An Interview with Nicole Ludlow, the Founder of New Jammies
From organic chemistry to organic cotton, a basket full of sunflowers to boxes full of pajamas, Nicole Ludlow’s journey from child artist and scientist to business owner has been full of surprises. Today, Nicole is the owner and founder of New Jammies, producing organic cotton pajamas for children and infants. She is well-known for her fun designs, her focus on healthy living, and her oh-so-comfortable pajamas. But did you know that her interest in PJs began as an interest in organic chemistry?
“As a child I was always interested in natural science,” she says. “Things like bugs, rocks, flowers, seashells, stars. I played outdoors for hours with my brothers and had a microscope that I thought was the coolest.”
In middle school, Nicole’s science fair projects focused on things like red algae’s growth in saltwater, analyzing its absorption of carbon dioxide as a possible solution to the Greenhouse Effect. Later on, chemistry became Nicole’s main passion and the start of an exciting career. Before starting New Jammies, Nicole worked as an organic chemist in the agriculture industry.
“I found chemistry to be interesting as it involved solving puzzles and building on an atomic level,” she explains. “Chemistry is behind so much of what we know in our world today and it is how we create many of the products in our daily lives, including more natural ones.”
Natural living formed the basis of Nicole’s childhood. She spent most of her time outdoors, running and playing with her brothers. Her background in clean eating and green living sparked the first ideas that would later turn into New Jammies’ first product lines.
“When I started New Jammies in 2007, there seemed to be a need to teach children about enjoying fruits and vegetables,” she explains. “The obesity problem was continuing to grow in America’s youth with the combined lack of exercise and poor eating habits. It wasn’t an issue I had as a youth because we mostly ate fresh whole foods and ran around outside dawn until dusk.”
The question became: how could parents get their kids more interested in healthy eating and healthy living? What if there was a way to integrate healthy living with our lives, a way to make “green” such an integral part of our routines that kids learned healthy habits from birth?
“I didn’t question that fruits and veggies were good, it’s all I knew,” Nicole says. “So, I came up with the idea of six fruit and vegetable pajama designs and bedtime stories using the same imagery. The books and pajamas were designed to make children excited about fruits and veggies. I believe we were one of the first children’s clothing lines on the market to utilize apparel design for teaching and as a tool to create healthy habits. At the time we were also ahead of the curve with gender neutral colors and images. You wouldn’t believe how many people asked if Bananas or Apples were a boy or girl design. I said, “It’s a fruit, it can be either!”
Along with the healthy eating habits Nicole learned from her childhood, her interest in the chemical processes behind product creation helped inform her decision to rely on organic cotton for all her new products. “As I began looking at fabrics for our product line, I really wanted cotton as it is such a soft, breathable fabric,” she says. “I discovered that cotton is one of the most heavily treated crops in the world, resulting in pollution and poor working conditions and disease in farmers. How could I make a product that was designed to teach children healthy habits if the processing for that product was not healthy?”
At the time, researchers also began to draw connections between agricultural chemistry and the negative impacts many production techniques have on people and the environment. Agricultural chemistry has led to some amazing advancements–larger, disease-resistant, more reliable crops, for example–but it has also had some major negative drawbacks.
“What are the long term consequences of dousing all of our food and land with chemicals?” Nicole asked herself. “How has this contributed to new disease on our planet? So, from day one I decided to choose organic cotton over conventional, hoping every step we take results in a better future for our children, families, and our environment. We go above and beyond for you to have a great experience with our pajamas,” she adds. “We design them with the highest quality organic cotton for a super, soft, durable, and comfy fit. I’d also like people to think colorful and playful. Organic doesn’t have to be mute colors. The brilliant colors of nature surround us everyday and we make sure we use the best eco-friendly dyes in our processing.””
Healthy living is part of the brand’s identity — and it shows in every stitch. The original designs focused on nutritious (and delicious) foods, like apples and bananas. Today, the brand has expanded to feature a wide range of fruits and veggies, along with familiar character themes like cowboys and pirates.
“I’ve had so much fun with the design process over the years, sketching and drawing images, to developing a pattern, to pulling it together in a colorful pair of pajamas,” Nicole says. “One of my favorites is probably my Sunflower design. I was inspired by a planter of sunflowers my mother had in her living room. I loved the idea of a rich blue, contrasting the big, bold, yellow sunflowers. Some of my other favorites designs have included bringing whimsical characters to life, like our Ranching Cowboys, Mermaid Bubbles, and Christmas Elves. Of course I still love the simplicity and classic style of prints like our Lobsters, Whales and Anchors Aweigh. Sometimes simple is best!”
“Our two piece snuggly pajamas are probably my favorite at this point,” she adds, “because I still get to see my boys in them every day as they grow. And a lot of days I have to convince them to get out of their New Jammies!”
Today, New Jammies products bring families together to celebrate traditions like a comfy bedtime routine.
“I really would love for bedtime to be a fun, enjoyable experience,” Nicole says. “It is a special, quiet time of day we get to spend with our children. In our modern lifestyle, we have such busy schedules. It’s critical we take some time before bed to relax and just enjoy each other’s company. I believe this comes together with a routine, bedtime stories, and getting cozy in your favorite pajamas.”
Getting cozy is exactly what New Jammies is all about.
“We’ve always focused on pajamas and probably always will, but I think there is room for more styles, bigger sizes, and maybe some family Jammies in the future,” Nicole says. “I also feel that reading is an integral part of bedtime, so I am hoping for some more opportunities to create some PJ and story book combinations. We’ve also started to bring back more infant styles with bibs, beanies, bloomers, and wearable blankets which I’d like to expand. The fun thing about design is that the sky is the limit, so who knows where the stars will take us!”
Nicole’s work has taken her across industries and careers to make a longtime dream come true. Today, New Jammies is an established brand that epitomizes the best parts of healthy living, amplifies the time that families get to spend together, and celebrates everything about getting cozy.
“There was this moment five or six years ago when I realized my dream of making pajamas for children actually came true,” Nicole says. “I love hearing when a child’s favorite pair of pajamas are New Jammies and they request to wear them every night. It’s amazing to know that our pajamas are so important to a child’s comfort and happiness. Little boys and girls around the world are snuggling up for bedtime in their favorite pajamas with colors, images, and comfort that came from our designs.”
New Jammies was born as an environmentally responsible company offering 100% certified organic cotton pajamas and baby clothing. Learn more at newjammies.com.