Sometimes I think about what I’ve given up since having kids: sleep, working full time, drying my hair, more sleep. And then I meet moms like Kristen and Christine who completely blow me away. These two Chicago moms — who have four kids between the two of them and are each expecting their third — started their very own children’s clothing line in the throes of parenting. Recently featured by Daily Candy Kids, Seesaw Society is a line of sweet, classic designs. (My favorites are the nautical dresses!) I sat down with Kristen and Christine for my first “Moms Who Make It Happen” feature to find out just how they do it.
1. What inspired you to start a children’s clothing line?
We both just love dressing our kids–finding that unique, adorable piece that you simply must have is a big part of the fun! But as time went on, we realized that we were doing a lot more searching than finding. We felt that there was a lack of classic, age-appropriate clothing on the market for our children (at least at an obtainable price point). We knew what we wanted but had a hard time finding it!
For years, Christine had been dreaming up beautiful, playful design ideas for children’s clothing and using freelance patternmakers/sewers to bring them to life. Over time, we realized that with her background in textiles and mine in brand development/marketing, starting our own line was a real possibility for us. We threw ourselves into understanding the market, the industry, potential competitors and the production process. While Christine worked on finalizing our designs and assembling our production team, I concentrated on developing our brand identity, building our website and social media pages, and developing marketing plans.
3. Did you face any particular challenges starting your business in Chicago? Are there any advantages to being in the Midwest?
We think we have an advantage being in a very family-friendly big city like Chicago where there is a great contingent of moms always willing to support each other! Christine and I have belonged to a playgroup for years and have made so many friends and contacts through the many children’s classes and activities available to us here. By tapping into these relationships, and leveraging social media, we were able to spread the word very quickly about Seesaw Society.
4. What’s different about Seesaw Society?
We are very particular in every detail of development–we strive to not only create sweet, adorable pieces, but high quality, comfortable clothing that kiddos can run, jump and play in all day long.
Our Spring/Summer line launched in February and features classic gingham and seersucker prints. We added two new pieces to this line–a shift dress for girls that we call The Nora & a romper for little boys called The William. And just a few weeks ago, we updated our summer offering with a few nautical-inspired looks that we are very excited about!
6. You both have four children between the two of you (and two more on the way!)….How do your children help or inspire your business?
Our children are a constant source of inspiration for us! Their personalities, their style, the way they play–they keep the ideas flowing! It’s a pretty crazy juggling act since they are by our sides most of the time that we are working but it’s a fun kind of chaos–we get to be with our kids and we also get to do something we love. I think we are also very driven by the thought that when they are a little older and they look back on this time in our lives, we will (we hope) inspire them one day.
7. What advice do you have for other moms wanting to start a business?
You can do it! Pace yourself and don’t rush in–take as much time upfront planning, preparing and researching as you need…and then prepare for a much more chaotic but rewarding lifestyle than you’re used to! Also, use as much help as possible–you really need a great support system (i.e. spouse, family and caregivers) that you can count on.
8. Are there any resources you’ve used in Chicago that you recommend to other new business owners?
We recently joined the AIBI (Apparel Industry Board) based here in Chicago that provides you with a wealth of information on the industry, as well as access to an excellent directory of top, local consultants, patternmakers, manufacturers, etc. It has been an extremely useful tool for us. There is also a wonderful non-profit organization called SCORE that is dedicated to getting small businesses off the ground. They were able to help us understand the steps we needed to take as a start-up.
Nominate a Chicago area mom for Moms Who Make It Happen! Email firstname.lastname@example.org with the nominee’s name and a short description about what makes her an inspiration.