Category Archives: Featured Retailers

July 21, 2014

Passport to Jack n’ Jill Shop

Each month Studio T  features one of our retailers. This month we caught up with Laura, owner of Jack n’ Jill Shop. Learn about the story (and city’s) rich history below!

Have you always lived in Birmingham?
I was born to military parents while they were stationed in the Panama Canal Zone. When I was 3 we moved to Fort McClellan, Alabama.  When I was 4 my dad retired from active duty and we moved to Homewood, Alabama, a suburb of Birmingham. I graduated from Homewood High School in 1992 and then attended the University of Alabama at Birmingham for the next 4 years.  My husband, son and myself live in Hoover, a suburb of Birmingham.

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June 19, 2014

Passport to Nest Children’s Boutique

Nest Boutique Each month Studio T  features one of our retailers. This month we caught up with Caroline, owner of Nest Children’s Boutique. In the Denver area? Stop by and say hello at one of her locations near Cherry Creek North or Larimer Square!

Have you always lived in Denver?  I have lived all over the place (I am the Tea poster child!) I grew up in Evanston, IL, studied abroad in Germany and Vietnam and have lived in Philadelphia, New York, Boston and London.  I left New York and moved to Denver with my family after I had my first to child and this is where we have been ever since.

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May 15, 2014

Passport to Magical Child

Magical Child Logo

Each month Studio T  features one of our retailers. This month we caught up with Meri, the lovely woman behind the Encinitas, California boutique, Magical Child.

Have you always lived in Encinitas?
I was born in Brooklyn New York and moved to Puerto Rico when I was 8. We moved to California when my parents divorced one year later. I have stayed in SoCal ever since!

How was your business born?
I met the previous owner of Magical Child at play group. My daughter was only 4 months old at the time. I fell in love with Magical Child and bought all my cloth diapers and my sling here. I worked here part-time before my son was born. When my friend announced at playgroup she wanted to sell the business, I said I would buy it! (Without even asking my husband!) The following Monday we wrote it up on a legal pad and the deal was done! (well then I had to tell my husband!)

Tell us a little about your family history…
I arrived in San Diego from Puerto Rico where my parents met. Even though my dad was Puerto Rican I don’t look Hispanic and I never really embraced my heritage.  Now that I have kids and they ask questions we have really gotten into following our family tree. My daughter and I plan to go to PR when she graduates from High School next year. As for recipes, I do love rice, beans and guacamole!

Where is the last place you traveled?
The last place I traveled was a road trip to Scottsdale, AZ for Spring Break with my son. We visited cousins who were the ultimate hosts and filled our every wish! Cypress learned to play tennis and we experienced an early morning hot air balloon ride! It was a fantastic bonding time for us!

Your best friend is visiting your city for the first time and only has 24 hours to explore—what would you tell them to do?
I would start at Lofty Bean for an amazing cup of coffee and gluten free scone. This also puts you at the perfect spot to begin your walk thru beautiful downtown Encinitas! After coffee I would walk over to Moonlight Beach, to work off the scone and enjoy a beautiful ocean view! I would wander down to heart of the town and get a mani pedi at one of the many boutique style lounges. Along the way are endless shops to meet everyone’s tastes from clothing to home décor. I would definitely have lunch at Solace and eat upstairs on their outside ocean view deck. After lunch there is more sight seeing along the way to the Swami’s Gardens, a must see! Of course there are the boat houses – built in the 1920’s. To work up your appetite for dinner the 1.5 mile walk down the famous Cardiff Kook statue is a must! On the way back take to the beach at low tide and come up the Swami’s staircase – super cardio! Once back on the mainland its time for dinner at none other than 3rd Corner. Excellent food, atmosphere and wine shop! Buy an extra bottle from a local winery to take home with you. Finish off the day with a stroll down the 101 and perhaps catch a late showing at La Paloma Theatre established in 1928. Now, go home and start your search for real estate because you are absolutely going to want to move here!

What advice do you have for local mothers?
There are so many great parks as well as endless playgroups to fit every mom. MOPS is really big around for the more experienced mom. Getting started I would join a stroller strides group to test out a few different types of groups.

