1 dress, 1 girl, 1 year


Why my daughter wore only one dress for a year.

Guest Post author: Melina Harper, Petite Marin co-founder

I am a stay-at-home mom, sewer, upcycler, mompreneur and supporter of the sustainable fashion movement. I made my 4 year old daughter a dress sewn from her dad’s dress shirt. Then, she ended up wearing it for 4 or 5 days a week–for an entire school year! It was a fun and interesting journey that introduced me to the sustainable fashion lifestyle, and that taught me that a minimalist closet consisting of higher quality textiles is a smarter, totally doable option, even for kids!


Here’s why you should care:

Over the years many of us have switched over to organic, local foods in our kitchens and natural skincare/body products for our families. Now, its time to focus on our clothes. But why does it matter – we don’t eat our clothes!

Before you roll your eyes, realize that the fashion industry is one of the worlds dirtiest industries- second only to oil! The current state of the fashion industry is anything but sustainable, with rampant pollution and fast fashion practices, creating many questions about the clothing we wear and dress our children in.

Poor working conditions in factories and landfills full of textile waste are just some of the more obvious results. There are also many concerns about cheap clothing made from unnatural materials and treated with chemicals. Sustainable fashion seeks to create a textile manufacturing system that supports environmental and social responsibility- worthy values we all wish to instill in our children. Less demand for inexpensive, disposable clothing and a focus on craftsmanship is a step in the right direction.

What does that have to do with wearing the same dress for a year?

Here is my story:

Last year, one of my closest friends, and Petite Marin co-founder, Rachel, made a romper for her new baby from one of her husband’s dress shirts. The romper was adorable, and held fond memories of her husband and baby’s playfulness all in one. Inspired by the idea, we both started making more clothes for our children from our husband’s old dress shirts.

After I made my daughter her first dress, I couldn’t get her to wear anything BUT the dress. It was made from my husband’s old chambray button down and my 4 year old daughter loved it. She started requesting to wear it daily. I was concerned about washing it so much (usually when I buy kid’s clothes they rarely last long enough to be given to a younger sibling), but this dress held up beautifully. Even with a few dinnertime spills and falls in the grass. Because it was made from a men’s shirt, designed to be washed and worn frequently, it held up so much better than any of her other clothes. It became our “go to” dress and it looked just as cute layered on cold days as it did during the summer.

I quickly realized that one well-made special garment was so much better than a closet full of cheap children’s clothes that were more or less disposable. As a mom who liked to shop for my two daughters, it was initially a foreign concept, but it was also a welcome change. Over the years, I had countless conversations with other moms about our frustrations with children’s clothing. Clothes looked cute in the store, but once they were worn and washed, they started to fall apart. I often complained to my own mother, who would reply, “They just don’t make things like they used to.” And it’s true! Owning a closet full of cheap clothes is a stark contrast to the wardrobes of previous generations, who owned fewer items that were well made and well cared for. When clothes were purchased, they were bought to last. Today, a minimalist wardrobe is a simple, yet powerful change and I’m hoping that it catches on!

Now, to create a sustainable closet for your kids…a few tips:

Reduce your child’s wardrobe to basic, well-made pieces that are easy to pair and that your child enjoys wearing. A smaller selection may seem more difficult, but it is actually just the opposite. It also means an easier morning routine and less trips to the mall (which is a huge plus for a busy mom)!

When you are ready to buy, look for sustainable brands that create clothes in a more mindful, eco-friendly way; clothes that will last generations, not just a few trips to the park. “Buy less, but better” is a great mantra of the sustainable fashion movement.

Check out your kid’s closet (and your own)!, think before you buy and see what you can do to make a positive impact for yourself and the world.

(After my daughter wore the dress for a year, it was passed down to her younger cousin, who enjoys it just as much as she did.)

Decluttering your closet: 6 tips from Marin’s Maternity Fashionista

Here is Part 2 of our interview with local Marin resident and author of Fashion Dues & Duen’ts: a Stylist’s Guide to Fashionably Embracing Your Baby Bump, Katie Rice Jones. We asked style questions related to dressing your changing body from growing a bump to dressing your post-baby body.

Rachel Schohn of Petite Marin: I’m a big fan of the Lean Closet Movement as you talk about on your blog. It’s so much easier getting dressed with a few key, well-made pieces. As I’ve been scaling down my own wardrobe, I’m finding myself with cool basics, and old accessories. What should I be wearing to keep my basics current?

