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Shannon Vistisen | 04.26.2018

I never saw it coming. I knew having a child would change my life, but I had no idea the changes would be so extensive. My husband and I are both what you call “outdoorsy.” We hike, fish, hunt, snowboard, run, and would genuinely rather be outside than in. When we became parents three years ago, my priorities flipped from working toward a career title to wanting to be someone my child looks up to. I realized I wanted to be an example of how to live life and be happy; I wanted to show him how to chase after his dreams.

Good things come from spending time outside

When my son started to get around on his own and explore the backyard, I fell in love. I fell in love with the way he saw the simplest forms of life and how happy he was. I started to notice that the more we were outside, the more well-tempered he was - especially in those bitter winter stretches where it’s just too cold to be outside longer than 10 minutes, especially at his age.

I’ve noticed he’s more relaxed outside. He’s not watching life, he’s experiencing it firsthand. He’s touching the rocks, his hands are in the dirt, and the flowers are in his mouth. The kid, I swear, has eaten a dozen dandelions in his short life. But he's part of it; when he's outside, he isn't watching life on a screen, cooped-up inside the house. From this I learned not only as a parent but as an individual. I, too, am happier outside. I am more content and well-mannered the more time I spend in the outdoors. Society’s constant pull to enforce the want - the need - for the next job title or the newer car and the newest pair of boots is overwhelming. It’s hard to shut it all off and step back to see how it truly affects the person you are or used to be.

Thanks to my son, I slowed down. My priorities changed so much that I have followed a dream of my own. I wanted to help get kids outside at a younger age and to be a contributor to the outdoor industry. I took the plunge, one day at a time, and as of May 1, 2018, I’m launching my idea to the world!

And so Littlest Sidekicks Outfitters (LSO) was born

After a year of research, design and testing, I am proud to launch an interactive outdoor apparel line made for the children of today and utilizing technology to encourage kids to get outside and go on an adventures with their family. As a parent of an ever-growing little boy, I’m all too familiar with the thought of not wanting to spend a lot on quality-made clothing. Considering the speed with which our kiddos grow, I wanted to build a system that worked with parents and not against them. If a piece of LSO clothing is returned within either a 6-month period or a 12-month period from its purchase, the customer will receive a hefty discount toward another piece of LSO apparel.

We want kids to not only be comfortable while playing, camping or hiking outside, we want them to interact with our merino wool base layers, t-shirts and neckwarmers. Our ThreadTrail system is an online program that allows the LSO community of children to connect and  grow through an interactive and fun experience. Community members can play a game where they find Finley the Fox to discover a secret code; they can then insert the code into the website's ThreadTrail system, and an interactive map will pop up. Viewers will be able to see what state the apparel has been in, where it’s traveled, and read the logged entries from other little explorers that have had adventures while wearing the clothing. The new owners can then head outside, create their own experiences and memories, and add those stories to the ThreadTrail log book. When they are finished, they can download a free shipping label and send the garment off to another little explorer.  

I want to the kids to be comfortable so they want to stay outside longer. I believe introducing children to the outdoors at a young age shapes them into better people. Motherhood has done more for me than any experience throughout my life. It’s helped realign who I am, not only as an individual, but also in terms of my career choices. I have my son to thank. Watching him view nature and experience life outside has really brought me back to whom I’m supposed to be, and I think every family should have the chance to experience the value of what the outdoors can do for them.

To learn more about Shannon and Littlest Sidekick Outfitters, check out their Kickstarter campaign and show your support today!


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