Category Archives: baby boutiques

Three Fun and Fabulous Finds

Last weekend, I attempted to be an uber cool, multicultural mother and take baby to a Finnish puppet show that was being put on as part of D.C.’s Euro Kids Festival. Like a well-behaved parent, I pre-registered for the event and then tucked myself in early so I could get up on a Saturday at 6:30am to make sure everyone got showered, dressed, and fed (or in my case caffeinated) before hitting the metro by 9am. Despite my greatest efforts, it was a complete failure.

We arrived 15 minutes early, anticipating a crowd, which there was, only to be told that the show had already started. Apparently, the time had been incorrectly posted on the Web site. And despite there being empty seats, the puppeteer had asked that no one be admitted late, so we were turned away. Seems to me that it might have made more sense for the folks who arrived early to wait rather than the folks who were arriving later thanks to a misprint miss the whole show, but what do I know about these things. I assure you that there were a number of meltdowns as the children were informed that the Lapland puppet show was no longer in the cards.

Fortunately the show was taking place at the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop, which is just a few blocks from wonderful Eastern Market. It’s been ages since I’d been to the market, which most often gets passed over by tourists for the more well known sights. But in my book, it’s one of the most fun, “locals” thing to do in our nation’s capital. The quality of the crafts and wares are quite good–there’s always furniture I want to buy–the food hall is an utterly delicious throwback, and the neighbor itself is teeming with cute shops and nice brunch spots, especially when the weather is cooperative.

As I was checking out the various vendors, there were three from which any mom would have trouble resisting an impulse buy:

No strings attached puppets. I was a mom on a mission for puppets, so when I couldn’t get the Finnish kind, I opted for the finger variety. I remembered buying some of these a few years ago for a few of my nieces and nephews, but I had totally forgotten about them. They’re all handmade and some of the little detailing, especially on the sheep and the (or least what I think is a) llama, is so sweet. (From left to right, I bought a sheep, horse, zebra, pig, and llama.) About the only bargain I could get from the seller was if I bought 10 (at $2/a puppet), he’d give me one for free. I figured they’d make great wee one gifts sooner or later.

Classic wheels. Well, to be more accurate, it was actually labeled an SUV, which made me crack a half a smile. But these vehicles are big, blocky, bright, and well built. (Really, you wouldn’t believe how nicely they roll.) And the little people that pop in and out are too cute. The guy selling them tried to give me a line of bologna about how there’s a Montessori ethic behind the design; supposedly as kids learn to pull out the people, they’re unknowingly practicing to hold a pencil. Seems a bit of stretch, but, hey, whatever sells. The variety of vehicles was fairly wide, as well; in addition to SUVs, there were cars, helicopters, dump trucks, and even a super adorable whale that wee ones could drag behind them by a string. And the value was decent. I only bought one, so it was $7, but that still was a pretty good deal. I love Fat Brain Toys, but the most similar wooden car the company offered was retailing at $17.

New and oh-so-necessary nursery decor. I saw these modern yet crafty pillows and immediately wanted to design a nursery based on the Mirasa‘s color palette. The colors–squash, tangerine, sage, and turquoise–are wonderfully warm and sunny yet soft and make for cheery combinations when paired. Plus the design sensibility while contemporary still maintains a childhood charm. Love, love, love these products, all of which are handmade in India out of organic cotton. And the bonus: The onesies are just as adorable as the pillows. I just wished my wee one was still wee enough to wear them.

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Filed under baby boutiques, baby clothes, baby gear, shopping, toys

Bananas for Baby Boutiques

I’m obsessed with baby boutiques. I can’t bear to walk past one and not go in, even if you can tell by the window display that it’s a not-so-good one. In fact, I think my new dream job is owning and running a successful (that being a key word) baby boutique in some charming town or neighborhood–and I have zero retail experience.

But all the same, I like to look at the way different owners stock, merchandise, and decorate. I make mental notes and file them away in my head for the next time I’ll need a fun and creative idea or solution of my own. And do I need to mention how off-the-charts cute some of the outfits are? Beautiful fabrics, sweet stitching detail, unique and modern designs.

But the one thing I notice over and over again is that even in the most beautiful or unusual baby boutiques, you’d better hope you’re shopping for a little girl because your selection of cute stuff is going to be more limited for little boys. I guess in a way I can see why; sweet dresses in gorgeous patterns with ribbons, lace, or other dainty details are by their nature more magnetic than say a pair of overalls or a jumper. But all the same, it seems as though mommies should be able to choose from something more than cargo pants and jeans for their little bundles of boys.