Cuyana Founders Source: http://www.californiahomedesigns.com

KRJ: For those who don’t know the Lean Closet Movement, coined by San Francisco’s lifestyle brand Cuyana, is about paring down the closet so that one is left with only effortlessly stylish pieces that are loved. It’s a pragmatic dressing approach and it’s picking up momentum. While there may be a myriad reasons for its acceptance, I believe the foremost is a planetary one. These days thoughtful people aim to reduce their carbon footprint and buying less, of everything, helps ensure this.

KRJ image for post 2
Maternity Wear Basics Source: http://www.fashiondues.com

However my intimate introduction to the movement was not as noble in cause. It came to me by way of my first pregnancy. Maternity wear can be expensive and I didn’t have the funds to wardrobe my burgeoning bump as a fashion stylist would like.

The bigger I grew, the smaller my closet’s options got. Gradually my closet was pared down to only a handful of stylish maternity pieces.

lean closet
A lean closet.      Source: http://www.cuyana.com

After the birth of my daughter Evelyn, I highly anticipated a triumphant return to my closet plumb full of regular clothes. But once I finally got down to my pre-bump size and could wear the stuff, the return lacked luster. In fact living for 9-plus months with little to wear left me changed.

For one, I got really good at making less, look like more and two; I now longed for a clutter-free closet. By the time Evelyn was 6 months old, I scaled down my closet substantially by donating those items that were:
1. Too small
2. Collecting dust
3. Unflattering
4. Impractical
5. Dated
6. From a former life or career (ball gowns and suits)
7. Poor quality and cheap construction
8. Not my personal style

As for which basic pieces should live (and be loved) in a lean closet, read my answer to Rachel’s final question…in 2 weeks!

KateinGardenCropKatie Rice Jones (KRJ) is the author of the pregnancy fashion guide, Fashion Dues & Duen’ts: a Stylist’s Guide to Fashionably Embracing Your Baby Bump (available at Amazon.com). Learn more about pregnancy fashion at FashionDues.com.
Katie is also an on-air style expert who has appeared on over 400 television segments. Some of her channel appearances include: E! Entertainment, Style Network, Travel Channel, USA Network, HGTV, and FOX Reality TV. She has written for Pregnancy magazine, MomLogic.com, MarinMommies.com, and littlelane.com and has been a frequent style/celebrity commentator for In Touch Weekly magazine, StrollerTraffic.com, CNN.com, RadarOline.com, and SheKnows.com. She is also an elected commissioner on the San Anselmo Arts Commission and on the town’s Capital Program Monitoring Committee.

Citizen Smalls: A vibrant, made-in-USA clothing line that is anything but small

Today we’re introducing an amazingly talented kids clothing designer, Sarah Davis. I met Sarah through our accelerator program, Factory45 and her vision and determination inspire me. Her collection of vibrant, USA-made, soft tees and pants launches today on Kickstarter– she’s one to watch!

citizen smalls logoQ. We’re excited for the launch of your children’s line, Citizen Smalls. Such a cute name, how did you come up with it?

A. Funny actually, I’ve done several blog posts/interviews and I’ve never been asked this question! The name actually means a lot to me, Small is my husband and kids last name. I think of our kids as little citizens, so that’s where Citizen Smalls comes from.

Q. The drawings of your logo and of the paper dolls are adorable- do you draw too?

A. In the start of this journey, I searched for an illustrator. I knew exactly what I wanted but needed someone who could take my vision and translate into drawings. I reached out to Austin School of Fashion Design and was introduced to Stephanie. Not only does she have insane talent with illustrating, but she helps me with my blog, landing page and social media. She’s been a huge piece of my branding.
citizen smalls detail photoQ. It says on your website that the clothes are going to be sustainable, can you tell me a little more about that?

A. When I started to create this line I wasn’t exactly sure where I wanted the clothes made. I had a lot of research to do and found some pretty interesting facts about clothing made in other parts of the world. I was shocked and saddened to see what is going on in this industry. From that moment on, I decided to be all US made. This is the sustainable piece for us.

Q. I understand you launched and run a nanny agency, have three kiddos of your own and are miraculously finding spare time to get Citizen Smalls going. Please share a few tips for keeping it together!

