Vegan Baby Clothes: Etsy Helped Me Find “Me” Again
Starting ItsyPunx, my radical vegan baby clothes shop on Etsy, gave me a creative outlet that connected my past as a badass vegan feminist with my new reality of motherhood.
The beginning was hard. No, hard doesn’t begin to cover it. For me, having a brand new baby meant post-partum anxiety and depression, mixed in with nursing/crying by the light of Netflix, and desperately wishing I could finally capture a smiling photo in the midst of my newborn trying out facial expressions, so I had something to keep me going.
During these endless nights, I found comfort online, reading about other parents’ struggles. Somehow, just knowing you’re not the only one who doesn’t shower anymore, who has spit-up (or worse) on your shirt and just watched yet another sunrise, is helpful. I found myself connecting with other parents in an intense way.
BUT, I was not ready to accept that my new reality meant a whole new me, meant a death of my former self.
It started with this huge pile of white and pastel yellow onesies. We didn’t learn the sex of our baby before she was born; our generous friends and family responded by inundating us with white and yellow onesies. Maybe those are your favorite colors, but the first thing my husband and I did was dye them all various shades of gray, which matched our sweet baby’s gray eyes. And then, I thought, how cool would it be to make a studvest for a baby?
She was 4 months old when I got some vegan patches and some studs, and I made my first baby punk jacket. A few months later, she wore it to her first show, Caspar Babypants, where I held her and danced in Caspar’s “balloon moshpit.”
Every day and every night, when I felt stuck nursing, I would grab a needle and embroidery floss and make her baby clothes awesome. “Ninja–witch” was the term my husband made up for the hand-dyed grey aesthetic, though soon I was finding fun, colorful, stripey baby clothes at thrift shops and upcycling them as well.
My baby grew out of her clothes, as babies do, and I realized I’d accumulated quite a collection. I thought maybe other parents would be just as stoked to dress their kids in unique, vegan baby clothes, so I started an Etsy shop. I wrote to some of my favorite patch-makers on Etsy, sent them pictures of my baby wearing their feminist, queer, environmental and vegan patches, and asked if they were all right with me selling my upcycled vegan baby clothes on Etsy. Everyone said yes (and “awwwww!!!”)
I named my shop ItsyPunx: Itsy like Etsy (and like my little baby, “Itsy Bitsy Tzivia Fritzi”); Punx like, hey, remember I used to be a badass, activist, vegan punk rocker before all this post-partum depression snuck in?
It wasn’t just the shop or the sewing that did it (I was also connecting with friends and going to therapy), but I found myself feeling better, being a better mom, friend, and partner, now that I had a creative outlet. I saw the irony that this creative outlet was still baby-centric, but that’s what was so awesome about it: ItsyPunx was a bridge between my creative DIY past and my new persona as a full-time mama. It helped me figure out that I didn’t need to throw away anything about who I used to be, about what I already loved about myself, but I did need to integrate my past with my new life. My Etsy shop also became one of the many random gigs I do in order to afford to be a mostly stay-at-home parent during these precious early years.
Because I do hand-stitching on each item and they’re all one-of-a-kind, there’s really no way for ItsyPunx to get huge. So each sale is exciting, and I love seeing where my clothes are going! Quite a few parents have sent me photos of their babies in my clothes. I think about how most of those families are going through the same huge adjustment, holding on to who they are and what’s important to them, in the midst of such an epic life change.
One of my favorite customers was a mom waiting to adopt a baby. She bought a few items before the adoption was even for-sure. When everything was finalized, she let me know and came back for more. My own mothering emotions were still so intense (will they ever not be?) and I was so, so happy for her. I threw in an “Adopt and Rescue” onesie with her order, and felt this rare at-peace feeling, like all of us vegan parents, were truly connected in the struggle, in a beautiful way.
It’s been a couple years now, and there are way more vegan baby clothes on Etsy! This, combined with the rise of Raise Vegan, tells me the movement is strong, tells me I am not alone, tells me we can stay true to our values, even as parenthood comes along and rocks our world.
Don’t forget to subscribe to Raise Vegan magazine to read more of Darcy’s work.
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