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Posts Tagged ‘children’s fashions’

It’s a baby bug’s life! Read about our 6th premier retailer in our weekly “Store Spotlight” series where we feature one of Le Top’s best stores.  Judy Novinger, owner of Baby Bug & Me, gives us the fun facts of the state bug of Pennsylvania (where her store is located), her launch of a “shoetique,” what mommies buy in her store versus her online boutique, and what celebrity mommy she would love to meet!

1.      What made you decide to enter the children’s business and what did you do before?

Judy: Baby Bug & Me is a spin off of my previous retail gift shop named Lightning Bug, Inc. There was a major closing of many of the children’s boutiques in the greater Harrisburg, PA area a few years ago.  I opened Baby Bug & Me in September 2003 to fill this retail gap.

2.      The name of your store is very playful – where did the name come from?

Judy:   My original gift shop featured a whimsical little girl lightning bug as our logo.  Our baby boutique logo shows the little girl lightning bug all grown up and pushing a buggy with a baby bug.

Thus the name “Baby Bug & Me.”  Oh by the way, the “Lightening Bug” is also the state insect of Pennsylvania!

3.      What would people be surprised to learn about you and your store?

Judy: I was formerly a gift buyer for a large department store and decided to interview for the children’s clothing buyer position. I was told that I ‘didn’t have what it took to buy children’s fashions’ and did not get the job.   As time went on, I moved on to pursue other opportunities in sales and retail.  Ironically, had I been selected for that original position there probably would not be a Baby Bug & Me today.

4.      Who is your target customer?

Judy: The grandparents are my strongest supporters!  Being a grandmother of eight, I know the thrill of having the child of my child in my arms.  My customers share stories, pictures and what they want to buy for their families. The grandparent shopper is looking for the clothing that “keeps children looking like children”. That is why Le Top is our largest clothing retailer source.  They give quality and take cute to the limit!

5.      As a couple, you and your husband must have incredibly demanding schedules with the store. What’s the key to your successful marriage?

Judy: My husband Jim, whom I am married to for 40 years, is the man behind the scenes.  Even with having a full-time job, he still finds the time to support Baby Bug & Me.  From my visions, he builds my fixtures.  He supports my business computer needs, and he is the MUSCLE behind the heavy “grunt work.”

6.      What products do your clientele like the most?

Judy: Layette, playwear and shoes are our strongest categories.  We provide sizes preemie to 4 toddlers for boys, and girls’ sizes expand from preemie to 6x with a move to 10/12 in the fall. This fall we will have completed our expansion of “The Shoetique”.  This is our store within a store concept for shoes.  Fortunately, my customers are very forthcoming with what they want for their shopping needs.  They want good quality shoes to match the clothing they purchase.

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

Judy: Most of my celebs are from our diverse local TV and radio personalities.  It’s fun meeting the person behind the voice on the radio.

8.      There are so many famous celebrity mommies that we see each week in the weeklies such as Us Weekly, InTouch, etc. – if you could meet one celeb mommy or daddy, who would it be and why?

Judy: I think I’d like to meet Sandra Bullock.  She seems like a good, caring working mother and an all around nice person.

9.      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 come together as a parenting community?

Judy: I have learned that the computer savvy mother turns to the Internet for their children’s needs.  After hours, when moms are finally settled, she browses the Internet to shop and network with other parents.  We actually just hired a new associate for our store that set Baby Bug & Me up on Facebook.  Wow! What a network!  I also have learned to surf the net to find new and exciting product for the store – it helps me with the necessary planning to attend seasonal kids trade shows.

10. I heard the Lemoyne area in Pennsylvania is pretty cute; describe the neighborhood your store is in for us.

Judy: Lemoyne is located approximately 2 miles south of Harrisburg, PA, our capitol.  We are 1 of 14 upscale businesses located above the West Shore Farmers Market.  Picture a smaller scale Quincy Market type atmosphere as seen in Boston.

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

Judy: Customer Service, Fine Quality Merchandise, and Product Knowledge.  We always want our customer’s time in Baby Bug to be a good experience.  They deserve individual attention when buying for whatever the occasion.  We supply free gift wrapping for one stop shopping and a special play area to keep those little people occupied.  Customers want a unique look that screams quality.  We feel the customer deserves to know the origin, manufacturer and the proper care of all our products.

