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Archive for the ‘Children’s shoes’ Category

Uno, Dos, Tres!  Check out the 3rd premier retailer in our “Store Spotlight” series that features one top le●top store pick of the week.  Read more below for an inside “peek” into one of the best children’s retailers in Texas!

We put the mic up to Sally and Marc Whitehouse, owners of Bright Beginnings and Cotton Tots – who have four of the most adorable and well-respected children’s boutiques in Texas (and a pretty darn amazing online store too!) – and got the skinny on what any good mommy, daddy and kiddie shopper would want to know.

1.  How did you both get started with Bright Beginnings?

Sally: We had trouble finding the kind of clothing we wanted for our own children…cool, comfortable, easy-wearing cotton in fun styles.  We also loved the idea of entrepreneurship and sharing with others the delightful brands we had found.

2.  What was your background prior to this business?

Sally: We are a family business…started by us back in 1984.  Prior to that, Marc had his own CPA firm at the time, and I had taken time off from teaching high school special education to have children.

3.  Bright Beginnings is a distinctive store name – does it have any special history?  What was the evolution behind your 4 store names from Bright Beginnings to Best Dressed Kids to Cotton Tots?

Sally & Marc: We hope that all children have a very bright beginning of life!  And we believe that clothing should be very bright and colorful as well…it just makes you smile!  Our Austin stores were all named Bright Beginnings, but the name was taken in other Texas cities…hence our Houston stores became Cotton Tots…referring to the fact that most of our clothing was luscious, comfortable cotton.  Our website name needed to encompass specifically who we are, to aid in branding and in searches online.  Bestdressedkids.com seemed to say it all!

4Describe the neighborhood your 4 stores are in.

Marc: Our stores are all in suburban neighborhoods of fine cities.  We like to have that neighborhood feel of knowing our customers and their families.

5.  Who is your target customer? Do you specialize in any certain types of product? Does it vary from store to store?

Sally & Marc: Our target customer is anyone looking for something unique and of great value for babies through tweens…with a little bit for their mommies, too!  We specialize in soft, comfortable clothing and we appeal to people of all income levels as we have a variety of goods, with something for everyone’s needs.  We also strive to be kid AND parent friendly in styling and comfort.

6.  What products do your clientele like the most?

Sally: That’s a hard one, because we have such a variety.  I think they have come to trust us as a place to get unique products at a good price, with wonderful customer service.

7.  Any Celebrity customers over the years or do you have any celebs buying right now?

Sally & Marc: Governors, politicians and actors…oh my!  Yes, we certainly do and we like to honor their privacy.  😉 

Bright Beginnings features le•top

8.  What’s coming up for Bright Beginnings? Any new stores or updates buying features to your website?

Sally & Marc: We are currently unveiling a new website that has more features and is more user-friendly than our current Bestdressedkids.com.  We are also developing a software program that provides real time point of sale, back office and Internet sales.

9.  What makes Bright Beginnings unique after 26 years?

Sally & Marc: Customer service and a desire to really help people.  We have always been in this business for the long haul.  We encourage true listening and that burning desire to find the perfect thing for each customer.  Sometimes we don’t have it…and that’s okay…but we still gain a loyal customer who will come back.

10.  You have a remarkable history and have been around 26 years, do you celebrate your anniversary years?

Sally: We do quietly celebrate the gratitude we feel for our staff, our customers, and our vendors.

11.   What do you feel are the three biggest keys to your success?

Sally & Marc:

1)  A friendly, knowledgeable staff
2)  Partnership with our reps and vendors
3)  Determination to keep a large selection of unique offerings to our customers.

12.  How do you select your products for the store?

Sally & Marc: We analyze sales and performance by brand constantly…so through sell-through reports, fashion sense, buying experience, and a well-rounded look at each category, size range, and brand.

13.  What is one trend you’re currently seeing with customers?

Sally: Customers are definitely streamlining their purchases and buying more items that will mix and match together.  We have always been fans of mixing and matching, as it stretches your options…so this is trend is perfect for us.

14.  If you had one piece of advice for someone entering children’s retail today, what would it be?

Marc: Find your niche based on what people are looking for, but then be flexible and listen to your customers.

15.  You probably have seen thousands of mommies and their children come in and out of your stores’ doors – what is one of the funniest things you have heard come out of parent or child’s mouth?

