Tag Archives: gender neutral

Boutique Focus: The Little Bear Cub Company

We caught up with the super-talented Charlie from The Little Bear Cub Co who told us about the importance of supporting small businesses and letting kids be kids, rather than gender stereotypes. 

SM: How did the Little Bear Cub Co come about? 

Charlie: The Little BearCub Co. was born from restlessness. I had been working in the fashion industry for almost 10 years and had always wanted my own business, but I got to a point where I felt more than ready to dive in the deep end, so I quit my job and a week later The Little BearCub Co. journey began!

SM:  We’re besotted with Bunny, Bearcub and Foxcub – how tricky was it to create truly gender-neutral characters? 

Charlie: I wouldn’t say it was tricky, as such. I’m a very attentive person and notice small things, and this combined with my knowledge in fashion and textiles made the journey much easier. I was picking up passing comments and feedback from customers, friends and family about the lack of gender-neutral options for children on the high street and wanted to see where I could go with it. I think speaking to the people that do or may use your product is so important, they guided me to the choices I made and avoiding age-old clichés also helped, plus use of colour, which I think is so vital to creating gender-neutral designs.

SM: What other considerations go into your designs?

Charlie: Everything I design is considered, right down to the thread. Being a small business, you really have a huge amount of competition to deal with, so I make sure what I put out there has been well thought out, beautifully crafted and considered for my market. The most important things I consider are colour, fabric, end use, design and our slow fashion ethic.

SM:  Where are your products manufactured?

Charlie: All of our products are currently manufactured in the Kent countryside, which goes hand in hand with our slow fashion ethos. I think it’s so important to keep production within the UK, it enables me to keep an eye on everything but also helps revive our dying fashion industry by getting local artisans, within the community, involved with what we do.

SM: We know how important it is to shop small, but what does doing this mean for you and your business?

Charlie: Anyone that shops small is fueling a dream, a passion and a talent! As with any small business, there is huge competition from mass manufacturers producing cheap items, designs being taken without permission and the list goes on but when you purchase something from a small business your showing that you care, you become part of a wonderful community and I think that’s the magical thing about shopping small. You get to speak directly with the person or team that created that product and I think in this day and age, it’s incredibly important to create those connections, to get to know your local and social communities because that’s how we survive, as small businesses, and that’s how we can make a real difference.

SM:  Your Instagram feed is a great ‘shop window’. Did you get advice on making it so engaging?

Charlie: To be honest, I haven’t. It’s been a huge learning curve and still is, I think with social media, there is no magic strategy. One thing that works for one person may not work for you, so you just have to go with the flow a bit and constantly challenge yourself to be better. I look to other small businesses and bloggers for inspiration and how I can improve our imagery and creativity in a way that engages the online community and our customers.

SM:  What’s are your 2018 goals for the business? 

Charlie: 2018 is going to be a huge year for us! We’ve got a lot lined up and we’re definitely going bigger and better this year but the first big goal of the year is to launch our Spring/Summer collection which will be a larger collection than our current one and is heading in a slightly different direction but one that I’m really excited about.

SM:  And what’s on your mood board right now? 

Charlie: Lots of Spring/Summer imagery, playful colours, bold prints and over-sized silhouettes.

SM: Where can we shop for Little Bear Cub Co products?

Charlie: You can shop our collection both on the website and our Etsy store!

Saying ‘B*llocks!’ to Gender defining

Thought Adele rocked for letting her son Angelo wear a Frozen dress to Disneyland?  Kids will be kids, especially at an early age – and little boys often tell us that princess dresses are shiny, twirly and don’t scratch their legs …

Anyway – being pro-gender neutral is on the up, as the below survey tells us:

Three in five young parents back retailers removing all gender labels from clothes, toys and other products.

  • 41 per cent of young mums now say they parent gender neutrally compared to just 25 per cent of older mothers
  • Adele’s actions confirm rise of ‘PrincHEss’ trend, with a third of young mums encouraging children to wear dressing up outfits traditionally for opposite sex
  • Toys, books and school sports are items most parents want to go gender neutral, but 27% want gender neutral school uniforms and 15% even support gender neutral shoes
  • Children first become aware of gender aged just 23 months
  • Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt seen as most positive gender neutral parents, while Katie Price is the least supportive.

Mums are forcing firms to change the way they market products by supporting ‘gender neutral parenting’, a new study by video parenting site ChannelMum.com reveals.

Fifty-five per cent of all parents – and 60 per cent of young mums aged 30 or under – back retailers removing all gender labelling on items including clothes, books, kids furniture and toys.

Top stores including Hamleys and Marks & Spencer have already stopped labelling toys as ‘boys’ or ‘girls’, but parents want to see shops go much further.

The new survey of 2,020 mothers revealed 41 per cent of young mums now claim to parent gender neutrally, compared to 25 per cent of older mums. And over half of all parents (51%) say the gender neutral movement – which sees parents avoid male and female stereotypes in clothing, schooling and behaviour – is growing fast in the UK.

The most popular item families want to see go gender neutral is toys, with 56 per cent insisting children shouldn’t be restricted in playing with them because of their sex.  Over half (52%) want children’s books to be gender neutral while 50 per cent believe schools should also follow the trend by offering every type of sport to both girls and boys.

Almost a third (28%) of all parents say they now actively ban certain phrases such as don’t cry like a girl’ or ‘man up’. Two in five (40%) also ensure their tot plays with toys designed for the opposite sex.

Tellingly, parents felt the most damaging message to children about their gender is ‘society expecting boys to be tough and girls to be weak’, which was seen as a major problem by 51 per cent of parents quizzed. A quarter strongly disliked clothing with slogans like ‘trouble’ for boys and ‘spoilt princess’ for girls, while 45 per cent felt employers were not doing enough to break down gender stereotypes on certain jobs.

Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt were voted the best example of parents practising gender neutral parenting, whereas Katie Price was the worst for posting images of her young daughter in heavy make-up and hair styling.

ChannelMum.com founder Siobhan Freegard said: “For society to become truly equal, we all have to be treated equally, and the new generation of young parents may be the ones who make that breakthrough. There is a real and very relevant change going on, not only for girls to have all the opportunities men have traditionally had – but also for boys to express and embrace their softer side. 

“The effects are already influencing, retailers, schools and society at large, and should hopefully allow the next generation to be who they really are, not who they feel they’re expected to be.  

Editor’s tip: grab a copy of David Walliams’ ‘The Boy in a Dress’ upfront of World Book Day…