My children are too young to know it, and it really shouldn’t make a difference, but they truly are unique. Of course they have their own personalities and quirks, but I doubt they will meet many people with backgrounds as diverse as theirs. My mother is Chinese, my father is Jewish and a mixture of Eastern European heritages. I grew up in an incredibly diverse town in New Jersey so though no one was exactly like me, most of my friends were of mixed races too. In fact, I didn’t realize being bi-racial was unique until I went to college. My husband is white, he is Irish and Italian and was raised Catholic, but grew up in the same small town and was exposed to a variety of cultures as well. This means our children are multiracial, which shouldn’t matter in the melting pot of America, but it does, especially in the small town in Florida where we live now.
We have chosen to raise our family by exposing them to their various cultures and religions. We have decided their differences should be celebrated, not hidden, and I hope that this remains the case when they are old enough to realize they are different than other kids. We celebrate Christmas and Hanukkah, Easter and Passover, Chinese New Year and St. Patrick’s Day. I know St. Paddy’s Day had real meaning in Ireland and is different than the green beer drinking fun we have in the states. But St. Paddy’s Day means the arrival of “Kiss me, I’m Irish” shirts in stores. Since my children are part Irish, I’ve always delighted in dressing them to “honor” their Irish heritage that one day a year.
It occured to me that because St. Patrick’s Day has become such a huge commercial holiday in the US, there is no shortage of Irish themed clothing and merchandise in stores, at least for that month or so between Valentine’s Day and Easter. But what about the other parts of my children? I have seen shirts from time to time celebrating Italian backgrounds, and there seems to be one Hanukkah themed shirt for every 20 Christmas ones, but I had never seen a shirt actually celebrating Chinese culture. Yes, there are dragon shirts galore, but nothing truly embracing being Asian. So I decided to make one myself. And the idea to add custom shirts to the kd Closet boutique was born.
I began by designing shirts for my children, because of their unique cultural diversity and just recently added them to kdcloset.com. First I made tees for the kids that read “Mommy’s Lil Dumpling” with a pair of chopsticks. Is it a stereotype? Maybe, but I choose to embrace it and let my children be proud of being 1/4 Chinese.
Next I made “Mommy’s Lil Matzo Ball” shirts because it was spring and there was bunny and Easter egg merchandise everywhere, but nothing to celebrate Passover, at least not locally in our small Southern town. So I made my own.
My kids call my mother-in-law Nonna, because she is Italian. So then I made “Nonna’s Lil Meatball” shirts. I was having so much fun being creative and I love a corny pun, so I began making shirts inspired by Disney characters and hip hop music.
Adults liked my Wu Tang Clan inspired C.R.E.A.M (COOKIES Rule Everything Around Me) shirts so much that I began making adult sized tees too. I made a few Disney inspired ones that work both for kids and adults and make great matching tops for everyday or trips to Disney. The best part about making shirts is I get to have a creative outlet. Every shirt is made to order, so custom colors, sizes and designs are all possible and I love working with people to design their ideal shirt!