Nina Westbrook is a quiet storm. She’s a licensed marriage and family therapist, wife to NBA player Russell Westbrook, mom of one son and twin girls (three super adorable littles) under the age of 5, owner of The Little Ark clothing line. On Saturday, August 1 this powerhouse launched Minibrook. An epicene children’s line designed for sustainability. Like the lush Coach bags back in the day, these baby’s bottom pieces grow softer with wearing,washing, and time. This apparel line was developed with detailed thought, love, and personal intention that you will not be handing them down anytime soon. Get to know Nina as she shares some really insightful parts of herself through the launch of Minibrook.
Chauna: First, thank you for taking the time out of your demanding schedule to chat with Sugaberry about Minibrook. The babies on your site are so adorable. And the clothing looks extra soft against their chubby cheeks and toddler rolls. It seems to be a family affair.
With home being more at the center of present-day living, comfort is more necessary than ever. Your line is crafted to put the ease and comfort back in dressing our little ones and it allows them the movement and flexibility they need to explore throughout the day.
Chauna: How was coming up with the idea for Minibrook different from The Little Ark?
Nina: When I decided to open The Little Ark, I wasn’t a mom at the time, and I had a much wider range as far as my interest and hobbies… I also developed The Little Ark as a means to fulfill what I felt was a need in the community that I was living in at the time. When I was developing the concept and foundation for Minibrook, I was able to draw from my own personal experiences with my own children. I had a pretty good idea about what I felt was a great balance between functional, practical, and chic in reference to children’s clothing.
Chauna: What inspired the creation of Minibrook?
Nina: My kids inspired me. I had thought about creating a children’s clothing line well before I actually moved forward with the idea. It takes me some time to come to grips with making huge life decisions. I think we have always been a fashion [forward] family, but once I had my kids, I was very much so inspired by them, and especially once my twin girls were born. There were some obstacles I faced when it came to buying clothes that fit them. Although they were not technically considered premature for twins, they were smaller than average when they were born and it took months for any of their clothes to actually fit them. That inspired me to carry premature sizes.
Chauna: These garments are made in Los Angeles. Tell us about the step-by-step process of how they’re made, and what that means for our children’s skin, comfort, washability, and rewearing?
Nina: Minibrook is thoughtfully designed and handcrafted in Los Angeles. Our team mills and dyes GOT-certified [textile production certification of a high standard that limits use of toxic bleaches, dyes, and other chemicals] organic cotton textiles and pre-washes each garment with an unscented silicone wash, creating remarkably soft, easier-to-care for garment that improves with every wear. I think that the smart thing for me to do was to focus on sustainability. When we think of children’s clothing, oftentimes we think of the fact that kids grow so fast, that they will barely get a chance to wear them. I wanted to make sure that Minibrook was designed with essentials in mind, and had a level of simplicity to it that allows for continual use. WIth that said, the quality of the clothing had to be able to sustain that level of use. They aren’t meant or designed to be worn once or twice. They are meant to be worn day in and day out, and improve and become softer with wears. The idea is that you don’t need to continue buying clothes over and over again because they don’t hold up. During the design process, we made it a point to cut our clothing a little longer in order to allow more room for growth.
Chauna: I love how you built philanthropy into this line. Why was this important to you?
Nina: As a family, philanthropy is always at the forefront of everything we do. For me personally, I think that my background as a marriage and family therapist always comes through in all that I do. I have such a keen and strong belief in the power of community, and working together to support those within our community. I think I’m always trying to figure out a way to draw people in, and inspire young people with the stories of triumph and growth that we all share. I wanted to be sure to foster a giveback component, and a community component to Minibrook. Because of that, we have committed to donating 3-8% of the proceeds each quarter to nonprofits that align with our vision.
Chauna: How have you juggled entrepreneurship, with motherhood and family life?
Nina: I’m just doing my best. There are definitely times when I am stuck working or dealing with things while my kids are in the next room playing, and ever so often calling out for me. It makes me feel like I just want to stop everything and be with them all of the time. It’s been especially hard with my husband being away for work because I feel much more at ease when our children are with at least one of us. Right now, I’m picking up the slack for both of us, so it’s been a lot of work. I just try to have special and meaningful moments with them every chance that I get. I am so blessed to have some amazing people around me helping me, including my mother who is committed to babysitting her grandkids certain days of the week. They love spending time with their grandparents, and uncles, so it’s just been a family effort really. Without the support of my husband and our families, I wouldn’t be able to do any of this.
Chauna: Was there anything that terrified you about introducing this line?
Nina: EVERYTHING! I am not a risk-taker, and I’m a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to myself. I have so much grace for others, but I tend to forget to take it easy on my own self sometimes. I probably asked everyone that I speak to daily what their thoughts were about every little detail about the line. Everyone was constantly assuring me that they loved it, but that did not ease my anxiety at all. I don’t think I got much sleep the week leading up, but I’m happy to report that I AM BACK! I’m also thrilled to get to spend so much more time with my kids, and I definitely felt a huge sense of relief as launch day finally came and went. It was such an amazing day, and I received so much support from everyone. I was definitely happy.
Chauna: Was there anything that empowered you about launching Minibrook?
Nina: Definitely. It served as another reminder that I can achieve things if I work really hard at it. I did question myself a few times throughout the process because it was a lot to be taking on. I am very hands on, and with a very small team, I was able to create a brand that I can be proud of, which is something that I never thought I’d be able to say. I learned so much throughout the process, and doing all of this during COVID kind of forced me to learn to do a lot of things on my own. I’m really grateful for my kids and my husband who helped me get through it all.
Chauna: How did you grow as a result of giving the world Minibrook?
Nina: I think that I learned so much more about being an entrepreneur. There were definitely some hiccups along the way, and moments of growth, but I feel like all of those things just propelled me forward as a more knowledgeable, and experienced business owner. I’m still learning, and growing day by day, but I think that is the beauty of life. My goal is to never stop growing as an individual, as a wife, a mother, and a businesswoman. The older I get, the more I learn about how much of a better student I am in my adulthood, than when I was younger and in school. If only I had known then, what I know now.