Pacifica, CA

The Coastal Child takes first steps as a family business

Kristen Philipkoski

(Kate, Miles, Otto and Hank Sosnowski, co-founders of The Coastal Child)

Over this past pandemic past year, many of us have come up with ideas. Whether or not they came to fruition is another story.

Kate Sosnowski, a yoga instructor and mother of three in Pacifica, California, had an idea brewing for months. It's called The Coastal Child, and although she sees it becoming something much bigger, she decided to take the first step on her big idea rather than get bogged down by grand plans that felt overwhelming.

She's building brand recognition for The Coastal Child with a line of children's t-shirts and sweatshirts, featuring cute (but also cool) design elements co-created by her son Otto (10). Her oldest son, Miles (12), balances the books. Hank, almost 4, wears two hats: "master interruptor and number one model."

While it might be quicker and easier to leave the practicalities of the job to the adults, Kate is passionate about keeping her boys involved every step of the way, so her dream project can also be a vehicle to learning how business and creativity can work together to create something meaningful.

I caught up with Kate to hear more about the genesis of The Coastal Child, how is has evolved and how she managed to launch something new during a pandemic with three boys and a husband all staying home.

Please share a bit about yourself! Where are you from, what's your background, etc.

"I’m a coastal mama to 3 boys in Pacifica, California. With a background in education, health and wellness, I have been a Yoga teacher for nearly 20 years. I’ve been lucky to weave  lots of other fun stuff into my 'work' too—event planning, health advocating for Beautycounter, doula work, a teaching credential and more. 

When the pandemic hit my yoga business slammed to a halt. My focus became my boys, they needed all of me. We mastered puzzles and zoom school, dabbled in sourdough bread baking and tie dye. When the major stir craziness set in, I knew we needed more."

What inspired you to create The Coastal Child? 

"I have always had an entrepreneurial mind, but have never had the guts or confidence to start anything outside my wheelhouse. As a yoga teacher for almost 20 years my experience was not in design, apparel or online sales but like so many, the pandemic stirred something up in me. Ideas started flowing big time and in an effort to stay sane, so did my meditation practice. The Coastal Child came to me on my mat, as quite a big multifaceted business. The timing was terrible. Small businesses all around us were closing. It would have been easy to sit and wait, or not do anything at all. Instead I jumped in with two feet into a brand recognition campaign creating tees and sweatshirts with our logos. With some time on our hands, I wanted to involve my big boys. The whole shirt project came quickly and with ease (as things seem to when the universe is on your side). Family dinners turned into brainstorming sessions, zoom breaks became graphic design time and spreadsheet production for my boys. As we started sharing our plans the support came rolling in."

What is your range of products? 

"We currently have children’s t-shirts and sweatshirts with 6 different logos with more to come. Our line was inspired, imagined and designed by myself and my two oldest boys, Miles and Otto."  

What are your plans for the coming year?

"Well, we have big ones. While I want to keep much of our plans under wraps for now, I will say the large scale version of The Coastal Child will encompass all of my areas of expertise with a very strong focus on community… and of course t-shirts."

What's the best way for people to purchase?

"Etsy! Our shop just went live. Small but mighty so far."

What materials do you use?

"We have chosen to source our shirts from a California based company. Garments are sustainably created in a  WRAP (Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production) factory in California. Solar powered sewing and cutting machines, 7x less water that typical manufactures and virtually zero waste. I feel really good about our line. Not to mention they are uber soft and cozy."

What do you love about living on the coast? 

"What don’t I love!? It doesn’t matter if its foggy or sunny, whether the sea is wild or tame, the coast offers constant peace and relentless beauty. Maybe it’s the fact that its ever-changing? One time we tried to move to Oakland. I love Oakland, I really do but upon arrival to sign final paperwork my husband and I turned to each other with suffocating looks. We both knew we couldn’t do it. Too far from the sea. So here we are with forever sand in our cars and salty smiles on our faces. Pacifica has become a sanctuary of sorts. In so many ways our little town and community have shaped our whole lives."

It would be MUCH easier for me to run numbers, sell at pop up’s and design alone but these new skills are invaluable for my guys. It’s worth the extra time to teach them some business basics and good old fashioned dream following.

How did you manage to launch a new business with three boys at home all year?!

"I’ll start by saying I am a hot mess a lot of the time! I have three wild boys who I’ve had to keep quiet for a year while my husband works his tech job in our home. 

The pandemic shake up had some silver linings for us. New perspective, a new house, new views, feelings and priorities. I had talked about my own dreams for so long to my boys but, I realized it was all talk. No action. Not the example I wanted to be for them. So with a little fear and a new lens on life we decided to start. Starting is the hardest part. My son Otto, the artist, took an immediate interest in designing and my son Miles, a natural with numbers, easily fell into the accountant role. It’s a family affair!

I wanted to create a passion project for all of us to share and work hard on together. It would be MUCH easier for me to run numbers, sell at pop up’s and design alone but these new skills are invaluable for my guys. It’s worth the extra time to teach them some business basics and good old fashioned dream following."

Any tips for staying organized and/or motivated?

"My motivation comes from three places: my surroundings (let’s face it the California coast is amazing), my community of phenomenal female entrepreneurs (I have been lucky enough to collect some badass friends through the years that lift their sisters up aways) and my mindfulness practice (we have so many answers and inspiration inside of us but its often muddled with the busyness of modern-day life. Get still, get quiet. The possibilities are endless)."

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I'm a veteran writer and editor and founder of Mean Magazine and The Mean Podcast for GenX women. I write about everything from fashion to science and everything in between. I’ve written for Racked, Refinery 29, 7x7, SF Chronicle, Wired, Gizmodo and many others.

Pacifica, CA

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