Designer of the Week - Just Kidd'n

Name: Carol Lavinthal

Where do you live: Sammamish, Washington (greater Seattle/Bellevue area)

How old are you? 48

Do you have any children, if so what ages? Boy/Girl twins, Max and Wynne age 14

Current auctions: Just Kidd'n

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1. When did you get started sewing and creating? Who taught you?

In the first grade, a family friend gave me a shoebox filled with little bottles of sequins in every shape and color, plus pearls and other embellishments. My mom taught me to hand sew, and with a scrap bag of wool felt, I created fabulous ensembles for my trolls and Barbie dolls. By 5th grade, I was machine sewing and made my first very mod dress in bright yellow with psychedelic dots (yes, I still have that dress in a trunk!). I credit my mom and a wonderful neighbor for teaching me to sew, but further advanced my skills in high school sewing classes.

During high school I worked in the fabric department of Frederick and Nelson's department store and made a lot of the display models that were put on the store mannequins. I loved being surrounded by imported Boussac and Liberty of London cottons, fine silks, wools and linens. I learned so much! I earned an art degree in textile design at the University of Washington.

2. When did you start selling your designs on eBay? Do you sell anywhere else besides eBay, if so where? (example, web site, local boutique) What did you do before eBay?

My first clothing sale on eBay was a bit over 2 years ago. Prior to that, I sold my leftover fabrics from my reversible clothing business on eBay. A new digital camera allowed me to finally photograph and sell some of my own work.

I began a reversible clothing business almost 14 years ago and sell to children's boutiques, at better art fairs in the greater Seattle area, on eBay and online. The business is very much a cottage industry. I do all the designing and cutting, and I have 6 independent contractors who assemble the garments. Many of them have been with since almost the beginning and I am so grateful to have such talented people helping me. Prior to starting Just Kidd'n, I worked for MANY years in retail management and buying for 2 large department stores. Without this background and exposure to the wholesale end of the clothing business, I doubt Just Kidd'n would have survived this long. I do have a website, http://justkiddn.com/.

2a. Do you remember the first outfit you sold on eBay. Do you have a picture? What was it and what did it sell for?

My first clothing sale was a cute ensemble that included a reversible overall, a coordinating reversible chenille jacket and hat. It sold at with buy-it now for $140 within hours. I was hooked!

3. How did you decide upon your name?

My friend used it in her license plate and I always like it ;o)

4. Do you belong to any boutique group and if so which one? How did you get started in that group? What do you like most about your particular group?

I belong to ODOD (Original Designs by Original Designers). I was invited to join within the first month of my selling clothing on eBay, so I really didn't know what design groups were. I just knew that if I was going to be associated with other sellers, I wanted to make sure that their quality, workmanship and professionalism were visibly apparent in their listings. I feel lucky to have been invited and feel it was a great choice. I'm sure that everyone that joins a group does so for many of the same reasons I did. It is invaluable to have a large pool of knowledge about everything ranging from photography and html to sourcing and technique.

5. What is your favorite thing to create? (example: vintage style dresses, totes, overalls, etc) Why?

I really prefer variety, since my line of reversible clothing that is sold to retailers is quite basic, it's fun for me to venture out and try new styles, different fabrics, and new techniques on the items I sell on eBay. On occasion, items I test on eBay become part of the line I offer to retail stores.

6. What are your favorite types of fabrics or fabric designers?

Wow! I could talk forever about fabric! I tend to buy colorful prints in themes that are popular with children. The colors need to work into my palette, since I have t-shirt made up for me and dyed to my specifications. I buy lots of prints in themes loved by both boys and girls. Recently I have found that unisex prints are making a comeback since there is a new trend of expectant moms that now wait until birth to find out the sex of their baby. I sell to lots of stores that cater to skiers and fishermen, so I'm always looking for good lodge prints. Western prints are also hugely important to my business so I stock a large inventory of western themed prints.

When I first began Just Kidd'n almost 14 years ago, Hoffman and Alexander Henry were the two fabric suppliers that really made unusual and colorful kids prints. Hoffman really did some unique, really hip prints and sort of lead the way for other suppliers to follow. And at that time, printing fabric was just a side line for Alexander Henry. Their main business was distributing basic fabrics and notions to fabric stores. Over the years, the fabric industry has evolved, driven by the surge in quilting as a hobby. Most fabric suppliers create their lines around the needs of quilters. Also, fabric designers have moved about from company to company. New companies have been born, other merged. I truly enjoy working with textile designers when I attend fabric market, and am always happy to share my ideas. I am thrilled when new lines are released and I see items that I suggested that have ended up in print. Current favorite suppliers are Michael Miller, Moda, Timeless Treasures, Robert Kaufman and Free Spirit.

7. Where and when do you do most of your sewing? Are you neat about it or do you have fabric covering the floor!

When business took off for Just Kidd'n, it quickly overtook our home. We added on a 500 sq ft workroom about 10 years ago, and I have lots of shelving storage for fabric shipments and inventory of t-shirts and clothing. However, the space is quickly becoming too small. Every time I do a show, the room gets torn apart and I desperately need to reorganize. I'm not a neat freak, but I do like to be organized, and I hate it when I get so busy that the room seems out of control.

I sew whenever time permits. I work full days and sometimes nights on Just Kidd'n business, most of it spent cutting, tagging, packing, shipping, sampling, etc. It's truly a full-time job. My husband helps me a great deal with the business end as well, does all my bookkeeping and is basically the one I can count on anytime to help me out.

8. What other things do you enjoy besides sewing?

I love to garden, quilt, needlework, go thrift storing with my daughter, watch my son's sports games, cook for appreciative diners, be with family, and spend time with my husband.

Anything else you would like to add?

Design from your heart…be original.

Some past Just Kidd'n Designs

To view past Designers of the Week Click Here

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