Clovene Campbell’s mornings with her daughter Kathryn used to be full of tears. Getting the 6-year-old dressed for kindergarten had become nearly impossible.
“My daughter started complaining that she didn’t like some of her clothes because the seams were bothering her,” said Campbell, 39, of Lexington. “Really, every single morning it was like a huge fight to get to school. She would be screaming, she would tug at her clothes. It was horrible, it was a nightmare.”
Her daughter had developed a tactile sensitivity, an increased sensitivity to touch. Campbell, a pediatrician in Salem, had seen it before among her patients. “It’s a very common thing,” she said. “If people don’t have kids that have these sensitivities, they don’t appreciate how horrible it is.”
Tactile sensitivity is a type of sensory processing disorder. According to a study cited by the Sensory Processing Disorder Foundation, at least 1 in 20 children are affected by some sort of sensory processing disorder, including tactile sensitivity. It can be common among kids on the autism spectrum, but many with tactile sensitivity are not autistic.
Campbell hopped online to research clothes without seams. What she found was Teres Kids, a clothing company dedicated to making kids’ clothes without tags, seams, zippers, and buttons. She ordered some items, saw her daughter’s delight upon putting them on, and then ordered some more.
“She dresses in like 2 minutes, no problem,” Campbell said of her now 7-year-old daughter.
Teres Kids founders Alexandra Merlino and Marianne Broughton say it’s those kinds of stories that make their work so rewarding.
When the women met four years ago at a toddler music class in a Santa Fe church with their 2-year-old daughters, they had no idea their friendly banter would give birth to a company that’s helping children — and parents — around the country.
They launched Teres Kids in the fall of 2010. Prior to that, Broughton was designing furniture and Merlino created a line of leather goods. Both were looking to start something new. The idea to focus on clothes for kids with sensitivities came from a conversation Merlino had with a friend who is an occupational therapist.
“She explained how many of these kids there are and how few the resources are,” said Merlino, 44, the company CEO and a former Rhode Island resident who now lives in New Mexico. “We became very passionate about not only creating comfortable clothes, but creating a solution for families and kids.”
“Teres” means smooth in Latin. The women thought it was a fitting name for a line of clothes so smooth to the touch. The clothes are made in the USA from 100 percent organic cotton and range in price from $25 to $60. The spring collection launches in April and the theme is cosmos. The company’s website displays the clothes but also offers blog posts, monthly giveaways, a newsletter, and links to the company’s Twitter and Facebook accounts.
“Our goal here was not only to create clothing, but to meet a need,” said Broughton, 45, of Los Angeles, the company’s creative director and designer. “The community has to have a voice.”
The company seems to be finding its niche, with sales growing by 166 percent from 2011 to 2012, Merlino said.
Teres Kids clothes are sold in stores in nine states (including Massachusetts and New Hampshire) as well as in Canada, the United Kingdom, and Japan. The reorder rate for online customers has grown from 20 percent in 2011 to 42.5 percent in 2012.
“It was a great year,” said Merlino. “What we stand for is happy children and happy families.”
Teres Kids is available at Tereskids.com and in the following local stores:
Hatched 5 Green St., Jamaica Plain, 617-524-5402
Stork Organic Baby Boutique 273 Union Square, Milford, 603-673-5381Kristi Palma can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.