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Meet Deirdre Otto of Milkweed and Mango

Today we’d like to introduce you to Deirdre Otto.

Deirdre, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Potty Training. This is probably not where you would expect me to start my journey with Milkweed and Mango’s handmade, organic children’s clothing company. To gear my 2-year-old up for the potty-training challenge I asked what kind of underwear she wanted to buy. “I want dinosaur and dragon underwear!” My response? “Great! That will be impossible to find.”

My daughter has a wild imagination that does not conform to normal ideas of what little girls should like, and this is honestly one of her most lovable qualities. Since the demands of my little creative director were not being met with traditional stores, I did what every sensible mother would do: I made them myself!

Since those first pairs of underwear, I have handmade hundreds of articles of clothing that have showcased dinosaurs, spaceships, mermaids riding unicorns, and even custom-made prints from children’s artwork. Each is pointing to the same mission of providing quality products that kids are proud to wear!

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Many parents acquire their children’s clothes in the same way as the next: going into one of the big-name brand stores and picking out your favorites from what is available to you. Most items from Milkweed and Mango are made-to-order, which means you have the option to make anything from small adjustments to making your kids wildest dreams come true! Want to add a flutter sleeve? Done! Want to dinosaurs instead of princesses? Done!

Want to welcome your newborn with a collective drawing from their older siblings? Done! It has been a challenge to have parent’s think outside the box an understand that with Milkweed and Mango a child can completely customize their outfit. I showcase each custom order on my website and social media accounts to show parents or gift givers examples of Milkweed and Mango’s Custom Creations and help unlock their child’s creativity.

My favorite ideas from the Custom Creations is welcome home gift sets for newborn babies. Kids often struggle with the idea of welcoming a new sibling and having them create a special piece of artwork to print onto crib sheets, swaddles, and clothing really helps them with the process.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
With Milkweed and Mango, I handmake organic children’s clothing and products with quality fabric that boast prints which are unique, expressive, and often the creation of a proud child. I have access to hundreds of graphic designers who create thousands of incredibly amazing prints for kids!

Among the fun prints that I often showcase, I also have a few exclusive prints which you can only get from Milkweed and Mango. The City Snacks line is our best seller and feature popular foods of a particular city and currently include Eat:Pittsburgh and Eat:Philly, with an Eat:Miami print on the horizon.

The “Eat Pittsburgh” line is also sold in an awesome boutique in Pittsburgh, WildCard. The other best seller is the Custom Creations line, and it is a personal favorite of mine because it gives me the ability to showcase a child’s very own artwork!

I find so much joy in joining forces with a child’s amazing mind to make their ideas happen– whether it’s as simple as picking a fabric of something fun that they like or working with them to design a fabric of their very own! There’s something incredible about a child’s imagination and creativity; innocent and unaltered by the real world’s dictation of what’s possible and not!

What were you like growing up?
I’m the youngest of six siblings. I was born in the midst of a lot of family struggle: mental health, physical health, marital health. There was a lot going on around me and being the youngest, I kind of got lost in the mix. I was very creative and kept to myself when I could.

I remember spending countless hours of my early years by myself, in my room, door shut finding whatever creative outlet I could. I’d strum on the guitar, jot down lyrics to self-written songs, paint cardboard or milk cartons, make jewelry, or sew. I was an “interesting” kid, a little outside the box.

Expressing myself in whatever platform I could acted as therapy for me. I’ve carried that into Milkweed and Mango- allow kids to express themselves through their wardrobe and have their ideas and opinions be acknowledged and seen.

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1 Comment

  1. Bonnie Jean Marsh

    February 3, 2019 at 6:59 pm

    I’ve used Milkweed and Mango for custom orders, and have really loved being able to get matching outfits across size brackets (got matching or coordinating patterns in baby, toddler, girls sizes). Just gotta convince her to add some adult patterns! 🙂

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