Parents are always told by other parents how quickly their children will grow up – and that time passes "in the blink in an eye." Two local women are experiencing this speed-of-light passing of time, with the growth of their children as well as with their business.
In September 2013, designers Michelle Lopez and Andrea Dotzauer – along with Dima Pochtarev – started a children’s clothing business, The MINI Classy, offering "high-end streetwear" for kids.
Within a month of doing business, a West Coast sales representative contacted the owners and expressed interest. Six months later, she took on the line and sold it to buyers in the Los Angeles market.
Consequently, the children of numerous celebrities have been photographed in MINI Classy clothing, including the kids of Kourtney Kardashian, Tori Spelling, Mario Lopez, Kim Zolciack- Biermann ("Atlanta Housewives"), Beverley Mitchell ("7th Heaven") and more. The brand also received spositive press from The Huffington Post, Star Magazine, OK Magazine, Daily Mail UK and "The Ellen Show."
Last summer, the MINI Classy owners made it to the second round during the "Shark Tank" (an ABC reality television show) casting call in Milwaukee.
MINI Classy also has an East Coast showroom that sells the line to more than 400 stores, including Zulily where it did two small collections that sold out almost immediately.
The brand offers upscale clothing for children ages six months to 12 years old. A lot of the clothing is constructed from bamboo / cotton blend fabrics. Originally, the line was primarily bottoms and specialized in harem pants but then expanded to offer tops, dresses, skirts, shorts and more.
"The appeal of our brand is the unique print and pattern mixing we do which offers the consumer a fashionable, yet super comfy garment that stands out," says Lopez. "It allows kids and parents the option to make an individual fashion statement."
Lopez and Dotzauer do all of the production in-house with one employee and a few interns from a Third Ward space that they have outgrown. The owners will soon launch a Kickstarter campaign to raise the funds to help secure a larger space that's available across the hall.
In the future, they plan to outsource their larger production runs so they can dedicate more time to designing and selling.
"Also, the future of our company includes expanding the brand to a full line of products and launching the line in some major retailers," says Lopez.
Lopez and Dotzauer are both graduates from Mount Mary College’s apparel production development / fashion design program, and met six years ago through their significant others who work together for Pochtarev’s record label, Unifi Records.
Lopez was born and raised in Shorewood; Dotzauer grew up in Eagle and Pochtarev was born in Moscow, Russia and emigrated to the US with his family when he was 10.
T"Andrea and I have always been enthusiasts of fashion and grew up around artists," says Lopez. "And Dima has a background in business and project management."
Both Lopez and Dotzauer were inspired by their children. Lopez has two daughters, ages 12 and 3; Dotzauer has a 4-year-old son.
"We built our brand with the idea of allowing kids to be creative in how they dress," says Lopez. "Our kids love wearing our clothing and test out all our products so they really are kid approved."
MiniClassy clothing is available at theMINIclassy.com, locally at Hot*Pop and boutiques worldwide, including Ron Robinson at the Fred Segal in Beverly Hills, Kitson in Los Angeles and at Barney's New York starting this summer. They are also doing a collaboration with the New York-based ladies streetwear brand Married to the Mob that will be dropping later this year.
"We've established some really good business relationships here in Milwaukee but would love to get more involved with the local fashion industry," says Lopez. "Kids fashion is a booming market right now and it's expected to continue to grow at a very rapid pace – we'd love to put Milwaukee on the map as a leader in the industry."
Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.
Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.