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VISIT THEIR NEW ONLINE BOUTIQUE!
LAUNCHES TODAY @http://magnoliacharlie.net
 

Three, Four Knock on Magnolia Charlie’s door!  Check out our 4th premier retailer in our “Store Spotlight” series where we feature one Le Top’s best stores of the week.  Not only did they JUST launch their online boutique TODAY (where you can buy the best-of-the-best of children’s and baby clothing) – we were lucky enough to get an exclusive inside “peek” of images of her latest arrivals in her freestanding boutique in California! 

 

Karen Seeber, owner of Magnolia Charlie, gives us the So Cal low-down on what any good mommy, daddy and kiddie shoppers would want to know, plus what she would bring to a deserted island if she sailed away from Balboa Island, California! 

1.   What made you decide to enter the children’s business?
Karen: My love of children’s clothing… I had 2 children and another on the way. Everyone told me how beautiful my children were always dressed and they never knew where to shop.  So I decided to open a children’s store. 

2.   What was your background prior to this business?
Karen: I was a mom who could not find traditional style clothing so I opened Magnolia Charlie in 1997. My husband, David, a builder transformed the store into a beach cottage. I knew the look of the store was just as important as the merchandise I carry. Everything had to blend together. 

3.   The name of your store reminds of me of a Charlie’s Angels but sweet – where did the name come from?
Karen: Magnolia Charlie is a town in the south… I love the south with all their smocking, appliqués and southern hospitality – so, I wanted to bring that to Balboa Island, California. 

4.   The harbour looks beautiful in Balboa Island, describe the neighborhood your store is in for us.
Karen: Our neighborhood is small town AMERICA with a lot of tourist from all over the world. The people we meet are incredible. They come back to shop year after year whether on vacation or business.  We are always making new friends. 

5.   Who is your target customer? Do you specialize in any certain types of product?
Karen:
Our target customers are grandmothers… they want their grandchildren to look like children. All completely dressed from head to toe.  We carry a wide variety of smocking and appliquéd dresses, shortalls and capri sets – all with coordinating bows, hats and shoes. 

6.   Having a store in Southern California you tend to dress the warm weather type of babies who love the water, whether it be the beach or sailing – what would you say are the 3 essential clothing items for any baby or child?
Karen: Our beach babies always need sunhats, sweater or sweatshirts.  We always seem to have a sea breeze blowing and it gets cool in the mornings and evenings.  

Magnolia Charlie features set from Le Top Baby Pretty Sea Pony, Sweet Little Rosebud, and the Cherie collections

7.   What products do your clientele like the most?Karen: Our customers like the WOW factor whenever they are giving a gift. They like dresses, capri sets, rompers, etc. all to have coordinating pieces so the child is dressed complete. That’s why Le Top does so well for us because of the coordinating hats and toys.  

8.   Any Celebrity customers over the years or do you have any celebs buying right now?
Karen:
We have so many celebrities and athletes who shop with us. What an honor to see our clothing on their children whether walking around town or in magazines. 

9.   If you were a new mom and sailed away on one of the cute boats from Balboa Island and got stranded on a deserted island – what 5 items could you not live without?
Karen:
Stranded on a deserted island? I could not live without…the cutest swimsuit with matching cover-up, coordinating sunhat, jog suit and my monogrammed beach towel. 

10.   Between all of the social media outlets – Facebook, Twitter, and more – what do you think about social networking and how it allows moms and dads to join cyber parenting communities where they can meet, gain knowledge, as well as get recommendations and support.
Karen:
I’m just learning about Facebook and Twitter…I think it is great for new moms and dads!    

11.   Do you think that you will make the big leap soon and have Magnolia Charlie join Facebook? You know Le Top will be your first fan!
Karen:
Someday we will join Facebook! I will keep you updated more on what I think about the cyber mommy and daddy world once I join! 😉 

12.   What do you feel are the three biggest keys to your success?
Karen:
  My 3 keys to success: 

  1. Customer Service – Having an incredible sales staff that is always kind and knowledgeable about the merchandise. We will do anything for our customers.  Even if we have to go to another store to find it!
  2. Store Appearance – Your front window tells the world who you are.  Always keep your displays fresh and merchandise the walls where every grouping tells a story and color palette.
  3. Knowledge – Know the fashion industry and always keep learning.

