashions to green the wardrobe of any family member may provide a long list of choices. However, what it doesn’t offer is the chance to personally meet the designer of the clothing or speak with the proprietor of the establishment, who could become a friend or a helpful community resource.

Circulating money within the boundaries of the community also helps to support local businesses such as Organic Effort and Thoughtful Threads, in Naples, and Ruby & Pearl’s Boutique and Yoga Studio, in Fort Myers, that are striving to be socially responsible by offering eco-friendly choices.


Since 2007, Bukki Sittler, owner of Sassis, in Naples, has been designing and producing Sassis, a line of American-made, Earth-friendly fashions for women, men and children. “Our designs are primarily timeless classic fashions, using organic cotton and hemp/cotton blends,” says the Naples native. She notes that the children’s T-shirts, tank tops and “skeeter” pants, created from new rather than recycled material, are made from long-wearing hemp, have extra roll-up length for growing girls and boys, an elastic waistband, and make perfect hand-me-downs.

Custom orders are done through the showroom, which is also how they are made available online. Nearly all the raw materials and supplies used by Sassis are manufactured in America. The company supports Fair Trade commerce by sparingly using imported goods that are only produced in safe work environments by workers paid fair wages.

Ruby & Pearl’s

Ruby & Pearl’s Boutique and Yoga Studio, owned by Heather Holland, Emily Lyons and their mother, Margie Holland, carries a contemporary line of fashions called ecoSkin. The clothing fuses sustainability and style by combining eco-friendly fabrics such as Tencel, hemp and cupro with sophisticated design. Even labels are made with natural fabrics. “These fabrics are popular because they give any garment a sexy elegance and buttery-soft texture that feels like a second skin,” says Heather, who points out that 60 percent of all products in the store are manufactured in the U.S.

Tencel is a natural, man-made fiber created from 100 percent biodegradable wood pulp from sustainable tree farms. Certified by the International Forest Stewardship Council, Tencel textiles are produced though the use of nanotechnology in a closed-loop process that recovers or decomposes all solvents and emissions.

Hemp fabric, made from the fibers of the herbaceous plant Cannabis sativa, is considered an environmental “super fiber”. A high-yield crop that is a quickly renewable resource, hemp requires no pesticides, produces more fiber per acre than either cotton or flax, and can be cultivated in as little as 100 days.

Cupro, a 100 percent pure cellulose fiber made from recovered cotton waste, returns to its natural origins by biodegradation or clean-burning incineration.

Thoughtful Threads

Cotton, a plant-based fiber, is the world’s most popular clothing fabric, but the Organic Trade Association notes that conventionally grown cotton is a toxic crop, receiving about 25 percent of the world’s insecticides. “Thoughtful Threads carries only certified organic cotton fashions and bedding,” says Store Manager Amanda Woodward.

In order to be labeled organic, cotton clothing must be made from cotton grown in accordance with U.S. Department of Agriculture organic crop production regulations. Organic cotton growers refrain from using the agricultural chemicals that are integral to conventional cotton farming.

“As awareness of this grows, so does the popularity of organic cotton clothing,” says Woodward, who explains that selected vendors employ alternative techniques such as using low-impact dyes and natural enzymes to process their cotton.

Sassis, 2068 J&C Blvd., Naples. Call 239-449-8417 or visit

Ruby & Pearl’s Boutique and Yoga Studio, 6420 Plantation Park Ct., Ste. 104, Fort Myers. Call 239-768-1021 or visit .

Thoughtful Threads, 2132 Tamiami Trail N., Naples. Call 239-434-0469 or visit

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