What types of events and promotions do you run in your boutique?
We host several annual events. Our Magical Mothers Day is always a huge hit as is the Winter Wonderland Holiday Bash! We sponsor trunk shows and host Doll Parties. With the move to our new location this summer we look forward to adding even more Magical events.

What is one thing your customers would be surprised to learn about you?
I was really shy and quiet as a kid! Seriously. 

April 10, 2014

Passport to… Glee Kids

Glee Kids North Carolina

Each month Studio T  features one of our retailers.  This month we caught up with Noelle and Jim Garstka, the husband and wife team behind Glee Kids in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Glee Kids North Carolina

Have you always lived in Chapel Hill? 
We moved to Chapel Hill in 2011 shortly after our third child was born.  After 8 years in the Bay Area we decided to relocate our family to the East Coast and attempt to slow things down a bit.  Although we love (LOVE) California, our careers were all consuming and we had very little time to enjoy the wonderful things around us.  Chapel Hill is a vibrant, small town with so much to offer.  It is family focused and we spend very little time in our cars, which makes a huge impact on our quality of life.

How was your business born?
Glee Kids opened in 2008 by a local mom who, after spending years in California and New York, saw the need for a modern children’s boutique in Chapel Hill.  In 2012 she decided to move on and sent out an email to her customers about the closing sale.  As a customer, I was heartbroken to hear this news and contacted her to see if she was willing to sell the shop – three weeks later we were business owners.  This didn’t exactly follow our plan to “slow things down”, but we were and continue to be excited about Glee Kids and our involvement in the community.

Where is the last place you traveled?
The last place I traveled was New York, which was supposed to be a quick trip to finish up our fall buying for the store.  But thanks to a snow storm, it turned out to be five glorious days alone (yes, my husband was stuck at home with all three kids), in a pretty hotel, with a coffee shop below and plenty of great things to see and buy.  I read a book, made lunch and dinner reservations, stepped in lots of melted snow puddles (lesson learned) and recharged.

Glee Kids North Carolina

Your best friend is visiting your city for the first time and only has 24 hours to explore—what would you tell them to do? 
Oh wow, to narrow it down to a single day – too much pressure!  Well, after waking up at the Carolina Inn, you should step outside and take a nice long walk around the University of North Carolina campus.  The weather here is quite nice and should make for an enjoyable morning.  After working up an appetite, I would suggest grabbing something delicious from Sunrise Biscuit Kitchen and taking it over to Caffé Driade to devour with a great coffee.  Although Glee Kids is in Chapel Hill, we are but a few short miles to Durham and Duke University, so a visit to the Duke Gardens is a necessity.  It’s incredibly beautiful and always full of visitors and families.  Since you are already in Durham, you should have lunch at Nana Taco and don’t forget to order the Mexican Chocolate milkshake…spicy.  After lunch, you can head back to University Mall in Chapel Hill where you will find Glee Kids, Kidzu Children’s Museum and many other local shops.  Southern Season is not to be missed and you can find the perfect gift at Peacock Alley.  And since you somehow scored tickets to the UNC/Duke game you can take a shuttle and get a taste of some great North Carolina basketball.  After the game, head over to the bar at Lantern for great drinks and food and then walk back to your beautiful suite at the Carolina Inn.

What advice do you have for local mothers?
One of my favorite parts of working in the store is hearing all the wisdom I get from our precious grandmothers.  They always have such great perspective and remind me to relax and stop putting our children’s lives under a microscope.  Someone recently passed on a piece of advice – “if it isn’t dangerous or mean, let it go”.  Invaluable.

What types of events and promotions do you run in your boutique?
We try to have fun in store events, facebook promotions and partner with our neighbors.  Sometimes we have the fairies come in to do “fairy hair”, other times we hand out balloons at Kidzu Children’s Museum and we always offer our GG’s (Glee’s Grandmas) 10% off their purchase.

What is one thing your customers would be surprised to learn about you? 
Hmmm…I talk too much so our customers probably know everything!  Some of them might be surprised to find out that I am software consultant for a California based company.  Or they may find it funnier that I twirled a baton as a kid!

March 14, 2014

Passport to Little Star Kids Gear

Little Star Boutique

Each month Studio T  features one of our retailers.  This month we caught up with Rebecca and Brea, the amazing duo behind Little Star in Franklin, Tennessee.

