Good things do come in little packages. Five years ago, Mike and Stephannie Weikert moved from Atlanta to Baltimore so Mike could attend grad school at the Maryland Institute College of Art. Their daughter Maya was born the following year—on the first day of classes. So, when it came time for Mike to work on his thesis project, it's not surprising he had baby on the brain.
Weikert says he wanted to create something that had a "place in the visual culture, but also had a relationship to babies." Graphic tees for little ones seemed like the perfect solution—and Small Roar was born.
For his thesis, Weikert developed the designs, price points, company logo, business cards, and website. He shopped the tees around to local boutiques including Amuse and the now defunct Raw Sugar. Business was slow—buoyed slightly when Small Roar was featured in the book D.I.Y.: Design It Yourself by MICA's graphic design director Ellen Lupton (and co-authored with her students). But just when Weikert was getting ready to phase out the line—which includes five designs: MOM tattoo, Pacifist, The Future, Free Speech, and Fully Charged—Target came a callin'.
Target's online-only "Baby Boutique" features clothes, crib bedding sets, slings, and burp cloths from independent (and hip) lines including Peanut Shell, Kee-Ka, Baby Legs, and Avery + Addison. The buyer for the online boutique wanted to add Small Roar to that list. "It re-energized us," admits Mike. "It's not easy to become a vendor, but they were helpful. They knew we were a small brand." For Weikert, who is now the director of MICA's Center for Design Practice, it was a kind of validation. "A graphic tee is not novel," he says. "But to me what it means is it's really about the design. As a designer—that's really rewarding."smallroar.com or target.com.