Q&A with Biddle and Bop founder Jessica Schaefer
At Wonderkin, we know that good gear can make or break your outdoor exploration time. That's why every Wonderkin box includes exclusive promo codes for brands we trust to deliver top-notch gear that will make your outdoor adventures more comfortable and stylish. This month we're featuring Biddle and Bop, a company that features waterproof, all weather Scandinavian kids' gear that’s both affordable and play worthy.
Jessica Schaefer singlehandedly runs Biddle and Bop from the NYC outskirts in suburban New Jersey. She has three young children, all of whom love trail hikes and backyard play, and are on a first name basis with the package delivery drivers. Jessica has traveled the globe and now shares her love of adventure through Biddle and Bop.
We're excited to share her story with you...
What is your favorite outdoor childhood memory?
Growing up we lived on a half acre surrounded by protected marshlands and cornfields. My siblings and I knew to stay out of the cornfields but the marshes and brush on the edges of the farms were ours, and we used to climb tall birch trees that swayed hard in the wind, take ropes out to swing from them and lower each other in daring feats which I sure would have made my mother stop us right away... we'd hide in the brambles along the road and spy on the occasional passing car, dare each other to touch the electric cow fence with long blades of grass. It's a good reminder to me that these unstructured, very very simplistic forms of play are often the very best. Also, of the value and joy of risk!
What inspired you to found Biddle and Bop?
When our first child was born we looked here there and everywhere for the gear and clothing we loved - and everyone would ask where her things came from, leaving us to send them all over the place. Of course, who does that? So we said that someday, we'd bring all those things - organic, sustainable and hand designed clothing; tough outdoor kidswear; babywearing, toys, etc - to one place, to bring all of our favorite things to one place. We wanted our kiddo to grow up with that free spirit and wild nature and we had to look outside of the norm - and then of course, we wanted to share it.
What sets your gear apart from what’s typically available here in the U.S.?
Children's gear and clothing in the US is so focused on price that we've forgotten value. There's a disconnect between clothing and the world around us - and a lot of times we've chosen not to think about it, because it seems too huge: the issue of fair labor, organics, sustainable practices - and then there is the fact that our clothing is not built for play, at least not what is readily available and at a price your average family can afford. We source a range of items but all with these values in mind - we're looking for gear that is build for kids at play; that works well (waterproofing is a great keyword, but it can mean all levels of that on a tag); that is sustainably sourced and produced; and that is a good value. Second to that we love the patterns, colors, and little details that make our gear shine!
Take a moment to brag about Biddle and Bop - what’s the one accomplishment that you’re most proud of?
What makes me most proud is to scroll through the #biddleandbopkids hashtag on Instagram and see a community forming, families of all backgrounds, in all kinds of environments throughout North America, lots of different walks and schooling methods and parenting styles, but all who value kids and play. And there's a lot of smiles and a lot of mud, and that's encouraging - it really is huge and I think a sign that great changes are happening in our generation and in our future generation, our children, as well.
What’s one pro tip you’d offer parents looking to spend more time outdoors with their children
Get out there. It's always hardest when it's been a while, and it's just so easy to make excuses, because they're really valid - you are tired, you are doing a million things, there will be more laundry, the kids will at times be demanding, or overtired, or hungry, or have to pee at inopportune times - and we adults will have all those struggles too- but each time you get out there you rewire your brain to see it as possible and positive. Even if it's just a short time - and it's always longer than you think because once you get going, it's addictive in a beautiful way - but take every opportunity, because it's so valuable.
Finish this sentence: "Spending time in nature makes me feel…”
Renewed. There is so much to life, and for us homeschooling/unschooling, running a business, raising kids, working other jobs - it's never ending and we're not yet where we want to be, so I crave that time where I can just breathe, let my body soak in that air and feel the wind and take a weight off my shoulders. It helps too that the kids are always more at peace outdoors. We love to hike together, love to explore, and they love to just play outside, so that's so encouraging to me. I feel like I've done well when I see them at peace in nature.
Looking for more tips? Jessica kindly put together these guidelines for encouraging outdoor play in all weather:
“No bad weather, just bad clothing” is a Scandinavian saying that helps explain why their kids spend so much time at play - in all weather. Ever wondered what kids in Scandinavia wear outdoors? At Biddle and Bop you’ll find forest school waterproof favorites and all weather play gear from Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and beyond.
For all kids, for all weather. Biddleandbop.com.
May Subscribers: check your box for an exclusive promo code for 15% off your next Biddle and Bop purchase!