Little Star Franklin Tennessee

Have you always lived in Franklin?
Rebecca: I’ve lived here for 21 years. Grew up in Tampa. Ended up back in Nashville because I love the people, the scenery and the pace of life here.
Brea: I have lived in the area for almost 13 years now. I married a musician and we followed the music here from Kansas where I grew up! And now it’s just home, we love it and can’t imagine living anywhere else.

How was your business born?
Rebecca: We saw a need in the area for a modern contemporary baby and kids store. We were both new moms and didn’t feel the traditional southern style fit our families!
Brea: Rebecca and I have been in business together for almost 8 years. We originally owned a maternity store and then opened our kids store, Little Star, next door to it 4 years ago.

Tell us a little about your family history.
Rebecca: 4th generation Irish/German and I love all German food. I love traveling and exploring my roots. My Grandmother was an amazing cook. Favorite recipe passed down would be homemade noodles.
Brea: I’m a farm girl from Western Kansas where I learned a lot about hard work and making business go through growing up on a 3rd generation farm as one of six kids. My mom and all of my aunts were the best cooks and were always so resourceful. They could make anything work, I have definitely picked that up from them! My favorite recipe is from my full German Aunt, everything she makes is divine, but she taught me to make her homemade sauerkraut, it is unlike any other… So, so good!

Where is the last place you traveled?
Rebecca: Our last family trip was to Disney World and it was amazing! Wonderful time of wonder with our kids, Samantha, 6 and Mack, 5. Next big trip on the radar – Penang, Malaysia to visit dear friends that are missionaries there.
Brea: My last big trip was to Napa Valley California with my husband and our 6 month old little girl! It was for “Live in the Vineyard” which is a music festival and wine tasting experience weekend all together and it was dreamy! I know that doesn’t sound dreamy to most, but when you have 3 kids only taking the smallest and easiest one is delightful and quite easy, really!

Your best friend is visiting your city for the first time and only has 24 hours to explore—what would you tell them to do?  
Definitely take them to the Frothy Monkey in downtown Franklin, love the local food and the people watching! Then I would take them shopping downtown Franklin, stop in to Savory Spice Shop which is a fun, everything-you-need spice shop.  Then I would recommend a Nashville must see, Loveless Cafe, their biscuits and preserves are amazing! After lunch, I would bring them over to McEwen South for great local boutique shopping.  For dinner, I would head into downtown Nashville to stop at Patterson House for a unique drink. And lastly, of course down to Broadway to see some good ole fashion Honkey Tonks or the Bluegrass Inn to catch a songwriters round and hear the amazing musicians that write the hits you hear on the radio, share the story behind their songs.

What advice do you have for local mothers?
My nugget of wisdom is find a friend who is going through what you are going through, it makes it so much better!  Comparing stories, giving advice, love on each other – we are not alone! Also, there are so many resources for events for moms to get involved in and honestly that can get a little overwhelming, my advice is to try to get time to yourself everyday, it makes you a better mommy!

What types of events and promotions do you run in your boutique?
We are about to start a regular mom’s night out event! Mom’s desperately need breaks and time with girlfriends so we are thinking we will have wine and cheese and different events going on! We also love to keep in touch with our moms over Facebook, it’s easy for them and for us! Facebook is also a place moms can ask us questions and we can help them before they even make it into the store!!

What is one thing your customers would be surprised to learn about you? 
Brea: Most people don’t know that I used to travel around in a bus as a “roadie” for my husband’s band, for years! I did everything from book shows, manage merchandise, load and unload gear, make food, do accounting and a million other things! We traveled all over the U.S., it was such an adventure to say the least! It was truly the hardest and most fun job ever, besides being a mom!

January 30, 2014

Passport to Sweet Pea

Sweet Pea

 Each month Studio T  features one of our retailers.  This month we caught up with the lovely couple behind Sweet Pea in Traverse City, Michigan!

Sweet Pea

How did you decide to take the leap and open your own store? How long has your store been in business?

We were looking for a change in lifestyle that would allow us more flexibility. Retail was something we knew and a children’s store was what we felt was needed in our downtown. It was an easy decision! We will be celebrating our 5 year anniversary this May!

