Fashion Friday: Mothers (and aunts) of Invention, Pt 1

The old saying would have you believe that necessity is the mother of invention but in fashion, firsthand experiences with hard-to-dress infants and toddlers prove that a maternal instinct is often the golden touch. To celebrate Mother’s Day, the next two weeks we’ll take a look at the “aha” moments mom and aunt inventors experienced and discover how they’ve pioneered the kids’ market with their one-of-a-kind products. By Angela Velasquez

Paisley Baby Girl Jumpsuit

Paisley Baby Girl Jumpsuit

Zopheez

Kerry Newman, board certified pediatrician, mother of three (including twins) and founder of Zopheez isn’t being facetious when she says she likes “mindless” things.  In fact, it’s an interest shared amongst her family and the inspiration for her line of infant and toddler zipper one-pieces. For more than 20 years, the family has passed a child’s jumpsuit with a simple zipper closure bought in Paris down from generation to generation. “It’s threadbare and the print isn’t very nice, but every cousin has owned it because is the absolute easiest thing to put on a small child,” Newman describes.

That jumpsuit became the blueprint for Newman’s unexpected turn into fashion. She stopped doing shift work at the hospital and spent her newly found spare time designing and sewing her kids’ one-of-kind, all-encompassing outfits. “Thank goodness for the Internet. I read up on everything I could find about the fashion industry and went on websites for people who wanted to break into fashion,” Newman says. Living near a thriving garment district in L.A. helped, too, as local experts were eager to come to the rescue. “I met with pattern makers and sewers. I asked a lot of questions. People were incredibly nice and gave me tons of information,” she says, noting that one patient printmaker spent two hours explaining printing processes.

Boy Jumpsuit

Boy Jumpsuit

Zoe Mint Green Tea Kimono

Zoe Mint Green Tea Kimono

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The zipper construction distinguishes the one-pieces from the rest of the baby market, but the line’s signature fun prints and colors allow Newman to key into her crafty side. But not even Newman’s innate creativity can out-step her sensible mommy instincts, as she points out, “The prints also help hide stains, which is especially important for crawlers.”

Myself Belts- Cupcake

Myself Belts- Cupcake

Myself Belts

As if potty training wasn’t a difficult hurdle to clear on its own, Myself Belts co-founder Talia Bahr Goldfarb discovered how traditional belts complicate the process even further when her son’s pants wouldn’t stay on. “We were going somewhere where his sweat pants wouldn’t be appropriate. I look everywhere, but I couldn’t find a belt that he could work on his own. It was hard to watch him struggle because he was so proud of his potty training independence,” she recalls.

Her sister, Danielle Bahr Eason, could not believe a kid-friendly belt did not exist in the market and decided to do something about it. “She was the push,” Bahr Goldfarb says of her sister. “She’s not a mom and had a lot more energy than me,” she laughs. Together, the sisters began to cut up belts and came up with an easy loop design that kids could handle on their own.

“We started the patent process and from there the momentum took us from point A to B and so on,” Barh Goldfarb says. Plenty of lessons of their own were learned along the way. When the company launched in 2004, the first order to China was comprised of 10,000 belts. “It was risky,” Barh Godfarb admits, “but we wanted a big assortment.” The optimistic order paid off. The company has close to 800 retail partners worldwide with distribution in Canada, Australia, Europe and the Philippines.

Whimsy ABC

Whimsy ABC

Big Dot

Big Dot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Barh Godfarb’s advice for future mothers of invention: “Go with your gut and do not be led astray. Don’t get swayed by trends because many of the things that appealed to us early on still work. And as someone who didn’t know anything about this business beforehand, I can say that you must be willing to ask questions. There’s so much information out there for you, ready to be absorbed.”

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About the Author:

Angela Velasquez

With 4 years of experience as a children’s stylist and magazine editor, Angela brings you an insider’s perspective on trends and seasonal looks that will make babies and toddlers shine in their holiday photos and at birthday parties!  Angela also has a way of making everyday clothes and accessories look special — she’ll show you how.

From the Teacher’s Desk

It’s Back-to-School time! Who’s excited??

Here in our house, where both parents are also school system employees, Back-to-School is exciting….and stressful, too! Teachers in our county must return two weeks before the start of term, to attend professional development activities and meetings as well as prepare their classrooms for the school year. There’s a lot of prep work that goes into readying for a new year- and usually, we end up taking home more than we’d like to over the long weekend, in order to finish before the first day.

Then when the kids come, we remember why. We remember the feelings. The joy of new clothes. Breaking in those bright white shoes. The smell of new crayons and pencils. Finding your desk and cubby (or locker!). Getting used to the haircut you got just days earlier. Getting lost on your way to class. Seeing friends again. So exhilarating! In fact, the first day of school is one of the myriad reasons why some of us teachers chose our profession. It is a great reminder of childhood wonder.

There are also lots of stressors for families at Back-to-School time. However, here are a few things you can do to help ease the transition.

  • Take your child to Open House. It is so helpful for kids and their teachers to meet each other before the first day. By attending, you help your child become familiar with this new path he or she must walk every morning to get to class, while also letting him or her become acquainted with the surroundings in their new environment. Also, by attending Open House, you facilitate a cordial relationship with the people at your child’s school. Your child sees that you are friendly to one another, which puts him or her at ease and sets a good example. In addition, if you ever need to write a note or make a phone call, the teacher has met you and knows you are a parent who cares about their child’s performance in school.
  • Prepare your child by talking about school. It goes without saying that children transition easier from one activity to the next when they are prepared for it ahead of time. The same is true for life changes. One of the best things you can do with your child is to talk about school before it begins. Ask them if they can remember the name of their teachers, which school supply they like best, which friends they’re most excited to see, etc. Pick out a first-day outfit together. The more your child feels ready and eager for school to start, the easier it will be to transition back into that routine.
  • Plan, plan, plan. I am a teacher, which also makes me a full-time working mom. I have to plan my lessons and my schedule- it’s part of my job. Up until recently, it has been a different story at home! A few weeks ago I decided to start planning breakfasts and dinners for the entire week, every Sunday. I have also started planning my outfits, and my daughter’s, for the week. I just put them all in a hanging canvas closet divider and mornings are a snap. At least one night a week I use my Crock Pot to cook something while I’m not home. I adore Crock Pot night. Coming home to food that’s already cooked is magical! It does make for a little more work on the weekends: you have to get all the laundry done that you will need for the week, plus the planning takes some time, but I find I can get most of it done during my daughter’s nap on Sunday afternoon.

 

So there you have it! Get those book bags all packed, get those outfits picked out, and get those BabyLegs ready! A new school year is about to begin!

 


About the blogger:

Hi, I’m Carlee! I teach public school in Middle-of-Nowhere, Virginia. My hubby and I have been married for four years and have a daughter who is almost two (already!). I also give private music lessons and enjoy the arts, animals, and children- but spending time with my beautiful family is my favorite pastime!