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Children's Apparel Line Commits to Giving Back

For Small Apparel, an online children’s clothing boutique based in Portland, OR, making a difference is almost as important as making a living. Owners Ryan and Amanda Topham say they plan to dedicate a quarter of their profits to charity, raising money for everything from animal rescues to ecology education.

“Anything we can do to help out is good,” Ryan says. “We wanted to infuse that into our company’s DNA from the get-go if we could. That’s the best way to do it.”

Small Apparel was born about 8 months ago, when the Tophams became frustrated with all the “grandparent-style clothing” their 3-year-old son had in his dresser – cutesy T-shirts with footballs, guitars or some other generic image on the front. “That’s not quite our style,” Ryan explains. So the Tophams created a line of unisex kids’ clothing featuring simple Helvetica-style typography and masked images. “It’s more modern and clever in an adult way, not really a kid way,” Ryan says. “That’s kind of our aesthetic.”

The Tophams initially worked with an on-demand online printer, but soon decided that model wasn't right for them. Instead, the couple decided to start sourcing their own apparel, seeking out a local printing partner and taking on order fulfillment themselves. In order to make the switch, they recently ran a successful Kickstarter campaign, raising a hair over $6,500 to relaunch Small Apparel, with the 25% charity givebacks baked into the business model.

The company is still reaching out to nonprofit partners and figuring out other logistics. So far, Small Apparel has partnered with Philadelphia-based animal rescue Cares4Pets, and Ecology in Classrooms and Outdoors, a Portland educational initiative. The Tophams also are building relationships with nonprofits that focus on literacy and LGBTQ youth issues, according to Ryan. He expects the clothing line’s first seasonal collection to launch in June. In the meantime, Small Apparel is taking preorders on its website.