Joanne Baxter and Mary Blackstock, both of Montclair, feel that kids need an active lifestyle and that they need clothes that let them explore the world around them. To that end, they created Lotus & Bug, selling clothes for “yoga, play, and every day.” They didn’t just stop there. They also infused into their designs some of the other values they hold dear: bravery and kindness towards others.
Their partnership began more than 20 years after their friendship. They met in the mid-90s while rollerblading in Manhattan. Although Joanne grew up in England and Mary here in the States, they had similar backgrounds. They lost touch over the years, both marrying, having children, and, remarkably, both moving to Montclair without the other one knowing. Years later, they bumped into one another in the park, only to discover their children would be attending the same preschool.
Joanne and Mary continued to have much in common – a love of art, fashion, and being active. Now, as moms, they also shared a desire to work for themselves and to avoid the corporate world that can be so out of synch with what a working mother needs. They wanted a new business model that could create something beautiful. Lotus & Bug was born.
Lotus & Bug, launched last November, features clothing in sizes newborn to 14 designed for today’s children. The dyed, painted, printed, and stamped pieces are done by their own hands in their NJ studios. The small-batch designs are created of non-harmful materials, keeping the focus on healthy kids. The items feature vibrant colors and interesting images including bugs, mandalas, lotus flowers, and sayings like “Peaceful Warrior” and “Be Kind.”
Joanne and Mary have enlisted the help of their children to model the clothing as well as test drive every piece. “We value their opinions because they are our customers,” Mary said. Both agreed that if they don’t both love something, they just don’t produce it. Each piece is free of zippers and fasteners, allowing the wearer to be comfortable and able to move freely, as children should.
The store does not currently have a retail space, but that’s not out of the question for the future. For now, the focus is on making quality items both parents and kids will love. Visit www.lotusandbug.com and make purchases through their Etsy shop. Check out the Stockists page to find shops and yoga studios that carry their line, including Apple Village in Upper Montclair.
They’ve also been touring the local spring markets. To see their clothes in person, visit Lotus & Bug this Saturday at Maplewoodstock, an arts and music festival in Maplewood. They will also take part in an upcoming trunk show at Powerflow Yoga in Clifton on July 15th, following a weeklong yoga camp for kids. You can also follow them on Facebook for news about upcoming sales and events.
“It’s a crazy schedule, but it’s worth it. It’s a deliberate choice,” Mary said of their hectic schedule. As working moms, working from home, Mary and Joanne recognize it’s always a balancing act. “Everybody wants the answer to [how to do] that, but nobody has it.” By working together and leaning on each other for lots of support, this pair has found their own little piece of balance. The support and positive response from the community within Montclair has certainly helped.
“It’s still lots of fun. We wouldn’t do it if it wasn’t!”