Maggie's Organics

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Maggie's Organics
Industry Clothing from Organic Fibers
Founded 1992
Founder Bena Burda
Headquarters Ypsilanti, MI, USA
Key people
Bena Burda Founder
Products Apparel, Socks, Stuffed animals

Maggie's Organics is a brand of clothing and toys made from certified organic cotton and wool fibers, using fair trade production and distribution methods. They are considered notable for their involvement in the development of organic and fair trade standards for apparel.[1] The company was founded in 1992, and so are the oldest surviving organic apparel company in the US. The company's production is done in worker-owned co-operatives [2] in Nicaragua[3] and North Carolina, as well as in a family-owned and -operated facility in Costa Rica.[4] Maggie's Functional Organics also seeks to minimize packaging and product transportation in order to lower their carbon footprint.


The idea for Maggie's Organics began with an Organic Tortilla chip. The founders worked in the organic food industry, selling both blue and yellow corn tortilla chips, when one of their farmers recommended adding cotton to the crop rotation to improve the quality of the corn. Organic farmers often use crop rotation as a way to improve crop yields without chemicals. His experiment worked. However, his cotton yielded a crop that then became the possession of the founders who had no venue to sell it.[5]

They soon began producing clothing with this accidental organic cotton. They started with socks, and then added tee shirts, focusing on simple products that would encourage the use of Organic fibers that would also convert as many acres of land as possible from conventional to organic farming methods. By 2008, founder Bena Burda was recognized as one of the 25 most influential people in the organic industry.[6]

Conscious of poor working conditions in the apparel production industry, Maggie's became interested in finding or creating an alternative production method. By partnering with Jubilee House Community, a community development organization, they were instrumental in the creation of The Fair Trade Zone, a 100% worker-owned Sewing Co-Operative in Nueva Vida, Nicaragua. The co-op has become the first worker-owned cooperative in the world to gain Free Trade Zone status, and is an independent business sustaining its members and workers.

Recently, they have begun a partnership with a worker-owned co-operative in North Carolina, Opportunity Threads, to begin producing socks and stuffed animals made from organic cotton fibers.[7]


Maggie's Functional Organics has received multiple awards that recognize their efforts to preserve the environment and safe working conditions:

2006 Natural Products Expo East "Best New Green Product": Maggie's Organic Baby Bodysuit and Cap Sets[8]

2005 Intercot Recognition Award in the category of "Social Accountability" for Maggie's important contribution made to organic textiles and ecologically sound textile products.[9]

2005 Washtenaw County's Waste-Knot Award recertified Maggie's Organics for dedication to waste reduction, reuse, recycling and buying recycled products.[10]

2005 Frontier Top "Best" New Product Award for Maggie's Organics Certified Organic Cotton Tights

2004 Golden Needle and Thread Award for Maggie's commitment to action in building communities and economics through international commerce at the 28th Annual Educational Conference. 2004 Wisdom World View Award

2002 Maggie's Organics Owner Honored with OTA's 'Special Pioneer' Award. On May 11, 2002, the Organic Trade Association (OTA) recognized Maggie's Organics president Bená Burda for her groundbreaking work by awarding her with their "Special Pioneer Award". Bená was honored for her passion, devotion, and "testing of the untested" in the area of Organic products - most notably Organic fiber.[11]

2001 Socially Responsible Business Award, Natural Products Expo East [12] Founder Bena Burda was a keynote speaker at the awards in 2003.[13]

2000 The Orange County Hemp Council recognized Maggie's Organics for sponsoring its award-winning booth at the 2000 Orange County Fair.

1999 The Washtenaw County Drain Commissioner's Office Recognized Maggie's for its commitment to protecting the quality of the Huron River and the county's local streams.[14]

1999 Co-op America Quarterly deemed Maggie's Organics Tees as "Top Rung" on their "Ladder of Labor Responsibility"


  1. ^ Organic Consumers Association.
  2. ^ Guide to Ending Sweatshops. Co-Op America.
  3. ^ Center for Development in South America.
  4. ^ Sweat Free Communities (2009).
  5. ^ Janet Miller. Executive Profile: Bena Burda President, Maggie's Organics, Ypsilanti (2009). MLive.
  6. ^ Oliver, Hilary. Nature Foods Merchandiser.
  7. ^ Maggie's Functional Organics(2009).
  8. ^ "Healthy Products Are Brisk Business at Record-Setting Natural Products Expo East 2006". Business Wire. 2006.
  9. ^ Organic Trade Association(2005).
  10. ^ Washtenaw County 3-r Business Directory.
  11. ^ Organic Trade Association (2002).
  12. ^ Guayaki Press Release (2001).
  13. ^ NPI Center.
  14. ^ Washtenaw County Drain Commissioner's Office. Detroit Water and Sewage Department.