Q&A With Keewa Nurullah & Doug Freitag of Kido Chicago

Created by husband and wife duo Doug Freitag and Keewa Nurullah, Kido Chicago is a clothing line for babies and toddlers that features a number of colorful, positive images and messages. The line of onesies and tees was created after the new parents had trouble finding fashions with messages that aligned with their morals and values.

Instead of being resigned to traditional baby clothes, the duo decided to start their own line. Their first ICON series features sayings like “Sweet Like Payton,” “Phenomenal Like Maya” and “Fast Like Flo Jo,” that pay homage to inspirational figures such as Walter Payton, Maya Angelou and Florence Griffith Joyner. The line is meant to reflect the personality and promise of the “Kido Kiddo.”

“We wanted to create a line of tees that would be aspirational, fun and unique in the kids’ clothing market,” Nurullah says. “Our tagline, ‘Put on the Positive,’ is meant to set the tone for all of the tees we create and our relationship with our customers. We are purposeful about affirming our sons and this line of clothing is an extension of that. Kido is for the next generation of awesome individuals.”

Having just launched the line this past December, the duo has had great responses to their designs as parents share photos of babies and toddlers sporting their fashions using the hashtag #KidoKiddo.

Tell us a bit about your individual backgrounds?

Keewa: I’m a performing artist. I work as an actor and singer in the city. Born and raised Chicago girl (Chatham specifically)! I lived in New York for several years after college, then traveled for a while before settling down back home for this guy *nudges Doug*

Doug: I was born and raised in Hyde Park, Chicago. I’m a visual artist who does mostly mural work. I love to cook and do many creative things. Kido is a great creative outlet for me.

Kido apparel
Kido apparel is primarily sold online at www.kidochicago.com

What was the genesis for Kido?

Keewa: It kinda came out of nowhere. Sometime last fall, I just got fed up. I spent a lot of time shopping for my infant son online, and I hated the choices for boys. Drab colors, weird macho phrases, and no positive images reflecting his diverse background. I have no experience with retail or manufacturing, but I knew I had to do it myself. I had to create the thing I wasn’t seeing for my son and his peers.

Doug: It’s definitely because of the baby. If he hadn’t come into this world, we wouldn’t have known there was a need for what we’re offering.

Is there any particular method for picking the famous people you reference on the shirts?

Keewa: I’m a firm believer that our children will be great because they stand on the shoulders of their ancestors. There were people that I grew up admiring that I wanted to share with my son. Doug came up with the idea for our first onesie which says ‘Sweet like Payton’. Anyone who was a fan knows that Walter Payton was known as ‘Sweetness’. He was incredible on the field and a class act off the field. We launched Kido with the ICON series, and, although it’s not the only thing we offer, I think it drew people in because there isn’t anything for kids with that kind of imagery.

Doug: Exactly. We look for people of color we admire. We want our kid to see an old picture of himself in a Kido shirt and think ‘Man, I was always woke. (*laughs*)

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned since starting Kido?

Doug: Do what Keewa says.

Keewa: Ha! I like that. For me, I would say that your friends are exactly that – your friends. Although their support would be great, you need to make a product that will be successful regardless of their support of not. You really can’t count on any dollar, and the product just needs to be so outstanding that anyone would want it.

How do you each balance being a spouse, parent, and business owner without losing yourself or your own interests?

Keewa: It’s hard. I’m definitely in superwoman mode right now. Ha! I’m tired all the time, but it’s worth it. I just try to stay in the moment. I can’t make a lot of promises right now, but I can give my love and time to the people I care about the most.

Doug: Prioritize. The most important thing to me is to be the best parent and spouse that I can be. And, now, being the best spouse includes supporting my wife and working with her on our ideas. It won’t always be easy, but I try to keep my priorities at the forefront. And that is my family.

What’s one business principle or ideology that you live by?

Doug: Always do right by people. Try to be as honest in business as you can be. Just like in life, those good deeds you do in business can come back to benefit you.

Keewa: Without risk, there is no reward. Jump out the window sometimes!

Doug Freitag and Keewa Nurullah, Kido Chicago

Best advice for budding entrepreneurs?

Keewa: I don’t know if I’m in the position to give advice yet!! Hahaha. I would just say, try to remove the idea of ‘being ready’. I don’t think you’re ever truly ready for a major life change. You just have to go for it. However, you do need to do your homework. Google and follow up on every little thing you can, and then tap into your network of people who are already in the industry you are interested in. The rest of the lessons are learned by just doing it.

Doug: Yup, I agree. Study your craft/industry. Do your research. And never stop learning. Like they say, knowledge is power!

Last great book that you’ve read?

Keewa: I haven’t read for myself in a long time!! Womp womp. So the last great book I read was to my son – Corduroy. A childhood favorite of mine!

Doug: Game. Of. Thrones.

Favorite quote or affirmation?

Keewa: “If you surrender to the wind, you can ride it.” – Toni Morrison

Doug: “Be the change you want to see in the world.” – Mahatma Ghandi

What’s next for Kido?

Keewa: Right now, we are going into summer festival season. I’m excited because, as a new brand, we get to meet more of our customers in person. We’re getting things together to vend at the Silver Room Block Party and the Glenwood Arts Festival. I’m just working hard so that, eventually, Kido is paying all the bills and then some! We want to turn this passion project into a career. Ultimately, I would like to have a kid-friendly retail space on the Southside. That’s the dream!

Doug: My hope is to just keep expanding. Keep growing our brand and increase our placement in stores around the country. Like Keewa said, we would love to have a retail space that doubles as an event space for family events and celebrations. We want to create something that our children can inherit.

Kido apparel is primarily sold online at www.kidochicago.com. Occasionally, you can catch them for sale in person at Chicago-area artisan bazaars and marketplaces. Follow Kido Chicago on Facebook and Instagram: @KidoChicago to stay up to date on the latest news and designs as they’re released.

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