BeeZee EcoKid

Healthy, beautiful, ethical and a joy for the whole family

June, 2012

Bianca Žvorc Morris, born in Murska Sobota, is an architect with a master's degree in design arts from New York, and an entrepreneur; after working for twelve years in advertising, she continued her career in interactive internet projects by embarking on a sustainable development venture. She took up this new challenge when she moved with her husband from New York to Germany because, although he had been offered a new job there, she had no job to go to.

She worked with some of the best advertising agencies and companies such as Disney, Bayer, American Express, H&M, Pepsi, Porsche and others, but has remained modest and focused, and was affectionately referred to by her colleagues as a BeeZee (simply a working bee). "Everybody thought I was a workaholic," Bianca joked, "including in Manhattan, where different rules apply and working sixteen hours a day and on weekends is considered quite normal," she added.

Bianca Žvorc Morris is the creative director and owner ofBeeZeeDesigns, the company that brought BeeZee EcoKid – a fashion brand for environment-friendly clothes, jewellery, toys and home decorations for grown-ups and children – to Slovenia. The products are characterised by a touch of Prekmurje tradition, but remain appealing to buyers on the global market. "The company is based in Slovenia, but I work in Germany, and buyers also come from the USA. The brand brings together all my passions, and is an attempt to fight for a better tomorrow for our planet." She emphasises that part of her mission is to raise purchasing power awareness, because she wants people to start thinking about what lies behind the product they buy. A love for nature, together with concern for a cleaner environment, and a desire to live a healthier way of life – under the auspices of fashion design – led her to set up a company whose products are made of organic unbleached cotton, organic unbleached flax, cotton home-made lace, and recycled plastics with prints in ecologically sound colours. 

Bianca tells us that she has been taking part in a project to revive local industrial hemp cultivation. "In Lendava, a European technological development centre for industrial hemp, herbs and other renewable sources is being set up." Bianca had to let go of the idea of manufacturing clothes from soft hemp, a raw material once traditionally used in Central Europe. "Nobody is technologically processing the hemp here, so it would be difficult to obtain the certificate. I hope that we succeed in reviving at least some production through this project, and to create new jobs for local people. Although I would like the raw material required for manufacturing to be grown on Slovenian soil, it is currently being imported from India; ecological cotton and flax from London, where materials from Africa are spun, are also used." In their import, they rely on producers' certificates proving that the products are ecological (GOT, organic) and manufactured under the fair trade principle. "Just think – the plants get splashed with pesticides and herbicides before they are even processed. Then they are dyed, which means that the product is again soaked with harmful substances, and chemically protected during transport, ensuring the product reaches us in a truly unhealthy form."

She does the majority of work by herself, from designing the products and clothes to choosing the materials they are made of and advertising. "However, I have given up on my attempts at sewing. I am a poor seamstress," she jokes, but is quick to notice the plight of others. She saw an opportunity to employ the seamstresses who worked at Mura, the former major Slovenian textile factory. "It happened quite by accident, because some of them were friends of the family. The stories of jobs lost and social distress touched my heart. I tried to help." In this way, she gave new meaning to the lives of many, and helped develop the local economy in Prekmurje. She says that she would like to cooperate with even more Slovenian companies in the future. "Slovenia has a future as an ecologically advanced boutique country, based on small entrepreneurs and tradesmen. We can only compete in terms of quality and knowledge – never with quantity." Through cooperation and integration between individuals and companies, not only has she encouraged people to take an interest in their surroundings and a cleaner environment, but has also enhanced awareness that the future should not be taken for granted, and that we must work for it instead.

Bianca takes a practical approach towards implementing sustainable development, the goal of which is quality life for the people of today and tomorrow. She highlights that people are not sufficiently aware of the importance of environmental protection and an ecological way of life. She continues that things are changing for the better, but that the general financial and political problems are far from helpful. "I would like to make people think before buying food, clothes or other products. I must ask myself about the origin of the product, whether it is healthy for me and my family and if perhaps by buying it, I do not support the exploitation of workers or some other global injustice". She is convinced that care for our future is our most important task, but that many of us do not take this seriously enough.

For its project, BeeZee Eco Design received the SEA Award, set up by the European Union.  Bianca was the only Slovenian representative among the 145 candidates who applied for the award. The selection panel, which included MEP Lojze Peterle, considered her BeeZee EcoKid project to be the best and awarded it EUR 10,000; recently, she has also received the prize for the best "green" designer this year at the largest Austrian fashion fair, Modepalast 2012. "It seems to me that courage has played a major role in my success, but of course diligence, talent and luck were indispensable too."

As she says, in the future she will tackle the expansion of the company and search for global distributors. "I plan to offer new products such as furniture for children from recycled paper, ecological knitwear for babies, underwear, vests and much more. However, I would like more support from those who share the same views, and stronger support from Slovenia and the global media."

"I sincerely believe that the path I am walking is the only path to take if we want to preserve our planet for our descendants, and remedy the global economic situation," she says, adding that we should maintain our optimism, roll up our sleeves, open our hearts, engage our brains, and work together with nature.

Text by Hana Souček Morača;  Sinfo, June 2012

Photo: BeeZee EcoKid archive