This children's brand owner is making a difference
In many industries, it’s difficult to find brands that are doing the work to be truly diverse and inclusive. When it comes to brands targeting parents and children, that lack of awareness and accountability becomes dangerously exclusionary and as a result, many under represented groups are further marginalized.
But what if you, as a brand owner/creative director, made it your mission to reflect the world as it should be seen? What if you broke the cycle and continuously included diverse imagery in your marketing materials? What if you didn’t just include occasional token imagery here and there, but presented a balanced portrayal of the world’s diversity and represented a much broader audience?
We invited the brand’s founder, Cassandra Rhodin, for a short chat about her stance on the topics of diversity, representation and inclusion.
Can you tell us a little about your own heritage and cultural upbringing?
On my father’s side, there is a mix of artists, painters and circus people. We believe my father’s grandmother was Navajo. On my mother’s side, people were Swedish aristocrats mixed with Russian, German and Latvian. I grew up in quite a political, non-religious family, with family friends from all over the world. After my parents divorced, my mother remarried to an Iranian husband, so my sister, with whom I’m very close, is partly Iranian.
My family was hiding refugees at our home for a time and my parents were always open to people from diverse backgrounds and with different cultures to theirs.
Why did you decide to launch Mini Rodini?
I started Mini Rodini when I was 24 years old - after my first son was born. Kids clothes were so boring back then - totally limited by gender stereotypes and produced in conventional ways. There was no way I was going to dress my kid like that.
Do you make a conscious effort to show diversity in your marketing materials and strategies? If so, how?
First of all, I would like to thank you for noticing. I’ve been doing this work for 13 years and this is the first time I have been asked this question in an interview. In a way I don’t like to talk about diversity as a marketing strategy - it’s just kids, you know? - but truthfully, I’m the Creative Director on all of our shoots (and sometimes the photographer) and I suppose I do make some decisions consciously. I want our images to represent many types of children because I think that’s the way it should be. It’s heartbreaking that the industry isn't more inclusive.
Last week I was in a famous toy store in London. My daughter was going to choose a babydoll - a huge thing for her, as we had never bought one for her before. It felt like they had 100s of different dolls in that store. Next to us were were two little black girls, also looking at dolls and suddenly I realized that all of the dolls around us where painfully white. I felt absolutely disgusted. We left and my daughter was happy with a plush toy instead.
What do you think about the lack of attention to diversity, representation and inclusion that is shown by a large number of popular children's brands?
I think it is a big problem. The clothing industry is in general quite disgusting and very corrupt. It’s too much about making profit at the expense of other people and the big chains are designing cheap crap that has a huge impact on our environment and our lives. It’s so much worse then I think consumers even realise.
I feel that the lack of diversity is also part of the industry’s ugly nature. It’s a form of racism and it doesn’t belong in a modern world. I wish we could have global laws for racism and environmental issues but it feels quite unlikely, so right now I think consumers needs to take a stand.
Help create the future you want to see and support the companies that are trying to do something better.
Does your internal workforce also reflect the diversity of the real world?
Our workforce is made up of people born in 11 different countries but most of us are Swedish born.
How do you plan to keep working to be a brand that leads in sustainability and diversity?
We will just continue to strive to be better. We always try to do our best.