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Having a preemie or micro-preemie baby is more common than most realize, and many families are significantly underprepared to clothe their tiny new bundles of joy. Stephena Anderson decided to do something about this when she launched Dancing Skunks, a baby gear company in Snohomish County that offers blankets, booties and preemie outfits.
Using extra fabric scraps to sew preemie- and micro-preemie-sized hats that get donated to NICU families, most of which comes from the sewing Anderson does for her own kids and loved ones.
"It brings me so much joy to make clothes that they cherish," she said. "I started sewing when I was about seven years old, but only started making clothes about eight years ago, and my love for it has continued to grow."
Her overall aim for this project? Simply to spread some love.
"After listening to several parents who have had their babies spend time in the NICU, I heard time and again how isolating it can be and how unseen they can feel," she said. "So, I just want them to feel loved and seen and to do something special for a precious baby."
The inspiration arrived last summer, when she designed a romper that promotes skin-to-skin time.
"[I] tweaked my design slightly to be more NICU-friendly because of these stories," she said. "This past spring and summer I spent a few months working on the design of the romper again, and was thinking of the babies that might need these rompers while staying in the NICU. I looked over at my drawer of fabric scraps, when it hit me that they would make adorable hats and are just the right sizes for preemies and micro-preemies. So, I drafted a hat design and started creating them."
Anderson believes that it is so important — not only as a business owner, but a member of the community — to use her talents to help others in some way.
"It’s not just about giving a hat to a Tiny Warrior," she said, "but also about showing them and their families that they are seen and that the community cares and is cheering for them."
This business, like any new venture, has come with hurdles and rewards.
"The biggest challenge has really been getting the word out there to the families of precious babies who could really use these hats that they are here for them, free of charge," she said. "My greatest joy is when I hear how my creations have helped other parents."
She told us about one especially impactful recent example.
"Getting pictures from a parent who needed a shoe alternative for their child, so they ordered my booties so their child could explore more outside this summer," she said. "Seeing the joy on their faces, and hearing all of the adventures they were able to go on because they had our Sunny Side Booties, made me see that my goal of helping parents with my products was being realized."
A parent of preemie twins also told Anderson that the Snuggle Rompers were the hit of the NICU.
"That experience really showed me how my products have made an impact on that community and got it on my heart to do more for them," she said. "The little details I add to my products are there to make life a little easier for parents, and to see it in action is amazing."
The business name is chock-full of meaning for Anderson, too.
"The inspiration for all of my products were my kids and my motherhood journey, so I wanted a name that reflects that. One night around the time I was trying to come up with a name for my business, we were having a particularly epic family dance party. My kids were being very silly and, well, fragrant that night, and I called them my dancing skunks. And it hit me that not only does that name so aptly reflect my kids, but also my motherhood journey. Parenthood is a dance; sometimes it’s like a ballet, very elegant and magical, sometimes it’s like hip-hop, fast paced and loud, and sometimes it’s interpretive and freestyle. And it’s definitely very aromatic."
Anderson greatly appreciates anyone able to spread the word about Dancing Skunks, "so that we can spread the love to the families that could use them."
To order a hat, visit dancingskunks.com and add one to your cart for $0. (If you choose to order more than one, please consider chipping in to cover shipping. Hats are available while supplies last, and depend on scraps from other orders.)