I've been a fan of Littlest Sidekick, a children's lifestyle brand focused around the great outdoors, for months. Their screen-printed by hand toddler tees are based on original designs and characters, making them fun and unique. Plus, every purchase made gives a $1 donation to One Tree Planted. Learn more about this super cute brand from owner Shannon below!
Tell us a bit about you and your family.
We are a family of 3, my husband - Kevin, our littlest peanut - Gunner and myself! We also have 3 fur babes, Cazzie the border collie, Roxy the black cat and thanks to my hubby coming home from deer camp with a little stray that wouldn't leave his side...our grey kitten, DC.
What inspired you to start Littlest Sidekick? Give us details on your journey from idea to shop owner.
When Gunner was born, it was a struggle to find baby clothes that weren't loud and "cutsie" (for lack of a better word). I wanted to create simple, black and white but catchy sayings. My little guy was into everything! So my first design was born - "Littlest Explorer". I didn't do anything with it just out of not having any time to take on anymore hobbies. So I pushed my sketches and ideas to the side.
When he got a little older I was still having a hard time finding clothes that I wanted to spend my money on. So I decided to stop researching how to screen print and just do it! It took a couple of times, a lot of practicing but the more I did it the better they turned out. Then Finley the Fox was born! Watching my son play outside and see how he interacted with nature and the outdoors really was the premise for Finley the Fox. He was my little fox. Curious by nature, cute as a button and wanted to explore everything! So from there the brand was created.
We now have Finley the Fox, Remy the Raccoon and Lucy the Hedgehog. All 3 characters represent the fun characteristics and personalities of most children. (You can read about them on our site! http://www.littlestsidekick.com/meet-finley)
We have a lot of fun things coming down the pipeline for your little sidekick! From the Littlest Sidekick Field Guide to designing and producing our own shirts and children's book! Keep your eyes open for these items coming soon!
Finely the Fox, Remy the Raccoon and Lucy the Hedgehog are the three characters that make up the Littlest Sidekick brand. How did you come up with these characters and their stories?
Like above, Finley the Fox was born simply out of the characteristics my son had when it came to being outside and interacting with nature! From the random flowers growing in the grass, to the fireflies in the tall grass - everything was brand new and needed to be played with, inspected and touched.
Remy the Raccoon was born with mischief in his heart and adventure at his fingertips. Children have no fear. They go everywhere, touch everything, and get into every box, hole or in my case, underneath our back deck - simply in search of new adventures!
Lucy the Hedgehog is the tiniest of the group. She may be the littlest out of the group but her heart and desire for adventure does not slow her down in the least. In this tiny package you will be quick to realize that size does not matter. With determination, a need to explore and the will to seek out every adventure, Lucy will be the first one ready to take the first step.
What is your ultimate favorite design?
I love Finley the Fox. The fox face is on the front and the bushy tail on the back. It makes it unique and kind of like a friend for your little one to take with them. Seeking out new adventures with Finley the Fox by their side! With the more and more I immerse myself into the screen printing world, I am picking up new tricks and being more adventurous myself. We now have Finley the Fox in color! When you snag a Finley shirt for your little one, Finley's tail now comes in that bright orange color!
For every purchase at Littlest Sidekick, you give back to One Tree Planted. Tell us more about this organization and why you're passionate about it.
Yes, for every item purchased, we donate $1 to the One Tree Planted
organization. So at the end of the month, we tally up how many items were purchased and donate that to the organization. With everything being developed, shopping malls going up and houses being built what seems like everywhere, I feel that it's in our children's best interest to give back to their favorite playground - the outdoors. By donating a tree I feel like we play a part in preserving the forests and wooded areas for them to not only play in but for their future children as well. They're going to be their favorite toy - from climbing on them, jumping in their leaves come fall and simple taking naps underneath the shaded trees.
What advice would you offer to other small business owners?
It's fun! Yes, it's hard, there's a ton of other large companies out producing items faster and cheaper. But that's just it, it's fast and cheap. Not love was put into it. You don't know the person that made it for you. You're lucky if you can contact them via email to ask questions or give input. With small businesses, you're able to do that. You can see the handmade craftsmanship in each piece you create. Plus, it's fun! Create something, make something, it's one of the most rewarding things you can do. It's a feeling of self accomplishment. And then to see yourself grow over the years is rewarding in itself. You should see some of the shirts I made when I first started out. LOL. (Well...my son is the lucky one to see them, you guys won't....LOL.)
We are more than a t-shirt company, we're a brand. The best part about all this? When I receive comments from the parents letting me know that their son or daughter went into their room and picked out their Finley the Fox shirt to wear all by themselves. That's the moment my heart sings. I started this for my son. To see other children fall in love with Finley and her friends too, is my "ah-ha moment".