If you're reading this blog post you're probably already familiar with Free To Be Kids, and chances are pretty good that you think we're much bigger than we are. Which is flattering. We try to keep a professional face on, and we'll go toe to toe with a big corporation on customer service any day. But most people don't realize that we're actually pretty little.
Okay, we're super little.
Aside from cutting and sewing garments, we do everything in house -- and I mean literally in a house. Here's our fulfillment center, which you'll notice looks an awful lot like a living room, complete with fireplace!
But that's just the end of the line. Let's go back to the beginning, and I'll show you how our small but mighty team of six people brings you so much good stuff.
Every single shirt, onesie, tote bag, romper, and apron we sell is screen printed by hand in our little basement studio in Seattle.
Here's Dylan, our Print Shop Manager, washing out a screen!
Dylan has been on the team for three years. He always has an 80s song reference at the ready to suit any situation, and if you meet him he will probably offer you some of his homemade kombucha. He's also in like three bands (he plays bass), paints in his spare time, and is probably on the verge of starting a comedy podcast. A true Renaissance man, right there.
Anyway, we have screens for every design we print, and we remake them all the time to make sure our prints stay crisp and beautiful. This is a very small set of what's in rotation right now. See any designs in the rack you recognize?
Every weekday we have two printers in the house (again, literally) pulling those screens out to hand print your garments with love.
Yesterday I captured this shot of Tim, one of our master screen printers, knocking out a Unicorns Rule, Bro shirt while simultaneously regaling us with a recap of the Purina Dog Show, which I never knew airs right after the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, and which sounds full-on delightful.
Tim joined our team earlier this year and instantly became part of the family. In addition to knowing facts two levels deeper than the Wikipedia entry on just about any subject you bring up (but not in a know-it-all way), he is always in a lovely mood, unfailingly helpful, and just a wonderful human that we could not live without.
Once the shirts are printed, we bring them up to be QA'ed, folded, and sorted. Oh look, here's Simon, our Production and Fulfillment Manager, grabbing some rompers hot off the dryer!
Simon joined our team a year ago and has gone from folding shirts and shipping packages to running all of production and fulfillment because he is just that much of a badass.
But more importantly, what you need to know about Simon is that he's about to go to the movie theater here in Seattle to watch Frozen 2 just so he can talk to his nieces on the east coast about it next time they FaceTime. How precious is that? Other uncles: this is what #unclegoals looks like. Try to keep up. :)
Okay, so the next step is these garments go upstairs to our office, where we QA them, fold them, sort them by size, and then match them up to your orders!
We make sure every shirt we've printed is up to our standards, then fold the good ones and pack any that are less than 100% perfect (but still pretty darned cute) into bags and boxes that we'll donate to shelters and other kid-focused non-profits in Seattle.
And that brings us back to the final step - packing up your shirts and sending them to you, which is what Zenaida is doing right here!
When she isn't busy acting in and producing plays in Seattle, we get to hang with Zenaida at our office. She just joined our team a few months ago and already we don't know how we'd live without her.
As you can see, Zenaida has a customer's order slip in her hand and she's finding the shirts that go with it. After this, another team member will double check it (always double check!), print a shipping label, and it's off!
This all looks fairly simple, but oh goodness, so many things are not pictured. First of all, one of our OG team members, Susan, isn't in these photos because she was busy in her office listing new products, totally rocking customer service (all those great reviews you see on Facebook talking about how awesome our support is? That's Susan), and running our Amazon and Etsy shops. Also not pictured, me (hi, I'm Courtney)! The lady behind the camera. Being the CEO is kind of like being the mom - you're never in the picture but you're constantly running around making sure things keep humming. Mostly I design new shirts and do a lot of marketing.
I hope you enjoyed this little peek behind our curtain for Small Business Saturday! We have never really shown our headquarters before, but we thought it was important to let people have a look. Because it really kinda shows that when you #shopsmall you're helping actual humans pursue their passions, pay for their kids' school supplies, learn new skills, have flexible working arrangements, and more. It's pretty awesome. And if you've shopped with us, shared our posts, told friends about us, showered us with likes and comments on social media, or even just wished the best for us, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.