Tribeca Citizens | Made in Tribeca: Welcome Future Children | Wender Mind Kids

 Tribeca Citizens |  Made in Tribeca: Welcome Future Children

When the pandemic hit and so many of the city’s vintage and thrift clothing stores closed for good, Jessica Grindstaff and Kerry Sulski were heartbroken. They both had children the same age and loved scouring Clementine Consignment for finds, but more than that, they were committed to the ideas of sustainability and ethics when it came to their children’s clothing.

So last spring, as they sat on a bench in Washington Market Park complaining, they decided to do something about it. By September they had created Welcome Future Kids, similar to The RealReal for children’s clothing, but with a twist: not only are the items on the market for the second time, they are also carefully checked to ensure they come from manufacturers who use best practices. (It happens that they are also adorable and cool.)

“It’s really important to us that we keep clothes out of landfill and promote the circular economy,” said Jessica, whose local theater company – Phantom Limb – has been working on climate issues for 15 years. “The idea is to buy better and less.”

So far it’s a labor of love – they do everything themselves – which they hope can grow as a business. They delved deep into companies practicing sustainability and reviewed every brand on the site. (They refuse donations from brands that don’t follow ethical practices, even if it means giving up some beautiful items.) Together, they sort, clean, iron, and photograph the clothes. And they even pick up and deliver, often with Jessica circling the neighborhood on her bike or arranging pickups at schoolyard 234.

That’s part of the mission: keeping it local and manageable, almost circular. The idea of ​​a store could be further in the future but for now they are trying to pick up and deliver without leaving a carbon footprint using bikes or public transport. And starting in Tribeca made sense for many reasons.

“We thought our neighborhood was particularly ripe for this since people can afford to buy clothes from brands that are trying to do better,” said Kerry, a personal trainer who sees clients privately. “We liked the idea of ​​bringing new life to clothing made by companies that pay their workers well and care about waste reduction and clean production; it was a priority for both of us.”

You can see the full list of companies here, but some favorite founders (Jessica has two girls, 2 and 9, and Kerry has a son who’s 9 – they met at an HRP Mamas playgroup): Wee Monster , Joah Love, Mabo – and even the kids can tell the difference. “My son absolutely adores it,” said Kerry, who gets him Wee Monster French terry hoodies and crotchless sweats. “He said, ‘Mom, these feel great and they’re really cool.'”

The original concept was to sell the clothes on consignment, but when parents offered to donate their children’s clothes, they added a charity component. Now they give a portion of sales to a non-profit organization that rotates regularly; The first was the Sing Sing Family Collective, and the monthly donation enabled organizers to provide art supplies and snacks for children visiting an incarcerated parent. “Our goal is to partner with small organizations that can take the money and help families directly right away,” Kerry said.

(They also have a fundraiser for Ukraine going right now.)

They’ll continue to do everything themselves for the first year and then take a look at their progress, see how it’s working and create a plan from there. So far, they love that they’ve just created something from the ground up that supports their principles in so many ways — not just keeping clothes out of landfills, but tackling climate change, better business practices, and children’s health — everything in the neighborhood.

You can even envision a cultural shift where children’s clothing escapes the fast fashion cycle and resale becomes much more acceptable and active. By keeping prices low (their formula is to charge 35 percent of retail) and refining the aesthetic, sales are headed in the right direction. And while it can be overwhelming to keep on top of the logistics when things get lively, it reminds them they’re on to something.

“It’s about being super local and circular,” Jessica said. “We have so much, so much wealth here, and we love that we can also use this to help people who are worried about getting food on the table. After we cemented that part of the business, we suddenly felt like we knew why we were putting our time into it. I was surprised by the community we’ve already built.”