“The willow is my favorite tree. I grew up near one. It’s the most flexible tree in nature and nothing can break it – no wind, no elements, it can bend and withstand anything.” – Pink
The willow tree often symbolizes balance and strength. The tree is one of few capable of bending in the face of force without snapping, which serves as a metaphor for adapting with life, rather than fighting it. “The willow is a tree of special significance for me and my husband,” shared Carissa Park. “On our wedding day, our first look was under a willow tree. We have always loved the regal and whimsical look of willow trees.”
Park is the designer behind Park + Willow, a small shop with big fashion. “I tend to be drawn to neutrals – black, gray, oatmeal, bone and charcoal. I like to accent with gorgeous florals and fun neutral prints, like camo and stripes,” she explained. “I like to make mostly staple pieces with charm: sweaters, hoodies, joggers and shorties. Camo has always been my biggest seller though.” Sounds like things I would wear myself. Park described the shop’s apparel style as cozy and neutral. “I wanted to see more items in the small shop world that do not have a gender assigned to them. I have seen people sell a pair of plain toddler jeans and customers ask, ‘are these for boys or girls?’ Clothes are for everyone,” she exclaimed. “And, I want kids to wear what makes them happy. If a girl loves stripes and camo, perfect! If a boy loves flowers, I love that too.” Park’s own children frequently influence the Park + Willow offerings. “I think 95% of my items are described as ‘soft.’ I am a huge texture person, and so are kids. I want all kids, my own included, to feel comfortable and cozy in the things they wear,” she said. “I also want their clothes to be for play and regular childhood life. My own boys wear the items I make for them nearly daily.” Shoppers have started recognizing Park’s distinctive constellation logo design. “I am so proud of my logo and it is fun to display it on every piece I make.” Each Park + Willow apparel item also comes with one of the shop’s leather tags. “It elevates even my most basic pieces to feeling more professional.”
Park launched the shop in August of 2018 while working full-time as a registered nurse. “I started my youngest as a brand rep for small shops when he was a few months old. It immersed me into the small shop world and I knew I wanted to be a part of it,” Park recalled. “My full-time job in the hospital comes with a significant mental and emotional health toll. I needed to find a way to decompress. This turned into a creative outlet for me. I love having this hobby outside of work.”
Like the branches of a willow tree – flexible and strong, bending without breaking – Park has found a way to balance it all. “I work full-time, night shift as an RN and I am a mom to a 7 year old autistic child and 2 year old,” she shared. “My life is so busy and I never have downtime! I schedule my drops around my work schedule and sacrifice lots of sleep in order to get the sewing time I need.” Beyond the creative outlet, Park + Willow also provides Park with a sounding board of other like-minded mamas. “I love connecting with my customers and it makes me so happy seeing customers share photos of their kiddos in my items. I, in turn, relish those same connections with other small shop owners who have become friends of mine.”
Park + Willow restocks regularly on its website, so join the shop’s VIP Facebook group here for details on upcoming releases.
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