20 May Krystal Almora on Hashtag Kids, Kelsey Hates the Needle, and Being a Baseball Wife
Krystal Almora is really, really busy. With two children and a husband navigating the unforgiving schedule of a 162-game baseball season, it might seem hard to find time to change the world, but somehow, Krystal Almora is doing just that. We had the opportunity to chat with her last week about clothing line, Hashtag Kids, her book (“Kelsey Hates the Needle”), and the importance of maintaining your identity and finding your passion.
Expanded Roster: Why don’t we start at the beginning? How did you and Albert meet?
Krystal Almora: Albert and I met when he was just done with AA. In the offseason he came to Philly, where I’m from, to visit a friend who was also in the minors at the time. He just happened to be engaged to my best friend, so me, my best friend, and his friend were all from the same place. So he decided to take a trip to visit and my best friend was like, “Hey, you should come meet this guy. His name’s Albert,” and all of that…we met and then everything happened really fast. It was like one of those love at first sight things, I guess you could say.
ER: So, your new project is an eco-friendly clothing line, Hashtag Kids. Were your children and your life with Albert a big part of your inspiration?
KA: Absolutely! I was approached by someone who had an awesome idea to start a kids clothing line, and it was right up my alley. My kids inspire me and I want to give back, that’s part of my vision. So we came up with this concept to use my talents. I can design and draw, I didn’t go to school for it. Definitely self taught and learning as I go, which is pretty cool.
Even the challenges are fun. It’s been fun learning about this industry. I’m so excited to share with everyone what I’ve created and to start seeing the impact it has, especially though the charities that we’re going to work with and grow.
ER: I know you said you didn’t go to school for it but have you been interested in clothes and design your whole life?
KA: I’m really into fashion, I’ve always loved clothes and wearing the trendiest thing. I didn’t really know a lot about the clothing industry. That’s the part I’m learning, I don’t have a degree in fashion merchandising, so that’s something I need to work to develop the technique and skills for. As far as drawing, oh my goodness, that has been a passion of mine. I’ve been drawing and coloring and using bold colors since I was three years old, my whole life. I love to create things, use my imagination, and draw. I’ve always loved that.
ER: What kind of clothes will the initial Hashtag Kids collection feature?
KA: We’re starting with baby and infant, like 0 to 24 months with onesies and blankets, that’s the starting point. We want to grow into toddler and youth styles and sizes too and get to all the kiddos out there, as many as we can.
ER: One of the things your introductory video on Hashtag Kids mentioned was the line being environmentally friendly. Why is that something that’s important to you?
KA: It’s really important to me because of the facts behind it. In college, I took environmental studies and I learned that what we do as a country is so unfortunate. The things that we do here are depleting our earth. They’re affecting people’s health. The clothing industry is one biggest industries polluting our planet. Using products that have sustainable practices is huge. Purchasing organic and using natural dyes, instead of an alternative, it should be just the only option out there. I hope that we all continue to move in that direction as a country.
ER: One of the other great things about Hashtag Kids is that you’re planning to partner with two charities to raise money with a portion of the profits. There are two you chose are St. Jude’s, which seeks to provide care for children with cancer, and Kelsey’s Kaleidoscope. St. Jude’s is obviously a large national charity, but do you want to talk about Kelsey’s Kaleidoscope and explain what that is?
KA: Absolutely. My baby cousin, I say baby, but she’s eight now, she was diagnosed since she was three with a rare and potentially fatal disease that affects her blood vessels and arteries. Basically, her organs can shut down at any point, but luckily she has this injectable medication that she gets weekly, and it’s keeping her alive, basically.
It’s so rare that they don’t know what’s going to happen or if the medicine is going to stop working. My family has been on it, we want to find a cure. We’re raising as much awareness and money as we possibly can, but it’s not only going to help Kelsey. It’s going to help other children out there that are undiagnosed, who are going to need help with how serious this is.
ER: How difficult is it to build a business for you right now? You have two children, you’re married to someone who keeps a very demanding schedule, you’re traveling constantly. How do you find the time?
KA: I’m not going to lie, it’s something I’m struggling with right now. I’m one of those people that does not procrastinate. I do things ASAP and I feel a lot of pressure because I want to get things done quickly. So, there’s a lot of times I have to say to myself, “Just take a deep breath. You don’t have to do it right now. You have kids that need you and it could get another day.” So, that aspect of my personality makes it challenging.
And then, just in general, the time consuming part of it. I am learning on getting better at with my time management skills. Albert’s so great. He’s so supportive and he’s always allowing me to work. When he’s home he’ll play with the kids and let me get whatever I need to get done. It’s very helpful to have a partner that’s super supportive.
ER: That’s awesome. What do you think about balancing this and your family going forward?
KA: I’m actually nervous! Talking about the future and what can develop does make me wonder. I want to help people, I want to make a difference, that comes naturally to me. Those are things I’ve always wanted to do. As far as getting my talent out there to as many people as possible…you never know what things are going to turn into. One minute I’m a stay-at-home mom, the next I’m designing a clothing line!
I’m also illustrating a book for Kelsey, in honor of Kelsey.
ER: You illustrated a book?
KA: I illustrated a book on top of everything, called “Kelsey Hates the Needle”. The book is about helping kids overcome their fear of injections. We’re really excited, Albert’s excited to see where all this goes. The more people that know about it, the more children that it can comfort. No one likes to get pricked, it’s awful what you have to go through for a child. The purpose of the book is to be comforting, to make a beautiful story out of all the challenges they face. I hope as many people can be touched by it as possible.
ER: In your ideal world, where do you see all of this in five years? What would feel like success to you?
KA: With my clothing, I just want to impact as many families as I can, and I want them to learn about the why behind it. It’s easy to say, “Oh, we’re organic!” and people think it’s great, but I want people to really know why. I want them to know the impact and to educate as many children and parents as possible. It’s all about help, in the end that’s what I’m really trying to do here, to help people.
ER: Do you see yourself as a role model? I think a lot of women, especially a lot of mothers, would love to take the chance on pursuing a business, or a dream like this.
KA: I hope so, I hope I can inspire people and give them hope. In life, we all come across times when we’re confused or don’t know where we are or what we’re going to be or what we’re going to do. Especially as a baseball wife, you give up everything, you dedicate everything to baseball. That’s a beautiful thing as well, because you have a family and you grow, but you lose yourself a little bit.
I say reach for opportunities, be open minded, and always give back to the community. Be a positive, good person and things will come to you. People approached me with opportunities and I was willing to go for it. I hope people know even if they feel stuck or like they aren’t fulfilling their passion, they always can. Never hold yourself back or feel like you can’t, no matter what situation you’re in.
You can purchase “Kelsey Hates the Needle” by Mary Wagner and Krystal Almora online at Barnes & Noble and Amazon.com! For updates on Hashtag Kids and Kelsey’s Kaleidoscope, you can follow them on Instagram: @hashtag_kids and @kelseys_kaleidoscope!