I remember when my son was younger and craving a cool, eclectic place to shop for him. It was always a struggle to find clothes and accessories for him that fit his personal style and made him stand out; I had to settle for bigger box retailers mixed with vintage and thrift store finds to fill that fashion individuality I craved for him. Cut to six years later and imagine my surprise while scrolling thru Instagram did I stumble upon a shop that fit his needs. With a mix of curated cool prints, eclectic graphic shirts, creatively patched denim jackets and classic Van’s, Little Nomad is rapidly becoming a kids shop that is changing the way kids dress. Everything about this store is unique; from the little kids drawing station, in house kids yoga classes, and an amazing selection of books on a massive bookshelf that is the owner’s pride and joy, this shop is a favorite of mine. A few weeks ago I had the chance to interview the owner of this shop and his passion for inspiring kids individuality is well….inspiring!
What was the inspo behind opening Little Nomad?
My inspiration basically was I have two little ones and I looked around the City and I didn’t really see that new modern kids shop that I’ve seen in different places and I felt there was a niche there. The couple of places that we do have in the area didn’t speak to me so it was driving an hour to go to a big box retailer. After doing a little research and having a few parent focus groups I felt like this would be a good idea to create.
Why Richmond? Why in this particular location?
So this location means a lot to me. I grew up in Richmond. I’ve done a lot of shopping in my youth on Broad Street. I used to shop on Grace Street, Cavalier Men’s Shop, I used to shop down at Up Against the Wall, so there’s a lot of past history for me in this area and I have family that has grown up in Jackson Ward. I wanted to be a part of the revitalization of bringing people back down to the Jackson Ward, Broad Street area to show there are great things that are going on in this area. And a lot of people are doing great things here, a lot of progression is going on here and I definitely wanted to be a part of that.
Tell me about your bookshelf?
The bookshelf! The bookshelf was a pretty big deal because when I had my first daughter I was really excited to start her collection and like any other parent you go into Barnes and Nobles excited about what you are going to see there and I was a little bit taken back. I really didn’t see anyone that looked like me, looked like my daughter and walking up to the bookshelves I really had to dig to find that. So we really wanted to incorporate inclusion within our book selection. I know a lot of other people had this problem so it was something we definitely wanted to focus on. Also again being in Jackson Ward it was something that we wanted the neighbors who walked down the street and they could see it from the window, “Oh look, there I am!” We’ve got books about Jackson Ward, books about Richmond and it was important for people of all walks of life to see themselves in our book selection because it means so much, especially at an early age to give those kids a nice well rounded book selection and show them that representation.
Do you design the clothing in the store, do you source other brands or both?
So we have a very nicely curated store from all around. I do some of the t-shirts and I kinda consider that my house brand; we do have Little Nomad t-shirts and we have some great local authors, great local merchants from the area in the store. We also carry national and international brands as well. So the idea for that was to raise the level of product that you see; we wanted to make it all work and look like a cohesive collection and not box me into one thing, have to opportunity to explore. Price point was also a big thing. We wanted to have an accessibility because we were finding going into other kids places it was not often thought about. Being able to look for clothing on a larger scale gave us the flexibility of pricing out clothing at a good price point.
What is the best selling item in your store?
The best selling item, I would have to say and I’m happy out it is the Little Nomad RVA ALL DAY tee. We get a lot of positive feedback from that; didn’t know it was going to be that popular but everybody wants to represent! We also have a cool sweatshirt from an awesome company called Pre-Fresh that says “Literally Chill” on it just a little monster chilling with a drink and everyone seems to be loving that one.
Are you looking at expanding the sizing of the clothing to include the pre-teen/teen group?
We have thought about that and right now we go to about a 9-10 on somethings and we are finding that person who is in that 10, 11, 12, 13 range is kinda having a hard time of figuring out where to shop and finding what they like and what they are into. I’m getting feedback now that many are going to big box retailers, going online and when they come in here and they really like it, so I feel there is an opportunity where we can start to bump up the sizes. As a small business we had to be very careful on what sizes we started out on and these opening months have given us a lot of feedback from customers on what they want; from both a parents and kids perspective.
What things are you guys doing to reach out to the community?
We are doing some kid yoga classes which is very cool! The first one we did was with Bear Soul Yoga and it was really well received. We are in an area that maybe kids aren’t introduced to yoga and if they do it might be a paying situation, so what we wanted to do was kind have them in here and have people come try it out that is out. We have autors coming in the store on a pretty constant basis and that’s really cool for them to read to the kids, talk to the parents and have a little Q&A, so that’s really fun. And doing other little thing like partnering up with the Children’s Museum of Richmond; that’s been really awesome that this kids have been able to have little activities down here to do and also in Jackson Ward we like to team up with what’s going on in the neighborhood; Abner Clay Park is going to be getting a new playground and the community has been doing really tedious work to get this in here, so we are going to go out and volunteer over there and try to promote that for them and get volunteers for them. We really want to have a relationship with Art 180; I have a vision of having some of the kids that may be interested in retail to come over here and teach all the different avenues with this type of business.
What is it about being a small business owner?
It’s really interesting I was trying to sell paper airplanes when I was a kid. I didn’t ask my parents for money, I tried some way some how to earn my money so I didn’t have to answer to anyone; its my money I get to buy what I want lol! So I remember trying to sell paper airplanes and people in my neighborhood were very nice and bought my paper airplanes for a nickle and I would go door to door cutting grass and washing cars because I had to buy that hacky sack and I wanted to get it for myself. I think that entrepreneurial spirit has always been inside of me; it never really went away and the different jobs I was in, the more it grew. I used the education I learned to put toward my business and I feel like everything I did was very specific and the fact that I wanted the outcome to be my own business. I always felt like I could do it and do it really well and saw that Richmond was making all of these moves and I wanted to be apart of that. Although it is really frightening, I don’t have any regrets about making the move because you just have to do it, you have to at least try it.
Now it’s time for some Rapid Fire Question!
First thing you did this morning?
I had to get those rowdy little kids out of the bed. They sunk into be with me and my wife last night and they refused to get up!
What is your favorite item in the store?
That’s a good question. I have to be honest with you I LOVE these cardigans! They are by a company by Yip Kids, an awesome company in Cali, very conscious about the environment, how things are done and are still to keep it at a good price point. I’m just chomping at the bit to for outside to get cool so you can actually wear it!
Favorite TV Show?
Right now…..I think I would have to say Blackish; they are killing it right now! Just to think this is on regular channel and I feel like what they are doing is very intelligent and spot on and really appreciated right now and it’s a show that will be talked about for sometime.
Three things you can’t live without?
Let’s get the family out of the way, can’t live without them! Ok, my turntables, playing soccer and my phone lol!
Who is your favorite designer?
My favorite designer……awesome question, cool question. Can it be a brand? I really like this brand, definitely along the lines of streetwear called the “Quiet Life” and I really like the things they do. There is another brand called “I Love Ugly” which is very classic, very minimal feel to it and if I had less kids I would be buying far more of it (lol) and I think they do a very good job of in house promotion, in house marketing; they don’t have thousands of marketing dollars behind them but they are so sleek and so cool I think they are going to be around for a while. And for an actual designer Riccardo Tisci; the way he is able to move into different worlds is just phenomenal.
Want more Little Nomad
Store Location: 104 West Broad Street
This post is in partnership with Shop Small by American Express as a Small Business Champion