12. 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?

Judy: We have a three-part formula.  One third is what I feel the customer will like.  One third is what is trending i.e. organic.  One third is what the area demands, shoes, christening, seasonal, preemie, etc. We find our online customer wants to buy accessories and toys rather than clothing.  The store customer wants to touch the merchandise.  They like to see the colors, evaluate attributes and talk with us about proper sizing.  How frustrating it is to buy something on the web only to find it needs to be returned for one reason or another.  We do shipping for the continental US and military APO and FPO addresses for both online or store sales.

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

Judy: Always begin with a financial business plan. It is not a matter of just going to the market place and buying pretty things. Do your homework to meet both the area’s needs and your financial plans.  Mentor with other business people.

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

Judy: I believe that most people, when asked this question, would probably respond with a happy story, and I have many of those. However, my most memorable moment was when I was able to personally assist a grieving grandfather in selecting the burial clothing for his deceased new grandchild. I felt so humbled in helping this family.

15. What collection or piece from Le Top and/or rabbit moon are you loving from the Spring/Summer 2010 collection?

Judy: I am wowed by the oranges and blues of Lots ‘o Fish, a true step away from the traditional blues and pinks. The style and fashion make this a fun group for either boy or girl.  I love the mixing of patterns and stripes and the use of the whimsical orange fish appliqués.

Baby Bug & Me
900 Market Street
Lemoyne, PA 17043
717.763.1780
http://www.babybugandme.com

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Our Model Wearing Zoo Much Fun

Super Cutie Wearing a Zoo Much Fun Jumper from Fall 2009

We were thrilled this week to hear the news that we had been nominated for an “Earnie” award!  We have been recognized for our collections of newborn and infant girl’s fashions – a great honor!  The nomination comes from our retailers, our favorite people!  The sponsor of these awards is Earnshaw’s – a premiere industry magazine.  The Earnie Awards are Earnshaw’s magazine’s annual honor recognizing design excellence in children’s wear. For more than 30 years, the magazine has celebrated retailers’ picks for the best kids’ fashions.

Awards Case

“In this tough retail environment, excellent design is more important than ever,” stated Caletha Crawford, publisher of Earnshaw’s magazine. “These awards give retailers the opportunity to salute those brands that have exhibited the value, quality and fun that consumers have been seeking.”

We are very excited that we might be adding to our collection of awards – this would be our 9th EARNIE win!  Of course we love what we do – awards or not – but everyone loves a little recognition!  (To all our favorite retailers…don’t forget to cast your ballot!  Go to http://www.earnshaws.com/2009-earnies-voting-ballot)

Thank you to all of our retailers who nominated our company!

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Marcy Working Some Magic

Marcy Working Some Magic

Marcy Maloy, the very talented photographer that takes the amazing photos of our clothing, is now a true celebrity!  Marcy and her partner Ron are one of the couples selected for this season’s Amazing Race on CBS!  This is the 15th season of The Amazing Race, with a huge audience and fan base. 

Marcy has been photographing le•top for over 10 years – our offices are filled with her fabulous photos!  It would be impossible to describe how Marcy works – her energy and connection to all the children is truly legendary!  Marcy is a very well known fashion photographer; she has national ad campaigns in her portfolio.  When we met Marcy we knew we were very lucky to have someone with her talent to capture the essence of the “le•top look!”  Every time we have a photo shoot I look forward to hearing about Marcy’s new adventures (trapeze lessons, hula-hoop lessons, traveling to exciting locales!)  Wow!  The next photo shoot should be enjoyable …just hearing about her ultimate adventure!

We are really excited that one of the le•top ‘team’ will be featured on this very entertaining and exciting show.  Knowing Marcy we are POSITIVE she will add enthusiasm and her own special vibe to the show! The Amazing Race season 15 premieres Sunday, September 27th 8/7c.

Marcy – we can’t wait to watch you – hope you do great!

Marcy Generating Excitement

Marcy Generating Excitement

Marcy with Three Little Cuties!

Marcy with Three Little Cuties!

