Potpourri

I2I: Tailored Tadpole

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Welcome to the Interviews to Inspire (I2I) series on MamaHeartsBaby. I, like so many social media mommies, have a vision of the personal and professional life I want for myself.  It includes being a WAHM and using social media to make that happen.  I’ve got a whole lot to learn so I’ll be approaching women in social media that inspire me.  I’ll be sharing my interviews with them here because that’s what social media is all about – connecting people and sharing knowledge.  Hope this inspires you!

Today’s Interview to Inspire is with Linde Balderas who owns and operates a great children’s company, Tailored Tadpole.  Now you’re saying to yourself, how does Linde fall into the category of social media?  Well, it’s how we found one another that involves social media.  Both Linde and myself signed up for The Mogul Mom Helping Out Directory.  We each used social media to meet the needs of our business.

Linde is passionate about the work she does and strives with every collection to keep improving her brand and stay true to her commitment to “use comfortable, luxurious materials that are modern and fun, colorful and unique”.   A look at her most recent work is a great display of clothes kids can feel comfortable playing in for hours and still look fashionable.  Her collection also includes an amazing selection of elegant accessories every parent can proudly tote around.

Read on to learn more about Linde and what it takes to run  your own business.

With your Spring 2009 line, you are releasing ECO which introduces earth friendly fibers to your collection.  How else is Tailored Tadpole earth friendly?
Yes, I am so proud of this line. It features GOTS certified Organic cottons, bamboo, soy, and hemp materials. We also try to use natural dyes whenever possible and the bodysuits have nickel-free snaps. I think it is important to keep harmful chemicals and pesticides out of the ground and the environment whenever possible. Using these kinds of fabrics contributes to this effort. Tailored Tadpole uses recycled shipping containers when we ship our wholesale orders, and we use minimal packaging. We print a very limited number of catalogs, offering it online, to avoid paper consumption. I am also a huge recycling fanatic, so this is something I continue to practice with the business as well as in my home. We have several favorite charities and make several donations per year. I really enjoy giving back.

Your entire line is produced in the United States.  Was it a hard business decision to manufacture in the US when prices overseas tend to be so much cheaper?
Yes and no. The cost of production overseas is staggeringly more economical. So in this regard, it was difficult. Keeping costs down and offering my line at reasonable prices is definitely a challenge. However, as a designer, I like having the hands-on access that producing here allows me. It has always been a dream of mine, since my college days, to start a women’s co-op in a developing country and be able to help people by providing funds for education, healthcare, potable water, etc. through employment and fair trade. I suppose, in a way, that is what I have done here at home. Paying a living wage to talented women who need to supplement the family’s income by working part-time, and in some cases, are the only source of income for the family. So on this level, I am very proud of our domestic production even if it means paying more for manufacturing.

Your work is inspired by your own two children; do they have any favorite pieces from Mommy’s collection?
My son, Soren, is 15 months old and still likes to sleep swaddled. He has a closet full of Ultimate Baby Blankets and lies very still to be wrapped in one when it is time for “night night.” I can’t wait until it warms up to put the Zoom Romper on him! Marina, almost four, loves the Maddie Twirl Skirt and organic tank. She took gymnastic classes last semester and wore a lounge set to every class. She looked adorable and was comfortable too.

Many small business owners in the children’s market are concerned about the CPSIA law. What are your thoughts on the law?
Ahh, yes. Like many in the industry, we were thrown for a loop by this new legislation because of the very short-notice nature of it and the high costs of the testing required. I am very much in favor of keeping lead out of the hands and mouths of our children, but the law needed some serious revision to avoid putting a lot of designers and home crafters out of business. Many of us use materials, most textiles for example, that do not contain any traces of lead. Exemptions have now been issued for some of these materials, although every product manufactured and intended for a child must comply with the lead and phthalate allowable limits. We have been working very hard to make sure that all of our components comply, and they do. So sourcing may become a bit more difficult and there is definitely an added expense now, when testing must be done, but Tailored Tadpole lives to see another day.

What does a typical day look like for a children’s wear designer?
I can’t speak for most, but for me it is a walk on the balance beam of mom/business woman. Some days it seems I just grab seconds here and there to work. Other days I can devote the time I need to the endless work at hand. It is not unusual for me to turn around and have baskets of ribbon, threads, labels, or fabric swatches spread all over my studio by the curious hands of my little ones. When I feel grouchy with them for making more work for me, I remind myself that they are my reason for having this business. Marina will frequently ask if I have a job she can do. She likes to help me, but still wants to be a “chef, like Papi.”

Now that you’ve gone through the experience of developing and creating your own children’s clothing line, what advice would you give to someone thinking about doing the same?
I believe in pursuing what you are passionate about. Life is too short to spend every day doing something you dislike. So if you love this business, make it happen. It has been a great learning experience for me, and I continue to learn every day. You’ll need a good, strong business plan, more money than you think you will, the advice of someone who’s been there, a good accountant, and a good support system. And, if you are really lucky, you’ll have some background in business, marketing, design, retail, and fashion. I had none of these. Well, I had a support system to beat them all, but the rest I learned by asking questions, making mistakes, and good old fashion research. Good customer service is essential and quality is of utmost importance in sustaining a brand.

If you were allowed to wear only one color for the rest of your life, what color would it be?
I know it sounds cliche, but I guess it would be black. It looks good on my skin tone and the accessory options are endless against black. I love a chunky necklace and a great pair of colored heels.

How does Tailored Tadpole today, compare to the Tailored Tadpole of 2005 when you first started?  What can we expect in the future?
They are not recognizable as the same company. I made my first baby blanket myself, with newborn Marina wrapped on my chest in a Moby Wrap. It sold on ebay for $5! Now I have personal relationships with many repeat clients, boutiques, moms, gift-givers who love our products and I treasure this. We are now featured in boutiques in Australia, Canada, and across the United States. I hope to continue to learn, grow, and expand. I look forward to steering us more toward simple, modern design, and want to incorporate more eco friendly fabrics in future lines. I am thinking about tween designs as well. We never know what the future holds!

What’s the best way to get stains out of our children’s favorite outfits?
I have a friend who is a chemical genius. He told me about SUN. It comes in a tub like oxy clean, but works wonders on stains. I soak the garment in SUN, then wash it and lay it out to dry in the sunlight. I was amazed to see that sunshine actually removes stains too. (Does wonders on breast milk poopies.) Voila!

Be sure to follow Linde on Twitter for exciting updates on her collection and visit her site for the latest in modern tot fashion!

Thank you, Linde!

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