Transform your children’s bedtimes with a magical brand of organic bedding, with painterly designs to spark their imaginations and the softest sustainable cotton to soothe them to sleep. Jessica Jonzen meets the Founders of Forivor
CHILDREN’S BLANKETS SHOWING THE REVERSIBLE DESIGNS FROM FORIVOR’S THIRD COLLECTION ‘THE SPACE ABOVE THE GROUND.’ IMAGE: HAYLEY TODD
You’d be hard pressed to find anyone who couldn’t remember their childhood bedroom. I still have strong memories of my pale blue cloud-covered wallpaper with matching duvet cover and curtains (it was the 1980s, after all). The design choices we make for our children’s bedrooms are likely to stay firmly in their memories for the rest of their lives. In the here and now, we also want to make sure they are tucked up in soft, cosy bedding and many of us want to make more sustainable choices when it comes to buying for our homes.
Enter Forivor, the magical organic children’s bedding brand founded in 2016 by Rebecca Monserat and self-taught illustrator Alice Ruby Ross. Named in honour of Rebecca’s father, Ivor, and inspired by her childhood in the Black Mountains, Forivor is the culmination of Rebecca’s background in sustainable fashion and Alice’s fascination with the natural world. Now with three fantastical collections – The Enchanted Forest, Legends of the Sea and The Space Above the Ground – all sustainably made from organic cotton, Forivor is providing a magical backdrop to childhood bedtimes. We find out more…
ORGANIC JERSEY BLANKET, £55, FROM ‘THE ENCHANTED FOREST’ COLLECTION BY FORIVOR. IMAGE: JON GORRIGAN
Can you tell us more about what inspired the Forivor brand?
[Rebecca] Forivor is the culmination of different life experiences although ironically the idea for it came before I had children of my own. I had just returned from travelling from London to Hong Kong by train and had been trying (and failing) to write a short story about the journey for my goddaughter, Coco. At the same time, I was looking for organic bedding and had really struggled to find anything that I liked. It really bothered me that there was so little available as I knew just how damaging conventional cotton production could be to both human rights and the environment from my work at the Environmental Justice Foundation.
I went to sleep one night with thoughts of children’s stories and the importance of growing the organic cotton market (which at the time only accounted for 1% of global cotton production) whirling in my head. In that strange moment between sleep and wakefulness I had this idea for bedding that could enhance a child’s natural curiosity about nature and nurture their creative mind by encouraging them to be storytellers. Although the idea came from quite a complicated meeting of events and thoughts, the concept itself is quite simple. Beautiful illustrations on bedding which transform from detailed daytime scenes of our natural world into a magical night time world where animals have metamorphosed into mythical creatures.
(L-R) ‘LEGENDS OF THE SEA’ DUVET SET; ‘THE ENCHANTED FOREST’ DUVET SET, BOTH FROM £148, FORIVOR. IMAGE: JON GORRIGAN
Your collections celebrate the magic of the natural world and the elemental relationship that children have with it. How do you find that children respond to your bedding?
[Rebecca] One of the greatest joys of our business is the feedback we get from parents and children about their experiences with our bedding. We know that our blankets and bedding sets quickly become household favourites, with children refusing to sleep in anything else – partly because they are so soft but also because they love the details to explore. It’s lovely as although one of our quilted blankets might be given as a gift for a newborn baby, they will use it as a playmat perhaps to begin with, then on their beds, for building dens and snuggling on the sofa, so they really do grow with the children.
[Alice] There is no better compliment than a child telling you they love your bedding as their reactions are always unfiltered and completely genuine. It makes me feel exceptionally proud of what we have created when we get emails from parents telling us that our quilt or duvet set has become their favourite thing. For us, creating something that children will enjoy and cherish really motivates us and to a certain point directs our business. For each new design we always consider what the value of the item is to a child, even though we know an adult will buy it. We have talked often about how evocative our bedding as children was (even though it was quite plain) so the thought that children can find little details in the illustrations that will become part of their memory bank, like a storybook, feels very unique and special.
‘THE SPACE ABOVE THE GROUND’ DUVET SET, FROM £148, FORIVOR. IMAGE: HAYLEY TODD
As well as Alice’s beautiful illustrations, the bedding is also beautifully soft and sustainably made. Can you tell us more about that?
