Investment banking and public health aren’t likely backgrounds for makers of organic bed linen, but the previous careers of Dushyant and Vinita Baravkar played a fundamental role in forming their current business, Bhumi.
The married couple started the label – which sells organic, ethically made bedding, bathroom products and apparel – as a side hustle at the end of 2015, after relocating back to Melbourne from New York.
“If you want to purchase organic products you usually start with food or skincare,” Dushyant says. “But Australia obviously served that market very well. Textiles was something that just jumped out of us primarily because of Vinita’s background ... so we just dived into it during that time.”
Vinita’s work in public health with international agencies such as the World Health Organisation and United Nations gave her firsthand insight into harmful labour practices around the world; Dushyant, who worked for ANZ at the time, brought additional financial know-how.
“We had the passion, we had the vision but … it took us a while, at least a couple of years, to understand the components of the ecosystem that need to work to make this a viable business,” he says.
Bhumi is now the couple’s sole focus and sells a growing line of beautiful sheets, doona covers, pillowcases, bath towels, robes, underwear and more in soft, earthy colours, ranging from white and ivory through to pewter and navy blue.
“[Every product] we want to bring to the market … has to tick two fundamental boxes: it needs to be good for the planet and it needs to be good for the consumer,” Dushyant says.
Bhumi means “earth” in Sanskrit and the label’s colour palette can be partly attributed to the chemical-free plant-based dyes used to make its products. All of Bhumi’s textiles are made with cotton grown in India and certified according to the Global Organic Textile Standard, which means it’s grown and treated under a strict set of environmental and social guidelines.
“It’s not too restrictive but [the dye] has to be earthy in nature, so it lends itself to a natural palette – soothing to the eyes, soothing to the body, soothing to the skin,” Dushyant says, adding that the bedding also comes in five refined seasonal fabrics: sateen, flannel, percale, linen and jersey. “Obviously we live in Melbourne, so we can't have one sheet for the entire year,” he says.
One other thing to note: Bhumi’s products are all manufactured in Fairtrade factories to ensure no child labour is used and workers have fair wages and safe conditions. “With this [approach] you get a lot of transparency,” Dushyant says. “[For example], if you ask me, ‘Where is this product made?’ I can tell you it’s not only made in this factory, but by this person, who gets this much wage – and here is the proof.”
Bhumi is working towards publishing as much of this information as possible, so customers can be assured what they're buying is genuinely sustainable and question spurious claims elsewhere.
“It's very easy for people to say cotton is sustainable, linen is sustainable or bamboo is sustainable, but we want people to be educated and say, ‘Okay, what does this actually mean?’,” says Dushyant.
“Words like 'natural', 'eco-friendly' – they're so easy to say. Through our journey, our success, hopefully we can bring awareness across to consumers so that they buy meaningful products. If someone is claiming they’re ‘sustainable’, then here are the things you should look for."
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