This Minimalist Gender-Neutral Kids’ Clothing Brand Counts Tyra Banks as a Fan
Mom entrepreneurs are some of the most brilliant brand builders out there because they see a problem and fix it. The popular (and hilarious) mommy site Scary Mommy was started as Jill Smokler’s stay-at-home-mom blog to document her not-so-perfect parenting life. One working mom realized that mothers needed a coworking space that would be a supportive environment for women at any stage in their careers so she created The Hivery. And a stylish kids’ clothing brand launched after another mom used Instagram to sell her handmade clothes. In this week’s How to Quit Your Day Job series, we chat with Shennel Fuller, a mom entrepreneur who saw a lack of gender-neutral basics in her own son’s wardrobe and decided to enter the kids’ clothing industry to change that.
Meet the Kids’ Clothing Pro: Shennel Fuller
Shennel Fuller worked as a retail executive for popular clothing brands such as Levi’s, Converse, and 7 for All Mankind, but decided to take a leap of faith and build her own company of children’s clothing, Miles and Milan. When she became a mom to two young boys, she found it hard to find baby and toddler basic clothing and saw a niche that needed to be filled. Unlike most children’s clothing, Miles and Milan is all about gender-neutral color tones so you can reuse it for baby number two, regardless of their gender. Miles and Milan fans include Tyra Banks, The Tot co-founder Nasiba Adilova, and Instagram’s Director of Fashion Partnerships Eva Chen.
Brit + Co: What’s your morning routine?
Shennel Fuller: After completing my morning motherhood routine (bathtime, breakfast, drop-off, etc.) for my three-year-old and six-month-old, I check my daily task board, which dictates the goals I have laid out for the day. On top of that, I will review sales from the prior day. From there, every day is different based on the current priorities. It could involve going on-site to firsthand manage production, working on a photo shoot, or meeting with a potential partner.
B+C: What inspired you to start your company?
SF: After I had my first child, Jackson, I noticed it was difficult to find what I wanted as it related to his clothing options. I was looking for clothing that was versatile yet fashionable and allowed me to get out of the house quickly. Everything seemed to already have a “look” to it. I was constantly receiving gifts that either were dressing Jackson in everything from loud cartoon character prints to overly aggressive adult trend clothing. Nothing was effortless, sweet, and great quality. With that, I decided there was an opportunity to create a brand that served those needs.
B+C: How do you challenge yourself as an entrepreneur?
SF: I want to learn all facets of running the business, so my days involve wearing multiple hats. As a result, I am exhausted, but proud to say I am a master at project management. As things start maturing, I have to find the right balance of delegating and handing off tasks to others that I can trust to execute.
B+C: Tell us about how your family and friends help support your business.
SF: Without a doubt, they are there for emotional support and to be a sounding board for anything that comes up. I have mini conference calls daily. It’s a blessing that I have been able to lean on my friends to help with basic execution like assistance at photo shoots, social media amplification, and tactical guidance around general business operations. It truly takes a village to build a brand, and I am lucky to have the best friends and family eager to help me along this journey.
B+C: What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten?
SF:Don’t try to be perfect, and it’s okay to make mistakes. We are so often crushed after a mistake occurs. Yes, we want mistakes to be few and far between, but we also need to stop labeling a mistake as a failure [and instead] as an opportunity to grow. I tell my sons, it’s okay to make a mistake because that’s how we learn to be great.
B+C: What do you love about your job?
SF: I am living a dream! You go through so many ups and downs when you build a company. Someone once told me, if it was easy then everyone would be doing it. I took my concept and sent it out there for the world to judge, and I am truly humbled by the success I am living. From real mom and celebrity endorsements to this article being written, people are requesting more, and more they shall get. A new collection plus old favorites are coming this fall, and a pop-up with some of my favorite brands is coming this holiday season.
B+C: Name two female heroes who you think should get a shout-out.
SF: My sister and my mom. As long as I can remember, my mother has worked two jobs to help maintain the household. I always admired what she did. Her work ethic is unmatched.
My older sister is my unconditional support. She is a pillar of grace and confidence. I have learned so much from her and I can attribute the woman I am [to her] because of her love and guidance. I admire her through and through. Miles and Milan is actually named after two of her children. She is an excellent mother, and they are amazing kids.
B+C: If you could tell aspiring creative women anything, what would it be?
SF: You can do anything you put your mind to. We have been made to think that we are weaker and second fiddle. However, if you tap into your internal self you will realize how truly strong and capable you are (physically and mentally). I recently heard an awesome quote: “Life doesn’t come with a manual, it comes with a mother!”
What’s your dream career? Tweet us @BritandCo to let us know, and we could feature it in the next column!
(Photos via Cara Emory)