Posts Tagged ‘unique’

We interviewed boutique owner, Susan Johnson, of Ideas and Objects in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania on her style advice, on staying true to classic style with unique twists and how “trendy” isn’t always what the customer needs, her store’s top 3 “go-to” items that are must-haves for any parent this fall, and a smart way to keep your kiddo’s lunch pail fresh and cool. 


252 Strawberry Square
Harrisburg, PA 17101

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1.    Tell us the inspiration behind starting your shop?
Having worked for years in the visual merchandising and store design arena, I recognized a missing venue for contemporary “neat stuff.”  IDEAS and OBJECTS was born In 1987 when I decided to try my hand at the ownership of a specialty shop featuring unique objects with BOTH contemporary form and great function for work and play, for young and old. This platform soon expanded to include some wearables for women and children. Here I am, nearly 24 years later, in a larger shop in the same building and the current merchandise mix is nearly 50/50 as to wearables and “objects.”

2.    Give us the inside scoop about any special events that you have planned for Labor Day Weekend or back-to-school, especially the fun deals we can expect.
At IDEAS and OBJECTS the holiday weekend is not a high traffic weekend. We have discovered that here in central Pennsylvania this weekend (and when I say weekend, I mean Saturday since we are in a city center that is closed on Sundays and Holidays) is one when our customers tend to grab hold of one of the last outdoor event celebrations of the summer season. As to back-to school and fun deals…Unlike the mass market merchants, our best deal is ongoing in the UNIQUE lines of quality fashions we offer and the seasonal timeliness of our wardrobing choices. And when it comes to fun, I like to think that it is ALWAYS FUN to shop our little store of wonders!!!

Display features Le Top's "Pizzazz" Collection tiered tunic and ribbed leggings

3.    Back-to-school is just around the corner – what are 3 trends you can tell parents to look for when buying their kids’ wardrobe?
Looks like leggings and tunics are a strong trend, but some say that plaids may be finding a renewed appeal (although I am not convinced the youth think it is so, and I hear about a surprising fondness for the 70’s influence remaining). Of course the proverbial tees and jeans are still all too popular from my point of view. As in season’s past, we do not fit well into the “trendy” shoppers world, other than the fact that we do have delicious tunics and legging sets!! I have always shopped the market determined not to sell something just because the media is intent on dictating it as a “must have.” I do lean towards the bold and contemporary colors and patterns, but the lines and items I choose are based first on QUALITY, second on UNIQUENESS AND STYLE, and then PRICE.

4.    Please tell us 1 easy tip or snack/meal for a child’s back-to-school lunchbox.
SusanMy parental favorite was always “lunch money” back in the days when buying a school lunch meant a hot CAFETERIA MEAL, rather than pizza, candy and soda “food court” selections. Have to admit my lunch packing was rather ho-hum except for a little note or an unexpected sweet treat from time to time. I do like insulated lunch ”boxes” so that veggies and dip, mayo dressings and or salads, etc. stay cool. So my tip for a COOL lunch would be that when you are including a drink, try buying smaller plastic bottles of water or juice and put them in the freezer the night before. Partially frozen, they will be thawed before lunchtime and will also act as an ice pack even in an un-insulated lunch carrier.

5.    Tell us…before you “had kids or grandkids, what is one thing you swore you’d never…?” Please share!
Reply with “BECAUSE I SAID SO!!!” to any question they may ask. I will admit I failed in keeping this vow to myself. And come to think of it, my daughter probably regrets my shortcoming even more than I do.

6.    What is your top selling 3 “go-to” items at your store currently?
Rabbitmoon and Le Top are always favorites, with extra applause for the boy/girl brother and sister groups! Grandparents are especially excited when we give them a call that we have something to “match” for their sibling or cousin grans. The fuchsia fleece jackets by Mack & Co are getting many “oohs and ahhhhhs” and the cordy plush from Jellycat and the Zolo line of creative playthings remain strong staples.