A. My life is chaos, I’m not going to lie! I run in many different directions and multi tasking for me is a must. I’ll be scheduling a nanny interview, click over to talk to a fabric manufacturer and then get a call to pick up a sick kiddo at school.  My house isn’t perfect, I dig to find soccer uniforms and my suburban smells like a mix of popcorn and ham. But that’s how I roll! But I’m passionate about both of my businesses and love what I do.  And I make time for my family. They are always my top priority.

citizens small kids photoQ. What is your favorite board game to play with your kids?

A. I love board games for kids!! Depending if we want to be educational game or a silly game. I love Brain Quest, it’s like Trivial Pursuit for kids. I prefer this game because it make me feel smart. It goes to grade 6 and I can usually get 70% correct. (Whoop!) My older son kicks my butt every time. Mustache Smash is another fav. Fun, funny and my 5 year old loves it!!

Editor’s note: Since conducting this interview, Sarah has brought on a good friend, Nichole Locke, of Bump Club and Beyond, as a partner. Welcome Nichole! And, we wish you both much success on your launch. Their campaign is now live- check it out here!

Honoring a Veteran by repurposing her uniform

IMG_20151201_175547For Veteran’s Day we are expressing our gratitude to the US service men and women by showing a sweet way to honor a military veteran in your family. We transform service members’ old uniforms into cherished garments for the little ones in their lives.  What a great sentiment to be able to reuse these fabrics with something that means a great deal to their family!

Harper is a sweet one year old who is wearing an upcycled romper made from her aunt Kate’s military uniform. Kate, served in the US Navy and was stationed in Djibouti. Kate’s husband, Paul, was stationed on a naval ship in South American with Harper’s mother, Ellen. As fate would have it, Paul became friends with Ellen and introduced her to his brother, Peter. And the rest as they say, is history. Now the brothers and their wives live near each other in Southern California. As Ellen had discarded her naval uniforms, she asked her sister-in-law, Kate, to use one of hers to make this special garment. And, it’s nearly ready to be passed on again, once Kate and Paul have a baby of their own.

1830We are honored to work with service members and their uniforms because they give so much for others. We look forward to making more cherished garments for other military families during our upcoming Kickstarter campaign running November 18- December 16, 2015. Thank you to all active and retired military for your service!





Style Tips from Marin’s Maternity Fashionista

KSJ book imageWe were lucky enough to snag an interview with local Marin resident and author of Fashion Dues & Duen’ts: a Stylist’s Guide to Fashionably Embracing Your Baby Bump. We asked style questions related to dressing your changing body from growing a bump to dressing your post-baby body. With her abundance of amazing advice, we’ve broken down the interview into a 3-part miniseries. Part 1:

Rachel Schohn of Petite Marin: (Q) I love how you encourage woman to shop their closets first when navigating their maternity wardrobe. Can you highlight one or two pieces women can embrace when their bump first starts to show?

Katie Rice Jones: (A) Between 0-5 months you’re in a body limbo of sorts – gradually getting too big for your tailored regular-fit pieces, but yet not big enough for traditional maternity. Hence your look is in limbo too. The trick to finding something to wear is to identify regular-fit clothing that is adaptable or blind to your changing body. These kinds of wardrobe pieces are called maternity wear posers, or more simply, posers.

KRJ blog post 1 quoteGiven current fashion trends, it’s likely that much of your closet’s existing clothes can make do as transitional clothing during your early and midterm pregnancy. To discover which of your regular-fit clothing can pose as posers examine them for the following styling, construction, and detail…

  1. Knit and stretchy material (versus woven fabrics)
  2. Roomy fit (versus tailored fit)
  3. Draped and wrapped styling
  4. Durable fabric that will not misshapen
  5. Long-bodied and pull-over tops
  6. Low-rise bottoms
  7. Expandable clothing elements including: side vents, side ruching or drawstring and elastic waistbands
  8. Adaptable mechanics that can be worn unbuttoned, un-cinched, zipped down, open or layered under
  9. Easy-on silhouettes like skirts and dresses (versus pants)

Katie provides us with two examples of flattering clothing with differing pattern types:

