One of the toughest parts of raising a child is trying to let them be who they are without society’s expectations and roles boxing them in. Jeffrey has always naturally gravitated toward cars and trucks, blues and greens…typical “boy” things. But he has plenty of girl friends his age who would go toe-to-toe with him in a Hot Wheels race.
The other day, Jeffrey picked out a toy for himself at the store: a stuffed Rainbow Brite horse (Starlite!). When the woman ringing us out asked if this was for my daughter, I was shocked. It’s a horse. With a rainbow mane. If that’s not cool regardless of gender, I don’t know what is. Besides, how much does this child of the 80’s love that my kid owns something Rainbow Brite? A lot. That’s how much.
So, you can imagine how much the ungendered message of Every Bean Boutique resonated with me.
I’m going to let Nikki Yeager, the mom and entrepreneur behind Every Bean Boutique, tell you about it in her own words (my questions are in bold and Nikki’s answers are in italics):
Tell me about Every Bean Boutique. How did you get started?
I want every kid who would like to express himself/herself through clothing to have a brand that allows them to do just that. Parents who would like high quality clothing options, regardless of the sex of their child, should also have a place to find that. In my mind, the majority of kids like tutus. Bodysuits are always a good idea for infants and toddlers. And yes, even little girls should have pockets to put cheerios and rocks in. So I set out to make all of those items and present them in a way that didn’t exclude any children or parents from purchasing.
What has been the response to Every Bean’s message?
So far, the response has been overwhelmingly positive which is a little surprising because I had anticipated more push back. What’s the most interesting part of engaging with customers about our mission is seeing who is most touched by our message. I started Every Bean assuming I’d be appeal almost exclusively to parents who were young, liberal and primarily living on the coasts. What I’ve found is the opposite — the most enthusiastic fans have been middle aged, Midwestern women who have grown children and are now buying products for their grand kids. For example, one woman told me a story of her now adult, married son who wore pink, purple, green, blue, yellow… really, every color when he was young. He got a lot of joy out of expressing himself with weird, bright clothing. One day she took him to a store to pick up some new clothing and he stood in front of a girls’ clothing rack for about 10 minutes starting. Finally, he pulled himself away and said “Oh! Mommy, I get it. Pink is for girls and blue is for boys!”. He never wore pink again. He was a five year old boy and because we force this idea of gendered clothing on our children, he had to give up one of the things he got joy from. At five years old!
What are some of your most popular items?
Our popular items depend largely on where people find our brand. People who shop online love our one-piece bodysuits. Everyone seems to be split on the “Anything I want to be” and “So many colors in the rainbow” design. However, anyone who sees our products in person loves the tutus. I’ve had a really hard time finding a way to photograph them in a flattering light, but their quality speaks for themselves in person. Plus, who makes an adjustable tutu?! Almost no one else.
Where can we buy Every Bean products?
Right now you can buy our products online at everybean.boutique or contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and I can put you in touch with one of several Sales Consultants who sell Every Bean directly to consumers. For those of you who prefer traditional shopping, we’re in discussions with two Cleveland boutiques right now to carry our products and we’ll announce those as soon as our products hit their shelves.
Tell me your Cleveland story. What do you love about the city? Favorite places to go, with or without your son?
I grew up on the East Side and am incredibly thankful for my upbringing. Because Cleveland is a relatively small city, I found it easy to explore my interests and find support for my different projects early on. It’s much easier getting attention when you’re in a smaller pool of people!
As for favorite places to go, I spend a lot of time by myself working from coffee shops. In particular, Phoenix Coffee and Passenger’s Cafe in Ohio City. When I’m with the baby, we almost exclusively go to The Big Egg on the Detroit Shoreway. It’s just a little diner with cheap food, but the women there have nearly adopted my son. They know him by name and treat him like a king when he arrives. Whenever we walk over, you’d think he was headed to Disney World based on his excitement level.
What’s next for Every Bean Boutique?
Pants! Actually, if anyone reads this knows someone who can do small batch manufacturing/construction of baby goods, please let me know. We have a design for soft cotton pants with cargo pockets (because for some reasons my son had pockets on literally every pair of pants he had, but my friend’s baby daughter started seeing fake-pockets by 9 months) and leggings in outrageous patterns.
We’re hoping to expand our physical presence in both boutiques and medium size stores and eventually, on a larger scale, make retailers reconsider how they arrange and market clothing to children. A simple redesign of most stores’ displays could create a free environment for kids to pick up any clothing they like, rather than what they’re being told is “appropriate”. When we communicate with anyone who is helping to promote or sell our brand, we always offer educational material on how to present clothing in a non-gendered way and how to discuss that concept with consumers. Hopefully we’ll eventually see a fundamental change in how clothing is sold.
I hope Nikki’s enthusiasm and positive message resonate with you as much as they do with me. I’m only sorry I can’t squeeze Jeffrey into those onesies anymore! And to give you even more incentive to head on over to Every Bean Boutique for your little or someone else’s, here’s an 10% discount code: just enter code LAUNCH10 at checkout!