Category Archives: Featured Retailers

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.

July 31, 2013

Passport to Pacifier

Wing and Jon opened Pacifier‘s doors in 2004 after trying to find a hip gift for their niece. We are sure the stylish babies of Minneapolis owe much thanks to this niece for needing a present!  Since then, three Pacifier locations have opened their doors and lucky for us, two of them happen to be Tea Collection destination stores!  We encourage you to stop in and chat with the friendly staff who always go above and beyond for their customers.

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

Wing: I had had a job with a terrible boss, and I decided I couldn’t work for anyone else but myself. We’ve been in business now for just over nine years. I really need to go back and thank that boss.

Tea: All of our retailers are so different! Tell us what makes your store unique?

Wing: We have three stores and all have a very unique look. The main store in N.E. Minneapolis is our original one and the largest; it’s bright, colorful and a bit more quirky-looking. Our downtown Minneapolis store in the skyway is painted dark grey and caters to busy executives and office folks looking for a quick gift. Our newest location in the 50th & France neighborhood of Edina, has more muted and refined colors. They all carry many of the same products, but we’ve made an effort to tailor each one to the neighborhood it’s in.

Tea: What is your favorite part of the day in the store?

Wing: Opening boxes of new deliveries, especially clothing. It’s so fun because most of the time I’ve forgotten what we ordered months ago.

Tea: What’s the trendy thing right now in kid’s fashion now?

Wing: What are people coming in for? Mustaches on everything, still, and chevron.

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

Wing: I’ve been lucky to have an amazing staff that allowed me to take my first full 2 week vacation in years. We took a road trip out east to visit family and it was a blast. I was worried about my 4 year old melting down, but he did great. I’ve also had time this summer to work on a little Japanese-style garden in my backyard.

Tea: How do you balance it all? Do you have any tricks for the rest of us?

Wing: With work and family, there’s always something to be done. I’ve come to accept that I can’t do it all, it won’t always be perfect, and I try not to let that stress me out anymore. My trick: try to schedule as many date nights and girls nights out as possible! For me, it’s the one thing that always falls to the bottom of the list, so I have to always remind myself to do this.

June 27, 2013

Passport to Tiny Toes

If you’re ever in Maryland, hop into Tiny Toes.  This delightful store will keep you entertained for hours with their array of children’s goods. Find out more about Tiny Toes as from our chat with co-owner, Karen!

 

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

We are just about to celebrate our 7th anniversary.  We (mom and I) opened the store almost a year to date after my son was born. I was ready for a career change after being part of an exciting internet start-up experience and I couldn’t find any local options for great children’s clothing. Mom was a willing partner and brought some retail experience to the table which was wonderful since I had none (unless you count shopping).

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

While it is obvious to everyone who meets her that Mom is amazing with the customers, most would be surprised to learn that I would be much happier crunching numbers on a excel spreadsheet than re-dressing the face outs. Merchandising makes me break out in a cold sweat. Luckily we have some great employees who love merchandising.  Everyone bring something to the table.

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

Mornings are always the best.  Everything in its place, the anticipation of fun deliveries that might be arriving and the possibility of great day filled with favorite customers. We’re also very fond of happy hour around here.

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

We’re a neighborhood store and most of our customers are locals.  We work really hard to remember names, favorite colors, sizes, recent purchases, etc.  We want to make the shopping experience as easy and fun as it can be. It can mean pulling up all the past purchases of three sisters so that grandma doesn’t give a repeat gift or stocking gluten-free snacks for a customers child who can’t eat wheat…we want to be that place that goes the extra mile. We want our customers to feel like they are visiting friends when they come here.

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

My kids have had frequent flyer numbers since they were born.  While we have yet to venture internationally they have been criss-crossing the country since birth.  They love exploring new places (and revisiting family favorites). Travel with kids forces you to come up with activities to keep them engaged which is great because it means you get out and explore your destination. No vegging by the pool for a week… that said, my husband and I just returned from a vacation in the south of France and vegging by the pool (or the beach) with good friends is not the least bit over-rated.

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

“Practically fun” is what our customer shops for these days.  They want clothing that they can wear day in day out.  That means quality and durability are paramount.  But they don’t want to sacrifice style.  Clothing still needs to have a special detail, a fun print etc but customers aren’t looking for that one time wear, special occasion outfit anymore.

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

That is laughable. Between the store and two little ones at home spare time is definitely at a premium.  Luckily, Mom’s favorite past time is hanging with grandkids… which means occasionally there is time for reading a book or going for a run.