What is something that your customers would be surprised to learn about you?

That we do not spend any time stressing about our Tea orders! We have an awesome rep and the brand sells itself! We love the line and find it to be our easiest and most profitable line we carry.

What is your favorite part of your day at the store?

We both agree that it is in the morning when the store isn’t open yet. There is time to go through everything and it is quiet!

Sweet Pea

We know how special and unique all of our stores are, what makes your store unique?

We have a great Facebook following and a strong community that believes in shopping local. We are both pretty laid back with running the store which keeps the atmosphere fun! We have an awesome downtown with numerous festivals and activities bringing thousands of people to us!

At Tea, we “Go There”, how do you share in that mission at your store and/or in your life?

Our store was a “risk”, but the reward has been worth it! Don’t be afraid to “go there” because you only get one chance at life :)

What is the biggest trend you see right now in either shopping or kid’s fashion? What are people coming in for?

People enjoy spending money on their kids. They want quality clothing, shoes, toys etc. and we are constantly making sure that we are offering that to our customer.

Sweet Pea

What do you do in your “spare” time?

Our spare time is spent with our kids! We enjoy traveling with them or taking advantage of beautiful Northern Michigan! We really try to make sure there is separation from the store and our family.

How do you balance it all? What tricks can you offer us?

Jeff and I each have different “duties” we are responsible for at the store. It can be hard to run a business as husband and wife when you both want to be the “boss”. But when each of our job descriptions are different then that works smoothly for us!

Sweet Pea Owners

 

 

December 9, 2013

Passport to Posh Baby

POSH Baby

 Each month Studio T  features one of our retailers.  This month we caught up with Natalie,  founder of POSH Baby in Oregon.  Learn about her store philosophy below.

POSH Baby

Tea: How did you decide to take the leap and open your own store? How long has your store been in business?

Posh Baby: I have been in business since 2003, I did not start out with plans to open a retail store. I had a wholesale line that was sold to about 300 stores across the globe and having all that inventory, it seemed natural to have a storefront as well. I started out with a tiny store, it was probably about 100 square feet in size. After about six months, a leasing agent approached me about opening up a much larger store that was when I took the leap! Unfortunately, I signed the lease and days later my husband received deployment papers to Afghanistan. That period of my life was very difficult. I had an 18 month old and no idea what I was doing or how I was going to do it all. The store was about 1600 square feet, so I decided to not only sell my own line but other lines as well, plus maternity clothing. Two years later we outgrew that space and moved across the street, and three years later we opened our second store. Last year we moved our original store to an even larger space and I vow to never move again. We are now more of a one-stop shop with everything… clothing toys, gear, furniture, essentials, you name it – we have it.

What is something that your customers would be surprised to learn about you? 

I was born and raised on and English Island called St. Helena Island. It is one of the most remote islands in the world with a population of about 5,000 people. It is also where Napoleon Bonaparte was exiled and died! And yes, we had electricity and did not wear grass skirts. Someone actually asked me that once! Another thing about me is, going into this I had no experience in wholesale,  retail,  sewing or business… nor money to do it! But I started small and slow and grew when I could. Lastly, I always wanted to be a Spy! I’m still waiting on the CIA or James Bond to come calling for my services.

What is your favorite part of your day at the store?  

When the proud parents bring their babies in for the first time. I love having that special relationship – seeing my customers pregnant, being a part of their journey and sharing the excitement, and then having them come in with their new babies!

POSH Baby

We know how special and unique all of our stores are, what makes your store unique?

We focus on the customer experience and personalization. We feel it’s important to allow customers to take strollers outside for a walk to test drive, hold frequent giveaways, have Facebook trivia questions with prizing – all things aimed at creating a fun and rewarding experience.

At Tea, we “Go There”, how do you share in that mission at your store and/or in your life?

Coming from another country and having family that is literally scattered around the world has led to a rewarding life of travel and exploration.  I truly am a citizen of the world! I even have a dual citizenship so “Going There” resonates with me and brings the wonderful diversity and flavors of the world into the products.

POSH Baby

What is the biggest trend you see right now in either shopping or kid’s fashion? What are people coming in for? 

