Downtown Design focuses on the graphic design of downtown Phoenix and brings awareness to the talented designers that we have living and working among us.
Creating a vision, culture, and brand for a start-up can be a challenge for any graphic designer – especially when it’s a start-up that produces high-quality gender-neutral kids fashions with unique color palettes and messages. But for Tiffe Fermaint, fashion designer, graphic designer and owner of downtown Phoenix-based baby and kids wear line, Baby Teith, she has achieved all of this while making it look effortless.
Baby Teith produces fashions “inspired by futuristic themes and the imagination of a child” and is comprised of Fermaint, Keith Walker and their daughter, Violet. It stands out in the local fashion landscape as one of the few baby and kids clothing lines created and produced right here in downtown Phoenix. Each garment touches their hands before being sent to local and global retail destinations, as well as Whole Foods stores throughout the Valley.
Their identity is futuristic and cool, yet the brand remains friendly, accessible, and client-centric. Their Instagram page has over 11,000 followers, and growing. They understand the power of social media and often showcase customers from around the world wearing their clothes. In May, Tiffe was voted one of the Top 10 Social Media Moms by azcentral.com. Both Tiffe and Keith’s drive and determination is clear through every success, all of it neatly bundled together creating a very solid identity and brand.
They just returned from their first time exhibiting at Playground, the only trade show dedicated to the children’s brand market, which is part of MAGIC, the world’s largest fashion marketplace that happens twice a year in Las Vegas. Through hard work and a very successful Kickstarter campaign, the two-year old company is already seeing the returns from the event.
We caught up with Tiffe and Keith to talk about Baby Teith and the inspiration behind their designs.
DPJ: Tiffe, you come from a background in fashion, and Keith, in music. Can you please elaborate on your pasts, and tell us how you arrived to this present moment?
Tiffe: I started to design and sell custom-clothing, online, when I was 15 years old (around 1999.) I taught myself web coding, Photoshop, and how to sew, all at once. When I started to receive orders from all over the country from other ravers, I knew there was a future in fashion e-commerce.
I continued to do anything and everything fashion related. I attended Mesa Community College for Fashion Merchandising and later Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM) in Downtown Los Angeles for Fashion Design. I’ve done everything from working on-set for TV, commercials and film, to being a visual stylist for H&M, while designing and creating collections for my women’s fashion line. After the birth of our daughter, I started designing kids clothing and it really took off.
Keith: I started out as the drummer with Irish indie darlings, Power of Dreams. At age 15, we signed a recording contract with Polydor records, and a publishing contract with CBS (now Sony) which took me all over the world and afforded me access to many aspects of the arts; video, photography, graphic design, band merchandise design, sales, and It also introduced me to the importance of marketing and branding.
While continuing to work in music since moving to Phoenix 15 years ago, I also worked in sales and customer service until I quit my job 18 months ago to join Baby Teith full-time.
DPJ: The play on words to create “Baby Teith” is great! Did you ever envision your life as a kids wear designer before Violet? What came first, the name or the clothing line idea?
Tiffe: Thank you! No, I don’t think being a kids wear designer ever crossed my mind. But once Violet was born it made total sense. When I was pregnant and we didn’t know our baby’s gender, we referred to her as Teith. Later, when the line began, the name was just perfect.
DPJ: Were you frustrated with the clothing choices you were finding while pregnant? How do you think you’ve filled a void?
Tiffe: We were definitely frustrated. New parenthood brings the fear of losing yourself. Lack of interesting clothing options for our little offspring was just another reminder of this. We do enjoy style and didn’t want her to miss out. So, I design things that I think are interesting and things I think I would enjoy wearing – just in miniature form.
Keith: I think the best response came from a veteran kids wear sales rep of 25 years who stopped by our booth at MAGIC to say, “Wow this is magnificent! I’ve never seen anything quite like Baby Teith before. It’s truly unique and when something fresh like this appears, it’s a breath of fresh air for the industry as a whole.” Needless to say this was a really wonderful compliment from someone who has spent a lifetime in kids fashion.
DPJ: To adults without kids, this industry is an unknown, but as soon as you step in, whether looking for a gift, or having your own child, you see a.) what a giant market it is b.) how lacking it is in diversity. Where does Baby Teith fit in? How are you branding yourself against larger lines or even smaller boutiques?
Tiffe: We think about what separates us from corporate labels and play up those aspects. The use of organic cottons in eye-popping prints; everything is made in Phoenix, not China or Bangladesh; and we are a small, nimble company. We do not design for everyone. We have a small niche. So we speak to our target audience through our branding.
DPJ: Your brand is like the arty, cool kid that everyone likes. How are you using graphic design (logo/identity) to develop that mysterious, gripping image?
Tiffe: I select fonts that read: modern, minimal, futuristic, industrial. I like to incorporate geometric and linear elements where possible. I also like to use NASA telescope images to give a touch of cosmic design.
DPJ: Branding is a word that’s often tossed out there in place of logo. Branding goes far beyond a logo. Please tell us what branding means to you.
Tiffe: Branding for us is everything from our futuristic logo and use of geometric fonts, to our cool color palette, product photos shot on concrete, editorial photos with a fashionable flair, thoughtful packaging, a slick web design, our social media content, and the photos and filters used on our Instagram. Branding also includes the way our voice and tone is used in captions and when we speak to customers through email. Branding to us is anything and everything that helps our customers think “ya, they totally GET me.”
DPJ: What are all of the elements that make up the Baby Teith package that you’ve needed to design?
Tiffe: We design all of our printed fabrics, website and graphics, social media graphics, stationery, line sheets, order form for wholesale, order form to be included in customer’s orders, lookbook, hang tags and product labels/stickers for hang tags, garment labels, Etsy header and graphics, gift cards, notes for customers when sending as a gift, and graphics for our newsletter.
DPJ: Your brand is cool, futuristic and 180-degrees away from princesses. How do you target your audience in such a saturated baby market?
Tiffe: Our most efficient way to reach our target market is on Instagram, where they all hang out. Instagram is the equivalent to a shop window for us. Within it lays a huge opportunity to grab their attention and invite them to learn more about our brand. They can quickly skim through photos to see product shots and photos of what inspires us. We love to repost photos sent to us by customers who distill what are brand is about. It helps our target audience to identify with us quickly and hopefully click onto our website.
To find out more: visit babyteith.com to shop, or find a store location. Instagram: @babyteith
All images courtesy of Baby Teith.