Sally: I have always said that I could write a book about things I’ve seen and heard, but it’s hard to pinpoint the funniest!  I guess we all chuckled quite a bit when a mom confessed that she had gone into a competitor’s store and said she was so embarrassed that her child asked for an “I Love Bright Beginnings” sticker to wear!

16.  What are your top 3 fashionista tips for dressing a child? And your #1 kid fashion “no-no”?

Sally:

1)  Let them be part of the process and show their true personality (with your family values as a guide, of course!)
2)  Be sure they like it…if they don’t like it in the store, they most likely won’t wear it from home.
3)  Remember that this time goes so quickly.  There is only a short amount of time when we can wear fun, silly, overdone clothing that just makes us feel good.  (See, don’t you wish you could do that today?)  Don’t be too serious about how they dress when they are young…relax and enjoy it (and take lots of pictures ;))
4)  #1 No-no:  Dressing a child like a small adult.  Too serious! 

17.  What is your best or most memorable moment in your store?

Sally: Sitting on the floor with a little girl who was 5 years old and whose mother told me she had a poor self-image.  I thought, “Not at FIVE!”  I had her help me with a gift wrap project and we talked while her mom shopped.  Just as expected, she was a beautiful soul.  It reminded me how precious each child is.

18.  What collection or piece from letop and/or rabbit moon are you loving from the Spring/Summer 2010 collection?

Sally: The le●top leopard, giraffe, and duck monokinis….they are spectacular!  I see little ones wearing these at my neighborhood pool, complete with hat and sunglasses, and it makes me giggle every time.

 

 

AUSTIN, TX LOCATIONS 

Bright Beginnings
1006 W. 38th Street
Austin, TX 78705
512.454.5437

Bright Beginnings & Bee-yond
701 S Capital of TX Highway, Suite B 280
Austin, TX 78746
512.328.8989

Best Dressed for Less
3811 Medical Parkway
Austin, TX 78756
512.453.0433

HOUSTON, TX LOCATIONS

Cotton Tots
6510 Woodway
Houston, TX 77057
713.785.8686 

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Today is the second in our new “Store Spotlight” series, where we feature a premiere le•top specialty retail store each week. Read more for an exclusive Q&A and “sneak peak” images of our featured store of the week!

Wickford - RI

This week we had the chance to interview one of Rhode Island and Connecticut’s finest boutiques, Teddy Bearskins. Meet the proud owners, Bob and Debra Semple and read about their 3 boutiques!

We want to give you the inside scoop on Teddy Bearskins’ latest and greatest news, and what YOU don’t know about a few of the East Coast’s cutest childrenswear stores.

1.     How did you get started with Teddy Bearskins?
Bob:
  Debra made all the clothes in our first store. I remember it was a very small store, but within 2 years, we had 2 bigger stores, and 3 stores after 5 years.

2.     What was your and Bob’s background prior to this business?
Debra:
 Bob was in advertising and sales management prior to entering the childrenswear business
Bob:  Deb was a home economics teacher, and also had a business degree. She [Deb] is by nature a fashion designer!

3.     Teddy Bearskins is a distinctive store name – does it have any special history?
Bob & Debra:
 The name Teddy Bearskins just had a great ring to it, and our favorite place was Bearskin Neck in Rockport, Massachusetts.

4.     Why Rhode Island and Connecticut? How did you pick these unique locations?
Debra:
  Bob moved to Rhode Island in 1983 for business, and unfortunately there were no teaching jobs. Our twins at the time were 3-years-old so we opted to start our own business.

5.     Describe the neighborhood your stores are in.

Mystic Village - CT

Bob & Debra:  Of our three stores, we would describe each as:

  1. Wickford Location ~ “Historic seaport village, and very quaint.”
  2. Mystic Location ~ “ A historic seaport and tourist area.” 
  3. Barrington Location ~ “A high-end village bedroom community of Providence.”

6.     Who is your target customer? Do you specialize in any certain types of product?
Debra:
  I would say our target customers are Grandparents, Parents, and Relatives of a newborn. We have a wide range of pricing.