7.    Describe the neighborhood of your store location in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Did you grow up in the local area?
IDEAS and OBJECTS is located in Strawberry Square, a mixed use city center in downtown Harrisburg. The center adjoins the Hilton Hotel and we are but a stone’s throw from the state capitol complex. I grew up about an hour from Harrisburg in a small (population 1,000 or so when I grew up) rural Lancaster County town, Terre Hill. I was the oldest of 4 girls and although we did not have extensive wardrobes or many shopping trips, that which we had was most often bought in family owned specialty shops!

8.    Tell us about a “special” moment that made your day working at your store.
There have been so many…and the highlights truly have nothing to do with large sales. My best moments are the personal ones that convince me that we are a people, not just a business at IDEAS and OBJECTS. The thank you notes, the photos, the tales of good and bad, its the people moments that make it all worthwhile. Not so long ago a college-aged student came into my store and was just beaming as she looked around. She was between trains (Amtrak is a block away) and came to Strawberry Square to see if the shop was still here. She had moved away over 10 years ago, but had fond memories of her mother bringing her to the shop. As I and the shop grow older, it is good to be reminded that we are part of a family of customers with good memories.

9.    Where are the best/essential family hangouts and places to go around your store location?
Our neighborhood’s best include the Whitaker Center, that is home to an IMAX theatre, Science Center and Performance Theater and Gamut Theatre, home of the Popcorn Hat Players wonderful children’s theatre.

rabbitmoon's "Harmony" collection print swing dress

10.    What Le Top or rabbitmoon Fall 2011 collection is your store’s favorite and why?
The bold color of the Le Top’s Pizzazz collection “big dot” group makes me smile, while the current customer favorite is the Harmony collection from rabbitmoon.


252 Strawberry Square
Harrisburg, PA 17101

IDEAS and OBJECTS Facebook page
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We at Le Top always get excited about another premier retailer joining our family of fabulous stores that carry our clothing. We had the privilege of interviewing store owner, Lisa Newberry, about her cool style and being a young mom with one of the hippest boutiques in Southern California. Read more about her store, her inspiration, and parenting advice.

1.    What was the inspiration behind the name Papillon?
Lisa: Papillon, means butterfly in French. This is very significant to me because when my Grandmother Lois passed away, whenever we’d see a white butterfly, we’d know that Grandmomie was there with us. When I first decided to open Papillon, I remember seeing a white butterfly floating around me for several days leading up to my signing on the dotted line. Since then, 4 years later, I still see the white butterfly and still feel her support, just as she supported me throughout my childhood.

Papillon is a wondrous insect that symbolizes new life.  They’re vibrant, brilliantly colored, carefree and very unique. This is how I would describe a child. This is how I would describe Papillon…a unique children’s boutique!

2.    Describe the neighborhood where your store is located. Did you grow up in the local area? Is it the same as it was growing up?
Lisa: Papillon is located in Marina del Rey, CA. Marina del Rey is an upscale beach city that borders on the areas of Venice, Santa Monica, Playa del Rey and Playa Vista. I grew up in Santa Clarita, California but since graduating from UCLA (a few years ago), I’ve moved around a bit, but always managed to make my way back to the Marina. It’s a beautiful community to raise a family, go for a walk, ride a bike, eat out and of course, shop.

3.    Spring break is coming up in the next few months – with Southern California always being on the warmer/sunnier side, what are 3 vacation essentials a parent should buy for their child’s wardrobe? For a boy or girl…
Lisa: Three vacation essentials a parent should buy for their child are:

  • a floppy hat
  • white linen or organic cotton pants or dress (with a light sweater for layering)
  • and flip flops or a neutral color tennis shoe.

