Tag Archives: Featured Retailer

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.


 

February 8, 2013

Passport to Rocky Mountain Kids

Each month Studio T features one of our retailers.  This month we chatted with Stephanie from Rocky Mountain Kids.  We invite you to learn about the mother-daughter duo that are here for their customers day in and day out in their 3500 square foot store.  Come learn about Rocky Mountain kids!

Behind the scenes at Rocky Mountain Kids

Tea: How did you decide to take the leap and open your own store? How long has your store been in business?
Stephanie: How does anyone get into their own business?  Big ideas, a leap of faith, and a wing and a prayer.  The chance to be your own boss?  Yes, please!  We’ve been in business for 15 years- all in one location. We have been carrying Tea since the days when the entire line consisted of maybe a dozen pieces.  Lily (our daughter/granddaughter who has been raised with our family at Rocky Mountain Kids) is now 9 and has been a wearing Tea since she was a newborn (pink footie with red trim — anyone remember that?) and every season since.
Tea: She’s an original little citizen.

Tea: What is something that your customers would be surprised to learn about you?
Stephanie: We (mother and daughter) get to work together every day and we still like to hang out together outside of work.  A lot!  (Although I don’t know if that would really surprise any of our customers).

Tea: What is your favorite part of your day at the store?
Stephanie: Receiving new shipments.  It’s like Christmas every day.  Putting new, exciting product out on the floor is like having chosen the perfect gift for a friend.  You can’t wait for them to open it.

Tea: What is the biggest trend you see right now in either shopping or kid’s fashion? What are people coming in for?
Stephanie: Well, Tea is now its own trend.  Imitation is the highest form of flattery right?  We see other brands trying to imitate the Tea look and style as their own.  The trend is quality, fashion, color, and affordability all with a story.

Tea: What do you do in your “spare” time?
Stephanie: Family, friends, and a couple of cocktails on Friday nights.   When we’re lucky and Cristy is in town, a visit to Zolo Grill and an ice cream cone.

Tea: How do you balance it all? What tricks can you offer us?
Stephanie: Balance?  Even if things are balanced, would they ever really feel that way?  You’re at the store, you feel like you should be at home.  You’re at home, your thinking about the store.  Home is work, work is home.  But that is why we love it.  Right?  My best advice- Love what you do, love who you are, love who you’re with (family, friends, staff).

Thanks so much for stopping by!  Visit Rocky Mountain Kids at 2525 Araphoe, H12a in Boulder, CO 80302.

 

January 10, 2013

Passport to Style Child

Each month Studio T features one of our retailers.  This month we chatted with Kyle from Style Child.  We  invite you to discover Style Child, an innovative children’s boutique nestled in sunny San Diego.  Maybe you know Kyle and all of her friendly staff but we bet you didn’t know she was once a Captain in the Air Force.

 

 

Kyle, founder of Style Child Boutique

Meet Kyle, owner of Style Child.

 

 

Tea: How did you decide to take the leap and open your own store?
Kyle: Style Child has been open 6 years.  I was formerly an engineer for 10 years, and after having a baby, I found I gravitated to all things baby:  cute clothes, toys, furniture, decor.  It was a combination of needing a career change, plus my changing interests, plus a lack of children’s clothing opportunities in San Diego that led me to the idea of opening up a boutique myself.

Tea: What is your favorite part of your day at the store?
Kyle: When I do the buying!  I am always so excited to find new and amazing fashions, or cool toys.

Tea: What makes your store unique?
Kyle: We like to be on the cutting edge of design and fashion and we have a sophisticated flair.  We are very different from traditional baby stores.  We carry hardworking pieces whether it is toys, clothing, or furniture.

On the floor at Style Child Boutique

Style Child’s abundant Tea selection.

Tea: At Tea, we “Go There”, how do you share in that mission in your life?
Kyle: I love learning new languages and have been known to play Russian language tapes while commuting in my car!  I have French and Spanish and English toys in the store. We even have German products and Canadian products, by having a global influence in your selection you guarantee an interesting and thoughtful mix of your products. It helps broaden the horizons of your customers too!
Tea: We love that you really bring the world home for your customers.

Tea:  How do you balance it all? What tricks can you offer us?
Kyle: I like the Kaizen Principle.  It’s about making small steps forward instead of trying to do too much all at once.  And it’s about streamlining.
Tea:  That is a great tip for all of us who need to keep our New Year’s resolutions.

Visit Style Child on your next trip to San Diego! Find Kyle and her team at 1070 University Avenue, J-101 San Diego, CA 92103.

December 1, 2012

Passport to Cotton Tails

Each month Studio T will feature one of our retailers.  This month we are getting a glimpse into the mind of Miki, founder of Cotton Tails in Memphis, TN.  Learn about her store philosophy here.

Miki as a little girl at her first Ikebana lesson.

Miki at her first Ikebana lesson.

Tea: How did you decide to take the leap and open your own store?
Miki:
When my oldest daughter was born, I used to frequent a children’s store.  Every time I would walk in, I was completely ignored. I would find things on my own and would ask if someone would please ring me up! It was so frustrating but it was the only place to shop. When the opportunity arose, I felt I could start my own children’s store but have wonderful customer service. I don’t think Cotton Tails would be here today for 24 years if they had only treated me nicely at that store!

Tea: We know how special and unique all of our stores are, what makes your store unique?
Miki:
We do Saturday arts and crafts for the children every weekend. We do an annual Sidewalk Sale that people arrange their vacations around. Twice a year we have a calendar sale with a different category on sale every day of the month. We do seasonal events, like Mrs. Santa, silhouette artists, frozen yogurt treats during the summer and anything else we can think of!

Tea Collection display at Cotton-Tails

Our 2012 Nordic Holiday Collection at Cotton-Tails.

Tea: At Tea, we “Go There”, how do you share in that mission at your store and/or in your life?
Miki:
I’ve ‘Been There!’ My mother is Japanese, and I was born and spent my early years in Japan. I have been very fortunate to be able to instill my mother’s heritage and customs into my life.  It has given me a better understanding of working with people from different nationalities and backgrounds.

Tea: How do you balance it at all? What tricks can you offer us?
Miki:
I do a daily list of what needs to be done at the store and check off accordingly.  I try to just put the top ten.

Tea: What do you do in your “spare” time?
Miki:
I love to cook and have friends and family over.

Tea: What is something that your customers would be surprised to learn about you?
Mikie:
I LOVE to dance! Really!

Leigh Rawdon and Miki in Cotton-Tails.

Leigh and Miki at the Tea Time event.