A new children’s clothing store is launching Saturday, Aug. 5 in Corvallis, just in time for back-to-school shopping.
Treefort, in the Sunset Shopping Center along Philomath Boulevard, will offer parents sustainable clothing, shoes and accessories for newborns up to tweens.
Owner Brittney Bryant grew up in a single-parent home, which meant that often there was not enough money for nice clothes. Bryant said she often felt self-conscious about this as a middle-schooler.
Years later, married with children of her own and able to afford it, buying nice clothing for her children has been a true joy, she said. But in Corvallis, where her family moved to in 2019, it has been nearly impossible to find kids’ clothes.
“I think it’s been a common complaint in the area that there simply aren’t many choices nearby,” Bryant said.
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Jessica Wisor, mother to a 15-year-old and a resident of Corvallis for 16 years, says she has had to make trips to Woodburn, Portland and Eugene for even the most basic clothing over the years.
“Back-to-school shopping meant either traveling to Portland or resorting to online shopping, which lacked the in-person experience where you can feel the fabric and hold it up to see how adorable it looks on your little one,” Wisor said.
Until the Corvallis Kmart store closed in early 2019, she could access some necessities there.
“But ever since that store closed, local shopping has been extremely limited,” Wisor said.
In downtown Corvallis, the Kid Shop remains, but Bryant said one of the limitations of the store is the unavailability of sustainable fashion items.
“I hear a lot of moms lamenting about the lack of kids’ underwear and socks,” Bryant said. “Beyond that, it’s online or driving out of town to a big box store.”
Last summer, Bryant decided to do something about this need. In addition to clothing, Treefort will offer raingear, books, natural wood or organic toys and accessories, and lots of socks and underwear.
The process of launching began with connecting with an advisor at the Small Business Development Center in Corvallis, then finding a trademark-able name — something neutral, childlike and nature-inspired to embody the region and target market.
“I feel like ‘Treefort’ embodies a Pacific Northwest childhood perfectly,” Bryant said.
Last August, Bryant began a process to trademark the name, and registered the business by November.
Location hunting led to the Sunset Shopping Center, a lease was signed last January, and Bryant began designing the space and putting in furniture.
“I found a POS system that seamlessly integrates with the e-commerce website and began making orders to prepare for the launch,” she said. “I’ve been making occasional social media posts and talking to other moms. We had three kids at three different schools last year, so it really gave us a wide network of families to reach out to.”
With a background in graphic design and experience in retail, as well as launching and rebranding small businesses, Bryant believes she is uniquely positioned to be starting Treefort.
Aside from the community building potential of launching a local business — Bryant plans to host events such as weekly story times at the store — she is most excited about the sustainable aspects of the business.
“I really think it’s important to take accountability for our waste and wear on the planet,” Bryant said. “Not only on a global scale, but even just what we’re putting on our children and using within our homes.”
Patrons are very excited about this, according to feedback during the store’s soft launch on July 27.
“As a mom, Treefort’s emphasis on sustainable fashion is essential to me,” Wisor said.
There are a few paths that Bryant is looking to toe with the sustainability focus. One is to source clothing and accessories made from material such as bamboo.
Bryant was recently at the Playtime and Kidshub trade show in Manhattan, where she was able to source items from sustainable brands she’s excited to bring to the Corvallis market. She said she also made connections with manufacturers to have bamboo onesies, sleepers, footless rompers and pajamas made in house-branded designs that will be offered at discounted prices.
Another path to sustainability, Bryant said, is to consider the working conditions in which the clothing is produced.
And, because there are often gray areas to how truly eco-friendly material such as bamboo can be, there’s the fireproof path of ensuring that parents simply buy less. Some brands at the store, such as Shelk Wear, offer expandable clothing that lasts longer by spanning three sizes so the child can grow into the clothing item.
“I have a number of friends who have younger children or are expecting babies. I appreciate having a local store to go to for quality gifts,” Wisor said.
“Not only am I proud to support a local business, but I absolutely adore the designs I’ve seen in the store. Treefort has paid attention to every detail, offering coordinated collections and unique accessories that you just can’t find anywhere else,” she added.
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