Today we’d like to introduce you to Ali Koehler.
Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
I started Eugenia Kids in 2021 with a $200 savings bond from my late grandmother, Helen Eugenia. Gram, as we called her, loved children. She was hard-working, frugal, and empathetic. When I found that old savings bond she had bought for my first Christmas, I knew I had to either save or invest it. It’s what she would have wanted.
I moved to LA in 2010 for a position as touring drummer for West Coast based band – Best Coast. I was a professional musician and nanny for many years before meeting and working for illustrator Tuesday Bassen. Together we learned the ins and outs of producing clothing in Los Angeles and built a size-inclusive clothing brand – Tuesday of California. Between 2016 and 2021, I spent nearly every workday in the fashion district in downtown LA, which is how I fell in love with small business and the process of building something from nothing.
In early 2020 I started taking classes towards a Graphic Design degree at Glendale Community College, working on assignments at night after my 1-year-old went to bed. As a student of Graphic Design, I learned how to design a logo and packaging for my own brand. I had the idea for some hair clips with cute, common nicknames for kids. I started out with 5 hair clips – Peanut, Nugget, Tater Tot, Half Pint, and Pee Wee. In the past year and a half, Eugenia Kids has grown to a six-figure business and can be found on Maisonette.com, Juneandjanuary.com, in CAMP stores, as well as 150 small boutiques around the world.
I am committed to celebrating the magic of childhood, nostalgia, and self-expression through vintage-inspired hair accessories. I’m so excited to be on this ride!
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?
While it might sound like my success has been rapid and easy, I put in A LOT of sweat equity to get to where I am. As a fully self-funded venture, finances have been tricky. My goal for the new year is to be better organized, hire an accountant, and plan ahead for slow seasons. It’s a hard balance to strike between having enough inventory to seek new opportunities and sitting on too much inventory and being strapped for cash.
We’ve been impressed with Eugenia, but for folks who might not be as familiar, what can you share with them about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
We make vintage-inspired, nostalgic hair accessories to delight your inner child. The bulk of our hair clips are made using cellulose acetate, which is a plant-derived plastic substitute. Owning a hair accessories brand is probably the most Leo thing about me. As a consumer, I love buying inexpensive pieces that remind me of my childhood. I wanted to make a brand that would elicit the same boost of serotonin as opening a brand-new pack of stick-on earrings.
Who else deserves credit in your story?
Caroline from Merci Milo was the first person to carry our clips in her shop, and it was a definite turning point for our visibility. I am so honored that she was in my corner so early on. Her taste in children’s products is impeccable. Definitely check out her shop for your holiday shopping!
- Website: eugeniakids.com
- Instagram: instagram.com/eugeniakids
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/eugeniakidsco
Photo of me by Eloy Lugo, All other photos by Yael Nov