Thea Sheinberg Chiprut and her business partner, Taylor Jacobson, bonded when they realized that their kids, Duke and Alexander, were the only boys on the playground dressed in all black. They both wanted stylish, chic and affordable kids clothing options but had a hard time finding ones that checked all the boxes. Each came from successful careers—Thea in business and Taylor in styling—and in eight short months, their kids clothing brand Duke Alexander was born!
We sat down with Thea (mom to Robby, 4, and Alex, 2) to learn what it's like to create her Los Angeles-based brand in such a short time, how she balances it all, as well as her favorite time-saving (and mom sanity) apps!
How did the concept for Duke Alexander come about?
I met my business partner in a "mommy and me" class. I was there with my second child, Alex, and we instantly connected over the lack of well-made fashion for children. We both found it hard to find simple and chic mix-and-match pieces. Duke Alexander to us is edge and simplicity for your not-so-basic little one.
As a mother, how do you make it all work?
After having Robby, I left my job in the corporate world at NBC Universal in the partnerships and licensing department to be a full-time stay-at-home mom. This was the hardest decision I had to make as a mother, but it just felt right. When my boys turned 2 and 4, I really felt ready to get back to work but wanted something that was flexible. Working with another mother who gets the juggle of it all has been really inspiring and helpful. I also think my boys are really proud of watching me work and feel happy and inspired!
Do you have any advice for friends who are thinking of going into business together?
I think it’s important to establish roles and boundaries. We both offer such different areas of expertise and are very different as people, too. I also think it’s good to keep work separate from friendship. Our friendship evolved from our work and we are respectful of each other. Taylor and I know how to leave the work in the office if we're spending time together with the kids!
When did you first feel successful?
The first order we received from a stranger out of state that none of us knew was the "aha" moment for me. I felt like what we were doing was being received well!
Has there been anything about creating Duke Alexander that surprised you or inspired you in a way you didn't expect?
Watching our hard work turn to a product we stand behind and love has been inspiring. I am proud to [have a business that's] made in LA, while supporting family-owned businesses and never compromising fair wages for a great product. It has also been amazing to see girls and boys enjoying our pieces equally. I love to see the same piece of clothing on all different types of kids!
What's your advice for moms who are looking to start their own business?
Go for it! It might take a second, but you will find your groove. Don’t give up. You've got this!
What sacrifices have you made as a mom and business owner to keep everything in balance?
Sleep! I try to get everything done early in the morning or after the kids go to bed. It’s just the two of us for now, so there’s a lot to be done.
If you could have lunch with any business person/mogul/entrepreneur living or dead, who would it be and why?
Oprah! She has it all. Beauty, brains, grace and calls it like it is! I appreciate her honesty and to-the-point attitude. She uses her success to support and empower women, and I find her fascinating.
Are there any new initiatives or products on the horizon for Duke Alexander?
We are working on our next collection and have almost sold out of the first one in just two months! We are hoping to expand the product variety for 2018.
What is your favorite time-saving app or service?
I am obsessed with apps. On a weekly basis, my family uses Instacart, Postmates and Amazon. If I need a blow-out or nail appointment, I also use the DryBar and Olive & June apps! I am always up to try a new one. These apps allow me to spend more time with my family and are lifesavers.