After becoming a mom I quickly realized there weren’t many great options for quality children’s clothing that also felt functional. If you have kids of your own, I am sure you have been in the same situation as me- purchased something nice for your baby or toddler and then were too nervous to have them wear it except for a special occasion for fear of it being ruined. As a boy mom, I know I’ve also felt personally a bit annoyed seeing so many small businesses that only focus on making pieces for girls. To solve these two problems- enter MerriMane (and their fabulous founder, Jasmine Hodgson!) My introduction to MerriMane and Jasmine’s beautiful children’s outerwear pieces initially came from Instagram where I fell in love with the styles virtually. After seeing them in person at Hunt & Gather and getting a chance to see the quality first hand, I knew they would be a great addition to Nicholas’ closet. Over the last few months, I’ve had the opportunity to get to know Jasmine, the founder and owner of MerriMane. Her dedication to her passion- creating children’s outerwear pieces that both kids and parents will love- has been extremely inspiring to me and I hope will be the same for you too.
If you’ve followed along for a while, you may remember my “Behind The Brand” series which focused on small business owners. While I have taken a bit of a hiatus from sharing these posts, shopping with small and female owned businesses is very important to me and I’m looking forward to sharing more with each of you. I’m very excited to be re-launching this series starting with Jasmine and her fabulous company, MerriMane.
You started MerriMane in August of 2018. What inspired you to start MerriMane?
Jasmine: I have the mindset that less is more and prefer to have fewer items in my closet that are versatile and high quality. For my own closet, I like to have fewer things, but things that are versatile, high quality that I can wear all the time. I want to instill the same in my daughters and do my best to uncover products that will wear well for them and work for a variety of activities.
With outerwear in particular we would be donating 4 or 5 jackets each year that had been barely worn – I wanted to change this. I wanted to buy 1 jacket for my girls that would look great, be ultra comfortable and work for everything from the playground, to playdates and even to parties.
The inspiration for our fleece jackets actually came from an ultra casual jacket I had that held up from high school until my early 30’s. I wanted to create something similar for my kids and all kids. To create one jacket that they’ll actually wear, that I’ll like, that will last.
Your passion for creating long lasting items is so refreshing in a world of fast fashion- especially for children’s wear.
Jasmine: At some point over the last decade this idea of disposable fashion has become part of our everyday. So many items we purchase have holes after just a few wears and washes so they are thrown out. I’ve heard friends or others justify it with “oh, but they were so cheap”. They may have been cheap, but then our landfills keep piling up with all of these garments, so I wonder – just how cheap are they? They are really costing us a lot in the long run I fear.
MerriMane is intended to be worn for many years and by many children. The fabrics we have chosen, and the quality of our construction make them a cut above. Design will always be done with an eye for durability and timeless styles to ensure each MerriMane feels perfect for the child whether they are the first or fifth child to enjoy it. I want to create pieces that will be and can be handed down.
Where do you find inspiration for your designs?
Jasmine: Womens and Menswear primarily – I enjoy bringing classic tailoring and elevated prints and styles to children’s wear. We love to add accessories to bring trends to our looks, but keep the jacket classic. Five years after buying a MerriMane jacket I want parents to feel that it can be handed down to a sibling, a niece or nephew and still feel like it is a classic.
What are some of your favorite products that you have created and why?
Jasmine: I am most proud of the Traveler – it was my first style and it remains the most complex to make. The hood, side closure, piping and other features make it a very technical style. The fit works for so many body types and that is a function of the effort that went into it. 5 fittings later and countless design edits – I learned this business while creating this style and it makes me very proud. Creating the Traveler was like a crash course in the industry and so I’ not only proud of the finished product, but what it represents.
In speaking with many other small business owners or entrepreneurs, I’ve often heard them say things didn’t go exactly to plan when they first started out. Did you encounter any surprises in the first few months of MerriMane?
Jasmine: I have 2 young girls and love being a present mom. I have always worked to be an intentional parent and not multi-task at home. When I started MerriMane I was surprised with how it took over my life. I was so committed to getting it off the ground I lost sight of everything else. I was barely sleeping, stopped exercising, was less present for my girls always emailing or brainstorming an idea when we were supposed to be playing. It was a very challenging time in my life – I was thrilled with the early success but had to review what the cost was. As I’ve gotten MerriMane off the ground, my focus is to continue to be an intentional person and an intentional parent.
How do you structure your day as both a mom and business owner?
Jasmine: After my initial launch I worked very hard to create a work and home life that would support my business growth and the needs of my family. Getting up early (around 5am) a few mornings per week was so helpful to keep everything up and running. I fulfill orders and check off quick tasks on my To Do List. I do my best to plan my days in advance so I can be extremely productive and get my work done while the girls are at school. It’s not always perfect and some weeks the calendar is overwhelmed with appointments and meetings and I have to adjust.I additionally spend about 45 minutes each evening catching up on social media,but I do try to put work away and spend quality time with my husband at the end of the day as well.
With the mention of social media, you already know, but that is how I became familiar with MerriMane myself. I feel like it can be a super powerful tool for smaller brands. How has social media changed the way you do business?
Jasmine: Social Media has enabled me to launch my business. I am so grateful to have this platform to build awareness. It was a huge part of my business from Day 1. I don’t think you could start a successful business today without social media. With that said, I admittedly was not a user of Social Media prior to launching MerriMane so my learning curve has been very sharp.
Where can MerriMane products be purchased? How do you select boutiques to work with?
Jasmine: Our products can be found online at our website and at select boutiques on the East Coast.
When selecting a boutique to sell your items in, It is so important to research the shop and build relationships with the buyers and merchandisers. The most amazing product won’t sell if it is not placed properly in a store or if the salespersons aren’t educated on it. I look for shops with brands that I consider adjacent and complementary to MerriMane and shop owners or buyers who appreciate the support a new brand needs to be successful in a shop. Relationships are the most important thing for success in boutiques I have found.
What qualities do you think are important for an entrepreneur to have?
Jasmine: Resilience and Grit – you have all heard it before, but I had no idea just how much I needed both until I started!
Special thank you to Jasmine for sharing more about MerriMane, her passion and some of her learnings as a small business owner! In our home, our MerriMane jackets are hands down the favorite and both Nicholas and I reach for it as soon as the temperatures allow. Nicholas always tells me how soft his bomber is. I love that not only are the pieces classic and look fabulous, but all of MerriMane’s jackets are durable, machine washable and anti-pill. I have no qualms putting this jacket on home to go play in the dirt in the backyard because I know I can throw it in the wash that night and it will be ready to go for the next day. If a holiday or special event is coming up though, I also don’t have to battle getting a toddler into an uncomfortable jacket because MerriMane’s jackets can do that double duty. Being a mom herself, Jasmine has nailed that and truly makes the investment in these pieces worth it. It especially helps if you have same gender siblings- I cannot wait to hand down these pieces to our next child as well! Thank you again, Jasmine for making mom life easier and keeping our kids a bit more fashionable!