Now This is How to Write an Email

A little smaller but just as passionate as ever

That’s the first line on a recent email from Free to Be Kids, the Seattle-based clothing company that screen prints kid-positive messages on everything from dresses to baseball tees.

Like you, my inbox has been overrun with Coronavirus-related emails. Brands who hadn’t contacted me in years suddenly felt the urge to reach out and console me during these “uncertain times” or, worse, offer me a pandemic-related incentive. These tone deaf missives felt more like a marketing department bandwagon effect rather than a sincere communication effort. Hey, everyone else is sending emails, we should too!

The Free to Be Kids email (reprinted in its entirety at the bottom of this post) turned out to be a welcome oasis in the desert of corporate COVID-speak.

It’s genuine and heartfelt without being cloying. The email provides important information (“it will take a couple extra days to print and fulfill your orders”) that I might actually care about. It includes a brief update on their new procedures (“so we can keep everyone far, far away from each other”), and an honest summary of their company ethics (“we’ll take a hit on sales but we’ll all have our health”).

But, best of all, it’s human. It’s most notable feature is a distinct lack of committee-generated, leadership-approved, marketing group speak. That’s a good thing.

From start to finish, the email is consistent with the Free to Be Kids brand culture I know and love. This is who they are, and it’s a powerful reminder that the time to start building your brand culture is before a crisis.

One final comment. The email didn’t come from an “info@” or “noreply@” address. It came from Courtney Hartman, a real person who happens to be the CEO & creative director of Free to be Kids. I could respond directly to her if I wanted to. Maybe I will. 

I suspect she would write back.

From: Free to Be Kids

A little smaller but just as passionate as ever.

The last few months have been filled with uncertainty for everyone, Free To Be Kids included. We had to shut down our screen printing shop and only had limited designs available for purchase — all of which I shipped from my home, just like in the early days of our little business.

But the team is back to work now, and we’re just so relieved and humbled to have made it through this deeply challenging time.

That said, we know we’re not out of the woods – here in Seattle or anywhere – so things have changed a bit. The team is smaller so we can keep everyone far, far away from each other when they’re here. I’m talking “no one in the same room for more than a couple minutes a couple times a day to pick up shirts and move them between the printing and fulfillment areas” social distancing.

Ethical production includes not putting anyone at unnecessary risk in our own office or print shop just so we can sell more shirts. We’ll take a hit on sales but we’ll all have our health.

Since we’re a bit smaller now it’ll take us a couple extra days to print and fulfill your orders, but everyone will be safe and well, and we’ll deliver the same quality you’ve come to expect from us!

I want to extend my deepest gratitude and love to everyone who supported us and wished us well through this bumpy period. We were super bummed not to be able to give you ALL the positive messages at the same time but wow, it sure feels good to have all our old favorites up on the site again! And you know we’ll be working on some fun new things too.

We wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for you, so thank you for being part of our extended family.