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

Hire amazing people!  We are so fortunate to have an amazing staff, most of whom have been with us for years.  They love the store like it is their own and there is nothing they won’t do to help us out.  It allows both Mom and me to take time off (even at the same time) and not worry about how things are being handled back at the store. Without them I’m really not sure how we would pull it all together!

 

May 21, 2013

Passport to City Sprouts

Each month Studio T features one of our retailers.  This month we sat down with City Sprouts owner, Molly Curlee, to learn more about the store and Molly herself – it’s not every day you get named “Best All Around Kids’ Store” by St. Louis Magazine!


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

My first child, Maxine, was the inspiration for the store. When I was pregnant I searched for modern nursery furniture and clothing that was not frilly and pink but could not find it anywhere in St. Louis. I knew it existed because I saw so many cool products when I went to market to buy for Phoenix Rising, our gift store. We created a small baby section at Phoenix Rising and people loved it. When a space opened up across the street I jumped on it and opened City Sprouts. That was 8 years ago.

 

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

I have owned another great boutique with my sister since I was 19. Also, I have a degree in biology with a minor in math. I loved science when I was a kid, it was like magic to me.

 

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

Playing with the kids is the best. I also really enjoy putting together fun outfits for the kids and merchandising the store.

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

We have an annual birthday celebration at the store and a great customer rewards program. We sell the best and most contemporary collection of children’s merchandise in St. Louis. We also have a great staff that provides excellent customer service.

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

I try to sell merchandise from all over the world. We have bilingual books as well as wooden building blocks. I love to travel and cannot wait for my next adventure.

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

People are still looking for products that are made in the United States. They are also looking for kids clothing that is fashion forward and easy to wear.

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

Ha, what is that? I love my hot yoga class, but often do not have time to attend. I play with my three beautiful daughters and my German Shepherd.

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

I currently live in a constant state of chaos. I have learned to let go of the little things and focus on the big picture. My house is messy, but my kids are happy – most of the time! I do not second guess my decisions and always look forward.


April 24, 2013

Passport to Dawn Price Baby

Each month Studio T features one of our retailers.  This month we sat down with Dawn from Dawn Price Baby. From Taekwondo to running her own business, Dawn really is a mom who juggles it all.  Continue reading to see how she keeps everything moving!

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

Dawn:Not much, I am pretty much an open book.  I recently became a black belt in Taekwondo. I am a lawyer, accountant by degrees.  I have three kids (set of boy/girl twins) and an old, sweet chocolate lab and LOVE watching kids movies with my kids snuggled with me on the couch.  I love to talk about business and will sit with just about anyone to talk about whatever they are interested in doing.Tea: What is your favorite part of your day at the store?

Dawn: Before we open, I get to look around and evaluate the store — how it looks, what it needs, how beautiful it is!

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

Dawn: We host two major events a year – Mom’s Night Out.  It has turned into a fun night of shopping and socializing with friends.  We really try to focus on customer service and expertise as we have a lot of bigger stores in the area.  We also have a great rewards program that we offer our customers.


Tea: What is the biggest trend you see right now in either shopping or kid’s fashion? 

Dawn: We are having good success with sticking to items that are more unique and not viewed as a commodity.  For example, we do better with specialty leggings over plain leggings.  We have more and more customers coming in for multiple kids and multiple outfits.  We try to make it easy by setting outfits for them and offering options to mix and match.Tea: We love sets!

 

Tea:    What do you do in your “spare” time (if you have any)?

Dawn: I actually do a lot, but I sacrifice sleep and “me” time.  I help with the kids running club at their school and my child’s lacrosse practice.  I don’t miss their practices or games.  I make a big deal out of birthday parties and friends over and, we are in taekwondo (as a family).  Trade off is lack of sleep, migraines and circles under the eyes. I am currently in the kid stage of life, even though I am running a business.  I try to enjoy every second I have either with the kids or a work.  I joke around a lot in both areas and try to have a lot of fun.

Tea: Since you do it all, would you mind sharing your secret to success with us?

Dawn: Stay organized, stay focused and make the decision — whatever decision it is.  I am not right all the time, but I do try to keep moving forward.  I empower the people that work with me to look at the big picture and contribute versus just clocking in and out.  I expect a lot and give credit where credit is due.


 

March 21, 2013

Passport to the Lolly Garden

Each month Studio T features one of our retailers.  This month we chatted with Marlow from Lolly Garden. Dive into the whimsical world of  Lolly Garden and discover their philosophy behind their success.  They are the only children’s boutique in Midtown Tulsa with stroller- friendly aisles.  (Moms love this!)