13.   How do you select your products for the store? Do you find that there is a difference between your online boutique consumers for your brand versus your typical store consumer?
Karen:
I buy what I love and what I would put on my children.  Each season I have fun and pick a theme – this season it was “Nautical” – the Le Top ‘DAISY DUCK’ group was incredible.  Our web site with ecommerce capabilities is launching today!  Visit us at: http://magnoliacharlie.net/ and check out our latest arrivals to buy online! 

14.   What is one trend you are seeing now that you love and one that you want to go away for dressing children?
Karen:
The trend I am seeing right now are parents buying simple, fun clothing, yet traditional in style.  Traditional clothing never goes out of style.  You can always add a bit of “trendy” to make it your own style. 

Showing off pieces from the Le Top Ribbit and the Le Top Baby Choo Choo Zoo collections

15.  If you had one piece of advice for someone entering children’s retail today, what would it be?
Karen:
My advice would be to read and talk to as many people as you can in this profession. I learned from the best … Mr. Pete Frasca (He was the original kid’s sales clothing representative that taught me about the children’s industry way back when). 

Special Note from Le Top: Le Top values our sales representatives as being a very special part of the Le Top family.  As much as we value our sales representatives, we equally value our retail customers like Magnolia Charlie.  We think the relationships that are developed over the years are extraordinary and continue to make the Le Top family exceptional, loving and a unique children’s community. 

16.   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?
Karen:
I can’t think of a thing at the moment… But what I do know is that you never know what a child will say… 

17.   What is your best or most memorable moment in your store?
Karen:
My memorable moments is when I see customers from all over the country come back and buy entire wardrobes for their grandchildren and they say, “I will see you in 6 months for another season!” I love them all. 

18.   What collection or piece from Le Top and rabbitmoon are you loving from the Spring/Summer 2010 collection?
Karen:
It is hard to pick one group because we do so well with Le Top. I would say Le Top’s Spring/Summer 2010 collection of Daisy Duck, and Lots O’ Fish too! 

MAGNOLIA CHARLIE
317 Marine Avenue
Balboa Island, CA 92662
949.673.0066 

SHOP TODAY ON THEIR NEWLY LAUNCHED
ONLINE BOUTIQUE AT
http://magnoliacharlie.net/
 

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My husband and Lilah checking out Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox

Cousin Kelly all decked out in a safari hat from the Spring 2007 'Ship Ahoy!' collection

Last weekend my family (including parents, aunts, uncles, and cousins) all took a quick road trip to beautiful Gold Beach, Oregon; it is on the coast, just 45 miles beyond the California border. After a full day of driving, we made a pit stop at The Trees of Mystery in Klamath, CA and had a photo op with the statues of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox before driving the final stretch. Though we were in Oregon for only a couple days, our plan was to pack in as much fun as possible.

Our first full day in Gold Beach was tasked with arriving at a jet boat dock by 8am  (yes, 8am on vacation – what were we thinking!) for a 64 mile round trip ride up the Rogue River. It was Lilah’s first boat trip and she was excited. The weather was cooperating (phew), but it was so windy on the way up river that it was a real challenge to keep warm. Lilah, being the smart girl that she is, hid beneath the blanket and slept most of the ride up.


We stopped after 32 miles in the small community of Agness. Those of us that had young children took a breather, warmed up, and had some lunch while the ‘grandparents’ all chose to go as far as the jet boats were able to take them (an additional 20 miles). When they returned, they regaled us with tales of rapids, rock cliffs and warm weather declaring it to be the most stunning part of the trip. Of course, isn’t that the way it always is?

We were told this bridge was only 4 ft. above the water line during the 1964 flood.

The sign on the roof reads “High Water December 22, 1964” that was the high water mark during the flood.

