With an aesthetic as whimsical as life by the gulf, Sonny James offers children’s clothing designed for movement and freedom with a classic appeal. All prints and pieces are designed in Rosemary Beach by owner and South Walton resident Paige Hunter. She recently shared the story behind her role at Sonny James and what makes this locally owned business special.
What is the story behind Sonny James?
I came to own Sonny James in a very serendipitous way. A local creative actually started Sonny James a few years ago. I was an instant customer of the line as my little girl LOVED the dresses. I was talking to the previous owner in casual conversation one day and told her how I would love to own a line like hers. It was beautiful, simple, and just perfect for every parent looking for practical clothing for their child. Fast forward a couple years down the road – the pandemic hit, and I was laid off at my current job. The same day I got a random message from the owner asking if I was still interested in owning Sonny James. And, as you can see, the rest is history. I never imagined this would be my path, but I am so in love with the brand and cannot wait to see where it goes.
How did you become a clothing designer?
I was a fashion retail major at the University of Alabama. I did my internship in the buying office at Bergdorf Goodman in New York and had always dreamed and planned on working on the business side of the fashion world. I never imagined being on the design side. But I must say, it is so much better than I ever imagined and lets my creative side run free. I still have a lot to learn about design, but luckily have some very talented creatives in my life that serve as great mentors.
Where do you find inspiration for different pieces?
All pieces for Sonny James are inspired by the beautiful scenery right here in our hometown. All designs and patterns are designed locally in our studio. Each collection is meant to encapsulate the laid back, beautiful lifestyle of the Northwest Florida Gulf Coast.
How is your clothing unique from other children’s designers?
I think a very special attribute of Sonny James that not many other brands have is that I, as owner, was a customer first. When I attest to how wonderfully simple and beautiful the clothes are, I can say so not just as an owner, but speaking from real experience. My daughter lived in these dresses. Which made me as a mom fall in love with them. I think all parents can speak from experience when saying how relieving it is when your toddler, especially a girl, finds something they LOVE, and it happens to not be a Disney princess dress.
How long have you been in South Walton? Why is 30A a great place to own a small business?
My husband and I have been here nearly 10 years! We are from the Gulf Coast originally, so we have always lived the beach life. We are both small business owners here in South Walton and truly believe it is one of the best communities to run a business in. The local support is unreal. There is also something very nostalgic when you are on vacation and purchase, not only from a local brand, but a brand that is inspired and designed in the place you are visiting. Which Sonny James is. They can take home a true piece of our home for their littles.
Where can customers purchase your clothing?
Sonny James can be purchased online at shopsonnyjames.com and locally can be found at Bump and Baby in Seaside, FL.
What is the best part about owning a clothing company?
Doing it alongside my little girl. It is so fun to have her as my inspiration and see how a toddler truly responds when seeing the pieces. She is my fit model for all samples and gives her honest toddler opinion about everything! I have another little boy and one on the way (whose arrival is VERY soon) and I’m hoping that in the near future, I can use them for inspiration on a boy’s line.