Today we’d like to introduce you to Shanlee Johnson.
Hi Shanlee, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I’ve always been drawn to fabrics and design in one way or another, whether it was clothing or creating a living space that feels personal and unique. Those interests led me to pursuing an Apparel Design degree from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. After I graduated, I attempted to start a womenswear brand but the timing wasn’t great. That was 20008 during the housing market crash. Stores had put buying on hold and after giving the brand a lot of time and energy, I realized that it wasn’t going to work. I fell back on my retail background and worked for designers Tory Burch and Catherine Malandrino until I opened my first brick and mortar store in Washington, DC in 2011. A children’s store called Little Birdies. Later in 2017, I added our children’s clothing line, Pineapple Sunshine. A bright and fun, beach inspired clothing line we wholesale to over 100 stores in the US and abroad.
Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
I think owning your own business comes with a lot of challenges and moving parts. Knowing when to pivot is key. In the beginning, you play all the roles. You’re managing a team, keeping the books straight, filling the customer service role, you’re the shipping department, cleaning crew and so much more. Knowing when you can begin to pivot and outsource those roles was important to our success. The reward when everything works smoothly is the best part of owning your own business and makes up for all the challenges.
Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
My favorite part of Little Birdies Boutique and the Pineapple Sunshine clothing brand is the creative side. Getting to curate a collection each season of the best children’s designers is my favorite part of the business. And everything about the clothing line makes me happy. Getting to create new original prints with our textile designers, developing the collections and working with our manufacturers in Peru is the best part of the day. Pineapple Sunshine is known for quality and having some of the softest fabrics on the market and our customers look forward to seeing our new prints each season. We try to design pieces that brighten everyone’s day and brings a smile to their face.
What matters most to you? Why?
The pandemic taught me a lot this past year. That taking time for yourself and enjoying each day is still possible with success. That running yourself into the ground isn’t always beneficial to the business. Sometimes taking a deliberate pause and giving yourself the time to think of new ideas and plan is very important to building the next phase of your business.
- Website: www.shoplittlebirdies.com and www.pineapplesunshine.com
- Instagram: @littlebirdiesboutique and @pineapplesunshinekids
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/littlebirdiesboutique and https://www.facebook.com/pineapplesunshinekids
- Twitter: @littlebirdiesdc
- Other: https://www.pinterest.com/Littlebirdiesdc/_shop/
Headshot: Erin Fabio Kids Lifestyle: Raven Vasquez