YPSILANTI, MI — When Kimberly Allen was raising her two daughters, she had no trouble finding clothing for them. In fact, the Ypsilanti native said, she had trouble believing people who thought shopping for little boys was difficult.
Then her daughter had a son.
“And I just could not believe the selection. There would be five racks for boys and a hundred for girls,” Allen said. “All the clothes would have dinosaurs or trucks or a lot of inappropriate sayings. …I would go to all the stores that I could think of.”
After roughly a year of struggling to find clothes for her grandson, Allen launched SmartyPants Clothing Co. The company started last year and has worked to grow its presence since.
The Ypsilanti-based, online boutique offers clothing for boys ranging from 18 months to seven years old. The collection is comprised of what Allen called “playsics basics” — durable but fashionable clothing.
SmartyPants Clothing Co. offers clothes like T-shirts, shorts, jackets and a variety of two-piece sets. Most pieces are solid colors or feature a simple graphic design, meaning all items the store carries can be mixed and matched. Prices range from $10 for a shirt up to around $32 for a pair of shoes, capping at roughly $50 for items like winter coats.
“There’s always some fashionable element, whether it’s an embellishment or color or something like that for it to be a little unique,” Allen said.
Items are inspired by the age of her grandson, who is 2 years old, and the increasingly limited selection for boys that age.
“I also noticed clothes in that age range didn’t have that much of a selection, and they had more of the trucks and dinosaurs and all that kind of stuff,” Allen said.
Allen tests the durability of items by washing them herself, checking for color fading and loose strings and ensuring clothes do not need to be ironed or steamed.
“It’s not like when boys take off clothes you put them in the drawer,” Allen said. “They have to be washed every time they take them off.”
Although SmartyPants Clothing Co. launched in August 2021, growing a business solely online has been difficult, Allen said. Going to in-person shows has bolstered her success, with many of the customers expressing delight at finding her. Allen said she would not be opposed to opening a physical retail location, but that she is waiting to see how her progress continues.
“It’s just letting people know that we’re out here, know that we should be trust and we’re sending them a quality product,” Allen said. “So that’s been the hardest part – just getting an audience to know that we’re out here.”
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