7.     What products do your clientele like the most?
Bob:  Toys, shoes, and clothing from newborn to teenage.

8.     Any Celebrity customers over the years or do you have any celebs buying right now?
Bob & Debra:
  Jane Pauley, Montel Williams, several soap opera stars, and many professional sports athletes. Other clients include many of the Rhode Island TV personalities!

9.     What’s coming up for Teddy Bearskins? You have 3 stores and an online store – will there be a 4th store in the near future?
Bob & Debra:
  We are always considering some moves!

10.     You have a remarkable history having founded the first Teddy Bearskins store in 1983 – what makes Teddy Bearskins unique after all of these successful years?
Bob & Debra: 
We have everything you might need or want for your child or grandchild – from birth to size 20. We have customers from all over the country who stop in, call or even email us since they know we will have what they need or want.

Barrington - RI

 
11.     What do both you and Bob feel are the three biggest keys to your success?
Bob & Debra:
  1. Location
  2. Customer Service
  3. Hard Work, Hard Work, Hard Work!

12.     How do you select your products for the store?
Debra:
  I listen to my customers and also use my instinct and gut feelings.

13.     What is one trend you’re currently seeing with customers?
Debra:
  Simplicity.

14.     If you had one piece of advice for someone entering children’s retail today, what would it be?
Bob & Debra:
  Make sure you know you will love retail. It’s 24/7, and if you do not want to put in 110%, do not open a store.

15.     What are your top 3 fashionista tips for dressing a child? And your #1 kid fashion “no-no”?
Bob & Debra:
 Keep it simple, give your child 3 choices, when asking their advice. And keep their personality in mind when making a selection. Do not give in to tantrums.

16.     You probably have seen thousands of parents and their children come in-and-out of all 3 of your store doors – what is one of the funniest things you have heard come out of parent or child’s mouth?
Bob & Debra: 
Nothing stands out at the moment. We have wonderful relationships with our customers, many laughs, great customers. It’s a big family and great fun. The kids always enjoy coming to our Teddy Bearskins locations.

17.     What is your best or most memorable moment in your store?
Debra:
  One of My favorite customers passed away and she requested in her eulogy that they mention how she loved Teddy Bearskins.

18.     What collection or piece from le•top and/or rabbitmoon do you love right now from the Spring 2010 collection?
Bob & Debra:
 Our favorite is the le•top boys Sail Away collection!

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We are launching “Store Spotlight” today and will feature a premiere le·top specialty retail store each week.  Read more for an exclusive Q&A and “sneak peak” images of our featured store of the week! 

This week we interviewed one of New York City’s finest boutiques, Granny-Made.  Visit our Facebook page @ http://www.facebook.com/pages/le-top/117553138255670 to preview our new video mini webisode introducing owner, Michael Rosenberg and head buyer, Adele Salzberg from Granny-Made!

We want to give you the inside scoop on Granny-Made’s latest and greatest news, and what YOU don’t know about one of New York’s hottest children’s stores.  

1.     Granny-Made is a distinctive store name – does it have a special history?
Michael: Well yes, I named it after my grandmother.  She was my Muse and my Inspiration.  I left the corporate world in ‘85 to start the business with her sweater designs.  I remember it was a hand-made catalogue of her sweater designs…I had a small contractor who produced them, and then I decided to advertise [the product] in The New York Times, The New Yorker and Harper’s Bazaar.  The press had a great reaction and the brand took off.  The store was named after her and actually my brother and I came up with the name!

2.     Describe the neighborhood your store is in. 
Adele: The upper side of Manhattan demographically has more young families with children than any other neighborhood in New York.  It is ethnically mixed and there are a lot of multiple births – lots of twins and even some triplets!  There are a lot of great schools, so it is a very desirable neighborhood.  It is the perfect location for a children’s store such as Granny-Made.

3.     Who is your target customer? Do you specialize in any certain types of product?
Adele: What I have found when I started working at Granny-Made is that Michael’s idea was to have very unique store with women’s sweaters. As I saw what the neighborhood was becoming over the years because of so many families with children, I thought it would be only natural to take an approach of [including] childrenswear.  What we wanted to create was a very special store where you could find merchandise that no one else carried.  We have now become the “go to store” for gifts, special occasion and novelty.  My background has always been novelty, which is why in particular le·top performs so well, because no one does novelty better than you [le•top].

