Shopping for her three young boys, Anna Eales didn't care for the kids' clothing that lined the racks of Cape Town, South Africa's stores, and so she decided to design her sons' clothes herself. She soon found that other parents shared her dissatisfaction with name-brand clothes, and she opened a shop. At the entrance stood a lemon tree in a vase, which struggled to grow. Between helping guests pick out garments, Anna nursed the tree throughout the fall and winter by watering it, talking to it, and even grafting a shoot to it. Yet the tree still struggled. But come spring, blossoms erupted all over the tree, followed not by sour yellow lemons, but by sweet orange naartjies.
This tale of the tree mirrors the story of naartjie kids, which through Anna's persistent nurturing grew from a small shop in South Africa to an international enterprise with a presence in Europe, North America, Asia, and the Middle East. Anna and her team remain true to their initial vision, still preferring 100% cotton fabrics to design kids' clothes that easily dress up or down, layer, or accessorize according to their activities. Each season, naartjie's designers find inspiration by surveying international fashions, from nautical wear to prints and fabrics such as polka dots and gingham.