Today we’d like to introduce you to Brandy Heyde Montague.
Brandy, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Prior to moving to LA 5 years ago, I ran an animal welfare organization in Tokyo that brought volunteers and shelters together. I’ve always felt I’m here on Earth to help animals, and being in that environment showed me how important fundraising is to what rescue groups do. The smaller grassroots organizations were sometimes the most effective, yet it was very hard for them to raise money.
When I moved to LA, I was working as a freelance graphic designer and often built websites for people. I began Trendy Little Sweethearts as a storybook boutique, in which I resold clothes from the Fashion District through an online website. Each piece was drawn on my little characters Max and Maddie, who wore them on adventures. Bringing my various worlds together, I realized that selling the clothing to help animals more directly aligned with my mission and goals.
At that point, the stories became centered on Max and Maddie learning to help animals, and each item featured an animal to help. As the years have gone on, I’ve learned more about the impact fashion has on the people who make it, and the environment. Eco-conscious apparel has become a pillar of our business, and I spend my time now looking for and designing unique pieces that are better for the environment while helping animals and other small businesses simultaneously.
My dream is to inspire compassion in children for animals and the environment as they grow; I believe that’s ultimately the best way to change the world that we all share together.
Has it been a smooth road?
Ha, nope! Not smooth. My life in business has certainly been a journey and it continues to be. It’s hard to be a creative entrepreneur and continually present your ideas to the world. I began my career as an engineer, and I certainly learned how to solve hard problems in doing that, and how to continue going until I made something work. But the vulnerability that comes with creating something from your heart, and then putting it into the world to see if it sells, is a whole different ball game. I continually get to practice balance, tenacity and moving through the ebb and flow of running my business with grace.
Until recently I burned the candle from both ends to make things work, but six months ago, I was diagnosed with Graves Disease. In the beginning, I was terrified that my business would have to end because Graves requires me to slow down and spend a lot more time on meditation, meal prep, just general self-care. I’m learning to accept the situation for what it is and to prioritize my time on things that bring me strength and serenity. I think I’m getting better, and I’ve discovered new ideas for my business that I may have missed, and new ways to help animals that I definitely would have missed had I not slowed down.
As far as the business itself goes, my hardest struggles are generally around making my business model work. It’s important to me to give back a substantial portion of what I make because my motive for doing this business is to help animals who face plights far worse than I could ever imagine. But, it’s also important to me to only sell eco-conscious options that contribute to changing how we treat the environment. With these two details working as pillars in my business, my margins are very small. I do almost all of the design, printing, drawing, marketing, etc. myself to make the business affordable to run right now. I hope that will change in the future as we continue to grow.
We’d love to hear more about your business.
We create eco-conscious apparel to help animals around the world. Although we began as a children’s clothing company, we now actually have more styles available for adults than kids. Our primary purpose is still to inspire compassion for animals in children as they grow. We do that with little stories of how our characters Max and Maddie learn about the animals, and we have coloring sheets and activities available for download.
I’m proud of our unique way of reaching kids with such a complex, often very sad topic. My hope is that children who grow with compassion for animals will advocate for their rights as they become old enough to do so. And with that, our world will become a friendlier place for all souls who share it.
Is our city a good place to do what you do?
I do think LA is a supportive place for people to start in business. I’ve discovered endless meetups and community groups to join since moving here, all with resources to help get my business off of the ground. With LA being so diverse and large, I’ve also found that when I struggle in most any facet of my business, there’s usually an expert around to connect with and learn from. Although it’s a big city, the networks within different areas often feel like a small town.
- Children’s pieces start at $34.99
- Adult pieces start at $44.99
- Dog vests start at $39.99
- Website: www.TrendyLittleSweethearts.com
- Phone: 2132672043
- Email: hello@TrendyLittleSweethearts.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/trendylittlesweethearts/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/trendylittlesweethearts/
- Other: https://www.etsy.com/shop/TrendyLilSweethearts
Marissa De La Torre, BKM Photography