Up the north coast of California in a breezy seaside village lives an unflappable mompreneur who’s just as sweet and authentic as the namesake of her American made organic cotton clothing line, Color Cloud Mill. Kristen makes thoughtful choices for her brand, whether it’s the name inspired by the nickname her son gives to sunrises and sunsets on the way to and from school, or her deliberate fabric choices.
The Color Cloud Mill shirt pictured below was my favorite for my son’s first year given how soft it was and how it simultaneously made him look like a teenager and a (tiny!) toddler at the same time.
I’ve since upgraded our collection to 2Ts (and will soon need 3Ts), although I still squeeze him into the original for bedtime when a bare midriff is no biggie.
“The fabric is a tri-blend; it’s organic cotton, recycled polyester and a little bit of rayon,” Kristen says. “It’s the combination of the three that makes it so soft.”
Kristen started out creating clothing in Portland that was cloth-diaper friendly before it become more common because, “there wasn’t any thing out there…that was kind of the catalyst.”
She’s since experienced growth for Color Cloud Mill by expanding beyond baby clothing to kids and adults, and making connections in social media.
“Instagram is definitely the strongest force, in terms of marketing,” says Kristen. “It reaches a really large population throughout the world, so it’s pretty amazing at what it can do.”
Brick & Mortar Today, Job Creation Tomorrow
Kristen recently expanded her passion for American made clothing into a downtown Fort Bragg storefront called Barge North, which carries a broad selection of locally sourced brands for women, men and kids.
“My boyfriend and I saw this space that had been another clothing store for 12 years,” Kristen says. “We would walk by and then finally one day we called, and said we should just go for it.”
While locals and tourists alike pop in to browse West Coast brands; ultimately, Kristen has big dreams of bringing industry back to the North Coast and tapping into the local talent.
“That’s another huge reason why I manufacture in the United States,” she says. “Once more people are producing in the States, the cost of goods will go down. It’s hard to sell baby clothes at the cost of adult clothes.”
How This Mompreneur Makes it Work
As a speech and language pathologist, a typical day involves “going through the motions of having a 9-to-5, working on my business when I get home, and then working in my shop when I have a day off,” Kristen says.
Juggling it all, while growing Color Cloud Mill, makes Kristen especially grateful for the support of her boyfriend and Barge North business partner.
“He’s so stoked for me and wants to help me whenever he can; he’s my number one fan and supporter,” says Kristen. “It helps when someone supports your passion and believes in you. You feel like all your work is gonna get you to wherever you want to be.”
Kristen’s sister pitches in at San Francisco markets and even her 6-year-old son gets in on the booth action too.
“When you support Color Cloud Mill, you’re supporting so many other people and there’s a lot of passion behind it,” she says.