KRJ image for post 1

KRJ image 2 for post 1

And look for these posers in your closet…
1. Shift dress – This dress lacks waist definition making it super-wearable.
2. Tie back vest – Add panache to a basic tee when you don a vest. As you progress, loosen its back tie or wear it unbuttoned for a little breathing room.
3. A-line top or dress – The flare from this dress’ midsection provides ample room for a little bump.
4. Button fly jeans – Make room for your bump one button at a time while keeping your pants securely in place.
5. Boyfriend cardigan – An oversized cardigan looks great with relaxed jeans, fitted knit pencil skirts or leggings.
6. Maxi dress – This aptly named dress maximizes your look by diminishing your bump and accentuating your décolletage, shoulders, and arms.
7. Fitted knit skirt – The best knit skirt acts as a kind of Spanx, flattering and smoothing the lower half of your expecting bod.
8. Cocoon top – This easy piece adds interest to your look and showcases your bump.
9. Tunic – A tunic elongates your body and narrows your hips.
10. Wrap dress, top or vest – Wrap styling adjusts to your growing belly with its tie design. Be advised, as you adjust the ties to accommodate your bump, the neckline begins to plunge. Layer a pretty cami underneath to control cleavage-exposure.
11. Empire and baby doll top or dress – This high waisted styling will provide ample room for your bump.
12. Banded hem top – The top’s wide band slims hips while its shirring detail accommodates growth.
13. Ruched top or dress – Regular-fit clothes with ruching details will expand with you for a short time.
14. Long scarf – Visually slim your torso by draping a long scarf around your neck and letting it hang loosely down your body. Also don a scarf to add texture, color or pattern to your mate
15. Smock top – The top’s neckline smocking detail creates a voluminous lower bodice.
16. Open front cardigan – Worn open or tied about the waist, this kind of cardigan is of a less fussy fit than its buttoned counterpart.
17. Long-bodied tee or tank – The best pieces hit at mid-hip.
18. Elastic and drawstring waistband skirt or pants – Bottoms with accommodating waistbands make for excellent posers
19. Kimono jacket or dress – Its full sleeves conceal heavy arms, and its wrapped bodice hides your tummy size.
20. Dropped-waist top or dress – The waistline of this dress falls below your tummy, making it easy to slip on over your bump.
21. Shrug – An easy-on shrug makes a terrific heavy arm concealer and can be worn throughout pregnancy.
22. Low-rise pant – The rise of these pants falls below the belly making it possible to wear them longer than their mid or high-rise counterparts.
23. Cape – A short cape will hide the belly but can make you look as big as a house in later term.
24. Half coat – Hitting above your natural waistline makes this kind of coat wearable throughout your nine months.
25. Long-bodied drape – A versatile wrap helps elongate and slim your bumped body and is an easy alternative to your getting-tighter- by-the-minute blazer. During your pregnancy, you will find hundreds of ways to wrap it and to wear it. Plus, it makes an elegant breastfeeding drape in post.
26. Yoga pant or leggings – A multi-purpose pull-on pant with an adjustable waistline wears well when you’re out for a coffee, at the gym or just lounging around at home.
27. Peplum and skater top
or dress – The flounce or overskirt of this piece can provide a short-term disguise for the belly.
28. Poet top – A shapeless shirt with an easy-going vibe and, in this case, also a distracting print

In Part 2 with Katie Rice Jones, she’ll be offering tips on how to keep up with current trends while wearing well-made, basic pieces.

KRJ PaleDenim

Katie Rice Jones (KRJ) is the author of the pregnancy fashion guide, Fashion Dues & Duen’ts: a Stylist’s Guide to Fashionably Embracing Your Baby Bump (available at Amazon.com). Learn more about pregnancy fashion at FashionDues.com.
Katie is also an on-air style expert who has appeared on over 400 television segments. Some of her channel appearances include: E! Entertainment, Style Network, Travel Channel, USA Network, HGTV, and FOX Reality TV. She has written for Pregnancy magazine, MomLogic.com, MarinMommies.com, and littlelane.com and has been a frequent style/celebrity commentator for In Touch Weekly magazine, StrollerTraffic.com, CNN.com, RadarOline.com, and SheKnows.com. She is also an elected commissioner on the San Anselmo Arts Commission and on the town’s Capital Program Monitoring Committee.