4.     What products do your clientele like the most?
We do 20% volume toys, 20% is dresses and 20% of our volume is onesies and our business is anywhere from newborn up to size 8 for childrenswear.

5.     Any celebrity customers over the years or do you have any celebs buying right now?
Adele: Oh! Lot’s and lots! Well, we have had Julia Roberts, Stanley Tucci, Isabella Rosallini, Frank Langella, Richard Kind, and Cynthia Nixon to name a few!

6.     What’s coming up for Granny-Made? I heard you are moving your store location – what will the new store offer?
Adele: The new store is on Amsterdam Avenue between 82nd and 83rd Street and the new address is: 467 Amsterdam Avenue.  I feel that as the children grow, we are growing, and we will now be offering up to size 10.  We’re also have started to offer christening items, which is not available at that many stores. When people ask for something – we bring it in!  We are also going to branch out into special little sparkly shoes to match the cute dresses we carry – pretty much whatever the customer wants, we will do.

Michael: We will also have small furniture, toy boxes, little chairs, something more unique, such as customized rocking chairs.

7.      You have a remarkable history and have been around 25 years, do you have any special plans or events for your anniversary?
Michael:  We will be making the new move to 82nd Street!  We plan on having a celebration after Labor Day with an opening party and champagne! Stay tuned.

8.     What do you feel are the three biggest keys to your 25 year success?
Adele: Well…we are very unique in that:

•   We give amazing customer service – people know that when they come here they will be properly taken care of.
•   The quality of our merchandise is extraordinary – in fact, the Zagat has rated us as “E: extraordinary”.
•   From the beginning of the sale ’til the end, it is all about the SERVICE.

9.     How do you select your products for the store? 
Adele: Well, I shop all of the [childrens’] shows. Whenever a new vendor calls, I will always take the call and listen to what they can offer.  I also shop new resources. The business is constantly evolving and you need to constantly bring in new designers to keep it fresh. We are always one of the first to test a new designer.

Beautiful pieces from our rabbit moon 'passage' and 'fleur-de-lys' collections

10.     What is one trend you’re currently seeing with customers?
Michael: Our girls dress business has exploded! We are surrounded by little girl’s dresses in here!

Adele: In fact, the le·top girls’ dresses were among the first tested in our store, and have bought so many of them. When it comes to little boys, they don’t want the “cutesy” things, parents nowadays sometimes want them to look like little men.

Michael: With that said, it is not that we resist this trend [of little men], but little boys have plenty of time to look like dad.

Adele: Yes, we try to keep a balance between “cutesy” and “little men”, but for girls – they want it VERY girly.  What we hear a lot about our dresses from young women who walk into the store is, “I wish you had that [a little girl dress] in my size!”  The dresses we carry are very girly. We don’t want our little girls to look like they are going to a cocktail party; we want them to look like they are going to the Nutcracker [big smile].

11.     If you had one piece of advice for someone entering children’s retail today, what would it be?
Adele:

  1. Do your homework.
  2. Find out who your customers is.
  3. Shop stores and see what is out there.
  4. Talk to your vendors – GET the information and don’t go into it blind. Research is one the most important things when opening a business.
  5. Talk to the other stores on the block – find out traffic patterns.
  6. Walk around the neighborhood – see how many baby carriages, how many toddlers, and do your homework!

12.     You probably have seen thousands of mommies and their children come in and out of your store doors – what is one of the funniest things you have heard come out of parent or child’s mouth?
Adele: “I Want IT, I want it, I WANT IT!”

13.     What are your top 3 fashionista tips for dressing a child?
Adele:

  1. When it comes to toddler girls – they only wear 3 colors: pink, pink and PINK. So, make sure you have pink!
  2. When it comes to boys, they like dinosaurs and trucks.
  3. It is important to have the right accessories for your perfect outfit – the dress, the hat, the tights, and the sweater – the perfect assortment to complete the outfit!  That’s what is so great about le·top is that you have all of the merchandise to “build the right package/outfit”.

14.     And your #1 kid fashion “no-no”?
Adele: Dress your child as children – they don’t stay children very long!

Michael: The reason we carry up to size 10 is because lots of children can wear bigger size childrenswear, and until they get up to the teen years where parents don’t have a lot of say on what their kids wear, parents still want that “say” and influence on their clothing. For us that is important.

