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Little Wares, a new place for parents to connect

by Len Lear

When I was interviewing Kristin Leader Ramirez, owner of Little Wares, the new children’s clothing store in Chestnut Hill, I discovered at the end of a very lengthy conversation that she experienced a recent stillbirth. 

“I’m so sorry,” I said, understanding that, surely, she wouldn’t want to discuss that trauma in a newspaper article.

“No, I want you to mention it,” Ramirez said. “I had a stillbirth in April of this year after 23 weeks. I posted about it. I did not expect that so many customers and others would see it, come in and give me a hug. Some told me about their own loss. One customer gave me a book she had used about dealing with horrible grief. I am grateful for love and support from total strangers.”

At a time when Ramirez needed those expressions of comfort, she received them in the place she had intended to be not only a business, but also a refuge for parents wanting a place to connect. Little Wares became that, in an unexpected way, for Ramirez herself.

The store is a manifestation of Ramirez’s mission to be a mindful parent to four-year-old son Marco and  “intentional” with “the things we spend our time doing, wearing, or playing with.” Products at Little Wares are genderless, and are selected with consideration for the people who create the merchandise and the impact of that process on the environment.

Ramirez outlines the store’s guiding principles: sustainability, ethics, gender neutrality and practicality. “Every single thing in this store is gender neutral,” Ramirez said. “My son’s favorite piece of clothing is pink pants. There is no need to impose outdated stereotypes. If girls want to play with trucks, OK. Girls should be able to run and jump and play without worrying about dresses. Take really good care of what you buy, though, so you can extend its life and keep it out of a landfill.”

Born and raised in Hershey, Ramirez earned a degree from Penn State University in veterinary and biomedical science. She had hoped to go to veterinary school but then started working in the family business, retirement homes. Her grandfather, George Leader, was the 36th governor of Pennsylvania from 1955 to 1959. Forty years ago, after his political career was over, Leader and his son, Michael (Kristin’s father), started the retirement home business.

Ramirez studied aging services management in graduate school, earning a master’s degree in the field. She worked in management with her family company, from 2015 to 2022, at Country Meadows, a retirement community in Hershey. That is where she dealt with Covid deaths on a daily basis.

“People were dying left and right. It was the darkest time of my life. I replay those moments in my head all the time. I worked 16-hour days. It was a scary, sad time,” Ramirez remembered. “The happy moments define your life, but the darkest moments are formative. Don’t be afraid to share this kind of information.”

It is perhaps this philosophy that underlies Ramirez’s willingness to discuss her experience of losing a child, “ I want to share this publicly, so others will not feel so alone,” she said.

Ramirez and her husband, Josean, were married in 2018 in Puerto Rico, where he was born and raised, and now live in Flourtown. They were engaged in 2017 at Paris Bistro, the former jazz club/restaurant next to the Chestnut Hill Hotel, and welcomed their son Marco four years ago. The family moved here one year ago because of a job opportunity for Josean and “because we had fallen in love with Chestnut Hill after living here briefly after college.”

Kristin Ramirez had started an online store and then looked only at Chestnut Hill locations before opening her brick-and-mortar store in mid-November, 2023, in the property that was previously home to Jonesy’s Accessories. (There is another Jonesy’s Accessories at 7916 Germantown Ave.). 

The store reflects her passion for eco-friendly, sustainable products. “The push for hyper-consumption is so strong,” she said. “Young parents are taught they need five of everything, every gadget. I have found out that all of these products are not created equal. I adopted a mindset of the right balance. Do laundry once a week. You do not need 25 outfits.

But parents do need a place to share their experiences, she said.

“We wanted a physical space to bring people together and host events and support groups,” Ramirez said. “Life with small children can be so isolating, so we wanted a space where people could come together and communicate.”

Madison LaMountain contributed to this article. Little Wares is at 8117 Germantown Ave. For more information, visit little-wares.com or email [email protected]. Len Lear can be reached at [email protected]

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