Hey, I’m Marianna, founder of Jackalo. I’m a maker, a mother, an ideas person, and a professional problem-solver. I’m that friend who knits sweaters, makes kombucha, and, in my career, ponders solutions to global public health challenges. Just over a year ago, we packed up our belongings and moved from Philadelphia to the Netherlands, so that my husband could start a new job helping to grow the solar business of a Dutch company. This change gave us all the opportunity to explore more and, for me, the opportunity to make a big change with my career and to finally start the company we had been planning.
Like many parents, I’ve been increasingly frustrated by the quality of children’s clothing. I get that some parents have kids who never get dirty, who love to sit and play quietly: those kids with the perfect Peter Pan collar and knee-high socks, who sit patiently and quietly at the dinner table at a fancy restaurant with their parents. I do not have that kid. My son is the one running wild at the playground, climbing every tree, and plotting backyard camping adventures. My husband and I are the parents with a “bag o’ tricks” to get through a dinner out-—lots to draw, quiet games to play, and the “divide and conquer” strategy, where one of us goes exploring with the kiddo until the food arrives (gifting the other parent with a rare peaceful moment to sip some wine, alone with her thoughts.)
So, as the mom of an active kid, I’m more than familiar with the destruction a kid can inflict on their clothes. Our boy routinely rips his pants and wipes peanut butter on them. He can’t stand stiff or structured clothes that hold him back. I’ve looked everywhere for his new favorite pants, but found that nothing fits the bill—cheap or spendy. Sure, it’s easy to find sweatpants, but those rarely last long. And most troubling, how do I know that the clothes weren’t produced by children, or in a environment-destroying factory? The fashion industry is notoriously dirty and cloaked in mystery.
After years of being annoyed at the developing holes, getting frustrated at the mounting pile of patches to sew, and feeling defeated ahead of “The Great Annual Chop-off” (where his ripped up winter pants become a fresh crop of summer shorts) I decided who better to find a solution to this problem than a parent who likes to make things and (ahem) solve problems?
We now have two kids, but the other one is too small to do much damage other than spit-up and sweet potato stains. Because the older one was so hard on his clothes, we are short on hand-me-downs for his little brother. A small one in need of pants is a great motivator for me to start fresh and do better this time around—for both of my boys. I don’t have formal experience in fashion, but frankly, most of the folks making clothes for children don’t have formal experience in children.
So with some study and support from the right people (my fashion industry insider peeps) I am assembling a team to make better kids’ pants, and to do it mindfully. I hope you’ll follow along in our process and enjoy our updates. And as a problem solver, I always want to know your pain-points with your kids’ clothing. Whether it be by email or Instagram or blog comments, I want to hear from you, so join our conversation and help us tailor Jackalo to all families’ needs.