A few years ago, I sat down to make a birthday gift for my little friend Charlie who was turning four. As the boss of my own graphic design business, I spend not only entire days sitting in front of a computer, but also too much time worrying about serious grown-up things like strategic planning, budgets, and making the right decision. So sitting down to play with something—whether it's fabric or vegetables—is something I really love and crave in my life. I try to not only have a bit of fun and take my mind off all the things I get worked up about each day, but also remind myself that in those moments of play, when it doesn't matter what the outcome is—real magic happens. Magic that impacts the course of all that "serious" business.
So when this sweet little idea emerged during my afternoon crafting session—a button holding a stack of felt shapes on the front of a baby T-shirt—it seemed a little bit silly, but mostly really great. That little stack could be a sandwich, a flower, sushi, a dump truck, a monster, ice cream, ANYTHING! And it turned out to be a hit. Charlie loved taking this first prototype apart and putting it back together—and whatever combination she made, she got to wear it around all day too. So I made another one, and another, and another until I had a whole bunch of different designs.
The Itty Bitty Project was born.
At my studio and other kids' birthday parties, I loved watching what kids would do with all the pieces. I saw two little friends putting their tees together side-by-side, swapping bits and coming up with their own ingenious combinations. They were certain that eyeballs belonged in outer space. An aspiring chef even asked his mom, “Can I have bacon and egg on my pizza?”
When a friend's three-year-old got her Itty Bitty Monster T-shirt, she instantly named it Shiny and had an extensive conversation with it, as it hung on the towel rack during her bath time.
This clothing concept was brimming with creative potential in all of its possible permutations, and also empowering little ones to make their own very important decisions, to experiment with convention, and to find an arrangement that could be satisfying one day, then changed the next. In this way, the Itty Bitty project is for all big people who want to nurture the innovative spirit in their little ones.
There is no "finished," no "done." Creativity doesn’t have to have a fixed goal. It’s important to have freedom to explore, reinvent and reimagine, without the fear of failure.
And if the little ones can do that much with just a T-shirt, imagine what they could do with everything else in the world around them?
We are starting out with a collection of eight T-shirt designs, each with a kit of six to eight bits that either snap or button onto a little T-shirt. We’re constantly working on sketches to expand our themes into new designs so more and more bits can be rearranged in more and more interesting combinations. And because grown-ups have been asking for it, we are also making selected designs available in adult sizes. Birthday party sets, DIY kits and educational gift boxes—with additional items, including a little book full of interesting facts about the theme of the given shirt are also in the works.
And while the Itty Bitty project is meant for little ones, it's also a reminder for all of us to take ourselves a little bit less seriously. To indulge in creativity that triggers the magic from life's "serious" business. And if you do things one way one day, that doesn't mean you can't do them differently another day.
Support the Itty Bitty Project on Kickstarter now until Wednesday, August 7.
This project is part of GOOD's series Push for Good—our guide to crowdsourcing creative progress.