Stress relief turned side business: Bé Kids Clothing

September 21, 2021

Ashley and Steven Le started Bé Kids Clothing as an outlet for stress relief, but soon grew it to a thriving side business.

Ashley and Steven Le started Bé Kids Clothing as an outlet for stress relief. As professionals in the medical field working in surgery, they looked at ways to destress and soon found that designing, creating, and making provided a temporary escape from their chaotic professional lives. This stress relief activity soon turned into a flourishing word-of-mouth side business inspired by their kids.

Starting a business with Cricut

Years before meeting Ashley, Steven owned a clothing line with friends before pushing it aside to focus more on his medical career. For Ashley, “it was always fashion design or med school.” It seemed like kismet — they actually met in the operating room! With Bé Kids Clothing, both Ashley and Steven found a way to fuel their creative passions while still pursuing careers in healthcare.

As an intraoperative neurodiagnostic technologist, Ashley monitors patients’ nervous system to help reduce complications during surgery. “When I’m at work, I love working with patients because I’m helping someone. But this is why I need to craft,” she said. 

Steven bought Ashley her first Cricut machine for Christmas, shortly after their daughter’s birthday. Despite getting the machine after a big celebration, Ashley couldn’t wait to to create her own party decor. But as she continued to make with her new cutting machine, she found different uses for it. 

Ashley realized she didn’t need special skills to make custom shirts for her daughter. Friends started to take notice, asking her where she bought these new shirts and whether or not she could make something similar for their kids. This is where it all started.

Setting up for side business success 

In 2019, after a slew of one-off requests, Steven and Ashley launched their business. They participated in pop-up events, took custom orders, and sold online. To make it work, Ashley said, “we needed to know our weaknesses and our strengths.” They decided to cut back on personalization and focused on online sales. If customers wanted a custom design, they were still able to contact Ashley personally to discuss specifics.

They also decided not to outsource because they couldn’t predict how quickly or by how much the business would actually grow. Their Cricut machines — Cricut Explore, Cricut Maker, and Cricut EasyPress — made it easy to stay flexible. Ashley said, “They give me the autonomy to decide how I want this business to go.”

She believes that Cricut lets her make and design items and products that feel more personable to each customer, with her added personal touch. “It feels like it’s organically my own,” she said. “Every little thing that you see has a touch of me, literally.” 

Coming home, doing this, it fulfills my needs. Sometimes work can be so stressful, and on certain days, I’m like, “what am I doing here?” Sometimes when I feel so stressed, all that stress comes out when I’m working on my business… In a way, (crafting) comes back and helps me at my job because I’m not as stressed out, then. It’s an outlet.

Ashley le

But of course, Ashley and Steven know that they don’t have all the answers and they continue to learn as they build their side business. Creating a successful side business isn’t just about designing clothing and accessories. They also continue to grow their understanding of the other tasks that come with the territory of being an online business owner — things like product photography, promotion and marketing, accounting, and, of course, staying relevant. 

Leaving an impact 

Bé Kids Clothing continues to thrive at the two year mark, perhaps partially to their daughter’s credit who likes to share that “mommy made this for us.” “She goes to school, and she tries to advertise for us,” Ashley said proudly.

Want to read more Maker stories? Read more about other community members and what they’re making.