As a father of twin toddlers, I feel like I’m always buying my children clothes. My daughter is going through a purple phase, and my son favors patterns with cars and trucks and trains. They outgrow things, and rip holes through things, and ask to put on things that don’t match at all. Sometimes, it’s not until I’m at the park that I realize my son is wearing shorts and shoes that haven’t fit for a while and the ensemble my daughter has chosen makes her look like a colorblind clown.
I take solace in the fact that I am not alone.
So many of the children in upper-middle-class L.A. wear clothes that look worn out or randomly assembled. (What kind of fucking monster lets their kid mix Pixar and Dreamworks characters?) I see parents from the park at the nearby mall, going to Janie and Jack and The Children’s Place and H&M—haggard, because dressing their growing brood is hard work, and visiting one store doesn’t ever seem like enough. And also, buying everything at Janie and Jack can quickly deplete you of funds you might want to spend on craft cocktails and sushi and Neapolitan pizza. I get it: For every Splendid or Eleven Madison Park onesie (for real) we’ve had in our closet, there have been about five things from Carter’s or Gymboree.
Serial entrepreneur Rachel Blumenthal, who launched children’s-shopping service Rockets of Awesome today, understands this grind.
“My children are one and five,” she says. “I feel like at every stage, I’m experiencing something different. Whether you’re a working parent or a stay-at-home parent, you’re really busy. My kids are wearing pants that are three inches too short for them, and I don’t realize it until a month later.”
Rockets of Awesome is all about giving parents some time back while offering them a better way to find competitively priced, stylish, comfortable clothes for their children.
“The best businesses stem out of real-life problems,” says Blumenthal, who is founder and CEO of Rockets of Awesome, previously founded online baby registry Cricket’s Circle and is the wife of Warby Parker co-founder Neil Blumenthal. “I’ve always wanted to find the shortcut, the life hack.”
‘I can’t imagine a world where we have our work friends and our life friends or we turn something off at 5 p.m.’
Blumenthal sees a couple major issues with children’s shopping.
First: “Parents are asked to sacrifice style or value.”
And second: “Parents have to shop so frequently for their kids, because they’re outgrowing their clothes or wearing through them, that it really become a second job.”
So here’s the Rockets of Awesome solution: You sign up and create a style file, a profile for each of your kids. Fill in what they love and what they hate.
“We’re talking whether they like buttons or zippers or three-quarter sleeves, patterns and stripes, favorite sports teams, graphics or no graphics, anything you can think of that a kid may or may not like,” Blumenthal says.
Based on this information and preferences about what kinds of pieces (from dresses to sweatshirts) you especially need or don’t want, Rockets of Awesome will send an assortment of 12 items, apparel and accessories, for your child to try on at home four times a year. Blumenthal clearly understands that parents do a big shop every season.
There’s no membership or shipping fee. Pay for what you want and send the rest back. Once the return comes in, a personalized shop is unlocked and parents can buy more colors and sizes as well as new styles their kid might like. The clothes are created to be mixed and matched into proper outfits.
Blumenthal says the average piece costs about $20. The clothes are being designed by an in-house team led by Zia Taylor, who previously managed teams at Gap Kids, Oshkosh B’gosh, JCPenney and 77kids by American Eagle.
The design group has “leveraged their relationships and their expertise to also develop our supply chain, with some best-in-class manufacturing partners in Asia and the Dominican Republic,” Blumenthal says.
Sizes at Rockets of Awesome range from 2 to 14. And there’s a focus on comfort because—as I know firsthand—children will throw fits or just take off their clothes when they don’t feel right. Blumenthal’s company is doing things like avoiding labels and lining the waistbands of some boys’ pants with T-shirt material.
Finding quality and value at the same time is something Blumenthal’s struggled with while shopping for her own children, so she really wants her startup to solve that problem. As for finding more hours in her day, well, being a parent is a job where you never clock out and running your own business is similar.
I ask about work-life balance for her and her husband, and Blumenthal laughs.
“It’s work-life immersion,” she says. “I think when you’re an entrepreneur and you’re a founder, your work and your life, there really is no line. Fortunately, we’re so passionate about what we do, the crossover is natural and organic. I can’t imagine a world where we have our work friends and our life friends or we turn something off at 5 p.m.”
So at dinner, the Blumenthals often discuss their companies and how they might evolve.
“We never stop thinking about it,” Blumenthal says. “It’s so nice that we really value each other’s opinion. We’re always bouncing ideas off each other, getting advice. We’ve been able to leverage each other’s teams for knowledge and expertise. I feel like when we’re not talking about our work, it’s the logistics of our calendar or something our kids did.”
And she’s ready to reveal one more solution, something I can totally vouch for as a necessity for parenting in the 21st century.
“Our greatest life hack is we share a Google calendar,” she says. “So that’s changed the game for all our scheduling.”