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Designs for the Times

Elicia Kniffin, creative director at BooginHead, on its growing line of baby products and now protective masks.

Elicia Kniffin, creative director, BooginHead

Known for its mess-mitigating product assortment, BooginHead has steadily broadened its selection of pacifier clips, bottle holders, bibs and other feeding essentials since its debut in 2007. Now the company is helping with the world’s biggest mess, the coronavirus pandemic, with a line of protective masks. Upcycled from its bandana teether bib fabric, the masks are made from 95 percent cotton and five percent spandex, are machine-washable and available in two sizes (youth and adult).

“What we thought were cute as bibs, turns out make pretty stylish masks, too,” says Elicia Kniffin, creative director, adding that the company will be donating $1 of every $5 spent on BooginHead.com to Covid-19 aid organizations until May 31. The brand will also be donating 10 percent of all mask profits to various relief efforts.  “Despite all the challenges our industry is facing, I ultimately see us growing and getting stronger from this.”

On the messy children’s front, Kniffin says BooginHead continues to expand its Luxe line of PaciGrips (pacifier clips), offering more textures and higher-end materials for this year. “They’re all made with original hand-drawn patterns,” she says, noting styles range from classic houndstooth to current graphics with pops of color. “We want each PaciGrip to be a little bit of a fashion statement, whether that is a bold pattern or a sweet, soft texture.”

As the industry navigates through the Covid-19 crisis, Kniffin believes it’s more important than ever for designers to explore new styles that save parents time, money and energy. “Our team always welcomes new ideas,” she says. “Thankfully, we’re nimble enough to act quickly on new products.” —Emily Beckman      

Did you always dream of becoming a designer? I was always creative–constantly drawing, painting, sewing and building things. I thought I wanted to be an architect, so I prepared for that path in high school with drafting classes and internships. However, when I got to college, I realized the architectural program wasn’t the right fit. My boyfriend, at the time, mentioned his friend worked at Fossil as a designer. I never thought of design as a profession, but once I looked into it, I immediately enrolled in classes. That’s how I ended up graduating with a BFA from the University of Arizona with an emphasis in graphic design.

Where did you get your start
on up to BooginHead?
I interned for my professors’ graphic design firm and was hired upon graduating. I helped open an office for them in Colorado. They taught me a lot. I then took a job nearby with a company where I got most of my print experience. When my first son was born, I started freelancing to stay home with him. I built a great client base through word-of-mouth. Sari Davidson (founder of BooginHead) was one of my clients for five years before she convinced me to go full-time.

PaciGrips continue to be BooginHead’s top seller!

What have you brought to the table design-wise at BooginHead? When I started, the patterns were solely polka dots and stripes. I presented my first round of patterns that I thought to be fresh, cool and different, but most of them got turned down. That’s when I learned, as a designer, it’s important to show your inspiration for the rest of the team to understand the strategy behind a major design shift. The next round I showed my inspiration for each pattern—a dress I had seen with a cool pattern, graffiti on a wall, a tile pattern, etc. And it worked! The team was much more receptive. To date, my pattern presentations always include color studies and trend reports to explain why certain designs would be attractive to today’s market.

What’s the biggest challenge designing for babies and toddlers? Safety, which is our number-one priority from conception to completion. Luckily, our testing facilities and factories are very helpful in this regard. From a creative perspective, there’s more leeway designing for little ones–we can be more whimsical, more fun! There are very little restrictions design-wise, which allows my imagination to soar.

Who are some designers you admire? My favorite graphic designers include Boelts Bros Associates (the partners at my first job), Margo Chase (my all-time favorite), Leta Sobierajski and Dana Tanamachi. Fashion designers I look up to include Diane von Furstenberg, Trina Turk and Marimekko, to name a few.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? I’ve received lots of great advice over the years. On the professional side, it’s don’t take criticism personally. On a more personal note, my motto is: family first. With that, I believe it’s important to find something you enjoy doing that fits into your day-to-day life.

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