15.    What is your best or most memorable moment in your store?

Michael and Adele [together]: That is hard! Every day is a special day here.

Adele:I just love it when they come in here and tell us they love our shop. I love it when they just get off the plane from Oklahoma and they say, “This is my first stop and I come to your store first.”  Every day, just the joy of making the customer happy and making the sale is Marvelous.

Swimsuit from the le•top Gone Fishin' Spring collection

Michael: Yes, it is truly gratifying. Now we are seeing the children that were growing up the last two dozen years coming in here now with their own children, and now their parents are grandparents… just moving on to the next generation is great!

16.    What collection or piece from le•top do you love right now from the Spring 2010 collection?
Adele:
We love your duck collection [for Spring].  Nobody does ducks better! For Fall 2010, I can’t wait for your bomber aviator jacket to hit the store.

Visit our Facebook page @ http://www.facebook.com/pages/le-top/117553138255670 and put a face with the name from our latest interview.  Preview our latest “Store Spotlight” video webisode introducing owner, Michael Rosenberg and head buyer and connoisseur, Adele Salzberg.

Granny Made
381 Amsterdam Avenue
New York, NY 10024
212.496.1222
www.grannymade.com

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Kid's Klothesline Holiday window

Kid's Klothesline Holiday window featuring le•top

In 1996 Tania Yoder, pregnant with her first child, attended a family reunion.  As conversations swirled around her she overheard one of her cousins trying to convince another cousin to take over her children’s shop.  She whispered to herself “I would like to do that.”  Once Tania voiced her inner feelings there was a chorus of support – and her dream moved towards becoming reality.  The original owner helped Tania relocate the store to Perrysburg Ohio, Tania’s home.  Her son Grant was born in September of 1996 and in February of 1997 Kid’s Klothesline of Perrysburg Ohio opened and became an instant hit! 

Over the past 13 years Kid’s Klothesline has evolved in many ways – starting with the variety of collections that Tania chooses.  She feels that one of her boutique’s strengths is providing a wide assortment that ranges from classic and traditional looks that appeal to her favorite customers (‘Grandmas, Grandmas, Grandmas!’) to clothes that keep her girl’s 7-14 regulars coming back until they have ‘outgrown’ the store! 

Kid's KlotheslineKid’s Klothesline’s style has evolved, but its ‘family’ has expanded!  The true secret to Tania’s success is her staff – a caring and loving group that ‘works and plays together!’  Tania cherishes her store manager, Teresa Gagnon Meredith, a treasured fixture since the store opened.  Loyal customers complete Tania’s ‘family’ – and bring her the satisfaction of sharing important occasions and milestones with the members of her community.  She loves seeing the photographs of christenings, 1st birthdays and first days of school – in special outfits that she helped choose.  “There is nothing better than helping a new grandma select baby’s first outfit!”

Perrysburg Ohio is a beautiful area with a rich history, dating back to the early 1800’s.  The historic shopping district provides a safe and comfortable shopping experience that has an old fashioned feel that does not need to be manufactured.  Tania loves being a part of this supportive and close knit community.  Her favorite time is during the holidays when families come back to town to visit and always stop in to shop and share photos of the extended ‘family.’

Thirteen years ago Tania’s life changed – and as she relates “It’s like being locked into a roller coaster and hanging on for the ride, but loving what I do so much!”  We know everyone loves what you do Tania – keep it up!

If you are near Perrysburg stop in and say hello to Tania and her family!

Kids Klothesline
111 Louisiana Ave
Perrysburg, OH 43551
419-874-5437

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Baby Bug and Me

Butterfly Kisses and ladybug hugs…sleep tight little one like a bug in a rug” – author unknown

Judy Novininger has a passion for all things beautiful.  She shared her vision by opening an upscale gift boutique in the Camp Hill area of Pennsylvania named for Pennsylvania’s state bug – Lightning Bug.  In September of 2003, inspired by new grandchildren and the continuing quest to fill the need for wonderful gifts with a personal touch, a new entity ‘flickered’ to life – Baby Bug and Me. Six years later Baby Bug and Me is thriving in its new location on Market street just below the West Shore Farmers Market in downtown Lemoyne, Pennsylvania.