So, when I go into baby shops, I play a little game with myself and go in search of the cutest or cleverest outfit I can find for a little boy. If I find more than one, I consider it the measure of an exceptional baby shop. So, here’s what I dug up during my last trip to South Carolina, where I got a chance to pop into some shops in both Charleston and Beaufort.

sugar snap pea/charleston, s.c.
When it comes to baby boutiques, it’s all about the window display. And the one at sugar snap pea worked it’s charm and instantly pulled me and my mother-in-law inside. And if that didn’t do it, I fell in love with the “Stroller Parking” sign next to two parking meters painted on the wall.

The way I would describe the shop would be to say that if you’re a mommy who loves the aden + anais brand, you know the company that makes all those very sheer, breathable muslim baby sleepers and swaddlers, you’d fall

Romper by Feather Baby

in love with this store. You could feel good about buying anything in the store because not only was it cute but nearly everything in there, from the bath towels to the wooden toys, had some sustainable twist.

Of course, none of this stuff comes cheap, as is the case in most baby boutiques. However, I decided if I was going to splurge and make a purchase, I probably would’ve chosen something from the selection of either Egg Baby or Feather Baby lines. I’m naturally drawn to bold prints, so I like the graphic nature of the clothing and I love that it is oh so soft as well.

T-shirt by Egg Baby

But the thing I think I like best is that while the clothes are what I would call cool and hip, they are age appropriate designs. That’s sort of a big thing for me because in my book, babies are supposed to look like babies, not Mini Mes.

The one drawback is that, unfortunately, the Egg Baby Web site does none of its clothing justice, as what I saw (and pawed) in the store was much more interesting than what they’re advertising online.

kids on king/charleston, s.c.
I would imagine that this is one of the go-to places in Charleston to get more formal clothes for wee ones who might be making a guest appearance at a wedding or fancy holiday party. I could hardly believe the selection of seersucker suits and shorts, linen rompers, retro baby bubble suits, and the like. The store also carried the requisite knee socks and saddle shoes. Of course these are all things my husband made me swear that I would never make our kid wear but that I am now eying given that my sister is getting married in August. (Lucky for me that this place ships!)

Once again, the shop’s Web site doesn’t do its inventory much justice, but I

Shortalls by Bailey Boys (side 1)

just want to make a note of one particularly clever outfit that I came across as I was fingering the racks. Given my love of stripes, dots, and checks, I was immediately drawn to a few racks of gingham shortalls, all from a variety of companies–Zuccini, Glorimont, Bailey Boys, etc. They came in a whole bunch of colors and had sweet embroidered designs on them–crabs, sailboats, trains, etc. I picked one up only to love it more when I realized it was reversible.

For someone who travels a lot with a baby and , therefore, agonizes over every thing that goes into the suitcase, a two-in-one outfit is pure genius. Not only is it space conscious, but it also makes that

Shortalls by Bailey Boys (side 2)

$50+ price tag seem more palatable knowing it’s really two outfits and not just one for the price.

My favorite was definitely the green gingham check with the trains that reversed to a red gingham check with a submarine by the Bailey Boys. I’m not sure you how trains and subs go together, but either side would be so adorable on a baby boy that I guess it doesn’t matter.

doodlebugs/ beaufort, s.c.
This was an unexpected stop during a coffee-and-bagel break in downtown Beaufort, but I’m glad I went in because the shop had some cute things, especially for girls. In fact, there wasn’t a lot I wouldn’t have bought if I had a little girl. But the selection for baby boys was narrow to say the least. At one point, I pulled out a cute t-shirt with cars on it and was looking for something to go with it, such as some shorts or a light sweater. My choices were rainbow or rainbow. I even asked the salesgirl if she thought the items were a little too un-boyish in her opinion. “I wouldn’t buy that for a boy, I don’t think. Especially the cardigan,” she say. Okay, then, I won’t.

But as I was walking out of the store, a small triangle of green gingham caught my eye and I walked over to it. There I found an adorable shortall–or romper or jon jon or jumper or whatever else anyone calls it–with a small alligator embroidered on the chest and two big green button along the beltline, almost sailor style. The tag said it was a Baxter and Beatrice product, but I’ve had a hard time locating it online. But for as much as I loved it, the largest size they had was 12 months and that just won’t do for baby; he’s just growing too fast.

So, while my boutique browsing led to no purchases, it was fun to look and see what’s out there. And it was good to find out that I have a few go-to sources if baby needs that seersucker suit and saddle shoes for the wedding after all.

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Filed under babies, baby boutiques, baby clothes, baby gear, infants, shopping