It’s crazy to think we met in college as teenagers over 12 years ago (how is that even possible?!).
I was on a 3-month exchange from my home country Australia, and we met at a house party of the boy I was dating (and would later marry). Within 10 minutes of meeting we were eating brownie batter together and the night ended with us dressed as superheroes dancing to Britney Spears. Living in different countries and with the distraction of college, we stayed in OK touch over the next few years, but would always reconnect when I came back to the US to see my love Thomas. It’s always been one of those beautiful friendships where you just pick up where you left off – dancing, accessorizing, over using hairspray, and drinking Smirnoff Ice. After college life took different directions for us both, we emailed and chatted when we could, and we both made the trip overseas to each others weddings.
I moved with Thomas to the US in 2008 and since then (despite living on different sides of the country) our friendship has grown stronger and more incredible. In 2012 we were so excited to discover we were both pregnant with boys and only a few months apart – this was a dream and something we had always joked about happening. Both of us had great pregnancies and I delivered Atlas in February 2013. What I didn’t realize was that at the same time I was in labor, Vanessa was also in labor many months too early with her little boy Charlie. He was born and passed away the day after Atlas. Grief isn’t a strong enough word for this time. How Vanessa not only survived but came out of this a stronger more amazing woman is testament to what an incredible person she is. This was also such a huge test for our friendship – I wondered how we would ever be able to connect again when here I was with my beautiful little baby, which was only a reminder for Vanessa of what she had lost. But we did. We made it through with a lot of tears and heart-wrenching honest conversations, and it cemented our friendship and the lifelong connection that we will always share.
Joyful news is that Vanessa gave birth to a beautiful healthy baby boy in April 2014, and after our first visit out to LA to meet sweet Oliver, the seed for our little business was planted and began to grow.
We’ve always had a lot in common, but since having our boys we found we also have similar parenting styles and passions for art and letting kids be kids. During our visit we kept saying we needed to go into business together. Then we started kicking ideas back and forth, Mandy had a beautiful brainstorm, and boom! The Curated Tee was born. We make beautiful, affordable, gender-neutral t-shirts that expose kids to different forms of art. Each month a guest artist creates a unique design that we screen-print onto vintage-blend tees using water-based ink. Going into business with a friend is a dream, but also a little scary too. We set ground rules at the very beginning and treat the business the same way you would with someone who isn’t a friend. We established what we both wanted early on and what our roles are. We actually created and signed two contracts, one as business partners and one as besties. We check in on both vows regularly.
We’re entering our fifth month as a business and could not be prouder of what we have achieved together. We want to keep growing, working with amazing artists, and interacting with our little subscribers. We’ve been blogging a lot — and would love to expand on this with more content, guest bloggers, and videos. We hope by the end of the year to be working on developing a more interactive website where all the facets of what we do can come together in a more streamlined way. We don’t want to be just beautiful tees, we want to be a springboard for parents to interact with their children in creative ways, a place where children are introduced to art, an inspiration to get messy and let kids be kids.
The Curated mamas,
Mandy + Vanessa