The organic cotton we use has a high thread count of 318 which makes it luxuriously soft and something customers often comment on. We strive to make our bedding as sustainably as possible and this goes beyond just using organic cotton. We work with a manufacturer in India who values the environment, their workforce and community. As well as supplying primarily rain-fed, Global Organic Textile Standard-certified organic cotton they have a GOTS-approved digital printing system with no water involved and little waste; their major source of power is a windmill. They provide housing for about 50 per cent of their workers, with free electricity and water, with plans to increase this to 100 per cent in coming years. During the pandemic, they paid their employees 100 per cent of their salaries.
We support an initiative in India by planting trees for every direct sale from our website to help offset our carbon emissions. We are continually looking for ways to improve elements such as packaging, delivery and even the carbon footprint of our website and inboxes, which are increasingly being acknowledged as damaging to the environment.
(L-R) ‘LEGENDS OF THE SEA’ QUILTED BLANKET, FROM £154; ‘GIANT PEGASUS & DAYLAND KITES REVERSIBLE DUVET SET, FROM £95, FORIVOR. IMAGES: JON GORRIGAN
Rebecca, your childhood home in the Black Mountains provides a huge amount of inspiration for the Forivor designs. Can you tell us more about where you grew up and how it has influenced you?
The house I grew up in was set on its own in a little pocket of a valley, with woodlands rising up from a small river on one side and beautiful unspoilt meadows filled to the brim with orchids and wild flowers on the other. Water springs bubbled away when the water tables were high. The house had no electricity which I know made my mum’s job raising three children so much more challenging: no washing machine, no central heating and to begin with, not even any plumbed-in hot water! I honestly don’t know how she did it, but the simplicity of that existence and the amount of time we spent immersed in nature and books had a huge impact on me and my love for the natural world.
We would spend endless hours playing in our underground den, which is an incredible tree cave overlooking the stream and was a great source of inspiration for the Enchanted Forest design, and which I can incredibly still fit with my own children – and Alice!
(L-R) ‘THE SPACE ABOVE THE GROUND’; ‘THE ENCHANTED FOREST’ & ‘THE LEGENDS OF THE SEA’ ORGANIC JERSEY BLANKETS, FROM £55, FORIVOR. IMAGE: JON GORRIGAN
Alice, your illustrations are absolutely magical. Can you tell us more about your background and what inspires your work?
Thank you. I originally studied History of Art at The Courtauld Institute of Art and began working in museums and galleries. While at The British Museum, much of my work revolved around using and uncovering the stories of the objects and l think it is a skill I use when thinking about the stories to be found in the wonder of nature.
I think about our collections as an interplay of traditional fabric design and book illustration. My favourite book illustrations from my childhood completely inform my own practice and there are lots of book illustrations from 1970s and 1980s children’s books weaved into our designs. I have a particular interest in authors and illustrators who delve into the mysterious aspects of childhood, such as Maurice Sendak. What sets children apart from adults is their ability to transition between the real and a make believe world so easily, a skill we sadly shed as we grow up. I think our designs appeal to both children and adults (and why we get a lot of requests to make grown-up bedding) because ultimately, we yearn to be able to return to that ‘in-between’ world of childhood.
(L-R) FORIVOR FOUNDERS REBECCA MONSERAT & ALICE RUBY ROSS; ‘THE ENCHANTED FOREST’ DUVET SET AND JERSEY BLANKET ON WALL, AS BEFORE, FORIVOR. IMAGES: JON GORRIGAN
What are your hopes and plans for the Forivor brand?
[Rebecca] In 2020 we were absolutely over the moon to have our bedding stocked by Liberty. With such a rich textile and design history it was our dream from the very beginning to see Forivor in its beautiful halls. Looking to the future, we of course want to continue to create beautiful bedding that we hope gives a magical backdrop to children’s bedtimes but we are very excited to be working on our first adult bedding designs which we can’t wait to launch later this year.
Perhaps the single most important goal of our business though is to push as hard as we can to create change in the textile industry that can genuinely contribute to reducing the pressure on our planet’s dwindling resources. As a small business it is not always easy to impact change but we are dedicated to ensuring our future as a business is one that has a net positive impact. In the short term, we are hoping to start investing in regenerative cotton agriculture this year which can be an incredibly effective way of increasing the soils ability to store carbon.