On the way back down the river the weather was beautiful and Lilah stood up next to me almost the whole time. She was excited to see deer and river otters along the banks. There were so many fishermen hoping to catch King Salmon or Steelhead that we made a game of looking for dogs on the small boats on our way down (there were many). Our guide informed us that during the flooding in December 1964 the river almost flooded over many of the bridges (hard to imagine). All-in-all it was a beautiful day and a fabulous boat trip with my amazing family. There is so much more to tell you about, like our ocean voyage to the St. George’s Reef Lighthouse and our tour of the Coast Guard Station but I think I’ll save the rest for another day! Stay tuned.

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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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No, I did not say that!

When I’m a mommy and you’re a grandma, I’m going to live next door to you and we’re going to be best friends!”

– Emma, age 4

Editor’s Note:

Please spread the giggles by sharing your funny quotes with us!

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Rylee & Reece Store Front
Rylee & Reece Store Front

Krista Hunt is a savvy and sassy mom!  After welcoming her first child, a daughter Rylee – and while expecting a second just 1 year later, her son Reece – she had a fabulous idea…to open a chic little boutique that would specialize in unique and trendy childrens’ fashion, au courant nursery décor and the coolest in baby gear!  Quite a year we would say!  Her mother Phyllis, obviously a grandmother with plenty of joi de vivé jumped right in with her fashion loving daughter and their store rylee & reece was born.

Pedicures all around!
Pedicures all around!

Krista and Phyllis have a unique store – because it has something that no one else in Wichita, Kansas can boast – a Party Room!  Within rylee & reece is a special area that can host parties for up to 30 people – a really unique venue for birthday parties, baby showers and recently something even more special – their “Pamper Me Back to School” event!  Over one week’s time they had over 125 little girls between the ages of 3 to 12 years old arriving to be ‘pampered!’  The little ‘mini-spa’ treatment included a soak for their feet in a bin of bubbling water, light massage and having their toes painted. Next they received a facial with cucumbers for their eyes. In addition, they soaked their hands before their nails were polished – between Krista and her mom Phyllis, assisted by two teenage helpers Karly and Ashley they painted over a thousand fingers and toes!  The ‘pampered’ girls were served cheese, crackers and grapes along with pink lemonade.  Krista reports that smiles abounded and that everyone had tons of fun!  The moms and grandmothers enjoyed shopping the unique and extensive selection of fashions – all carefully chosen by Krista.

Getting pampered!
Getting pampered!

The comments about rylee & reese on the Grandparents.com website state:

“Sometimes you just want to indulge your grandchildren, particularly the young ones… Take your time, take your checkbook, and take your grandchildren for the coolest couture in town!”

Krista and Phyllis have some great events planned for the future, including a mother daughter tea, a fashion show and a holiday pampering event – complete with hot chocolate with peppermint sticks and a dress code of comfy P.J.’s!  Krista’s sister-in-law Heather does the marketing for the store – making this 2 year old business a real family affair. What a fun place to visit!  You can also visit them online at their cool website www.ryleeandreece.com.

rylee & reese
2939 North Rock Road
Suite 140
Wichita, Kansas 67226
316-260-1988
krista@ryleeandreece.com
phyllis@ryleeandreece.com

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Pockets Blog1We love questions that make us stop and think…why do we do that?  One of our wonderful retailers, Jacquie at In Fashion Kids, posed a question that new moms ask – “Why do baby clothes have pockets?”  It’s a great question!  TC (Human Resources Manager, blogger and mom) organized a little ‘round table discussion’ with our fabulous designers here at le•top – we thought you would love to hear some excerpts explaining their creative reasoning.

Marykate – le•top baby Head Designer and mom
“I love little pockets on baby clothes, because it gives me another place to put embroideries and appliqués…and where else would they keep their pacifiers?”

 Pat – le•top Head Designer, mom and grandmother
“That’s a funny question, isn’t it? I think designers put pockets on baby clothes as a design element, because most people like to dress their babies in clothes that mimic older fashions. If you left the pockets off of little boy’s pants for instance, the pants might look like they were missing something because we are used to seeing them there!

Rolando – rabbitmoon Head Designer 
“There are several reasons to put pockets on baby clothes. One of the main reasons is to show gender difference. You design rounded pockets, and sure enough the outfit looks girly.  Then you make a square pointy pocket and the outfit looks a little more boyish.  Another reason for pockets is to make a statement that says “I care,” even if the pockets are useless. You care for the babies and want to make them look like we do – “little persons.” I have no children but I am sure that if I did I would want to make them feel like they are part of me and they are no different.”

