It was 2019, right around the holidays, and we had a particularly long line of get-togethers to attend. No matter how hard I searched my six-year-old son’s closet, I couldn’t find a single shirt that didn’t have holes or mystery stains or wasn’t two sizes too small. As any sane mother would do, I hopped in my car and drove to not one, but six local boutiques.
After wading through the ribbons, pastels, and glitter of the girls’ section, I finally spotted the rack designated for little boys — a very small collection with muted colors near the back of the store.
Store after store, it was the same—a hidden location with disheartening inventory. It seemed there were only two styles made for little boys: graphic tees depicting monsters or grown men mid-battle, and giant logos in rubbery print across the chest.
I wasn’t okay that mainstream fashion was telling little boys to aspire to become violent beings and idolize violent behavior. That boys are not as important as girls.
Every shirt seemed like it could fall apart in my hands with just a tug of a string, yet was far rougher to the touch than any of the clothes in the girls’ section. There was no way these tees would stand up to a day of play with my little Bam-Bam. I came home empty-handed, angry, and disappointed.
It wasn’t until I was recounting the experience with my husband that I blurted out the grain of truth that had evoked all of my negative emotions. I wasn’t okay that mainstream fashion was telling little boys to aspire to become violent beings and idolize violent behavior. That boys are not as important as girls. That boys only have value as a promotional tool. Boys should not wear bright colors. Boys are not creative.
My mama-bear-attitude swept in and I decided to take on the injustice. Shortly after, I created a line of clothing for kids that was inspired by childhood and meant to be played in. It’s called Living Loudly.
A dear friend of mine told me that if I was going to dream, dream big. I decided to take her advice and opened up my creative side. I brainstormed using my favorite question, “What if?”
- What if a shirt could be so much more than something that keeps showing up in the laundry time and time again?
- What if we could make it in a fabric that was as soft as pajamas AND wouldn’t shrink in the washing machine> Ever.
- What if the graphic came with a name and a story, and the story taught a lesson about something relevant in the child’s life?
- What if the paper that the story was written on was seed paper and could be planted to turn into wild flowers?
- What if that paper could provide an activity for parents and kids to do together?
- What if the whole thing came in packaging that was reusable, compostable, and in a shape that was totally different from Mom and Dad’s mail – -something JUST for kids?
- What if we added some mystery? Like a hidden paper airplane in every graphic?
Why couldn’t kids’ apparel be the gateway to positive, high-quality moments between parents and children?
The answer is that it absolutely could! And I had to do it.
Fast forward a year or so to productions in three different countries, three versions of a website, four marketing agencies, six million mistakes that cost us the majority of our 401K savings and voila — we made our first batch of shirts! And they were everything I had hoped they would be and more.
Today we are growing the wholesale side of the business, and I’m learning as we go. I have dreams of building complete lines of playwear that are truly meant to be played in. I still brainstorm “what if” questions, and I’m solidly set on not deviating from creating more joy in this world, even on the days that I feel like we aren’t making as much traction or as much money as I’d prefer.
This journey has taught me many things. It’s not always pretty. There are days that I want to give up, days when I say that I am going to throw in the towel and publicly shout from the rooftops that we are tapped and done. But in my heart, I know that I can’t, and I won’t. I’ll be damned if I let anyone, including the entire fashion industry, tell my son that he should be anything other than the sweet, funny, extremely loud and curious ball of energy that he is meant to be. And I’m taking the same stand for your kiddos.
Will you join me in letting our kids live LOUDLY?