Was anyone else a bit overwhelmed with back-to-school shopping this year, or reluctant to spend a lot of time at the mall with your kids trying on clothes? We’re right there with you, and that’s why we’re partnering with Rockets of Awesome, a mom-founded kids brand that allows you to shop through a subscription service (customized to your child) or simply make a la carte purchases online. All of the clothes are super fun, as unique as our kids, and not cheesy at all. Between the convenience factor and the quality and selection, we love it, and think you will, too. We spoke to Rockets of Awesome Founder and CEO Rachael Blumenthal about her amazing brand, back-to-school picks, being a dual-entrepreneur family (her husband founded Warby Parker) and more.
Ready to try Rockets of Awesome? Use the code LOCALMOMS20 for 20 percent off your first order!
Can you please tell us a bit about yourself?
I am the founder and CEO of Rockets of Awesome, a kids apparel brand for sizes 2 to 14. I live in Manhattan with my husband, Neil, and our children, Griffin and Gemma. My career has been focused on building authentic brands and businesses that truly solve problems. Before Rockets of Awesome, I was the founder and CEO of Cricket’s Circle, a trusted resource and editorial destination for everything baby and toddler. It was the insights and learnings from the Cricket’s Circle community, in addition to my own experience as a mother that inspired the idea for Rockets of Awesome.
For anyone not yet familiar, can you please describe Rockets of Awesome?
Rockets of Awesome is the smarter way to shop for kids. We’re simplifying the process of shopping for well-designed, high quality kids clothing at a great value – because you shouldn’t have to choose between the two. Families can either shop through the subscription service, which utilizes data learning to curate personalized boxes for each kid, or stock up through the online shop, a more traditional e-commerce experience.
What separates it from other easy-to-wear kids lines out there?
We pride ourselves on pushing the boundaries of what it means to be a modern kids clothing brand, giving parents the ability to shop whenever and however they want—whether they want to stock up when it’s convenient for them, or Subscribe + Save big. We’ll always put the win-win (a.k.a., the parents AND the kids loving the clothes and experience) first in everything we do. We also happen to believe we make the most awesome kids clothes – you will not find softer, stretchier, comfier or cooler clothes out there – especially at our prices!
Why is your model so perfect for “pandemic era” back-to-school shopping?
Right now, everyone is avoiding shopping in person, especially in person. It was already unfun to bring kids into a clothing store (the complaining pains me thinking about it) but especially now, it’s not an option. In the “pandemic era,” we all had to rethink the way we do things and since kids constantly outgrow their clothes, shopping remains an ever-present item on any parent’s “to-do” list. We are addressing this issue by simplifying the process of shopping for kids clothing and making it an actually fun process for the parent and kid.
How did the idea for the business come about?
As a mom, I always believed shopping for kids shouldn’t feel like work and that parents deserved better than what was previously in the market. I wanted to create a solution for parents that answered the need for a highly personalized, thoughtful experience vs. the disjointed, time-consuming process that had previously been the only option. Rockets of Awesome was born to simplify the process of shopping for parents and deliver stylish, high quality kids clothing for an incredible value.
Love your fun patterns and styles! How do you curate the line?
Like curating our box, we look to our customers. We combine data from customers’ behavior (what are they buying) with their kids’ preferences (stripes or polka dots? Skinny or straight jeans?) when we design each collection. We focus on designing clothes that parents and their kids will both love. The collections are the perfect mix of classic and on-trend pieces and the designs are driven by style yet constructed with kids’ needs in mind (soft, comfy, lasting fabrics).
You actually give credit for sending back clothes, which is so amazing. What do you do with the used clothing and why are you so committed to this initiative?
The clothes go to secondary marketplaces that we partner with, which allows them to have a second life. Rockets Reverse is another way we are able to simplify parents’ lives. The program makes it easy (and rewarding) to clean out outgrown clothes, while reducing families’ waste. It was important to us that parents could send outgrown clothes from any brand and not just Rockets of Awesome items.
Where can people buy your line—is it all subscription and then online?
Yes, they can either subscribe to a seasonal box of 5, 8 or 12 items or they can purchase a la carte from our online shop just like any other e-commerce brand.
