A passion for children’s wear, fifteen years experience at companies including Gapkids, and Ralph Lauren, plus, a yearning for a life/work balance all culminated in the launch of Pink Chicken. In less than ten years, the brand Stacey Fraser started with a selection of with colorful, bold, vintage-inspired children clothes has expanded to include tweens, women’s designs, and stores on Madison Avenue and Amagansett Square. Fraser and her growing team spend their days thinking about mothers and daughters and what they can do to make their lives a little cheerier, easier, more colorful. Her philosophy extends beyond clothes to the community, she and her daughters host the Pink Chicken Annual Bale Sale benefiting Cookies for Kids Cancer every summer and excess Pink Chicken inventory all goes to Jessica Seinfeld’s Baby Buggy. Isn’t it time the boys got in on all the fun? Look out for Blue Rooster New York in spring 2016!
When did your love affair with children’s clothing begin?
When my nephew was born. He was the first baby born from my sisters! I was working at Ralph Lauren at the time and Gap called. They were starting a new baby line called babyGap (yes that really dates me!) and looking for a boys designer. Inspired by the birth of my nephew I took the job and have loved the creativity and joy that comes from dressing little ones since.
Before launching Pink Chicken, you honed your skills in children’s divisions of leading companies for 15 years. What were some of the best lessons you learned?
So many lessons learned. Most of all I think I learned about building a brand and not just cute clothes. I also learned how to set a business up from labeling, sourcing, creating your own aesthetic, etc. I also thought one day when I have my own company I would love to have more of a balance, not work till midnight and weekends. At Pink Chicken we start our day at 10am and leave at 6pm. Being able to give our employees balance is huge and makes them happy about coming to work everyday.
You must be asked this a lot, how did you come up with the name Pink Chicken?
My husband gets credit here. When we were tossing around names for the company we wanted something that was quirky and close to home. When our daughter was little we used to call chicken, pink chicken in order for her to eat it. It became something she asked for: “Can we have pink chicken for dinner tonight?”
What was you original vision for the brand? Has evolved over the years?
I started out just doing and designing what I love. I was making dresses for my girls in the vintage textiles I had collected over the years and got a lot of great feedback from moms on the street and thought, I might be on to something here. Pink Chicken is about color, pattern- both vintage inspired and ethnic, and the mix of them…feeling effortless in your dressing. We started just doing sizes 2, 4, 6 and as my girls got older we added sizes and eventually a tween line. We found our tween customer was really just a bigger Pink Chicken customer so just this year we increased the entire girls line to size 12. Another evolution is the women’s collection! It’s a modern day mommy and me! Plus, our boys line Blue Rooster New York is coming in the spring!
Do you approach design differently for the different categories, such as baby vs. tween?
Yes and no. Always first is about pattern and color, so we put together our color palettes and design all of our prints first that we use across all size ranges, some better for baby and some better for tween. We now have a designer focusing just on baby because it’s a growing category for us so she gives it special care in designing what is just right for baby.
Your daughters are an inspiration for Pink Chicken. Do they ever get involved with designing?
Yes, they do! They are both in the tweens now but used to tell me exactly what they and their friends wanted to wear, and now they say mom “I think this, or that would be so great for kids or baby.” They have lived the company from the beginning so they know exactly what would work for the brand. They also love to help at the photo shoots, by doing hair or keeping our little models amused…and love ‘working’ in the stores.
When mothers and daughters come into your stores, do they tend to bond while shopping?
Yes, I think so, so cute to see. I love to be in one of our stores and see a little girl fall in love with a dress – it’s my most favorite thing. Moms typically feel the same way because our clothes are very comfortable and wearable and the kids will get a lot of great wear out of it. Our dresses can be worn for years, dresses now and tunics with leggings next year!
Do you find they like to buy matching looks?
A lot of moms and girls do! We sometimes have entire families buying Pink Chicken, and we love it! Grandmothers, moms and girlies!
Please tell us about your philanthropy platforms for Baby Buggy and Cookies for Kids Cancer.
We spend our days thinking about mothers and daughters, what makes them happy? How can we help them express their style? What can we do to make their lives a little cheerier, easier, more colorful? So, those same questions we think about when giving back.
Baby Buggy is an incredible organization started by Jessica Seinfeld. They started out by donating gently used gear to families in need and now they are a huge organization that supports families in so many ways, fatherhood programs, clothes and gear donation, diaper donating to local programs, etc. It’s been such an honor to be part of their organization. Pink Chicken donates excess inventory every season and also help by supporting their fundraising efforts and spreading the word about their good work.
Cookies for Kids Cancer is also so dear to me. A friend of mine’s close friend lost her son to pediatric cancer and started this incredible organization. The concept is so simple and I love that kids can get involved. Bake cookies, have a bake sale and donate the money for cancer research. We hold a big bake sale every year in Amagansett Square by our store. My kids and their friends bake like crazy, set up the stand and go around the community talking telling everyone about it. They feel like they are making a difference, too, and they are.
We also support Every Mother Counts, started by friend Christy Turlington. Another incredible organization that is dedicated to making pregnancy and childbirth safe for every mother. They are doing amazing work!