Scary, Sexy, Sentimental & Smart: navigating what works on social media


In honor of Halloween this week, we’re writing about the scary, sexy, sentimental and smart…ways people and businesses get noticed on social media. Why? It’s part of running a business these days, and while we were not prepared for the amount of time were going to have to spend on social media for Petite Marin, we’re getting the hang of it. It’s similar to posting updates on a personal FB page, but we’re really trying to connect with people we don’t know, who seem to have similar interests, audiences, aesthetics and personality- all online!

As we prepare to launch our business in 3 short weeks, we’ve been learning as much as possible by reading every blog post and magazine article hinting about ways to increase website traffic, taking online and local in-person classes on how to stand out, ‘stalking’ top-performers on social media to see what other people ‘like’ and scrutinizing our web analytics nightly to look for trends. It’s hilariously exhausting and nonsensical.

Why do we do this? Because businesses don’t just grow on their own; we want our concept of turning men’s dress shirts into custom baby clothes to be a business, not just an idea a few of our friends heard about. We’ve learned a few basics along the way that we’d like to share.

Image: http://www.vandelaydesign.com/free-social-media-icons/

First, you need to figure out which social media sites work best for your type of business; there are lots of great options, but focus on just 3-4 as you get started. What should you post? People are going to ‘like’ things on social media they normally like in real life: pretty pictures, catchy titles and a story that ends on a high note. The rest, it seems, is pretty open to personal preference. Here are four ways that we’ve noticed social media light up:

  1. Scary. That’s right, a story that scares you, even slightly, seems to do the trick. I a liken it to rubbernecking, but, safely out of harm’s way. You scan a headline that scares you so much, you can’t help but click, then before you know it, you’re commenting and sharing. I’ve seen it happen. Look at ScaryMommy– there’s a reason they have over 450k followers (and I’m one of them, can’t help it!). Just look at their blog post on life-threatening food allergies!
  2. Sexy: This one speaks for itself. As we’re out there promoting a sustainable children’s clothing line, we are competing with all other chatter, topics that are provocative and coy…and get a lot of retweets. It competes for your attention, too, we get it. Victoria’s Secret has over 8 million Twitter followers. Coincidence?
  3. Sentimental: Nailed it! This is our big win. If a subject tugs at your heartstrings, you are much more likely to read it. Include cute babies (check!) or puppies, and you’re golden. People generally like to feel sentimental about a story they’re reading and connect at a higher level.
  4. Smart: Cool info-graphics and relevant information about topics you enjoy are going to catch your interest. With the advent of amazing free and low-cost graphics programs, anyone can create their own info-graphic sure to catch their reader’s eye. The New York Times and CNN both have over 20 million Twitter followers.

What about you? What makes you read an article or leave a comment?

4 Great Fall Crafts- using upcycling!


Fall is always a fun time to do some crafting with your children.  Instead of chasing out to the store for art supplies, try these four great crafts that use items you already have at home!

1.Paper Butterflies, tutorial at diygreen and more butterfly craft inspiration at Handmade Charlotte

Upcycled household item: magazines


Reuse magazine pages to create this beautiful hanging mobile. A great project for little ones and older kids. My 7 year old and 5 year old daughters loved this project and it looks adorable hung in their room!

2.TP Roll Mermaid and Hula Dolls, tutorial at MollyMoo and more TP roll inspiration at hello, Wonderful

Upcycled household item: toilet paper rolls


The girls had so much fun making these on Sat. afternoon that they decided to make a few more on Sun. They even cut a roll in half and made a baby hula girl doll! This fun craft offers endless possibilities for creativity beyond hula girls- what is your child’s favorite character?

3.Boo Box

Upcycled household item: cereal boxes


This is craft that I remember making as a child and wanted to make one with my daughters. With Halloween coming up, we decided to make boo boxes! I couldn’t find a tutorial for this one, but it is fairly straight forward. All you need is an old cereal box, tissues and a rubber band. Art supplies necessary are glue, tape, and pens.

First, use the cardboard from the cereal box to create a small box with a lid. Decorate the box with spooky pictures and write the word ‘Boo!’ on the inside of the lid. Fill one piece of tissue with a small ball of tissue and secure with a rubber band to create a ghost. Attach ghost inside of lid with glue or tape. Tada! A boo box! This simple project was a huge hit with my kids.


