there are so. many. baby products out on the market that it makes knowing what is best for our little man difficult at times. and when you find something he likes, you want 100 of them. enter our koko's nest blanket.
not only has this blanket become a permanent part of our daily routine but how it came into our life is my favorite part. this fall, i had the pleasure of meeting the founder of koko's nest, sy yang, at a local creatives gathering. her energy and the enthusiasm she had for her brand immediately clicked and the desire to share it on a personal, local level was what really got me interested. then seeing the product... i was hooked!! what i didn't realize is actually how much i would need this blanket. a warm, soft, blanket that can literally be used for anything, anywhere, anytime that i could then easily wash. cannon and i are grateful that sy has found a way to make that happen, in such a gorgeous way.
after being obsessed with the design and vision for koko's nest for five seconds I wanted to get to know sy and the brand a bit better. i can honestly say that i think sy is my spirit animal, and i can identify with her on so many levels. i am inspired by her great work and am excited to be able to share it here.
egc: Let's start with the obvious... who is koko?
sy: Haha… very good question. Truth is, around the time when I was bringing this brand to life, I had a fun game I played with my baby girl: whenever I felt like we needed a moment of laughter, I would quickly tap her nose and say “ko ko” before she had a chance to grab my finger (I speak in Korean to her and “ko” means “nose” in Korean). She thought it was hilaaaarious. So I found myself saying it a lot, and eventually “koko” came to represent some of the most joyful moments as a new parent — the moments when I felt like all the warm and fuzzy feelings of family and motherhood came to life. The brand’s name “koko’s nest” is meant to evoke those same emotions -- safety, comfort, a sense of home and belonging.
egc: The pattern/style for each blanket is very minimal. Was that because of personal aesthetics or is there more to it?
sy: I always had a strong sense of personal style, and I always knew that I wanted to be a mom. But when I was pregnant for the first time and shopping around for baby things, I couldn’t find anything that fit my modern and simple aesthetic and my pragmatic values. There were many times I found myself at a baby store staring at a wall of pastel pinks and blues, and animals patterns and encouraging myself to just get over it and give in, but something in me resisted.
Being pregnant for the first time, I was trying to grasp what kind of parent I wanted to be… I was trying to envision what values would underpin our family. And believe it or not, these big questions loomed over me when I was shopping for baby things -- it truly felt like my first “actions” as a parent. I felt a need to create an environment for our baby that was authentically “us" as parents, as individuals. I believed that being as true to myself would be the first step towards me being the best mom I could be. That’s why I just couldn’t give into the wall of pink and blue and animal prints (!)
I love simple design that is ageless, timeless. Things that don’t distract from what you truly care about — your baby, your child, your shared moments. The Modern Heirloom collection has a fairly simple color block design, but all the color blocks are differently sized, which gives them a unique character and charm.
egc: The blankets have such cute names. Where do they come from?
sy: The blankets' names are inspired by the houses and dorms at Harvard, my alma mater. I think I felt the first sense of “home” ironically when I moved away to college. When it came to naming our blankets, it all started with this coral and mint green blanket, which I knew I wanted to name Cabot — my house for three years in college. And the rest just kind of followed from there. I was looking for names that weren’t too heavily gendered. But I realize I will quickly run out of names unless I want to name a blanket Wigglesworth or Hurlbut!!
egc: Made in the USA! Can you explain the process for creating each blanket?
sy: Yes, we’re proudly made in the USA. The knitting industry has all but died here. It’s unfortunate but true. Knitting takes a lot of time, care, and skill. It’s not like many woven or knit-fabric items where you can just cut and sew from pre-manufactured sheets of fabric — knitting means creating the entire piece, loop by loop. We have partnered with a wonderful Scotsman with industry experience both in his homeland and in New York City. Our blankets are made in an ethical, sustainable way. Every single blanket has gone through caring hands before it lands in our customer’s hands.
Keeping our production here in the USA is an intentional decision that I’m really proud of. There may be some circumstances down the road that make it difficult to keep it here, but I’m hoping that growing koko’s nest will mean the American knitting industry will grow as well!
egc: Who or what inspires you?
sy: Oh, I could write a book in response to this! First, my kids inspire me to be my most authentic self, and koko’s nest is definitely an important extension of that principle. I learned early on with my daughter that a happy mom means a happy child. Or put differently, our kids take their first cues from us — when I got anxious and stressed, so did my baby, and when I relaxed, so did she. And I think that lesson permeates much of my everyday life, as well as my plans as a business owner. I think about what I wish for my kids and I chase the same dreams with the same determination.
And second, I’m so inspired by women who have paved their own paths to their own version of success. I grew up with such a linear and segmented understanding of success and achievement. Since becoming a mom, I'm rewiring my brain to think differently. I wish that when we talk about role models and mentors, we’d talk more about a holistic picture of a person’s life -- career, life skills, family, etc. I personally never had such a role model, but now I’m really inspired by women who don’t “wear different hats” as wife, mom, career woman, but rather has a fully integrated life and sense of self.
egc: Can you share any information on upcoming projects/pop ups or perhaps a new line?
sy: One project I’m working on this year is our blog. I had a bit of a lightbulb moment when I realized that what was really missing from koko’s nest was a stronger sense of community and belonging across our audience and customer base. This will definitely be more of a passion project than anything else, but I hope to develop something unique through our blog that will truly add value to our community. And we’re also working on some new collections for later this year so please stay in the loop!