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Nicole Jodan

Heidi Hulse had finished up her Master’s Degree and had a momentous choice to make…the nearest job would have been an hour commute away.  Heidi choose instead to use her education within her community, and fulfill a perceived need – she knew from experience that the closest place to shop for children’s clothing was over 50 miles away – so she opened a delightful boutique that catered to the local community.  Family was an important consideration as well, and to honor this priority the boutique name is the combination of her two children’s middle names – Haylee Nicole and Hunter Jordan.

Nicole Jordan’s Children’s Clothing Boutique is located in charming and historic Mount Vernon, Ohio – founded over 200 years ago – an important stop along the railroad that connected Pittsburgh to Chicago and St. Louis.  One of Heidi’s favorite things about her decision to open Nicole Jordan is the friends she has made within the community. She is constantly running into customers and their children around town.  The children love the store (especially her toy room!) and the dad’s know her because “You’re the one that has the store where my wife spends her money!”  Heidi loves the craziness of “Sale Days” and wondering “What is going on here???”  She also loves “Grandmas with a ‘shopping problem!”  One of Heidi’s biggest ‘perks’ is having flexibility, including the ability to have her children with her at the store.  (Although Heidi does confide that “Some days I don’t always feel that way!”) 

Heidi Holding a Striped Coverall from the Walking with Dinosaurs Collection

Heidi Holding a Striped Coverall from the Walking with Dinosaurs Collection

Customer comments prove that Heidi has done a great job with her decision:

“For the best dress selection: The service is very personalized and the hand-picked selection is adorable. From the moment you walk in you know you are in a special place.”

“Great place to buy children’s clothes: I am always pleased when I shop at Nicole Jordan’s.  She carries beautiful dresses for infants.”

Nicole Jordan is known for special occasion clothing, including Communion, Easter and Christmas dresses.  Heidi’s impressive personalized service is another attractive reason to visit the store.  She also is pleased and happy to accept phone orders!  If you are visiting this pleasant area north of Columbus Ohio drop in and say hello – Heidi will be happy to make you feel like a local!

Nicole Jordan’s Children’s Clothing Boutique
23 N. Main Street
Mount Vernon, OH 43050-3203
740.397.9922

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Ruth showing of vive les fleurs overalls from this season

Ruth showing off Fall 2009 vive les fleurs overalls

Ruth Hickman wanted to create something special…so eleven years ago, after realizing that her two daughters could not find the clothing they sought for their children, she decided to open a very unique children’s clothing store.  The store was located in a quaint little cottage that was over 100 years old – beautiful, but too small to house the vast array of merchandise for which the The Little Cottage is now known.

One of the things that Ruth loves about her thriving boutique is where the store is now located – The Factory – a unique retail environment with strong historical roots in the community.  Built in 1929, The Factory has been home to Dortch Stove Works, Magic Chef and Jamison Bedding. Calvin Lehew, a unique individual, bought the sprawling complex seven years ago and, after an environmental clean-up, began opening the facility in sections. Today, The Factory at Franklin has 83 tenants.  Calvin’s philosophy is simple: “The Factory is for artists and creative folks. What I want to do is bring out more of the artist in people. I want an environment here that is conducive to creativity. To be able to open a place in The Factory it either has to be creative, unique, artistic, musical or food.”  The Little Cottage Children’s Shoppe fits the bill!

Little Cottage FrontThis beautiful store is a family business, known for the extensive selection of top drawer merchandise, and excellent service.  Ruth’s two daughters, Julie Craig and Elizabeth Martin are there in the store to be sure that everyone has a positive experience while shopping.  Customers love spreading the word about Little Cottage’s attributes:

“This is a great store! …The staff is very friendly and helpful in both stores. If you are looking for upscale children’s clothing I highly recommend The Little Cottage!”

“This is a wonderful, wonderful store! …Very friendly staff. I can’t wait to go back after I know if I’m having a boy or a girl.”

Located near The Grand Ole Opry the store has attracted many celebrity customers, including Billy Ray Cyrus and his daughter Miley (a customer since she was a baby,) Reese Witherspoon and Brad and Kimberly Williams-Paisley.  Ruth says it doesn’t matter if they are celebrities, because everyone gets the best service!

The Little Cottage is open 7 days a week.  They have an informational website and love taking phone orders!