You collaborated on your Sparkella line with Channing Tatum. How did that come about and what was that like? Did you get to work with him in person?!
Channing and the Sparkella team approached us to collaborate for the launch of his book. Both of our brands celebrate real life kids, their magical confidence and their amazing parents, so it was a natural fit from the start. And yes, Channing was great!
So cool! What trends are you loving for Fall 2021?
For Fall this year, we really wanted to focus on anticipating the needs of kids and parents, all while focusing on new trends for the back-to-school season. We always look outside the Kids space for inspiration. This season we looked to the runway for color and print direction, found innovative performance fabrics and made sure that everything was rooted in polished comfort-providing for all occasions this Fall season. Some of the trends we tapped into are:
- Balanced, Bold, Bright’s: In our animal, camo, and stripe prints we opted to mix high saturated colors creating eye-catching pieces. We saw this color direction on the runway across Mens and Womenswear at Jacquemus , Off-White, and Kenzo, and interpreted this in our own printed way: Zebra Sweater, Stripe Crew, Camo Tech.
- Varsity Squad: From Varsity jackets to athletic stripes, we reimagined classic styles by layering print and textures. Our floral print active sets does exactly that! ROA’s quilted Baseball Jacket provides transitional warmth and a bold take on a timeless silhouette and our Letterman Cardi, has fun with our A-patch and tipping stripes.
- Shine On: Changing out of our sweatpants into something that shines, we pulled out a textured sparkle factor that everyone has been missing this past year, Brocade Skirt, Foil Pleat Skirt, Lurex Tipping Top. Across so many brands, we are seeing occasion dressing resurfacing, what is great about our pieces is that they can be worn everywhere from the playground to a very special event.
Any other must-have staples every child should have for Back to School? (Again, please supply links.)
Our collaboration with STATE Backpacks is a must have. The patterns and colors on the backpacks and lunch boxesare perfect for both the 2 year old and the 12 year old. Our new raincoats are epic – they change color when the rain hits them. I am also loving Super Smalls for extra back to school sparkle, Lele Sadoughi if you’re really going to splurge on a headband for school photos and statement tights from Wauw Capow by Bangbang.
Before launching Rockets of Awesome, you created Cricket Circle, a popular resource and editorial site for baby and toddler moms. What’s your favorite part of being an entrepreneur? And most challenging?
I love solving pain points that truly impact customer’s lives. Nobody is better suited to solve the needs of parents than a parent living and breathing the daily challenges. I tend to start with a strong point of view on the problem and opportunity in the market, I spend a lot of time speaking with a range of consumers to ensure the problem is not unique to me and my friends and then I surround myself with strong talent to help me execute my vision. I love building brands that emotionally connect with customers so I always start by creating a visual mood board of imagery that helps immerse my team in the brand we’re going to build and who our customer is. That mood board, which includes key messaging and experience goals, guides the building process. The most challenging part of being an entrepreneur is that it always feels like the world is on your shoulders, every step is challenging so you have to really be a fighter and it can often feel lonely – especially if you don’t have a co-founder or business partner.
What strategies do you use as a busy family to balance life/work, and find quality time as a family?
Google Calendar is our number one lifehack. We have visibility to each other’s schedules at any point and time which makes coordination much more seamless. Neil and I spend the mornings with our kids, are entirely heads down during the work day and then do our very best to come together as a family for dinner every night. The pandemic made that much easier for us as we were working from home and didn’t have the opportunity for as many work and social commitments. The weekends are also dedicated to family time. We very much believe in work life immersion which we think is also beneficial for our kids. They hear lots of work conversations around the house giving them visibility to our work lives but also how businesses operate. Our 10 year old is particularly interested in all of it and he’s currently working to build his own apparel business.
What is your own “mom uniform” (please provide links)? And must have beauty product?
Is there anything less cool than a “mom uniform”? LOL. I’d say my uniform is quite chameleon-like. I love fashion and I’m always expressing myself through different looks. I’m currently very into dressy high waisted shorts, a simple tee and a fun colorful cardigan with pointed flats. I also always love the look of great jeans, a sweater and a fancier flat shoe. I’m currently having too much fun down the rabbit hole of The RealReal.
This story is sponsored by Rockets of Awesome.