A friend of mine makes coffee sweaters. What, pray tell, are coffee sweaters? Well, they’re little knitted things that you wrap around to-go coffee cups so you don’t burn your hands. It’s a simple idea, and she makes a decent amount selling them. In many ways, it’s the Internet at its finest – providing a platform for unique designers and niche manufacturers to get their wares out there.
All of this got me thinking: nowadays we have all types of sites that act as aggregators for small, handmade manufacturers; wouldn’t it be cool if a site existed for, say, children’s clothes? Because as much as we like buying stuff at Wal-mart and Target, we also like supporting small mom-and-pop designers, knowing that our purchase goes directly into their pocketbook. Well, there is such a site. It’s called MiniJoops, it was created by a mom looking to buy clothes for her kids, and it’s our featured start-up today.
MiniJoops is exactly what you’d want it to be: an e-commerce site where you can shop for unique, handmade children’s clothes from various mom-and-pop (though we’d imagine it’s mostly “mom”) manufacturers. The site is efficiently organized with a navigation bar that includes Catalog, clothes for Boys, Girls, Baby, plus Toys, Accessories, Brands, Blogs, and a Mini Cafe, which is user forum.
The usability factor increases exponentially once you actually click on, say, the Catalog page. It’s clean and simple: a table of thumbnails showing all products without the clutter of text or pricing. On this page you can sort by Tops, Bottoms, Dresses, Onesies (which reminds me, at what age is it not cool to wear onesies? Or what about onsies for adults? That could be the next big thing….), Sweaters, Jumpsuits, and Playwear.
Hover over a product – in this case, this awesome “You’ve Cat to Be Kitten Me Right Meow” shirt and you see the price; click on it and you see a description, the price, and the manufacturer. Simply select the size and add it to your Cart or add it to your Wishlist. Easy. This particular product was designed and screen printed by Raygun, cut and sewn by American Apparel in Los Angeles, and Made in the USA. We bring this up because this is perhaps the coolest thing about MiniJoops: the ability for savvy shoppers to direct their money towards small, locally-made products. (It also doesn’t hurt that the products themselves are super-cool.)
So take the Brands page for example. By hovering over it on the home page, you can select from various manufacturers: Petibo, Theif and Bandit, Wovenplay, etc. (For a second you may mistakenly think you’re reading up on some hip new San Francisco restaurants.) I clicked on Wovenplay and learned that “At Wovenplay, each piece is created with love and imagination, and is hand-finished in our magical studio located in Greenpoint, Brooklyn!” Cool stuff.
So who is MiniJoops for? The short answer: anyone who wants to buy children’s clothes or accessories. Like a classic e-commerce site, it makes the act of buying clothes quick, easy, and painless – no need to wait in line at the mall, no parking lot rage, etc. But better yet, by showcasing amazing, local, mom-and-pop designers it allows savvy users to spend their money knowing it’s going to, well, amazing, local, mom-and-pop designers.
Which brings me to the classic adage about children: not everyone has children, but if you do, they need clothes and if you don’t have children, you nonetheless know people who do, and their children at some point will need clothes.* So our advice: buy cool stuff and feel good about it with MiniJoops.
* We admit it’s pretty clumsy as far as adages go.