New Year by Sabria McElroy

Now that the holiday season has wore off, we wanted to share with you some of our best moments of 2018 and what is in store for us in 2019.

2018 Highlights
 
This year was big for Born To Be – it was reborn! (Forgive the pun – it’s the holidays ☺). 
 
As many of you know, I have two kids and I’m a lawyer. My work is often demanding. Although launching Born To Be has been my goal for some time now, I had reached a point where I didn’t feel that I could handle the tasks needed to move Born To Be forward. Honestly, my passion project had turned into another source of stress.
 
But I couldn’t let go of my dream of seeing Born To Be get off the ground. So, I decided to invest in Born To Be by getting help and earlier this year, Annie joined the team. Even though this has been one of my busiest years yet, with a ton of travel in the past few months, Born To Be has made a lot of progress since I hit the restart button.  
 
We updated our website and launched our social media. We’ve redesigned and refined our play dress design and we’re very happy with where it is now. We’ve searched all over for high-quality, super-soft, sustainable fabrics and I think we’ve finally found the right supplier.

Born To Be also did two events. First, in May we had a booth at Wynwood Art Walk in Miami, an outdoor marketplace for local businesses and vendors. We were hoping to get the word out about Born To Be and possibly sell a few of our initial production run Born To Be onesies. However, the event was pretty much a disaster. We had only talked to a few people before a torrential downpour forced us to quickly take shelter under our tent cover, which did little to keep us and our stuff from getting soaked. 

Fortunately, our second event in November – the Women Empower Expo  – was indoors and much more successful! We met a lot of interesting women and my daughter, Leila, even modeled our sample play dress.

Resolution for 2019
 
Our New Year’s resolution is simple – officially launch our brand!
 
Before we get there, there’s still quite a few pre-launch to-do’s, as well as a few challenges to overcome. We’ll definitely keep you posted on our progress and updates in 2019. 

Warmly,

Sabria  

Post WEX Event by Sabria McElroy

Last Saturday, we had a booth at the Women Empower Expo – or WEX – an event focused on supporting female entrepreneurs and leaders. We met some awesome ladies (and men) and made some great connections!

In addition to showcasing female owned businesses (like Born to Be!) through the WEX marketplace, the event also featured speakers and workshops. Sabria was honored to be selected as a “mindset” speaker this year!  She spoke to attendees about managing stress through mindfulness and meditation.

We’re excited to share our journey with you.

Check out our pics and a brief video from the event below.  (You’ll notice Leila, Sabria’s daughter, modeling our first dress sample.  Let us know what you think!)

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We had so much fun and can't wait to show you guys the progress we have made in the coming weeks (:

Warmly,

Sabria & Annie

Why We Do What We Do by Sabria McElroy

We’re currently putting the finishing touches on our first dress sample and we’ll be ready to give you a sneak peek very soon! 
 
In the meantime, I wanted to take a moment to remind you why we’re doing this (and why we think it’s important).  
 
The idea for Born To Be came when my daughter was a baby. I was frustrated by the clothing options for baby girls, which were very limited in the way they portrayed little girls. I found plenty of princess themed options, of course. But I wanted to be able to dress my daughter in something that communicated and promoted girls’ interests in other areas like science, leadership, or sports.

Turns out, my daughter, who is now 4, is pretty into what people would call traditional girl stuff. She loves dolls, colorful dresses, cute bracelets, and she regularly begs me to let her paint her nails (which, when I finally gave in, she chose to do in alternating pink and gold sparkles). And, currently, her favorite cartoon is about two little girl genies aptly named Shimmer and Shine. 

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Often, people who know about Born To Be assume that I’m bothered by all of this. The truth is I’m not bothered by the fact that she’s into these things (except for perhaps the cartoon about the genies – that bothers me a little bit).  
 
I’m not bothered by these interests because I know it’s normal for preschoolers to experience a period of gender rigidity in which they act out and endorse gender norms. But I do worry sometimes that she could internalize harmful stereotypes about girls that could have a longer-term impact on her interests. 
 
So, I encourage my daughter to explore a variety of subject areas. (Currently, she’s also really into an afterschool STEM program she attends – especially the coding mouse!) And I try provide her with examples of girls and women in diverse fields so that she understands that gender doesn’t limit what girls can do. But it’s a challenge to do this when it comes to clothes. There is no reason that pink sparkles or colorful dresses and science or dinosaurs or sports should be mutually exclusive, but the vast majority of clothing for girls continues to send the message that they are.  
 
