Kent State Fashion Student, Alumni, Partner to Offer Organic Clothing Line for InfantsPosted Feb. 18, 2013 | Katie Paukst
A Kent State fashion student and two alumni are partnering to offer organic clothing for infants in this new age of eco-friendly products where fashion and clothing are no exceptions.
Pooja Songar, a 2006 Kent State graduate, created the brand Cutie Bees, a safe, stylish organic clothing line for infants, ages 0-18 months. The clothing line not only benefits babies and children, but also the environment. Cutie Bees clothes are made from 100 percent organic cotton and are free of chemicals such as pesticides and formaldehyde thought to cause many diseases such as asthma, eczema or possibly cancer.
“Cutie Bees is an all-organic baby clothing line that I started after my daughter Sarah, was born,” Songar says. “Sarah developed horrible skin rashes as an infant, and it wasn’t until I did my own research that I discovered it was actually the harmful chemicals found in conventional clothing that was irritating her skin.”
Once Songar switched to 100 percent organic cotton clothes for her daughter, Sarah’s rashes went away. However, there are not many stylish options for organic clothes yet, and organic cotton clothing is also not 100 percent safe because manufacturers still treat them with chemicals for shrinkage control. So Songar thought her idea of Cutie Bees would fill that void.
Songar enlisted the help of Trista Grieder, lecturer with Kent State’s School of Fashion Design and Merchandising, for guidance on product design and development.
“I was contacted by Pooja to give her advice on some questions she had about starting her own organic infant clothing company,” says Grieder. “At our initial meeting, she had such a passion for starting this project, and being a mom myself, I became intrigued and began working with her. That is when I connected her with Leah, because I knew she had a passion for children’s clothing and thought this would be a great project for her to gain experience in.”
Leah Linderman, a senior fashion design major, started on Songar’s Cutie Bees project more than a year ago.
“Trista knew I had a passion for children’s wear after I took her professional seminar class,” Linderman says. “I had a sketchbook full of ideas, so Pooja, Trista and I went through it and picked out the best, most marketable clothing options. We made some changes, but for the most part, I had a freedom with the first line. Since starting the second line for spring, we had to enlist more help, which is where JoAnna is helping.”
JoAnna Klotz, a Kent State fashion merchandise graduate, was brought into the Cutie Bees project when the company was expanding its new line.
“For my senior collection at Kent State, I created a children’s collection that involved mostly organic cotton materials, and hand-dyed them all myself,” Klotz says. “Trista contacted me about Pooja’s collection, and I knew I wanted to devote any spare time I had from my full-time job to help her vision and my design aesthetic come to life.”
Klotz is currently in the process of creating looks for the fall 2013 line. It is the first chance she has had to contribute to the designing of the actual pieces since she started working for Cutie Bees.
Linderman is now head designer and product developer for Cutie Bees. She and Songar are acting as partners and hope to help continue growing the company.
“Leah and JoAnna are very passionate about children’s wear designs,” Songar says. “They both have been a tremendous help to Cutie Bees and will help the company continue to grow in its mission to have a safe, stylish and organic infant clothing line. It is such a great experience for both of them.”
Cutie Bees clothes can be purchased on its online store at www.cutiebees.com or at the Kent Fashion School’s store in downtown Kent.