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October 17, 2016

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NOBLE BABE: Kelly McKee-Zajfen

Little Minis founderPhotographed by Heather Kincaid Photography

It was a blazing hot day at The Grove in LA and we were working the kid's fashion fair, put on by the super chic FMLA with Kelly and Tria of Little Minis. The minute I laid my eyes on the adorable Little Minis dresses, I just had to have one (okay, all of them). After falling in love with every dress, I got to know Kelly and Tria even more and they are equally as lovely. I learned how they are committed to producing their line of clothing for your littles as sustainbly as possible (they use remnants materials and manufacture in LA) and from that point forward, we have continued to work together on organic exclusives for Noble Carriage.

I am still in awe of mamas who seem to do it all, not to mention mamas with twins! Kelly of Little Minis is seriously a super mom and I couldn't be more excited to share more about this mama maker today...

1. Tell us a little bit more about you. What is your story?

I was born in California but raised in Colorado. I received an incredible offer to model in Milan so it is was there I traveled around the globe and ended here in Los Angeles working as a runway model for LA Models. About 9 years ago is when I met my amazing husband and had two little cuties. Twins, a boy named George and (my heart warrior) Lily. When I am away from my little ones, I am the owner of a beautiful little girls romper line called Little Minis as well as the co-founder of the Alliance of Moms and a Heart Ambassador for Children’s Hospital.

Kelly McKee-Zajfen of Little Minis for Noble Carriage

2. Now tell us all about Little Minis--where was the idea for these adorable little rompers born? How did you decide on the name?

It was two mamas (Tria and I) who became fast friends. Both Lovers of fashion, with over 20 years of combined experience in the industry. We were inspired to design a line for littles that not only are eco friendly and fashionable, but also functional. So we created some lovely little girl rompers that we find fit all of the above!

Kelly McKee-Zajfen of Little Minis for Noble Carriage

3. How did life change for you after having Lily and Georgie? I would imagine that Lily is a huge inspiration behind the Little Minis collection? Can you tell us more about that?

Life certainly changed! It’s been such an incredible experience being a mama. Life has changed in simple ways and in big ways. I’m way more efficient with my time. I’m way more patient and appreciate of other moms more than ever. I sleep less, but love more.

Lily is definitely a huge inspiration! She is such a good combination of tomboy and girly girl. She loves a dress but she's climbing and hunting for bugs non stop! So as I find inspiration and as we think of design I think of her and how active and adventurous she is and add that into being a girly girl with a ruffle! George, I promise will get a boy’s romper soon :)

Kelly McKee-Zajfen of Little Minis for Noble Carriage

4. What is the importance of ethical and sustainable fashion to you? How has this outlook influenced Little Minis? Have there been any challenges or roadblocks in trying to manufacture in the USA sustainably. Any advice on how to overcome these challenges?

WE FEEL ENGAGING IN AND SUPPORTING OUR LOCAL BUSINESS COMMUNITY IS VITALLY IMPORTANT - SO DESIGN, DEVELOPMENT AND PRODUCTION ALL TAKE PLACE HERE IN California . WE HAVE PARTNERED WITH A RESPONSIBLE FACTORY THAT TAKES GOOD CARE OF THEIR PEOPLE. WE ARE ALWAYS STRIVING TO MAKE CHOICES THAT ALLOW US TO DO OUR SMALL PART FOR OUR COMMUNITY

Kelly McKee-Zajfen of Little Minis for Noble Carriage

5. How do you juggle your workload while being a badass mama to the twins? What does a typical day for you look like, if that does actually exist?

Oh man. That is so nice. I think all mamas are prety bad ass lol. This is tough!

My typical day is waking up with the babes and getting them ready for school. Once I drop them off I have about 6 hours to do all my stuff. Answering emails, shipping items, marketing, Social media stuff…it goes on. Then I pick up around 3 from school and I’m just mom. I try hard to be present in these few hours so we play, we have soccer and ballet some days and others we are just playing at home. And then 5 starts the downshift of the day. Dinner, bath, reading. I tend to eat dinner around 7:30 with my husband and the end of the day becomes our time. And then it begins all over again :)

6. Little Minis has recently blown up in popularity. What do you attribute your success to?

I think it’s a combination of things. Our pieces are adorably cute and functional! And I think my Little Minis customers appreciate small businesses more than ever. They relate to the people behind the brand, and they love the sustainability aspect of LM. We also make limited edition runs because of the fabrics we choose so things are special pieces. I look at them as forever pieces.

7. Daily uniform? Are there any local LA brands that should be on our radar?  

You would find me in Levis and a tee most days. But I love dresses. My favorite LA dress company is Christy Dawn. She makes the most amazing day to eve dresses. I am also swooning over DOEN. Love their brand and what they stand for and all their pieces are perfection.

8. Do you have a good support system in LA? Any advice for a new LA mom? It seems like it might be difficult to navigate motherhood in such a big city.

I think I have the BEST support system.

I have an amazing family and my friends are really an extension of my family. I think the best advice for a new LA mom would be getting involved with parent and me groups. Find the schools you may be interested and join there as well. We did music, swim, and a mommy and me and I met so many wonderful friends through that network.

Kelly McKee-Zajfen of Little Minis for Noble Carriage

9. Aside from running Little Minis, you are also the co-founder of Alliance of Mom’s and a Heart Ambassador at the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. Can you tell us more about these causes, why you are so passionate about them and why we should be too?

The Alliance of Moms is such an incredible community of people who come together to support young moms and dads who are in the foster care system in Los Angeles. It empowers these young teen parents with educational workshops and support to be the best parents they can be. I know being a mom is probably one of the toughest jobs in the world. And having a support system to help answer questions, encourage one another, or just bounce ideas off of is so incredibly important. These foster teens don’t necessarily have anyone that can help them navigate parenthood. Think about it! They are IN the foster care system and are pregnant and or parenting! It was a way to support our community around us, to offer love, and to support the next generation of parents and their children. It’s so easy to be passionate about this!

I became a heart ambassador when my daughter Lily received her pacemaker from Children’s Hospital. I was desperate to find people, doctors, a community, who understood what was going on with Lily and her heart. As a heart ambassador for CHLA I am able to connect to this amazing community of heart moms and dads, and see these little heart warriors. Once a month we deliver bags of goodies to the heart patients and their parents to show that people are thinking about them and routing for them. It’s incredibly important for me to let them know that I too walked the hallways and felt the same fears. That Lily is incredible and thriving and there is support for them. I love that anyone can be a heart ambassador!

10. What’s up next for Little Minis? What are you most excited about right now and what is your vision for the brand?

I am beyond excited for the incredible growth of Little Minis! I am making more and more for our customers next year which is so exciting to expand our brand. And I’m adding in some adorable new pieces!! I want to add boys next year for sure. I also have to keep making bigger sizes so Lily can fit in them all!! :)

We have an INCREDIBLE collaboration again with Christy Dawn. We make mama and babe matching dresses that are so sweet and the mama dress is a staple. These hit online October 22nd and we are having a few exclusive prints October 23rd at her store!


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