Meet the Maker Feat. The Bee & The Fox
The Bee & The Fox is bringing a whole new take to the quintessential t-shirt with a focus on the simple things. With elegantly quirky apparel for babies, kids, and women, the brand has caught the attention of countless fashionistas. We sat down with the founder, Ashley, to learn all about the killer brand.
What inspired you to launch your brand?
I launched The Bee & The Fox after I had my first two sons and realized I didn't love any of the t-shirt designs on the market for boys. My best friend, Janet, and I were working very closely on other creative projects, and then we started working on what became our first four designs. It was absolutely seamless and organic. We didn't set out to start a brand; we just wanted to make shirts we liked.
What was the most challenging part of launching your business?
It all came about very organically and without much forethought. We didn't have an official launch. Because of this, our challenges were all associated with navigating things that were totally new to us. For example, navigating the post office. My husband and I used to handwrite all the addresses on our packages, go to the post office, wait in line, and scan each package one at a time. We knew nothing.
How and when did you decide to expand into housewares?
The addition of housewares was grown out of love for the letterpress process. My best friend, Janet, has always been passionate about printmaking. I can remember going to a local flea at a community college and, while everyone else was scouring for treasures, we were in the print lab and she was schooling me about how cool it was that they had a letterpress machine. I suppose that planted the seed. We added other things, like banners and mugs, at some point down the line.
Tell us about your commitment to equal pay and work with American Association of University Women.
The American Association of University Women (AAUW) is an organization we're very passionate about. Melinda Gates, who has degrees in computer science and economics as well as business administration and worked at Microsoft for nearly a decade says, "Even when the world says they invest in data, they don't invest in data around women. And if we don't invest in collecting statistics about women, we don't know how and where to act." Words are just words without action and as a small business that supports the women's movement, we feel it's necessary to put our money where our mouth is. And it's a privilege, really, to be able to do so. Fighting to lessen the pay gap is just one of many fantastic things the AAUW is doing; they also help women enter into STEM fields and negotiate for better salaries as well as offer advice on navigating sexual discrimination in the workplace (though it's not limited to advice; they offer help in finding legal representation, financial backing in major cases, as well as education regarding our rights). The research they conduct serves as a catalyst for action. We're proud to support their efforts.
What’s your favorite part about POOL?
Having been in this business for a few years now we've met and networked with a lot of different people and POOLTRADESHOW was something we heard a lot of people suggesting we look into. To this day, it is the only trade show we've taken part in.
Personally speaking, my favorite part about POOL is attending it with my husband, sans kids. We have very busy lives (he has his own full time job and I still work as a registered nurse as well as a photographer... plus we have three young boys) so the time we get one on one with each other is rare. Hitting the road, listening to music, having uninterrupted conversations, working side by side, enjoying a quiet dinner after a long - but fun - day is all a dream. Janet came out for part of the time as well. You can't really beat Vegas, without kid, and with your best friend. It's a vacation for us, never mind the fact we're working most of the day. It doesn't feel like work. Meeting new people, obtaining new accounts, walking the floor... it's all icing on the cake.
Where do you pull the most inspiration from?
Our inspiration comes from so many things: life experience, music, politics, love for design. Often an idea plants itself in my head and starts sprouting to the point where it demands to be extracted and planted. That's quite the visual, isn't it? It's all very much a team effort these days; we're fortunate to have so many passionate and devoted and talented individuals working hard behind the scenes.
What’s next for your brand?
We're always growing and learning. When we know better, we do better. That said, the best is yet to come. Stay tuned.