A few weeks ago, Jesse and I with our two young girls in tow checked out the Children’s Trunk Show. So many fabulous and talented vendors, including one of Vancouver Mom’s 50 Essential Portrait Photographers Jenn Di Spirito, were displaying their products and services. One of these unique merchants was Melissa Saunders of Barking Hippo, a new company that re-creates retro inspired upcycled threads for kids.
Currently juggling a role as a consultant for Skyline BC, which helps companies with their trade show marketing programs, Melissa always wanted to start her own business and knew that the idea would just present itself – it was only a matter of time before it happened.
And it did.
Melissa was inspired to start Barking Hippo when she tried to dress her toddler in fun and funky, but sustainable and affordable clothes. “I was struggling to find unique items,” recalls Melissa, “so I started creating them myself.” Barking Hippo reclaims vintage t-shirts and reworks them into onesies and t-shirts for kids. The concept of “upcycling” called to her and Barking Hippo was born.
When I saw Barking Hippo at the Children’s Trunk Show, I was immediately struck by how funky and cool the concept was. Barking Hippo has several lines including Rockstar Threads, which are made out of old concert or rock band t-shirts; Gnarly Threads, which are made from funky retro surf t-shirts; Hippo Threads, made from nostalgic product or brand tees; and Naughty Threads, made from cheeky t-shirts but give adults a laugh. One onesie she showed us had an arrow pointing up with the words “The man” and another arrow pointing down with the words “The legend” – doubly funny since you can’t believe someone actually wore that shirt at some point. Melissa even reuses the excess material leftover and makes Droolers, bandanna-inspired bibs.
Barking Hippo even provides a services that allows people to send in their t-shirt to be remade into a Barking Hippo tee for their kids. “Who doesn’t have that old concert or Alumni t-shirt in their closet that they could not part with because of the emotional association?” asks Melissa, “You can still enjoy it… but on your kid!” Hmmm, there may be something with my Beastie Boys concert t-shirt afterall.
You can buy Barking Hippo t-shirts at Barkinghippo.com, which is frequently updated with new inventory. You’ll also find them at trade shows and artisan markets – check out their events page on the site for details.