4.Needle Felted Pumpkin, tutorial at The Magic Onions and info on how to felt wool at Mother Earth News

Upcycled household item: old wool sweaters


Transform an old wool sweater into felt and make adorable felt pumpkins! This project was not actually made by my girls, but gifted to my youngest daughter from her eighth grade buddy. This is a super sweet craft that would be a fun one to try with older kids or a mom’s craft night.

What type of upcycled crafts have you tried with your family?

Starting a business, and changing direction

Over the past year and a half, we made many beautiful garments; they were everything we wanted – sustainably made in the US, ethically sewn by hand in California, had a classic silhouette and were made of the best cotton fiber out there, repurposed or new. We sold two dozen at craft fairs and through online sales. Where was our audience? Did we have an audience? Were we just another cute idea without a real business? Continue reading

4 lessons learned using toddlers and babies in photoshoots

We love our children, and the smaller and cuter, the better for photos, right? No, not really. With babies who can’t sit up, they must be propped up, and those who can’t stand, must be held up. Whiny toddlers are promised candy for a non-goofy smile, while we blow lots of bubbles, dance and dangle toys to elicit smiles from babies. Between acting like a clown, making sure no one pours bubbles all over themselves, and trying to avoid grass stains, it feels like a non-stop comedy hour trying to make these photoshoots work. But, it’s all worth it in the end when we finally have the gorgeous photos we dreamed of, but weren’t sure were possible! Below, take a look at 4 of our out-takes and most common mishaps working with people under the age of 5.

baby photos collage

Clockwise, from top left:

  • Taking a photo of more than one child requires more than double the amount of effort to get one child to look at the camera, and to try not to look bored when they do. Plus, it’s very hard to compete for a baby’s attention when he’s just discovered his hands.
  • Photographing an unwilling baby is tough, especially when holding a bright light into her eyes. We dangled a variety of toys to distract her from the light and finally took 2 shots that were worthy to use.
  • When using a baby who can’t stand, someone has to hold him up, or he has to hold onto something (and not let go). When a person is holding up the child, it’s hard to stay out of the frame!
  • A sweet toddler who wants to be photographed is fantastic, but you have to help every single step of the way- including what to do with her arms!

We’ve learned a lot from working with dozens of adorable babies and toddlers and a few amazing photographers. The bribes (yes, there was some candy involved) helped a lot, but we’re really getting the hang of it. New photos of our outfits that will be available for purchase via Kickstarter in November will be showcased soon, and I’ve got to say, they’re lovely!

My 5 favorite baby toys

5 favorite baby toys
5 favorite baby toys

Having my third child a little over 5 years after my last baby, I had given away nearly all of my baby things. I had a few token board books around for friends’ babies to chew on when they visited, but I basically had to start all over again. It was nostalgic to reunite with some old favorites, and fun to pick out some new toys. Here are 5 of my favorite baby toys (links in text). What are yours?

5. Shape Sorter. Once my baby was sitting up and exploring all the non-baby safe items around him (!), I put a shape sorter in front of him and initially he loved throwing the shapes, but now he’s sorting like a pro.  http://www.greentoys.com/green-toys-shape-sorter#&filter

4. Teether. There are so many to choose from, and it doesn’t necessarily start out as a toy, but we received a Green Sprouts teether as a gift and my son instantly loved it. First, he used it as a teether, then he linked it with other toys, and now it’s a staple bath toy. So many uses! http://iplaybaby.com/green-sprouts/toys/

3. Rattle. All babies like something to shake! I had a comb and brush by Ore’ and decided to try their rattle. Made from the same sustainably harvested wood with their signature baby logo, but with brighter colors, it was an instant hit around age 6 months. https://www.oreoriginals.com/rattle

2. Stuffy. My oldest son has a severe allergy to dust, so any stuffed animals that stay in our house are limited and must be exceptionally loved. My youngest received a few adorable stuffies as gifts. There was something special about his boxer dog- sweetly asymmetric with playful clothing and rag doll legs, he was carried around everywhere. http://www.applepark.com/catalogsearch/result/?q=boxer

1. Blocks. This is the only one I didn’t buy recently. It was handed down to me for my first child and I loved them so much, I kept them. I see them/step on them daily now as they’re strewn around my house. Here’s where you can find the updated version: http://www.schylling.com/p/alphabet-blocks-48-pcs

Share! We want to hear about your favorites!