Q&A: Owner of Hatched on Gender Neutral Clothing, Toys and Sustainability

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One thing that Jamaica Plain has been known for is its independent businesses. One of the great independent businesses on Centre Street is Hatched. The owner of Hatched, Liz Vittori Koch, spoke with Jamaica Plain News about being an independent brick and mortar business,  kid toys and how she makes sure she's working with ethical companies.

courtesy Hatched

Hatched has a goal of selling the best selection of sustainable and ethical goods for children that they can find.

Q: Hatched has been a store in JP for 13 years. How has the store changed since its inception?

Koch: We're a mission driven store, and so we've actually changed very little over the years. We've never let up on our goal of carrying the best selection of sustainable/ethical goods for children that we can find. Of course, we moved to a larger location in 2014, and that's allowed us to carry more brands, and extend our size range up to 11 years, but really we haven't changed much.

Q: What does Hatched sell today?

Koch: We are proud to say that we still carry many of the brands we started with in 2005 -- Serendipity Organics, Entertaining Elephants, Grimms, Disana...to name a few. We have built close relationships, even friendships, with these companies over the years; it feels good to work with people who share our philosophy and in turn to share the fruits of those connections with our community. Our main focus has always been clothing, but in response to demand, we've increased our toy offerings quite a bit since moving to Centre Street. We also carry a selection of books, skincare and other baby basics.

Q: What were the most popular items when you started and what are the most popular items now?

Koch: People love the Serendipity Organics line from Denmark. It goes from newborn up to 11 years and is made from the most beautiful, soft organic cotton. It's a perennial favorite and we're proud to have an exclusive on it in the Boston area. We have started carrying more locally made products, and those have been very popular; especially with tourists and people looking for truly unique items.

Q: What has surprised you about owning Hatched?

Koch: An interesting question. What continues to surprise me year after year are peoples' thoughts around gender and color. We work hard to carry a wide range of what we consider to be gender-neutral clothing -- this really throws some people -- young and old! Part of our philosophy is that all children should be allowed to enjoy, and wear all colors of the rainbow, regardless of their gender; our goal is for them to be happy and comfortable!

Liz Vittori Koch pauses for a photo at the 3 Green St. location of her store, "Hatched," on Aug. 15, 2014.

Chris Helms

Liz Vittori Koch, owner of Hatched, after the business moved to Centre Street in 2014.

Q: Your kids are now 11 and 14. How have they influenced your operation of Hatched? Did they request certain items? Have you thought about opening a store geared towards tweeners or teenagers?

Koch: My kids have always influenced the workings of the store. It's been great to see how they respond to clothing and toys that I select. And now, as I've moved up to larger sizes, they definitely help me make clothing choices. It's great to hear their points of view and have discussions with them about ethical production, sustainability, organic textiles; they've heard about it their whole lives and are now informed consumers. In addition to helping me make selections, they've also taught me about the complexities of being a working parent with young children, because of that I'm proud to have had many employees over the years bring their children to work (including myself!), and also to offer shifts that allow people to get their kids to and from school.

I have been thinking about opening a shop for older kids for a long time...who knows what the future holds...?

courtesy Hatched

Hatched sells items like a baby alpaca sweater from Serendipity Organics, a business that uses ethical practices and sustainable materials.

Q: Hatched sells clothing with organic fibers, eco-friendly materials and purchases goods from companies that treat their employees well. How do you make sure that you're dealing with companies that fit your requirements? Do you go to the point of manufacturing to see how things are made?

Koch: I have built strong relationships with all of the vendors I work with and I trust what they are doing. That said, I do still check in on a regular basis about supply chains, production and factory conditions. I also check that their products are certified through organizations such as GOTS, and SA 8000. The beauty of working with so many people whom I have built relationships with, is that I know they are as passionate about their philosophies as I am. We aren't people who make compromises, this all comes from the heart, and a true commitment to doing what we can to help preserve our planet.

Q: Hatched also sells items on line. Where can someone purchase items online?

Koch: We have been taking a break from selling online, and focusing on our shop, but we hope to have a newly designed, wonderful website up again soon. Our web address is hatchedboston.com. We're also on Instagram @hatchedboston and Facebook if folks want to find out what's going on.

Q: How do you envision the future of Hatched?

Koch: I just hope to have the good fortune to keep doing what I love in this wonderful community.

Q: What else would you want someone to know about Hatched?

Koch: I would like people to know that this is a labor of love. That we are committed to maintaining a brick and mortar shop even as it gets more and more challenging to do so in this age of online shopping. We are so grateful to JP, and to the many customers who travel from other communities to support what we are doing. We couldn't do it without them!