Raising Empathic AND Hilarious Littles (with the help of Swanky Shank)

Where do I even begin with my love of (slash borderline obsession with) Swanky Shank? Jen Shank and her team check aaaaaall of the boxes (and then some) for where I feel best about spending my money.

Mama(parent)-run business? Check.

Handmade deliciousness? Check-ity check.

Puns? Diversity? Empathy? Makin’ it RAAAAAAAIN checkmarks over here.

I happened upon the goodness that is Swanky Shank by chance. An old friend (old meaning she + I were pals back when the O.G. My Little Ponies were cool and velour sweatsuits were rocked by the toddler set (a.k.a. The 80’s)) and I reconnected over the last few years and pretty much every time she shared a picture of her spunky, smart and sassy twin girls they were rocking some Swank that made me go “oooh!”.

Once Littlest arrived I had all the excuses in the world, wrapped up in one chubbeh baby body to fork over all my cold hard cash into the hands of Swank + team. And in the wise words of that very, very unfortunate tattoo-turned-meme, all I can say is “no regerts”.

First Swanky loves. We used to live in a motorhome pre-Littlest so the camper was a natural choice. Raccoons (trash pandas) and flamingos were Littlest’s first favorite animals. And the matryoshka is a personal nod to my maternal Russian heritage! I mean, this Swank couldn’t be more perfect, could it?First ever Swank Haul, 2018.St Patrick’s Day 2018 flat lay.Fall 2018 haul. Can you tell it’s my personal favorite season? I mean, I love pumpkin spice (#basic) and Littlest is SUPER into Itsy Bitsy Spider, soooo,. Yeah. Christmas 2018 and prep for Littlest’s 2nd birthday. (Yep, that’s me bawling in the corner already.)I mean, even the packaging is unique and hand made and obviously done with lots of care and love!

I’m a Club Swank 2018 member (more on this later on in the post) and got to know Jen through the exclusive Facebook group for members. We became friends, though, when Jen recently came to Nashville on a trip with family. Though we didn’t get a chance to meet up in person I sent her some recs (mostly for places to eat because, well, I love to eat and you can eat really, really well in Nashville) because she couldn’t come to my city and leave without having bonuts or hot chicken. Jen is a hilarious person who loves fiercely and cares greatly – and that’s evident in every aspect of her business.

Each piece is hand-dyed, hand-stamped and the designs – you guessed it – hand cut. (I highly recommend you read the “Like..how handmade are we talkin’? highlights in the Swanky Shank Instagram stories for great visuals!) My personal #swankstyle is if there’s an option for sleeves + elbow patch upgrades, I do it. Who can resist the adorable professor-esque, patterned elbow patches on a toddler? I, for one, cannot.

Olympics 2018. Go Team USA! (Also perfect for July 4th celebrations.)Valentine’s Day 2018.Easter 2018.Post-turkey day feast 2018 walk around the neighborhood.First (of three) Christmas Swanks for 2018.

If you celebrate a holiday, you can pretty much guarantee Jen + her team have magicked up something for your little to wear to celebrate. The year-round-friendly puns and phrases are just the sweet and tasty cherries on top of the delicious (mint chocolate chip – my faaaave) ice cream sundae that is Swanky Shank.

Littlest and mama are both obsessed with flamingos. You can’t live in the South and *not* have the sweet-tea shirt in your little’s wardrobe! We call Littlest the nickname “bug” so we got a custom Swank with her name custom stamped with a ladybug on it to remember one of many nicknames we have for her.“Totally sloth-some.” We often call Littlest “goose” so this is one of two custom Swanks we have – it says “I’m your wing woman” (referencing Goose from Top Gun).

Want to know more about Jen + the stories behind Swanky Shank and what inspires her? This article in the LaDue News (Swanky Shank is based out of the St. Louis, MO area) is great – as well as this blog post from Every Little Season.

I did manage to snag a few minutes from Jen in the wee short hours she had between finishing up the last of the Christmas Swank shipments and the launch of Club Swank 2019 memberships to ask her these important questions:

raising nashville: what’s your favorite part of raising your family during this time of the year?

