Kenna Frees isn’t your average teenager. Though she enjoys typical teen activities like hanging out with friends and spending time with her pets, Kenna also runs her own fashion enterprise online. Called Babble & Saddle, the budding business is an online shop featuring unique clothing pieces, all curated by Kenna herself.
“[It’s called] ‘Babble’ because I like to talk a lot, and ‘Saddle’ because I like to ride my horse, Delilah,” says Kenna. A bubbly and cheerful teen at 15, Kenna is inspired by her mom Keaton, who is a co-owner of Merilou Boutique in Wayzata. Noticing Kenna’s interest in fashion, Keaton brought her on a trip to the market as a learning experience. Kenna’s schoolmates started complimenting her outfits, and the idea for the business blossomed. Kenna keeps a consistent look and feel in the line of clothing she curates for her site, but she likes to include different styles that still feel her age. Items vary from sweaters and dresses to bags, necklaces and more—all with a contemporary, youthful quality.
As both a business owner and a mom, Keaton Frees says it’s exciting to see her daughter building a brand for herself. “She learns from it. She sees that [my job] isn’t just, ‘Mom goes to work and shops,’” she says with a smile. Frees also notes that the experience will give Kenna valuable skills and knowledge she can take with her, whether or not she ends up pursuing it as a long-term career. In the future, Kenna thinks she might seek a degree in fashion or design, but is also interested in doing something related to animals, another passion of hers.
For other teens looking to develop their own businesses, Kenna encourages them to get started. “If you want to do it, just go for it,” she says, while also advising teens to make sure they have enough time between school and everyday life to commit to their ideas. In her own work, Kenna’s process usually involves conducting some initial research on brands and buying from the market online. She also likes to browse the pages of Vogue to look for upcoming trends. With a little help from her mom, Kenna holds trunk shows a few times a year at Merilou to showcase her most recent picks for local shoppers.
Keaton and Kenna say they’ve started to develop more similar styles since working together, though they agree Keaton’s style is edgier, and Kenna leans more boho. “It used to be that everything I would like, she would not,” says Keaton. “Now she’ll say ‘Oh mom, you look cute,’ instead of, ‘What are you wearing?’” But whether or not they’re raiding each other’s closets, that familial spirit for entrepreneurship is one thing they definitely have in common.
Kenna says her winter style picks are influenced by the style of the 1970s: wide-leg pants, jean skirts and camo jackets. Watch her Instagram page for the date of her upcoming trunk show.