Made in Tribeca: Welcome Future Kids

When the pandemic hit and so many of the city’s vintage and used clothing stores shut down for good, Jessica Grindstaff and Kerry Sulski were heartbroken. They both had kids the same age and loved perusing Clementine Consignment for finds, but more than that, they were committed to the ideas of sustainability and ethics when it came to dressing their children.

So as they sat on a bench in Washington Market Park last spring, lamenting, they decided to do something about it. By September they had created Welcome Future Kids, sort of like The RealReal for children’s clothing, but with a twist: not only are the items on their second time around, they are also carefully vetted to come from manufacturers that use good practices. (It happens that they are also adorable and cool.)

“It’s really important to us that we are keeping clothes out of landfills and promoting the circular economy,” said Jessica, whose local theater company — Phantom Limb — has worked on climate issues for 15 years. “The idea is to buy better and buy less.”

So far it’s a labor of love — they do everything themselves — that they hope can grow as a business. They’ve done deep-dives into companies that practice sustainability, vetting each brand on the site. (They turn down donations of brands that don’t adhere to ethical practices, even if it means passing up on some gorgeous stuff.) Together they sort, clean, press and photograph the clothes. And they even pickup and deliver, often with Jessica circling the neighborhood on her bike or arranging pickups in the 234 schoolyard.

That is part of the mission: to keep it local and manageable, almost circular. The idea of a store might be further down the line, but for now they try to pick up and deliver without leaving a carbon footprint, using bikes or public transportation. And starting in Tribeca made sense for a lot of reasons.

“We thought our neighborhood in particular was ripe for it since people can afford to buy clothes from brands that are trying to do it better,” said Kerry, a personal trainer who sees clients privately. “We loved the idea of giving new lives to clothes from companies who are paying their workers well and are concerned with waste reduction and clean production; it had been a priority for both of us.”

You can see the full list of companies here, but some favorites among the founders (Jessica has two girls, 2 and 9, and Kerry has a son who is 9 — they met in an HRP Mamas playgroup): Wee Monster, Joah Love, Mabo — and even the kids can tell the difference. “My son is really into it,” Kerry said, who gets him hoodies and drop-crotch sweats in French terry from Wee Monster. “He said, ‘Mom, these feel amazing and they are really cool.'”

The original concept was to sell the clothes on consignment, but when parents offered to donate their kids’ clothes, they added a charity component. Now they give a portion of sales to a non-profit that will rotate regularly; the first was the Sing Sing Family Collective, and the monthly donation allowed organizers to provide art supplies and snacks for kids visiting an incarcerated parent. “Our goal is to work with small organizations that can take the money and right away directly help families,” Kerry said.

(They also have fundraiser for Ukraine going on right now.)

They will continue to do everything themselves for the first year and then take a look at their progress, see how it’s working and get a plan from there. So far they love that they have just created something from scratch that supports their principles in so many ways — not just keeping clothing out of landfills, but also addressing climate change, better business practices and children’s health — all in the neighborhood.

They can even imagine a cultural shift, where children’s clothing escapes from the fast-fashion cycle and reselling becomes much more acceptable and active. For now, by keeping the prices low (their formula is to charge 35 percent of the retail price) and refining the aesthetic, sales are trending in the right direction. And while it can be overwhelming to keep on top of the logistics when things get brisk, it reminds them that they are onto something.

“It’s all about being super local and circular,” said Jessica. “We have so much here, such an abundance of wealth, and we love that we can also use this to help people who are worried about getting food on the table. Once we cemented that part of the business, it suddenly felt like we knew why we were spending our time on this. I’ve been surprised by the community we have already built.”



  1. This is great.

  2. You fabulous ladies are rock in’ it!!! I totally believe in our new world becoming one of zero waste; an absolute circle of use. So very many people can give; and so very many need help.