Family Line

Family Line

The birth of Theresa Nast’s fourth child in 2018 led to the birth of a new direction in life. After several years as a bridal designer, she’d finally had enough of wedding-prep pressures. “I was

in the hospital with my new baby when I got a panicked email from a bride saying she needed outfits for eight bridesmaids in three weeks and wanted my help. I just thought, ‘I’m done. This is crazy. I’m not enjoying what I do anymore.’”

But another idea was already taking root: a venture designing children’s clothes, now come to fruition as the West Rock Apparel Co. The online business specializes in organic, sustainable clothing for children from birth to age 3 that’s meant to be durable, comfortable, easy to wash and unisex. Instead of classic baby pinks and blues, the line reflects its local namesake with earth tones like caramel, “solitude” (a dark green), “mushroom” (a dark brown) and indigo. “I wanted everything to be very natural and neutral for boys and girls,” Nast says. “I wanted to ensure that these clothing items would last through multiple children, that they could be passed along. It makes me so happy when people send photos of their second baby wearing a onesie they bought a year ago for their first.”

West Rock’s Westville Onesie ($58) is unusual in that it has a snap-front opening. There’s nothing to pull over a baby’s wobbly head, which can be an arduous task. “If you have a onesie you can just lay out, put the baby on top and work from there, it’s much easier,” Nast explains. Parents can combine this garment with soft, breathable, slim-cut Elm City Joggers pants ($59) or a New Haven Snap Jacket ($64) for extra warmth, or they may opt for the Sweet Baby Bundle ($173), which combines all three.

The joggers and jacket are available up to size 2/3T, but toddlers also have their own specially designed attire, which includes the White Oak Long Sleeve Tee ($59), the one-piece Crandall Romper ($119), the Robin Crewneck Sweatshirt ($68) and River Trousers ($62). The trousers come with oversized pockets designed to allow children to store “all the little treasures they find while playing outside,” Nash says. “My kids are always filling their pockets with rocks and mulch.” Customers also have the choice of purchasing a Tiny Tot Bundle of tee, sweatshirt and trousers ($175). All these items are sized from 12 months to 2/3T. There’s also a special pair of summer selections available only in sizes 2, 4 and 6—the Old School Summer Tee ($30) and Summer Shorties ($18).

Though Nast started thinking about her children’s clothing project in 2018, it would take another three years—with the birth of her fifth child in February 2021—to really start making her dream a reality. She suffered debilitating postpartum anxiety and depression, partly because the country was in peak pandemic mode. “Everyone was wearing masks and there was illness all around,” she says. Focusing on her new ambition—as well as undergoing therapy and following a strict exercise regimen—was her way to heal. “I decided not to take any medications, not because I’m against that route, but I was nursing a child at the time.”

Getting West Rock Apparel fully underway had its frustrations. Armed with a B.A. in studio arts from Bard College and a second degree in fashion design, Nast had developed her wedding fashion business by doing all the creative work herself: designing, making patterns and sewing. This time around, she designed and then delegated, searching out external patternmakers and manufacturers to bring her plans to life. Finding the right companies turned out to be easier said than done. “It was a real trial-and-error experience,” she says, “and kind of a mess to try to get these other people on the same page. There was a lot of back-and-forth.” She insisted her collaborators be close—West Rock’s clothes are produced in New York City—but locating a reliable manufacturer was particularly difficult. “The first place I worked with just stopped communicating with me until I pressured them, and the second place started sending me sweatshirt samples with the wrong side of the fabric facing out. I started thinking I was the crazy one.”

The third choice was the charm, and West Rock was launched on Thanksgiving 2022. The clothes are made of organic Texas-grown, pesticide- and chemical-free cotton, which is colored with low-impact fiber-reactive dyes free of heavy metals and other chemical mordants. Nast is particularly proud of the fact all her pieces, regardless of size, are made to be roomy, noting that “the cuffs on our shirts are meant to be rolled up at first, then you can just unroll them as your child grows.” The company’s stylish aesthetic is based on “how I always preferred to dress my kids.”

She’s also garnered ideas from other parents of young children, including two sisters-in-law, friends and even social media followers. “I knew I wasn’t going to please everybody, but I’ve found plenty of people who like our style. I’ve done public markets where I’ve even gotten a lot of dads coming up to me and complimenting my designs.” She also bounces ideas off her children—Augustus (age 12), Mercer (10), Beatrix (8), Lucian (6) and Paloma (3)—who are among her biggest cheerleaders. Lucian and Paloma have modeled outfits for West Rock’s website, in photos shot by their father Jon.

“When I told two of my older kids that I was going to do an interview about my business with Daily Nutmeg and they would need to entertain themselves for a while, Mercer said, ‘Good for you, Mom!’” she says, laughing. “Just being able to show my kids that you can work hard and create something of your own that you love is really important for me.” She’s currently developing ideas for children’s clothes up to sizes 10 and 12 and even some pieces for adult women. “I want to build this brand in a way that works for me, and to remember that I don’t need to play by anybody else’s rules.”

Written by Patricia Grandjean. Photos courtesy of West Rock Apparel Co.

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