Our "worst" business decision this year

November 14, 2017 12 Comments

Our "worst" business decision this year

They’ve started again this year. Target has a Snoopy shirt that shows the beagle holding a box, proclaiming “OKAY, BUT FIRST PRESENTS.” Another has a cute sloth on it and reads, “Hangin’ around for the presents.” It's for girls, so of course it's glittery and pink. No peace, joy, or goodwill to other humans to be found; just the naked greed of ripping into presents under the tree. But coming from big box stores where humans are actually wounded and injured trying to obtain coveted Black Friday doorbusters, that's probably fitting!

Oh, the holiday shirts are coming. A popular one for boys is, “Dear Santa, I can explain.” As if bad behavior is cute. As if bragging about that bad behavior is cuter, and aw shucks, boys will be boys, and bad behavior is an essential part of boyness. This is the Christmas version of “troublemaker” shirts, and is that really a label we want to apply to our sons? These shirts never seem to have girl versions, either, reserving their troublemaking / Santa-explaining for boys only. While the message isn’t appropriate for either gender, it shows how the culture of toxic masculinity has infiltrated even holiday shirts. Next we’ll be seeing matching boy/girl shirts that say “Naughty” and “Nice”. Oh, wait. You can buy those already on Etsy. (True story.)

There’s the “Dear Santa: Leave Presents, Take Sister” shirt at Walmart, which isn’t listed in the girls' section at all. And while no, we don’t really want our young sons meeting someone underneath the mistletoe, we also don’t particularly need Grumpy Cat proclaiming “NOPE!” about the whole affair.

And if you’re not Christian at all? Oh, good luck. Target sells an adult women’s Hanukkah ugly sweater, but nothing for kids. In fact, the only thing we could dig up, other than specialty Etsy shirts, was a Wal-Mart-sold Star of David t-shirt that started at a youth small. They were also vending a “Hanukkah sweater” type kids’ shirt, if you look. But that’s it.

We knew we could do better at embodying the joy of the season in graphic tee form. We knew it.

But here's the problem: for a company of our size to sell even one holiday tee is an uphill battle. You get maybe a month and a half to market and sell the thing, and then poof! The season is over. Hope you made your money back.  Here at Free to Be Kids it usually takes us several weeks just to get the word out about any new design, so time was not on our side. When you're little, tripling down on this strategy is a straight up terrible idea.

Plus, we knew we wanted to create a Hanukkah design to stand in solidarity with our Jewish brothers and sisters after this flagrantly anti-Semitic year. But only 2.2% of Americans are Jewish. That meant only one in 50 people who would ever see our Hanukkah shirt would potentially consider buying it. Even if we had a year to market it -- which we don't, because Hanukkah starts December 12 -- this was an objectively awful business decision. Try pitching that  to a VP at Wal-mart.

But here's the awesome thing about running your own tiny business with a team of amazing humans: you get to make questionable business decisions and do things from the heart if you want to. You get to sidestep debates about shareholder value and put your own values into action. So we took a risk. We went full throttle on launching a holiday collection. It felt important, and we did it with gusto. We released three positive Christmas tees, and one super happy Hanukkah design.

Are we going to break even? Who knows. It's mid-November and the jury's still out right now. But either way, we really couldn't be prouder.

Keep Shining Hanukkah tee
Rocco wears "Keep Shining," available in 3-6m to 18-24m rompers, and 2T to Youth L (14-16) long sleeve t-shirts.

Because we all need a little more love in the world -- especially around the holiday time. And putting a little more love into the world, one t-shirt at a time, is what Free to Be Kids is all about. We think it’s time to kick negative clothes to the curb and choose something more gentle, more kind, more in tune with peace and love, with harmony towards our fellow humans. It’s what we want to teach our kids, after all.

Wake Me When It's Christmas
Lux and Klea wear "Wake Me When It's Christmas," available in 3-6m to 18-24m rompers, and 2T to Youth L (14-16) long sleeve t-shirts.

The holiday season is a time for giving, not greed. The holidays are about sweetness and love, not presents. We want goodness and joy, not cutesy naughtiness that isn’t actually cute at all. We need more love in this world. We need more helping hands, more happiness, more merry and bright. We need to keep shining. And we need to teach our kids that, like the shamash candle that lights the other eight candles on the menorah, when we give our light to others, we are not diminished by it. Our own light doesn't dim at all.

So here’s to a holiday season of peace and joy. Here’s to a holiday season of love and gentleness -- no matter how your family chooses to celebrate. 


Tavis wears "Very Merry", available in 3-6m to 12-18m onesies, and 2T to Adult 2XL tees in a variety of styles


Liv wears
"Holly Jolly", available in 3-6m to 12-18m onesies, and 2T to Adult 2XL tees in a variety of styles

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New to Free to Be Kids

We design and create baby and kids clothes with positive messages and nary a gender cliche in sight. We believe clothes send a message, and our mission is to spread positive messages one fashion statement at a time.

Visit our Holiday Store >



12 Responses

Meredith
Meredith

December 11, 2017

LOVE the Hanukkah shirt, and the polar bear one, too. Just a heads up, though, finding clothes that celebrate the Nativity (instead of Santa) is just as hard. Something to consider if you decide to do this again next year. Keep up the good work, guys!

Shanna  Walker
Shanna Walker

December 03, 2017

I love your shirts, thank you for letting your heart guide you.

Leia
Leia

December 02, 2017

We aren’t Jewish, but I’m getting the Keep Shining shirts for the kids. It’s a wonderful message.

Noella
Noella

November 19, 2017

Wow these shirts actually make me excited for the holidays! So excited to support Free to be Kids!

Janette Conerty
Janette Conerty

November 19, 2017

I follow Free to be Kids on FB and saw the Hanukkah onesie. Have a friend that is Jewish and I instantly bought and fell in love with the design for her little one. Only now see the story behind how this was a risky business decision. I want to say THANK YOU for taking the risk. I hope you make big bucks of it, but even if not, I hope you know how appreciated it was by those finally feeling acknowledged!

Erin Harris Singer
Erin Harris Singer

November 18, 2017

Courtney, you rock. I already loved your company & your shirts & everything you stand for, but this post and the Hanukkah shirt make me love you even more. My boys don’t really need any more shirts, but I’m getting one anyway bc I love the message — and you’re right, it’s next to impossible to find any Hanukkah shirts, let alone cute/cool ones! Also, I love what you said about the shamash. Also, I like supporting a small business that isn’t worried about “questionable business decisions”! Rock on.

Jessica Lopez
Jessica Lopez

November 18, 2017

not Jewish. Buying the keep shining shirt anyway.

Carol
Carol

November 18, 2017

Yup, love the message of the Hanukkah shirt, but, alas, not Jewish!

Andria McQueen
Andria McQueen

November 18, 2017

I’m not Jewish but not so secretly want the keep shining shirt for my boys! It’s so adorable and has such a cute message.

Stacey
Stacey

November 18, 2017

Thank you for the Hanukkah design. We bought one and it’s great!

Vicky Gudelot
Vicky Gudelot

November 16, 2017

I am so thrilled. Thank you. My son wants a “cute” Christmas shirt and I have been unable to locate one. Seriously, I’m grateful. He will get so excited!

Barb Muellet
Barb Muellet

November 15, 2017

I look forward to ordering some shirts for my grandsons!

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