Well I’m not sure if it is much of a trend as it’s always consistent; Parents and kids want easy comfortable, high-quality clothes that are easy to mix and match. Tea falls perfectly into that category and we have a very large Tea following here.

What do you do in your “spare” time? Laughable right? 

As a business owner you know you don’t have much spare time and over the years you tend to not prioritize yourself, you put the business (and everything that comes with it) first! So recently, I have decided to refocus on myself both on my mind, body and spirit so I try and do things that fall into place with that. I have discovered spin classes and am really enjoying that. I fit them in before or after work.  My husband is excited as he is a cyclist and thinks this may lead to some touring together.

How do you balance it all? What tricks can you offer us?

Turning everything off when you walk in the door. Being present and in the moments of home life are key to work life balance. I don’t check my computer or email at night unless I know I have something urgent or pending. At the end of the day, everything can wait until the next day!

 

November 6, 2013

Passport to Babinski’s

Each month Studio T  features one of our retailers.  This month we caught up with Daphne,  founder of Babinski’s Baby in Salt Lake City (and Sandy!), Utah.  Learn about her store philosophy below.

babinskis baby

Babinskis

How did you decide to take the leap and open your own store? How long has your store been in business?

When I became pregnant with Lauren sixteen years ago, we had a hard time finding just the right products for our new little bump.  Although neither Sean nor I had any experience in retail, we both had a love for the business and decided to take a leap by opening a baby boutique.  We have tripled the size of our store since that day and have recently opened a second location.  We knew having a baby would change our lives, but I don’t think we had any idea it would change our livelihood, too!

What is something that your customers would be surprised to learn about you?

Sean and I took a year “off” before we had kids.  We quit our jobs, sold our house and bought one way tickets to Europe.  We traveled wherever the wind blew us and enjoyed visiting amazing destinations in Europe, India, Thailand and Nepal.  It changed the way we looked at life and is a part of who we are today.

What is your favorite part of your day at the store? 

I love being in the store before we open in the morning.  Those quiet moments are my most productive, as they give me a chance to look at the store objectively and move through as a customer would.  I also love any time that Sean and I are at the store together.  I feel so lucky that I get to work with my best friend every day!

Babinskis

We know how special and unique all of our stores are, what makes your store unique? 

I  think our store vibe makes us unique.  People are always meeting up at at our store, friends and family alike, to share in this amazing experience of parents to be. There’s always lots of laughter and fun energy. Couple that with our amazing staff (they really are the best!) and you have a pretty great vibe. It is awesome to be a part of that excitement every day!

At Tea, we “Go There”, how do you share in that mission at your store and/or in your life? 

Tea travels to wonderful destinations and weaves together local colors, patterns and textiles to create a special clothing line.  We venture out to find the very best for baby and then weave these things together to create a special store .  In the end we have both created something bigger than a clothing line and baby store; we have  created connections with people.

What is the biggest trend you see right now in either shopping or kid’s fashion? What are people coming in for?  

People care a lot about their shopping experience these days.  Most products can be purchased online and in discount stores; but shoppers still make the trip to their favorite specialty retailers.  That’s because shopping today is about more than the products you buy.  It’s about your experiences.  And having a baby is one of the best experiences you can have in life.  We are lucky to have that on our side!

Babinski

What do you do in your “spare” time? Laughable right? 

We have a tiny cabin in the mountains where we love to go and hang out with our girls.  We can be there for less than 24 hours and connect in such a way that there is a shift in our priorities.  Life is not about the next thing on our list…it’s about our relationships.

How do you balance it all? What tricks can you offer us? 

I used to plan my life way out into the future.  Now, I just look at my list and ask what absolutely has to happen next.  When those things are finished, I am more open to whatever comes next.  That element of spontaneity often brings my life more joy than the next thing on my list would have.

September 24, 2013

Passport to Baby Bliss

Next time you’re in the Lone Star State, be sure to swing by Dallas’ one-stop-shop for baby; Baby Bliss.  Carrie and her expert staff will make you feel right at home!

Baby Bliss, Dallas Texas

Tea: How did you decide to take the leap and open your own store? How long has your store been in business?  
Baby Bliss: My career started in retail as a buyer and later in wholesale.  I just had the itch to do it myself!  When my 30th came rolling around, I decided to make a change and boy am I glad that I did.