Jen: We hang snowflakes from our ceiling each year. The kids and I make them and it really gives the whole house a different vibe. (rn note: totally stealing this idea for next year! imagine how dreamy it would be to wake up each December morning to a house full of snowflakes?) Home Alone is a sacred movie. We only watch it once a year and everyone is quiet and we all enjoy the heck out of it. I’m personally obsessed with how there’s green and red in almost every scene. Go look-see! (rn note: Ummm, totally rewatching Home Alone stat. Also, we do this with Christmas Vacation every year. It’s a sacred viewing buuuuut you’re absolutely allowed – encouraged – to join in on the lines you’ve memorized! (which in this family is practically the whole movie.))

raising nashville: how do you and your family “raise” your community? donate to your local public radio station? volunteer at a soup kitchen? pick up litter while hiking or playing in a park?

Jen: To be honest, this year my community is doing much more of the raising of me and my kids than we are doing in return. For example, I came down with an awful stomach virus the day we were moving to a new house and ELEVEN people showed up and moved our whole house for us. (rn note: I’m so glad to know your community’s showing up for you when you need them most. We all go through seasons and cycles where sometimes we need to receive more than we give – and that’s absolutely a-ok and nothing to be ashamed about.)

raising nashville: finally, and maybe most importantly: cheese, pepperoni or supreme (pizza rolls, duh)?

Jen: I have moods! Sometimes I’m like Kevin in Home Alone and I just want me a plain cheese. Other times I’m like “nah, gimme a pepperoni and pineapple.” But mostly I love me some kalamata olives if they’re available!

The Etsy shop is mostly closed right now as it’s year-end and the team is gearing up for 2019 Club Swank memberships to go live. You can still get your hands on the amazing 12 month sets – perfect for snapping the monthly pics of a little (and tbh a huge reason why I kiiiiiind of want to have another little) – and the Hello My Name Is onesie – the most amazing gift for a baby shower. You can hand write the name in a permanent marker, or if the name is known the Swank crew can hand stamp it before they ship it!

Oh – you’re probably wondering what the heck Club Swank is. Well, it’s basically just the best thing ever. (Scratch that. Second best, only to hot and cheesy pizza rolls, straight out of the toaster oven.)

Club Swank is:

  • A private online group receives exclusive Club Swank-only discounts that change from month-to-month over a whole calendar year.
  • Where you can snag original Swank flash sales at rock-bottom prices.
  • An encouraging, safe and supportive parent community.
  • A place for sneak peeks galore!

Cold Hard Truths about Club Swank:

  • Membership isn’t free. The prices for the various membership levels vary from year to year because the perks can/do change from one year to the next! (But let me tell you, the membership pays for itself within a few months – even without the same level of Swank obsession as I have.)
  • Memberships reopen in December.
  • Follow Swanky Shank on Instagram and Facebook to know as soon as Club Swank 2019 memberships go live!

I’ll be renewing my Club Swank membership for 2019 and I hope you’ll think about joining the Club, too! Set your alarms and reminders because Club Swank memberships go LIVE Friday December 21 at 10:00 a.m. CST!

Because Jen is awesome she stuck some awesome Swank in my last shipment to share with readers as a giveaway! Look at these awesome handmade wardrobe upgrades just waiting to be rocked by your littles! “Beautifully Brave” is a 6 mo tee; “Merry & Bright” is a 2T l/s tee; the bison skull print is a size 6 baseball tee. Want to get your hands on one of these Swank specials? Here’s the scoop:

  • Giveaway is open until Sunday 12/23 midnight CST.
  • Giveaway open to Nashville/Davidson Co. residents only (for local pick-up/drop-off purposes).
  • Required entry: Comment below with your favorite holiday and which Swank you want!
  • Bonus Entry #1: Follow @raisingnashville on Instagram and follow the instructions in the latest post.
  • Bonus Entry #2: Follow @raisingnshvl on Twitter and tweet me your favorite pun!
  • There will be three winners, drawn at random on Monday 12/24.

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