How Being a Mom Is One of Few Jobs That Can Prepare You For Being a Business Owner: With Andrea Romito of Nantucket Kids
By Yitzi Weiner and Casmin Wisner
“Running an online business means you’re ‘open’ 24 hours a day. And every mom knows that being a mom is a full-time job in itself.”
I had the pleasure of interviewing Andrea Romito, mother of three, and designer and owner of the classic children’s clothing line Nantucket Kids.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your backstory?
Being a Mom, I believe in dressing children like children. Growing up in New England, my mother always dressed me in classic smocked dresses, and as a baby, I had the most beautiful bonnets to go with every outfit. When my twin daughters were born, I knew I wanted to dress them in that same classic style; that style when you look back at photos twenty years later, you don’t ask yourself, “What was I thinking putting my child in that outfit?”
When my son was born two years later, I noticed that classic boy’s clothing pieces like a jon jon were hard to find here. It’s funny because the jon jon got it’s name from New England’s own JFK Jr. who as a young boy, was often spotted in this classic style romper. The name and style stuck, and that classic little romper is now what we refer to as the “jon jon”.
I thought to myself, I need to bring this style back to New England. We are beach people and lifelong New Englanders, and stylish yet practical clothes are a must here.
I launched Nantucket Kids online in June of 2017 with a limited Summer Capsule Collection featuring classic top and bloomer sets, hand embroidered jon jons and dresses, bonnets, shorts and sunsuits. I had no intention of going into retail boutiques-that was something I thought I might consider later down the road. Well the brand too off, and it took off fast. In less than two weeks of its launch, Nantucket Kids was already in four retail stores, and the wholesale inquiries came flooding in. Nantucket Kids can now be found in children’s boutiques from MA down to TX.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your company?
I was doing a trunk show on Cape Cod one weekend showcasing the summer collection at a children’s boutique. I was standing outside on the sidewalk when I spotted a little boy and girl wearing Nantucket Kids. That is the moment you wait for, that moment when you see real children wearing your brand. My heart was so full, and I knew I was on to something good. I will never forget that moment.
So what does your company do?
Nantucket Kids is a lifestyle brand. We give our customers the opportunity to dress their little ones in timeless, sophisticated pieces made from the highest quality fabrics that are dressy enough for church or family photos, yet durable and comfortable enough for everyday wear. Babies are messy, kids are messy. As a mom, I get that, which is why every piece we sell is machine washable. Parents shouldn’t have to sacrifice style for practicality.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I launched my startup,” and why?
- Your workday does not start at 9 and end at 5. I worked in the insurance industry for over 10 years prior to starting Nantucket Kids. At the end of the workday, my work was done. When you’re an entrepreneur, there’s no such thing as clocking out at 5:00 PM. Running an online business means you’re “open” 24 hours a day. And every mom knows that being a mom is a full-time job in itself. I often find myself answering emails, fulfilling orders, and more before my children and the sun are up, and accomplishing tasks at absurdly late hours of the evening. You do whatever it takes to make it work, because at the end of the day, whenever that may be, the only one accountable for getting things done is you.
- Take whatever amount of resources you think you need to start a business (time, money, etc.), and double it. Even triple it. Because that’s the reality. Even with a well thought-out business plan, always expect the unexpected. When I started designing the first summer collection for Nantucket Kids, I thought ok, I need to set aside the time and funds for the summer collection and then for the fall collection. Not true. That’s not how the fashion industry works. You need to prepare at least a year ahead because retailers are placing their wholesale orders up to a year in advance for their inventory for the following year. This was something I hadn’t given consideration to because when I first launched the business, I hadn’t planned on taking wholesale orders. Now that Nantucket Kids is available in stores, the amount of planning, time and funds needed is trifold.
- No amount of research or knowledge will prepare you for actually running a business. Reading books, business blogs and networking with other entrepreneurs, they’re all great things. In fact some of the greatest tips I have learned about running a business came from fellow entrepreneurs. But until you’re knee deep, in the thick of running your own business, you won’t realize how much you weren’t prepared for. Mistakes happen, and sometimes things will be out of your control. For instance, we once had a huge order of fabric that was misplaced by our shipping carrier. “Wait, you mean to tell me my shipment was put on the wrong flight and it now it won’t arrive for another two weeks? Oh great, because we needed that fabric like yesterday”. Things can, and will go wrong.
- You will become your greatest teacher. There’s so many things to consider when starting your own company, things in which you may have no experience in whatsoever. Among other things, I had zero experience in building or running a website, and when you’re launching an online brand, its kind of essential to have a great website. But when you’re starting your own business, you need to watch every penny. Since hiring a web designer was not in the budget, I knew I had to teach myself how to build and run a website. And I did. Its amazing that if you’re passionate enough about what you do, you can teach yourself almost anything.
- If you do something you love, it doesn’t feel like work. Although I have never worked this hard in my life, it doesn’t feel like work to me. Nothing I have ever done in my career has been more rewarding than what I do now. When you’re passionate enough about what you do, you will never regret how many hours you spent doing it.
Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why?
The owner of Starbucks so I can thank him for getting me through the day with the best coffee.
Also, Polly Flinders. Polly Flinders used to design the most gorgeous hand-smocked children’s clothing. I can’t tell you how many times my mother has said to me “you had the most beautiful Polly Flinders dresses growing up” or “I used to spend more on your dresses than I did my own”.
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!
Note to our readers: If you appreciated this interview, please click on one of the buttons on the top left to post to your Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest. If 2,000 people like you do this, there is a good chance this article may be featured on the homepage.
If you would like to see the entire “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me” Series in Huffpost, ThriveGlobal, and Buzzfeed, click HERE.