Bayou Blend has comfort down to a ‘T’

Published 12:07 pm Wednesday, October 13, 2021

For the softest T-shirt — ever — head to Bayou Blend in downtown Lake Charles. This is not just another graphic tee. Bayou Blend apparel was created based on Kaysie Bolton’s quest to find “sensory-happy” clothing for her family.

“My 7-year-old was diagnosed with autism in 2017 and he just could not wear a shirt,” said Bolton, mother of three.

She was determined to find something he could feel good in. Three months after the diagnosis, she started her company, working out of her home. After going to therapies with him, she discovered that her 10-year-old, though not autistic, does have sensory processing disorder. Children with sensory processing disorder have difficulty processing information from touch, movement, smell, taste, vision and hearing. Senses over- or under-react. Meltdowns during dressing can be commonplace. According to Autismspeaks.org, clothing that accommodates personal sensitivities means clothing can feel bearable.

Knowing that sensory-friendly tees are a need for more than children and adults on the autism spectrum, she expanded her brand creating two other lines, L.A. to LA, a California vibe with Louisiana roots and SPIRITUALITY, an expression of faith and positivity. Tees are created with premium, super soft fabric and constructed with no-feel seams and no tags. Quality hybrid inks and special printing techniques result in a no-feel graphic. All her brands feel buttery soft and great to the skin. Purchasing a tee can make the heart feel good.

“When you buy a tee, I donate to autism nonprofits here and globally,” Bolton said.

She has worked with St. Nicholas Center in and continues to perfect her product, knowing that no two children on the autism spectrum are alike.

“There’s a saying in autism,” she said, “when you meet one child with autism, you meet one child with autism.”

She opened in downtown Lake Charles June 2020, in a space with Paper Smith and Olive and Indigo.

Then came Hurricane Laura in August.

“I was devastated until downtown business owners began to rally,” she said.

Now Bayou Blend, Olive and Indigo (hand-crafted jewelry, artisan perfume, natural body care and candles) and Paper Smith (curated selection of paper goods, gifts and other goodies) all have their own space, something that Bolton saw in her mind’s eye long before it became reality.  Bolton wants to see a downtown shopping experience that rivals Magazine Street in New Orleans.

“We have some great merchants and more are coming,” she said.

Thursday, Oct. 7, she opened her downtown store to media, fashion influencers and close friends to tell her story and let others see for themselves how they “feel” about her line of clothing.

“I really believe this is my purpose,” she said. “I finally feel that peace that comes from being authentic. I think God creates us to find that thing, to fill that empty space that can only be filled by doing what he created us to do,” she said.

She did not study graphic design, but Bolton did study fashion design.

“My joke to my parents is, ‘Oh, I finally get to use that expensive education that you paid for,’ ” she said.

Sizes begin at onesie and go to 3x. Prices begin at $30 because the production is more costly than for other types of tees.

Bolton said because her son is high-functioning, St. Nicholas Center was one of the first places that understood her family’s needs.

“That brings me back to the word ‘spectrum,’ ” she said. “There are so many levels of autism.”

The executive director and founder of St. Nicholas, Christy Pania-Jones, told Bolton those are the children who often get missed. Bolton’s children have “graduated” from St. Nicholas and are now involved with the Partners in Therapy program.

Bolton has been featured on a website that highlights entrepreneur leaders who “give back,” and endorsed by celebrity Mila Kunis. Find out more at www.shopbayoublend.com.