My blog posts have been pretty sparse lately, mostly due to the fact that my waking hours are spent chasing after my 9-month-old Bam Bam of a son. Still, when I meet or hear about someone interesting in the community, I try to make every effort to feature them on my little corner of the Internet. Truth be told, I first learned about Ana Apple at the GOOD: street food + design market several years ago. Back then, I didn’t have a kid and, I’m ashamed to admit, the cute clothes for kiddos didn’t really register on my radar. Then, along comes my boy and I’m all about Ana Apple’s line of “tricked-out threads” for wee ones.
With a cheery brick-and-mortar store located in Old Sacramento and a bustling online shop, Ana Apple delivers quirky, handmade children’s clothes created with a conscience. Not only is the line fashioned from felt made from recycled plastic bottles and USA-grown cotton, but a portion of the sales are donated to youth-focused nonprofits in the Sacramento region. Add to that the fact that owner and operator Ana Manzano is just about as sweet as they come and how can you resist purchasing one of the line’s simple yet fun designs for your little one? (Jude already owns a Cali Love baseball tee, and I currently have my eyes set on the Bone Daddy hoodie.)
Also located at the Old Sacramento space is The Greenhouse, a creative education center Ana created for kids—with a few adult-centric events thrown in now and again. Like the retail shop, a portion of each workshop’s tuition is donated to local youth-focused nonprofits. No-peek painting, clothespin creatures, DIY flags, and parent-child DIY teepees are just a few of the upcoming workshops kids/parents can choose from.
Ok, enough chatter, here’s a look at the shop and an interview with the lovely Ana Manzano. Enjoy!
Bonus for readers: Get 10% off your online order of products or Greehouse classes by using code BOWSANDSPARROWS. If you stop in the store, just mention this post to take advantage of the discount. The code is good throughout the month of July. Thank you so much, Ana!
For a list of upcoming workshops or to do a little online shopping, visit Ana Apple and The Greenhouse online. You can also find them on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram. Visit the brick-and-mortar store at 114 K Street, Sacramento, CA. Hours are Sun-Thurs 10a-6p, and Fri & Sat 10a-8p.
How did Ana Apple come to be?
I was working as a freelance editorial photographer and having trouble finding work when a lot of staff positions were eliminated and staffers moved to the top of the freelance pool. To pull myself out of a doom & gloom period, I sought out a new creative outlet and rediscovered sewing. At the same time I had nieces being born and wanted to gift them with things other aunties couldn’t give their nieces, and it pretty much snowballed from there. I didn’t quite know what I wanted the business to become, only that I was feeling insanely inspired again and wanted to develop a brand that celebrated whimsy and inspired giving.
Curious. Genuine. Casual. Hilarious. Independent.
What is your most popular design?
We’re definitely known for Cali Love, that’s for sure! It’s awesome to see how far outside of California many of the bodysuits, tees, bibs and hoodies have gone—South Korea, Scotland, Greece, I love it!
I can mold it into whatever I want it to be. In my latest weekly email to our VIP list, I announced a new giving program in which 10% of all Ana Apple products sold in our retail store would also be contributed to the same youth organization we’ll be working with each quarter through The Greenhouse. I might not budget the time to volunteer as much as I once did, but what I can do is use Ana Apple and The Greenhouse as vehicles to do a bit of good in our community.
You’re two months into having a brick & mortar shop, how’s it going so far?
I love being in Old Sacramento. We get such a wide range of foot traffic, from tourist families to people traveling on business to locals enjoying a day of walking around our historic district. Our store concept of “California handmade for kids of all ages” has been very well-received and I can’t wait to expand the collection of artists we’re able to feature. People also love that our line is made about 50 feet from where it’s sold, in our production studio we call “The Apple Core.” Looking forward to a busy summer! Last year you won the Calling All Dreamers competition, which included a free year of rent in Old Sacramento and a sizable chunk of change. Can you tell me a little about the competition and how it felt to be selected as the grand prize winner?
I’m inherently a person who dreams big; reeling me in is another story. The competition itself was such a valuable experience in taking my giant vision for this hybrid store & studio (and production HQ!) and refining it into a clear pitch that the panel could understand and ultimately see as a tangible success, especially once the prize package was exhausted.Being selected as the winner was a huge vote of confidence that what I’d been envisioning for a few years had true power. The period between being named the 2014 winner and opening recently has most definitely stretched me on both the business and personal end. A series of delays with securing permits, launching crowd-funding campaigns, hiring & training additional team members, increasing inventory, making a giant decision to forfeit my free year and move forward with a different location– it all played a part in collectively helping me “grow up” as an entrepreneur. I candidly joke that the past year, Ana Apple has been going through puberty, complete with all the growing pains, but I know it’s just an awkward phase we need to endure to evolve into something really beautiful. Tell me a little about The Greenhouse?
It’s been the idea I haven’t been able to shut up about for a few years now, though the name only came to me a few months ago, right before the Ana Apple doors opened. I’ve wanted to use the positive social messaging of the Ana Apple apparel brand as a platform to inspire kids of all ages to explore new mediums, to build confidence through creative expression, to not focus on things being perfect and just have some messy fun. My goal with building the curriculum is to offer topics that you wouldn’t normally find at your standard children’s art studio, such as balloon twisting and upcycling, and plan fun special events like Movie & Craft Night, in which kids complete a DIY project that helps them interact with the film on the big screen.Workshops serve kids ages 4-18, with special parent-child programming for kiddos under the age of 4 (like yoga or parent-child painting). We’ll soon be collaborating with an incredibly talented roster of local artists to round out the course offerings. There’s also the 1-2x monthly event for the 21+ crowd called Handmade Happy Hour, when we’ll get our big kid craft on and enjoy tasty refreshments!
I saw on your FB page that 10% of workshop tuition funds go to local youth-focused groups. That’s awesome!
YES! It’s a big part of the vision for the studio and program. We’re starting with 916 Ink, an awesome children’s literacy organization, and will likely work with Mustard Seed School (a division of Loaves & Fishes) next. With 916 Ink, we are also planning to collaborate on at least one workshop series in which kids will write a script, develop characters, then bring those characters and the settings to life with puppets that will result in a puppet show performance!
I saw that you were closed the other day so staff could enjoy some family time. Do you find it’s hard to balance work and personal time?
It’s not hard when I have accountability to do so. Recently, I posted on my personal Facebook page that this year so far, with the craziness of opening the store and launching this new program and everything in between, my self-care has taken a serious backseat– I asked for occasional check-ins, invited friends to join me for yoga or a doggie date, and so far it’s been wonderful. I’m a giant nerd and started a self-care calendar in which I list one non-business thing I did for myself each day.
My boyfriend Beau is an Executive Chef of a restaurant that is going through a huge relaunch, so there are definitely periods when our relationship exists through silly text messages and Post-It love notes on the bathroom mirror; but we are actually stronger for it, because we’re both investing in pursuing passions that we believe in and want the other to succeed.
Name three things you can’t live without.
1. Pepper, my big American Bulldog. She’ll be 5 in November and is THE sweetest, snuggliest love bug.
2. My specific collection of pens of various makes and models. When I’m in brainstormey creative flow mode, I bust out the colored Sharpies on giant poster paper. For general Lady Boss everyday use, I like those black gel Pilot clickers or a classic smooth Bic.
3. SPAM. I’ve tried.
What stores do you shop at?
I love picking up goodies at pop-up events in Sacramento or the Bay Area that feature fellow handmade designers. I also make it a point to stop into random roadside thrift stores for the chance at scoring something deliciously random. And, if we’re being honest, I feel like all is right in my world after a good Target fix.