Tea: What is your favorite part of your day at the store?  
BB: Well, I don’t spend a lot of time at the store these days because I have an amazing staff that allows me to do all the office work from home and spend more time with my kiddos after school.

Tea: We know how special and unique all of our stores are, what makes your store unique? 
BB: My amazing staff!  I swear people come in just to see them.  They are fun, friendly, outgoing and that’s the vibe of the store. Everyone is welcome to come in, hang out, shop, and chat.

Baby Bliss, Dallas Texas

Tea: At Tea, we “Go There”, how do you share in that mission at your store and/or in your life?  
BB: I love to go there!  I love to travel.  Before having kids, I was a worldly traveler. I was adventurous.  Now that we have kids, we prefer to travel to beaches (I love the beach) where we can get lots of R&R.

Tea: What is the biggest trend you see right now in either shopping or kid’s fashion? What are people coming in for?  
BB: My clients crave fashion for their kids that imitates theirs!  I swear we hear all the time, “I wish that came in adult sizes!”

Baby Bliss, Dallas Texas

Tea: What do you do in your “spare” time?  
BB: Family time is so important to us.  I read something this summer and they titled it “the sweet spot”, post diapers and pre-teen, when your kids actually want to be with you, so we try to take full advantage of that, in between everything else! We are foodies, movie goers, art and festival lovers so we try to take advantage of all Dallas has to offer.

Tea: How do you balance it all? What tricks can you offer us?  
BB: One day at a time! Then if my plate is just too full, I’ll ignore or delete things, like ‘OOPS’, I must have missed that.

 

August 27, 2013

Passport to Fiddlesticks

Nestled in San Francisco’s Hayes Valley, Fiddlesticks is bursting with unique children’s toys and tons of Tea. Come explore Fiddlesticks and have a macaroon or two while strolling the quaint neighborhood in the heart of San Francisco. This month we chatted with Elizabeth, founder of Fiddlesticks.

Tea: How did you decide to take the leap and open your own store? How long has your store been in business?

Fiddlesticks: Ten years ago I opened my first store, Lavish. The focus was on home accessories and women’s clothing, with a small baby section. Over time the baby section grew as the demand for more kids items increased. The Tea Collection was one of our first brands we carried actually. I can remember that first collection and those Chinese sweaters like it was yesterday! About four years later, I decided to open a second store, Fiddlesticks – with the focus on all things kids. The neighborhood, Hayes Valley, was exploding in retail and it was ripe for a kid’s store. I knew I could fill that gap. So in the spring of 2007, I opened Fiddlesticks. We are six years old and going strong.

T: What is your favorite part of your day at the store?

FS: My favorite part of any day at Fiddlesticks is watching the kids interact with the merchandise – whether that be trying on shoes, playing with a new toy or putting an outfit together. It’s their reaction that fuels our future decisions in what and how to buy, and it’s their glowing squeals that make it absolutely fun to the core.

T: We know how special all of our stores are, what makes your store unique?

FS: Honestly, it’s our esthetic. I think at the core we are really good curators of all things kids and that is why customers keep coming back. Our individual attention to every customer – we work really hard to give everyone the attention and focus to ensure they have a really great experience. Our customer service definitely sets us apart from others.

T:  At Tea, we “Go There”, how do you share in that mission at your store and/or in your life?

FS: We have a great deal of customers who are dedicated to Tea and come in only wanting to see Tea. Most of them know the story, but for those who are new and haven’t had a Tea experience, we spend a good deal of time with them educating them about the production and the design process.  The more we are able to discuss and share with them, the more they are vested in the collection.  And, as you can imagine, once they try Tea they tend to be lifers.
T: Woo hoo!

T: How do you balance it all? What tricks can you offer us?

FS: I have a very dedicated team at Fiddlesticks. Team being the key word, it’s not I but WE at Fiddlesticks. Kassie keeps us up-to-date on our website and in all things social media, while Caitlin focuses on the toys and books making sure we have the most current merchandise. And, I am mainly the clothing buyer and everything else that happens behind the scenes. TOGETHER we create Fiddlesticks and somehow keep it balanced.