Oh, and of course 2 -3 swimsuits. I’ve found that when we vacation, the most important thing on Sasha’s agenda is to be in the water; whether it’s a pool or the ocean. She could careless about what she wears any other time. As much as we want our kids to look fashionable at all times, it matters more that they are comfortable, fuss free, and can spill an ice cream sundae on whatever they’re wearing without us moms stressing out about it. Did I mention I’m a stress case/Virgo sometimes when it comes to being a mom? 🙂

4.     Let’s talk Southern California…where are your favorite family hangouts?
Lisa: My family and I live in Marina del Rey, so we have the luxury of biking down to Venice Beach or the Santa Monica Pier on a whim.  What we love most though, is to do family dinners and BBQ’s at the house with all of our cousins, parents, everybody! If we do go out, we love 26 Beach (huge burgers that Sasha LOVES), Cheesecake Factory (great outdoor seating on the Marina where kids can play in the sand & on the jungle gym), or the local bowling alley, where we all, as a family, can enjoy hours of silly fun. Of course that doesn’t mean I win, but we still have a blast!

Owner of Papillon, Lisa Newberry

5.    Tell us…before you “had kids or grandkids, what is one thing you swore you’d never…?” Please share!
Lisa: Before I became mommy to Sasha, almost 9 years ago, I swore I’d never make her wear something she didn’t want to wear.  When I was growing up, I hated wearing dresses. But I didn’t have a choice. Of course now, I love dressing up in fancy, hip, unique clothes, including a tutu that Sasha & I both love to rock sometimes when we go out. Sasha doesn’t particularly like to wear dresses, or pink, but if she can add her own little style & flair, then all is good.

6.    Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. Cupids and all, would you dress your little girl or boy in for Valentine’s Day?
Lisa: I love all holidays…Christmas, Thanksgiving, Halloween, birthdays, and the tooth fairy. Valentines Day is just another excuse to do something fun with my daughter (and of course my significant other). I’d dress Sasha in a red or pink tutu (well, since she hates pink, let’s go with red), leggings, converse and a rocker tee shirt. She’s a tomboy, I’m a musician, so this would be a nice compromise for both of us.

7.    With all of the celebrity pregnancies going on from Natalie Portman to Kate Hudson to Nicole Kidman’s surprise baby….which celebrity mommy would you want to meet and why?
Lisa: What’s funny is, just last weekend, I met a mommy-to-be that I’d been wanting to meet for a while – Denise Boutte. She plays Dr. Sasha Brown on “Tyler Perry’s Meet the Browns.” I always enjoy Denise’s acting and she has a style that is fierce that I’m sure she’ll carry on to her daughter, who is due to arrive in April. My daughter’s name is Sasha Brown. Denise said to us, “The real Sasha Brown.” What fun it was for Sasha and I to meet her. She was so pleasant and appreciates things that are unique and fabulous. I’m sure she’ll be a regular at Papillon and she’s going to love Le Top!

8.    Any special events or fun New Year traditions that you have planned at your store for the next few months?
Lisa: Every month at Papillon, we offer special events, such as book readings & signings, jewelry making parties, trunk shows, holiday bazaars, mom’s night out events, Monday Madness days and more.  Shopping at Papillon is always a fun and unique experience!

9.    Tell us your best parenting tip you know or would want to give to a new parent.
Lisa: As a parent of an 8 year old, I still feel like I’m learning…from my parents, my friends and my twin brother and sister-in -law who are parents of 5 children – 4 under the age of 12. BUT, I will say I have learned that parents should be patient with their children and realize that no matter how young they are, they are still individuals and have their own little mind about certain things like what they want to eat, decorating their room, how to fix their hair and of course, what to wear. As a storeowner, and a fashionista since I was a young girl, it can be a challenge at times, but realizing that Sasha has her own style and flair has made me appreciate fashion even more. It just makes things more fun having Papillon, and makes it more challenging for me to find unique lines (like Le Top) that she actually enjoys wearing.

10.    What collection or piece from Le Top or Le Top Baby line or Rabbitmoon do you love from the Spring 2011 or Fall 2010 collection?
Lisa: Le Top Baby is a new line for Papillon.  When I first saw it in the showroom and online I just had to have it. It’s fabulous! We’re looking forward to launching it this Spring!

4712 ½ Admiralty Way
Marina del Rey, CA 90292

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