After an unsuccessful search to find unique, comfortable clothes for their own children, Jessica Chappel Kremen and Lily Brown sought out their own fix. Together, they launched their kids apparel line, Worthy Threads, in May.
Their vintage-inspired baby and toddler apparel brand launched its fall collection this week, featuring new fabrics, prints and styles.

After spending more than 10 years as a mechanical engineer working for marine defense contracting firms, Brown decided to put all of that on hold when she had children. Chappel Kremen was a communications specialist working for a software provider.

In their second wind since leaving those roles behind, the pair have now built a children’s apparel brand in the style of clothing they want to put on their own kids. Ranging from cute dresses in vintage inspired fabrics to lightweight sweats and raglan tees, the line is small, but growing each season.

“Moms today want their children to have the option of wearing pieces that tell a story visually, that up the style game of their child or baby shower gift, and that ultimately we envy ourselves,” said Chappel Kremen.

The line features close attention to detail and a hip style. Despite growing it and upping production in a matter of just months, Worthy Threads’ owners have also decided to maintain production locally. All of their clothes are cut and sewn right here in Baltimore.

Baltimore Fishbowl’s Rachel Bone sat down with Chappel Kremen to talk about her and Brown’s first year of running a small business in Baltimore.

Could you give us the story of how Worthy Threads began?

Jessica Chappel Kremen (JCK): Sure! Worthy Threads began when I was having trouble finding cool clothes for my son. In my mind, he was this adorable little 4-month-old hipster named Gus and there wasn’t a huge supply of brands that fit that style requirement. I had decided to start a line of kids clothes basically just to dress my children the way I wanted to. I went up to a few fabric shows in NYC and took a few seminars on starting your own fashion line and that was pretty much it. That was, until I realized somehow, someone was going to have to make my ideas into actual clothes.

The day after I got back from New York, Lily and I had dinner. I had known Lily for a few years through a mutual friend and knew she had taken up sewing. She knew that I was looking to start this line and brought some things she had sewn for her girls. I brought some fabric and sketches I had in mind and we decided over dinner that we should be doing this together.

Do either of you have a design background or a business background?

JCK: Negative. I majored in communications in college and Lily majored in engineering. While we have always been interested in fashion, neither of us have a design or business background. We have definitely been learning as we go.

Why kids clothing?

JCK: That is the stage of our lives that we are in right now. As mothers, buying stuff for our kids is more than a pastime. While shopping for their clothes, we really found a hole in the market for a style that wasn’t preppy or glitzy. We couldn’t find a style that we really loved! Also, pretty much everything looks good on them, which makes it that much more fun! We hope to grow our line as our children grow. Our second collection launched yesterday and we are really excited to have the demand that allowed us to increase our sizing up to 5T.

I really appreciate that the gendering is minimal on some of your pieces. They can be worn by boys and girls alike. Is that intentional? Can you describe your inspirations and the aesthetics of your line?

JCK: Our main tag line is “to highlight the individuality of our children and inspire the people that dress them.” If a boy wants to wear pink and a girl wants to wear blue, who are we to say they shouldn’t? Our kids are so unique and they should be encouraged to wear what makes them feel good and gives an accurate expression of who they are. Because of that, we consider all of our loungewear to be unisex.

Our fabrics are very quirky and they all have a sense of humor. We love to see how people respond when they see llamas, men with mustaches and beards or math equations all over the inside of your kids sweatshirt or on a dress. We are putting kids in clothes that aren’t childish. All of our dresses (and now skirts) have a vintage inspired style and are paired with an avant-garde print, which is very unexpected. We hope to make people stop, admire and chuckle!

Kids grow so quickly. How did you decide what size range you would make?

JCK: We knew we wanted to start at 3-6 months, because we both really only put our kids in onesies and swaddles from 0-3 months. When we first began, Lily was sewing every item herself so we knew we couldn’t have endless sizes. We decided to stop at 4T since that was the size that our older daughters were wearing. Now that we have brought in some outside help, we have increased to 5T and hope to continue to grow.

How do you go about making your products? Lead us through the production of a new piece, from concept to tagging.

JCK: As mentioned, initially Lily was making every piece at her kitchen table in Bolton Hill. As we have grown, we have looked to a local manufacturer to help us with the loungewear and are working with seamstresses and recent MICA graduates to help Lily with the dresses and skirts.  There is so much talent in Baltimore that we have been lucky enough to make everything locally.

When we create a new product, I bring Lily pictures, sketches and fabrics that I am thinking of and she makes a few samples. From there, we do fittings with our children and their friends to make sure we account for the [largest] amount of body types. As you will see in our new collection, all of our dresses and skirts have elastic around the waist. This was intentional, as it allows flexibility in sizing. Once the dresses get a little short, they usually still fit around the waist and you can throw a pair of shorts or pants underneath and get you through another season. One other big must-have for us was that all of our fabrics must be machine-washable and dryer safe. No one wants to hand wash their kid’s clothes!

All of our fabrics are sourced in the United States and everything is created right here in Baltimore. Our dresses and skirts are all 100 percent cotton and our loungewear is a tri-blend, which is super soft and can stand a lot of wear from children.

Where can your clothes be purchased locally?

JCK: Currently our clothes can be purchased at Neighbor Goods in Hampden, and we will be at HampdenFest this weekend, but the majority of everything is sold online.

How is the business doing in its first year?

JCK: So far so good! Since launching this past May, we have gotten a lot of great feedback and people seem to be really rooting for us. We are really looking forward to seeing how the rest of the year goes!

Rachel Bone

Rachel Bone is a regular contributor to the Baltimore Fishbowl.