How June & January kids clothing line went from Brooklyn to Georgetown
When Amy Richardson-Golia was pregnant with her son, Eli, in 2011, she was super bored, she says. She had to stay off her feet while recovering from a previous sports injury.
She took an old T-shirt, used the sewing skills she learned in 4-H as a kid and turned it into a baby hat.
She had been looking for baby clothing that wasn't overly cute. She just wanted something in a solid color. "I couldn't find anything that wasn't hideous," she says.
She sewed 50 more hats and took them to a baby show. They sold. Then she started an online store on Etsy and started selling 10 to 15 a day. She also started making blankets and burp cloths.
Today, what started as Little Hip Squeaks in a one-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn is now June & January and has relocated operations to an old farmhouse in Georgetown.
Richardson-Golia's company shipped out 200,000 units of baby, toddler and children's wear last year in more than 4,000 size, style and color combinations and is expected to beat that this year. June & January shows up on lists like Entrepreneur magazine's 360, which notes the top small businesses in the country, and it made the Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing companies at No. 472 in 2018 with 1,070 percent growth, according to that list.
June & January takes its name for the birth months of Richardson-Golia's son, Eli, and daughter, Juniper.
She changed the name to be more grown up and to take it to the next level.
Throughout June & January's story, Richardson-Golia, 34, always has taken big leaps, but with the help of the women who found her along the way.
The first big leap was to make it a full-time career.
"I had a legitimate good job and a newborn," she says.
Richardson-Golia double-majored at the University of Buffalo in arts and communications and was working in the production departments at Teen Vogue and Allure. She and her husband, Nathan, were living in Brooklyn, and this side gig was beginning to take over.
She couldn't keep up with the demand as more people learned about her from her Etsy account and her blog. She hired people through an ad on Craigslist to sew her stuff for $1 an item.
Eleven months after she made that first hat, she quit her job. She knew she could make more if she was sewing and designing full time and investing in this new company.
Plus, she wanted to spend more time at home with Eli.
"I was so delusional," she says. "There is no world where you start a business to spend more time with the family."
She also took a big leap and went from a one-bedroom apartment to a three-bedroom apartment to have room for the business.
She had tripled her rent and quit her job to make baby clothing. She remembers thinking, "We can make more if we have more stuff to sell."
Her big break came in May 2012, when Cool Mom Picks blog featured Little Hip Squeak's baby blanket.
She needed to find a real manufacturer, not just someone on Craigslist.
Then, 2013 became a really big year. She moved from Etsy to a new website. Richardson-Golia's Instagram account grew to 10,000 followers (it's now 254,000), and her stuff started being made by a manufacturer in Brooklyn.
She also noticed that she had serious fans of June & January. Women were buying everything she made. They were reselling June & January items, and there was a market for them because fans were trying to find items in the collection that were missing. While most cost between $10 and $25, some in the resale market go for $150 to $200 a piece.
"A lot of them think of this as a collection," Richardson-Golia says.
"I know which ones I own," says Lindsey Watts, who was a customer before becoming chief marketing officer.
That's really been the secret of this brand: the engaged customer. "I would rather have 5,000 really tied-in customers than 500,000," Richardson-Golia says.
People know their lifetime number of pieces owned. "We have customers that have a pretty good stash," Richardson-Golia says.
June & January made another leap in 2016 when it had outgrown the Brooklyn manufacturer. It needed an overseas manufacturer that could make 10,000 units of the same thing.
Richardson-Golia reconnected with Dani Weinkauf, who was one of the initial women who sewed her pieces for $1 an item after answering a Craigslist ad. Weinkauf was sewing for June & January to keep herself close to the craft while being the technical designer for other clothing lines. She had experience working with manufacturers in China. She became June & January's production director and set up production overseas.
Weinkauf says it's been great to work alongside Richardson-Golia as she grows the company.
"Amy has such a good eye," Weinkauf says. "She follows her gut on business and marketing."
Part of the magic of June & January is that it offers comfortable clothes that wear well. They are mostly gender-neutral solids or geographic patterns in different colors, and most tops will work with any bottom.
"We get so many comments from new dads that they can grab anything and it looks good on their child," Watts says.
In the meantime, Richardson-Golia moved out of New York to Utah, where the June & January mailing house would be located.
Then, last year, something magical happened. The company, which now has 16 employees, had a meeting in which it gathered all its employees from all over the country in one room and brainstormed. "We got so much work done," she says.
She had this thought: "Why am I in Utah?"
She couldn't think of the reason. Watts lived in the Austin area, and her husband's real estate business had an old house in Georgetown that they could rent and update with some June & January style.
Slowly, they've been hiring women to work in the new home office, which even has a day care room, and existing employees have moved here. Richardson-Golia will fully transition to living here full time after the school year ends.
"Austin's great," she says. "It's an easy choice."
They've embraced Central Texas by hosting family-friendly events at the Georgetown house as well as sponsoring a nursing moms area at Austin City Limits Music Festival. They will sponsor a similar experience Sunday at the ABC Kite Festival.
They've also donated clothes to schools and regularly donate their returns, as well as percentages of sales at certain times, to different organizations.
In addition to moving to a Georgetown headquarters officially, June & January also launched a line called Mama, for women, and is now selling shoes for kids, too. The line also expanded to include sizes 7/8 and 9/10. Kids who started with June & January as babies are starting to need those larger sizes. They also started doing photo shoots for their products with kids of all abilities.
Richardson-Golia is always thinking about the next big thing. "The work brain is 24/7," Watts says of Richardson-Golia.
"I'm fine with that," Richardson-Golia says.
The clothing line will be supplying the area for women who are breastfeeding at the ABC Kite Festival, an annual tradition where you can fly a kite and watch other kites fly. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Zilker Park. abckitefest.org