The Little Cottage Children’s Shoppe
230 Franklin Rd # 11R
Franklin, TN 37064-2278
(615) 595-7874

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If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere,
It’s up to you, New York, New York.
” – Kander and Ebb

le top Booth

le•top Booth

Every August le•top debuts the new Spring collection at the New York Children’s Club Show – one of the most exciting (and anxious) times of the year for us.  After working on designs, fabric development, go-see’s (a warm thanks to all that responded to our call for ‘Cuties!’) and photo shoots we were finally ready to present the Spring 2010 collection to buyers and owners of the fabulous stores that carry le•top.

Cute as a Button Fall 2009

Cute as a Button Fall 2009

Ta-Da!!!

The moment had finally arrived when we were able to see reactions to the results of all our hard work.  The verdict is in and…THE SPRING 2010 COLLECTION IS THE BEST WE HAVE EVER CREATED!

Some of the comments we heard during the show:

“It’s all so cute; I don’t know what I am not going to buy!”

“I love the bright colors!”

“This is just what I dreamed you would do!”  (really!!!)

After all the hard work we were ecstatic to hear our retailer’s enthusiasm!  What brought about the smiles and excitement?  Really great groups, including classic Ducks for boys and girls, Grasshoppers that Hip Hop, bouquets of beautiful Flowers and a whole menagerie of our famous Monokinis!  Everyone can look forward to an endless summer of fun – arriving at retailers in January of 2010.

Walking with Dinosaurs Fall 2009

Walking with Dinosaurs Fall 2009

But don’t wait for next summer!  Fall 2009 is here!  The new le•top and rabbitmoon fashions for fall are arriving at your local boutique every day!  The phones are ringing with re-orders as our retailers sell the cutest kid’s clothes on the planet…and beyond!  Check out some of the top sellers from Walking with Dinosaurs and Cute as a Button!

We had a terrific trip to New York!  Our booth at the Children’s Club show looked great after we put up wallpaper, assembled tables and chairs and steamed and fluffed our samples.  The excitement of hearing the praise for our new creations was our reward…and the reward of experiencing New York City life for a week!  Coming to the blog next week we’ll share our experiences at some of the fabulous restaurants we visited!

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I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.”              – Jorge Luis Borges

Mikki Griffith’s dreams have always revolved around children.  As an early childhood educator she invested in all of our futures – by guiding young people towards learning.  Mikki designed and made clothing for her own and other children to supplement her creative bent, but maintained the dream of someday opening a children’s clothing store.  Once retired and living in Northern Wisconsin, Mikki’s dream of owning a boutique came true!  On May 1st of this year she re-opened the doors of the historic Carnegie Library in Hayward, Wisconsin, paying homage to the 100 year old site by naming her store Carnegie Kids.  She repurposed the original book shelves as display cases for her original creations and those of le•top, rabbitmoon and other fabulous collections!

Mikki has a high regard for the historic site of her business, but gives equal respect to the local community. Currently she is planning a city-wide baby shower for a local Women’s & Children’s Shelter, aimed at aiding women that do not have the support system needed for precious new arrivals.  Carnegie Kid’s customers that bring in diapers, formula, baby food, new or like-new baby blankets, or any other baby related products for the shelter receive discounts on purchases at the beautiful store.  Mikki supports the arts by working with a local, non-profit, live theatre.  She gives a discount to ticket holders and donates a portion of the proceeds to the theatre.  Take a bow Mikki!

Inside Carnegie Kids

Inside Carnegie Kids

Mothers and grandmothers who frequent her store laugh and giggle with delight at her carefully chosen selections – something that brings joy to Mikki’s heart.  A favorite part of her day is hearing the footsteps of the UPS man coming up the walk with boxes that conjure up memories of the days when her own children were small enough to wear and play with the cute clothes and toys.

Mikki offers gift wrap in a colorful signature gift bag, and loves taking phone orders from customers.  Stop in and say “hello” and check out Carnegie Kids in The Old Carnegie Library!

Carnegie Kids is located at:
10538 Main Street
Hayward, Wisconsin 54843
715.466.4724 (p)

Store Hours:
Mon-Sat: 10:00 am- 5:00 pm
Sunday: 10:00 am- 3:00 pm

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