Although the options for girls clothing have improved somewhat in the time since my daughter was born, we think there’s still plenty of space for a company like Born To Be. 
 
For one, we are working hard to provide a range of clothes with empowering designs that are also beautiful, high-quality and made from sustainable fabrics using ethical practices.  
 
As I mentioned, we’re almost done with the sample for the first item in our line, which will be a play dress made from organic pima cotton. I won’t say a ton about the sustainability aspect right now, except to say that it’s something we believe in and we think it’s important. If we’re creating clothes for the next generation of girls, we want to do it in a way that is mindful of the need to protect the environment for this future generation. 
 
We’re also focused on ensuring that our clothes are inclusive. 
 
By inclusive, I mean that any of our graphic designs that depict girls do so in a way that doesn’t suggest that the girl is a particular race or ethnicity. We want all little girls to be able to see themselves in our designs. 
 
We already have a Born to Explore design that features a little girl astronaut and a Born to Innovate design with a coding theme. As we wait on our first sample to be made, we are also in the process of creating our next two graphic designs.  
 
Reply to this blog, or send us a message on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter and tell us which themes we should design next! We are all ears (:

Fabric Sourcing by Sabria McElroy

We wanted to give you all an update on our progress.  The past several weeks, we have been in contact with both domestic and international suppliers, trying to find that super soft fabric we promised, and trust me – we did! The process has taken awhile, as it usually does, because finding the right fabric is crucial when creating a children’s clothing line.

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We found pima cotton from Peru that we fell in love with. It’s super soft and even better, we’ve found suppliers that produce the fabric organically! Now that we have nailed down suppliers, we have ordered sample yardage in order to create our first sample dress.
 

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We are so excited to finally be able to see a sample of the dress in person, and not just on a computer screen. During this process, we will be testing the fit and looking at all of the specifications so that when we go to production, the dress will be the perfect fit for all of the little girls out there.
 
 Stay tuned so that we can share our excitement with you!

Meet Annie: The New Addition! by Sabria McElroy

It’s Annie here, the newest team member for Born To Be. I joined Sabria around March, so I thought it was time for me to introduce myself. Currently, Sabria and I are a two-woman team - I run the day to day operations and marketing content.

A little background…

To begin with, my name is Annie Ross, and I am currently pursuing my MBA in South Florida. Before moving to South Florida, I graduated as the top International Business student from Gardner-Webb University in December 2017. While at Gardner-Webb, I was also the captain of the Division I Women’s Soccer team.

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Throughout my time on the field, I learned how to be a successful leader and motivate people to reach a common goal. Being the captain of 33 girls is tough, as you could imagine. There were a lot of times I became the mediator and helped the girls work through problems. This leadership opportunity prepared me for the several internships I had before moving to South Florida. I knew what it was like to problem solve, to think critically, and most importantly, I knew how to overcome failure.

How did I get connected to Born To Be?

I first met Sabria for a job interview in downtown Fort Lauderdale at a Starbucks. I was so nervous going into the interview, but once she introduced me to the idea of Born To Be, I knew that this was the job for me. I fell in love with the concept and was so eager to get to work.

Why does Born To Be inspire me?

Born To Be inspires me because I’ve been that girl in a business meeting with a room full of men, who question how you got there. I want little girls to know, that they can be who they want to be, not just who society tells them they should be. Girls should grow up believing that they can accomplish anything they set their minds to, and they should have clothes that support this.

With Born To Be, I get to take my passion of inspiring girls and combine it with my business knowledge to create a career. I don’t know how it could get better than that!

My email is [email protected]. Feel free to shoot me an email with any questions/concerns/advice you have, I’d love to hear it!
 

Sustainable Sourcing by Sabria McElroy

When I first started exploring the idea of starting a children's clothing line, I quickly learned that the fashion industry is riddled with negative consequences for the environment. When creating Born To Be, we are taking every action we can to create beautiful, high quality clothes that won't contribute to this problem.

We recently went to an apparel textile show in Miami with the hope of finding the perfect sustainable cotton for the Born To Be line. This experience underscored the challenges to sustainable fashion, but also got us excited about the possibilities and made us think about all of the different ways to minimize our environmental footprint, while creating amazing clothes that little girls want to wear.

A Sustainable Fabric Supplier Booth

A Sustainable Fabric Supplier Booth

First, the challenges.

It's hard to find suppliers and really hard to find suppliers that work with new businesses with low minimums (i.e., the amount of fabric you have to purchase). Sometimes the minimums can be over a thousand yards, which is a lot.

After listening to a panel on sustainable design, we realized that we weren't the only ones facing this challenge. There were several others in the audience who expressed our same frustration.

