New moms turn their passion for fashion into a business

dminty@ledger-enquirer.comAugust 1, 2013 

Friendship, family and fashion come together at The Fuchsia Frog.

Friends Brittni Newsome and Michelle Clay own the online children's clothing boutique inspired by their passion for fashion and their kids -- Brittni's daughter Berklie, 14 months, and Michelle's son Casen, 18 months.

Brittni, who works at pHyxx hair salon, and work-from-home-mom Michelle were taking a walk with their children in April when Brittni warned Michelle that she had another big idea.

"I thought 'Oh God what do you want to do now'," Michelle remembers.

After Brittni explained her idea for a children's clothing boutique, Michelle was excited.

"I was like 'that's a great idea. We need to do that'," Michelle says.

Choosing an online venue over a storefront property helped the budding entrepreneurs keep costs low and risks minimal.

It was just a couple of weeks later that they introduced the world to The Fuchsia Frog through Facebook and an etsy account.

"My husband was out of town for a weekend and when he came back I said, 'Guess what? Michelle and I are business owners'," Brittni says.

Her husband Brent, a real estate agent with Shepherd Brokers, was surprised but supportive as was Michelle's husband Michael, a Columbus firefighter.

It's thanks to Brent and Michael, friends since childhood, that Brittni and Michelle met.

After their first introduction, Brittni, a Columbus State University graduate from Atlanta, and Michelle, an Auburn University graduate from Cincinnati, Ohio, became fast friends.

The friendship was sealed when Brittni and Michelle became pregnant at about the same time. Now, their kids play together as Brittni and Michelle work on growing The Fuchsia Frog.

Though they originally thought they'd sell clothes purchased from suppliers, they couldn't find clothes that matched their vision. Instead, they started designing outfits themselves.

When it was time to sew, they turned to a few local retired seamstresses to create clothing samples.

Brittni and Michelle were pleased with the completed pieces and the formula stuck.

Now, Brittni and Michelle design outfits and choose the fabrics and materials while the seamstresses sew the clothes.

Since each item is handmade to order, buyers can personalize their orders by requesting different colored fabrics or different appliqués.

"It makes everything unique. No one else has it," Brittni says.

Though the make-to-order process is more costly than mass producing outfits would be, Brittni and Michelle are able to keep their costs down by not having the overhead expenses that a traditional storefront would have.

Their clothes cost between $25 and $40.

"We really want moms to be able to get a nice outfit for their child for less than $40," Michelle says.

Designing the clothes themselves gives Michelle and Brittni a chance to create what they want their own kids to wear.

Before The Fuchsia Frog, Michelle felt there weren't enough casual but cute options for her young son.

"I just don't like characters on clothes, and it seemed like everything had a superhero on it," she says.

When Michelle asked clothing suppliers why there were more options for girls' clothes than boys' clothes, they told Michelle that boys' clothes didn't sell as well as girls' clothes.

Interestingly, Michelle and Brittni have found parents of boys eager to buy clothes on etsy. So far, 90 percent of their etsy orders have been for boys' clothes. However, orders received from customers who discovered The Fuchsia Frog on social media sites such as Facebook have been predominately for girls' clothes.

That doesn't surprise Brittni, who thinks a lot of available girls' clothes are too fancy or too babyish.

"There were a lot of Sunday school type outfits out there but we wanted nice clothes that were casual for our lifestyle," she says.

As fashion designers, they've discovered that their personal styles balance each other nicely. Michelle favors neutrals and Brittni loves bright colors.

This month, they're promoting their college game-day clothes and expect to have some of their outfits featured on ZuLily. Their fall/winter clothing line will feature matching pajamas for siblings, corduroy pants and outfits themed for autumn, Halloween and Christmas.

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