Elena – le•top baby Assistant DesignerPocket Blog
“I think the whole “mini-me” concept is right on. The clothes we design at le•top are not only functional, but also fashionable. In fashion clothes don’t always have to “make sense” – they are meant to inspire, influence, delight, or humor. Baby clothes are meant to be adorable. Pockets, embroideries, ears, and soft fabrics are all a part of that warm, “Awwww, that’s so cute” feeling you get from looking at baby clothes.”

Anna – Technical Designer and Design Room Manager
“Pockets are essential for baby clothing so they have that extra cushion to fall on. ☺ Pockets on baby clothing are great for a game of hide and go seek. You can hide a toy in the pocket for your baby to find. Pockets are also known as ‘Baby’s First Bank’ – whenever your family and friends give your baby money, they are great for safekeeping!”

Sarahle•top Assistant Designer
“I think babies need clothes with pockets because it’s adorable when they’re dressed up as little adults. When I have a baby, I plan on dressing him up like a grandpa: argyle vests, brown velcro shoes, newsboy hats, and cords with pockets!!! Everything is so much cuter when it’s smaller!”

Marice – Assistant Designer and mom
“Little pockets are just right to add interest to a garment.  Yes, if you think about it, it is silly to put pockets on a newborn garment because they are not really used by the baby, but I think they are so commonplace that they are accepted.  Here’s a thought…Does anyone question the tiny patch pocket they sometimes put on the sleeves of women’s t-shirts?  They don’t even have a flap, so they’re not really functional either!”

TC – HR Manager and mom
“Why pockets? Kids love them! My daughter can’t get enough of them. She sticks her hands in them whether they’re on the shirt, pant leg, or on the hip then, she makes sure that everyone else knows about her pockets. I regularly find chap stick, hair clips, rocks, keys, and change in her pockets. She likes to stand with both hands in her pockets and look like a grown up. Hooray for pockets!!!!”

Now that you’ve heard from our designers and staff, we’d love to hear from you! Do you prefer clothes for your children with pockets? Why? What treasures have you found in your children’s pockets?

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Looks like Grandma also took a little nap!

Looks like Grandma also took a little nap!

Every year my uncle throws a start-of-summer party in Paso Robles, CA, and it’s always a good time. The week leading up to it, my husband was very sick and just didn’t have the energy to make the three hour trip. Instead of us completely canceling, my parents offered to take Lilah with them. It’s always hard for me to be away from her, but she was so excited to see her grandparents, great grandparents, and other extended family that I couldn’t say no, so I dressed her up in le•top’s Butterfly Wishes top and striped capri pants (party festive!), packed her up and met up with my parents.

Once I dropped her off I realized that my husband and I had the weekend to ourselves. We immediately made plans to go see the new Star Trek movie since we’ve only seen about two in an actual movie theater since her birth (2 ½ yrs ago). On Saturday we did the regular chores but they went so much quicker without our little one around that I had a chance to mop the entire house! I know, the exciting life of a mom, huh? We got in some cat naps, worked in the garden, saw a great movie, and zzzzz slept in zzzzz Sunday morning until 9am. I don’t think we’ve gotten so much sleep since the last time she went out of town which was close to a year ago. Sunday was pretty similar except we managed to watch two videos too. It was heavenly.

Lilah gets doggie kisses

Lilah gets doggie kisses

Don’t get me wrong, I thought about her the entire time and every time we did something that she would have normally made a funny comment about or done something crazy, we talked about it and her. Sometimes, though, it’s nice to have the time to appreciate her instead of just being in the thick of it.

I was soooooo happy for Lilah to come home on Monday. I heard all about her adventures with her grandparents, and I’m still hearing about how her grandma painted her toenails and put flowers on them. I guess she partied so hard that she slept in the middle of the party for five hours. Part of me wishes that I had been there for those fun times, but most of me is happy to have caught up on some sleep.

The five hour beauty nap, painted toenails and all!

The five hour beauty nap, painted toenails and all!

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