Inspired by their daughter’s creative spirit and love of mismatched shoes, Dallas residents Marc and Sharon Blumberg launched Chooze, an online children’s footwear company, in 2011.
The purpose for the venture: instilling in children of all ages the virtues of “creativity, confidence, and power to have a positive impact on the world.”
“I’ve always loved this whole idea of inspiring kids with creativity,” Sharon said.
So far, the successful lifestyle brand has grown to offer children’s and women’s apparel, hats, backpacks, and accessories.
Sharon said she has always loved designing for kids. After graduating college with a degree in interior design, she opened a business where she designed and painted murals, furniture, and accessories for children’s rooms.
Based on her experience running a business while raising a family, she offered the following advice to other entrepreneurs with young children.
“People are always looking for something different,” Sharon said. When Chooze launched with mismatched yet coordinated shoes, there was nothing like it on the market, she said. The products represent the beauty and fun of childhood, which attracts parents and children alike, she added. That use of fun, colorful, original prints also served as a springboard to expand the Chooze collection.
Customers also feel good when their shopping supports a good cause, Sharon said. Chooze shares a percentage of profits with five organizations that help children. With their purchases, customers can “Chooze a Cause,” picking among organizations that provide birthday parties for children living in homeless shelters, service dogs for children with disabilities, playgrounds in low-income neighborhoods, new belongings to children in crisis, or toys and books for children in hospitals.
A FAMILY AFFAIR
Running a full-time business with her husband while raising a family can have its challenges, Sharon said, but she manages by valuing the contributions each family members brings to the company. “He’s very business-oriented [handling] … the finances and logistics and the details. I’m more of a design and marketing person.” She said they respect each other’s talents and make time for each other as a couple and as individuals. “I think it’s really important to take time for ourselves and … find that balance.”
The children also contribute by occasionally designing prints and testing products for durability and fit. She even sits down with her 10-year-old daughter to do line reviews before submitting anything to her factory to be produced. “Sometimes she will give me some good suggestions on color changes, and if something doesn’t speak to her, I ... take a second look at it, and we usually tweak things together, which is really cool.”
As a mother of three, Sharon knows how difficult it can be to shop for children, which is why Chooze focuses on streamlining e-commerce to make it as smooth as possible. “The easier we can make the process … the better it is for mom [and] the happier the kids are going to be,” she said.