Design Meets Sustainability Panel

Design Meets Sustainability Panel

Then, even if you do find sustainable fabric suppliers, it's expensive and the quaility isn't always what it needs to be.

BUT, the biggest takeaway from the panel, was that sustainable fashion doesn't just mean using organic fabrics. It's also about factory practices, fabric use and waste, and what happens to clothes after they are thrown out. It's even about how much you wash your clothes when you take them home. In fact, I recently learned that over half of a garment's carbon footprint occursafter the purchaser takes it home.

Now, this brings me to the exciting part:

We know that we're searching for the perfect, super soft, high-quality cotton for Born To Be clothes. We're continuing to search for fabric that meets those qualities and is also organic. But, if we can't find it now (and even if we do), we're also committed to being as sustainable as we can right from the start in as many ways as possible. That means:

  • Working with factories that minimize waste and water use during manufacturing.
  • Creating care labels that instruct purchasers on eco-friendly washing.
  • Using eco-friendly printing and low impact dyes.
  • Creating high-quaility clothes that will withstand the active lifestyle of curious little girls and can be passed on after the first wearer outgrows them. (One of the biggest negative environmental impacts comes from textile waste.)
  • Utilizing a give back program that ensures our clothes don't end up in a landfill somewhere after being worn for a few months. Our customers can send the clothes back. We haven't figured out all of the details but we'll make sure the fabric is repurposed or that the clothes are donated to charities that will actually use them.

We want you to choose Born To Be clothes because you believe in the message AND because we provide an alternative to the envornmental problem that is happening in the fashion industry.

One Step Closer: The Designing Process by Sabria McElroy

“I know some of you may have been thinking: “You’ve been at this for a while now. What exactly have you been doing?” Even if you weren’t thinking that, I’m going to tell you!

When I first started working on Born To Be, I worked with a graphic designer to create a couple of initial designs for the line.  Before Born To Be went on hiatus last year, I somehow managed to use my very basic Adobe Illustrator skills to create a sketch of a play dress and T-shirt for the Born To Be line which incorporated these designs.  (And before doing that, I had to learn how to use Adobe Illustrator which was its own time-consuming project).

Here are a couple examples of what I came up with:

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I then worked with a sample maker and sew shop near me to create physical samples the dress and T-shirt. This is the first of several steps to getting a design ready for production by a factory.

The result was a jersey gray t-shirt and t-shirt style dress made from an organic cotton recycled polyester fabric with bright pink trims and contrast stitching. The samples looked much like the sketches but without the graphic designs, since the printing is a separate step in the process. 

The samples were cute.  But they weren’t quite what I wanted them to be. And the more I studied children’s clothes and focused on the things that really stood out as high-quality, unique, and beautiful, the less satisfied I became with the fabric as well.  It was soft and it was sustainably made right here in the US. But I questioned the durability and it didn’t quite have that feel that makes you want to rub it against your cheek all day long.  I also had concerns about the quality of the samples themselves.

When I resumed working on Born To Be last month, I decided that the clothing designs needed some help.  I wanted to create high-quality clothes with an empowering message but also with a design that stood out. 

The problem is I’m not a designer. I’m hardly even crafty.  So when it came to translating my ideas for improvement into design, I was struggling.

So, I decided to get some assistance from a design consultant, who, unlike me, has actually worked in the fashion industry. We had our first meeting last week and right now, we’re working with her on a redesign of the Born To Be play dress and I can’t wait to show you all the result!

Born To Be is Back by Sabria McElroy

Born To Be is back!  
 
Since we last spoke, my husband and I welcomed our second child – Gael!  After Gael was born at the beginning of the last year, I decided to put Born To Be on hold for a bit and take as much time as I could to soak up his cuteness. 

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Even though there’s still a ton of cuteness to soak up, I’m ready to get Born To Be moving forward again! 
 
There are lots of challenging aspects to starting a sustainable clothing line - especially when you’re a full-time working mom with no fashion background and a lackluster / non-existent social media presence (like yours truly).   Fortunately, now I have some help from Annie, an awesome MBA student who will be taking the lead on Born To Be’s social media (yay!) and marketing.  
 
Expect a lot of exciting Born To Be developments in the next few months.  We’ll be showcasing Born To Be at local events, developing new designs, launching our social media, and looking for effective ways to partner and support local charities.
 
In the meantime, stay tuned for updates on our production journey and follow our Instagram account: @borntobeapparel   
 
As always, thanks for your continued support of Born To Be!
 
Sabria