baby bug and me inside 4Baby Bug and Me has achieved Judy’s desired goal of excellence, recognized for four consecutive years as the winner of Harrisburg Magazine Reader’s Choice Award in the children’s clothing category.  First honored in 2005, Judy tells us that these awards have brought her wonderful and memorable moments.  The superb and extensive merchandise selection has propelled Baby Bug to the top of the accolades list.  Featuring shoes (Judy’s new favorite,) clothing (le•top is a best-seller in both girls and boys!) books, toys and more.  Judy enjoys selecting the Christening and Dedication outfits she offers for both boy’s and girl’s special day.  Phone orders are gladly accepted at this first-class boutique, as well as offering the ability to easily order basics for a child’s wardrobe at www.babybugandme.com.

baby bug and me new

All photos compliments of Annekatherinephotography.com

Judy is an involved member of the community as well, choosing a special charity to partner with each year, ranging from the Cerebral Palsy Foundation to the YWCA. This fall the leading collections at the store will be featured in the YWCA Power of Style Fashion Show, benefiting the Women’s and Children’s Crisis Center in Harrisburg.

Judy and her staff are accommodating and attentive to all their customers “little” needs. Take a short jaunt to the Lemoyne area, or just peruse their website, to be greeted by a friendly face, a caring staff and the best selection of baby and children’s items in the area.

baby bug and me inside 3Cute as a bug in a rug!

Baby Bug and Me
900 Market Street
(Inside the West Shore Farmers Market building – lower level)
Lemoyne, PA 17043
717.763.1780
www.babybugandme.com

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Adornment is never anything except a reflection of the heart.”  ~Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel

Quinlin_Zoo_2948Children’s hearts – pure and innocent – are the inspiration for Le Top clothing.  The whimsical designs we create here bring smiles to our faces – but children cannot live on clothes alone…they must have shoes to go out in the world!  When preparing for our Fall 2009 photo shoot we looked around the market and came up with the idea of collaborating with a children’s shoe company, hopefully one with the same design esthetic as ours – the choice was easy, pediped™!  We love the shoes – and knew them first hand, since they had been the choice for many le•top and rabbitmoon outfits for Chris’s grandsons.  Anna Carpio (our Design Room manager and Technical Designer) planned everything with Penny Redlin and Lauren McGlynn at pediped™ footwear over the course of three months to find the perfect accompaniment to each outfit in our collection.  Anna says, “They were so easy to work with. They are very family-oriented like we are and have a fun, quality product. It was a pleasure working with them on this project.” 

For the current season each company will feature the other’s products in their catalogs and marketing materials. “It seemed a natural fit for pediped™ and le•top to share our collections with each other from a styling standpoint. Our collections complement each other well. I think that the result has been fantastic! Congratulations to le•top on another fabulous collection,” says Angela Edgeworth, co-founder and president of pediped™ footwear. Find the style that goes with your little ones outfit at www.pediped.com.

 Theo_Dog0955About pediped™ footwear:
pediped™ footwear was launched in 2004 by Angela and Brian Edgeworth in their quest for the perfect soft-soled shoe for their first daughter. Exceptional quality, unsurpassed comfort and distinctive styling have made the award winning company one of the fastest-growing children’s footwear brands in the United States. pediped™ footwear is sold in over 2500 stores in the United States and 40 countries worldwide with an offering of more than 120 designs for boys and girls between their two lines, Originals and Flex. Originals (soft-soled shoes for newborns to age 2+) and Flex (rubber-soled shoes for children 1-6 years) are available in EU sizes ranging from 17 to 29.

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ifkOne of our retailers, In Fashion Kids, was honored as an inaugural winner in the Baby Clothing category by TheFind. We are so excited to brag about In Fashion Kids’ big achievement! A compendium Website for consumers for all things shopping, TheFind lists the best stores, online retailers, sales and coupons, as well as helping to find those hard-to-come-by items…like Nadine’s rabbit moon blankie! 🙂 The Find has launched an annual list giving recognition to top 100 online specialty stores in sixteen categories. We congratulate Jacquie (owner) and In Fashion Kids for winning a top spot in the first TheFind100!

To find a great selection of baby and children’s costumes, dress wear and, of course, our fashionable le•top baby and children’s clothes, the search mission has already been done for you…just go to In Fashion Kids!

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