Environmentally friendly clothes and accessories made from bamboo ar e being turned into a business for a Dorset mum. Nicky Findley reports

The fabric of Vicky Gerrell’s fashion range feels soft and sumptuous in my hands and the colours look rich and vibrant.

But if I’d been asked to guess what the clothes wer e made from, bamboo would have been bottom of the list. And yet this evergreen plant is offering green shoots of opportunity for the former fashion buyer and local businesswoman.

The mother of three who lives at Holt, near Wimborne, launched Cream & Co, an environmentally-friendly clothing and accessories range, last summer. She is already getting orders from across Europe and the US.

“Ever since I was a child, I have had an interest in fashion,” she says. “When I was ten, I used to go down to the local market and buy fabric and make something to wear that night. “I always knew I wanted to go into fashion but I was steered into accountancy so I could get a professional qualification – it was not for me but it did give me a good business foundation.”

After Vicky left accountancy she went to work for some of the big fashion houses including Windsmoor, Top Shop, House of Fraser and Beales.

“It is quite a big gamble because if what you buy doesn’t sell, there is quite a lot of pressur e but I rather thrived on it.

”But over the years Vicky says she gradually became disillusioned with what was going on within the industry.

“It was around the time the supermarkets came on boar d with huge amounts of value product and independent retailers wer e badly hit.” Vicky believes this had a profound affect not only on how people viewed fashion, but also how they felt about themselves when wearing it.

“Sticking an item of clothing in your trolley along with your baked beans – how is that going to make you feel good when you wear it?

“Fashion is about looking good and feeling comfortable.”

Vicky’s fashion range is not only designed to flatter the figure, but also to make you feel good – on every level. For the driving force for her are the health and eco benefits of bamboo fabric. Two of her children have eczema and one has asthma.

“So many children are getting eczema and one of the factors is that ther e ar e too many chemicals in our environment.

“I wanted to find organic fabrics for me and the children but I couldn’t find anything at all.” It was through her membership of the Ethical Fashion Forum that she first came across bamboo.

“Bamboo is grown without fertilisers and pesticides and is ideal for people with sensitive skin because it is hypoallergenic and anti-fungal.

“It is also anti-static so it doesn’t cling, it flows like silk, and it doesn’t crease so it’s ideal for travelling.” Although the fabric is imported from Portugal, everything is designed and made in Dorset.

“It’s for people who want to look good and feel good and it won’t aggravate their skin. It’s also functional and versatile that you can dress it up or wear it casually.

“As the fabric is four times more absorbent than cotton, it is ideal for women going through the menopause.”

The Cream & Co range includes nightwear, children’s wear, some menswear, bowls, towels, bedding and baby gifts. Vicky sums up by saying: “Our aim is to enhance a person’s visual appearance and self-esteem, and the knowledge that you ar e wearing something that has been made ethically and in an environmentally friendly way, here in Dorset.”

For more information, visit www.creamandco.com