Well, winter storm or no, spring break is just around the corner. Which means that spring proper should be following soon (we hope). With the kids home from school for a week and the seasons beginning to change, spring break means spring shopping for many parents. It’s like back-to-school’s half birthday (if that make sense to anyone else).
So, who better to give us the scoop on trends for the younger set (or youngest, as the case may be) than Bridget Quinn Stickline? The owner of Wee Chic Boutique — Baltimore’s fab place for children’s clothing– answered all of our burning questions (and more) about children’s fashion, spring trends, and why you should take your child with you when you shop for them (gasp–we, know).
BFB: Tell us a little about yourself and how you got interested in children’s clothing. What about it excites you?
BQS: I spent 16 years in women’s merchandising. When I had my daughter in 2007 I was struck by the lack of kids clothing that appealed to me. I have a contemporary, classic aesthetic and fabric quality is really important to me. I wanted clothes for my daughter that looked more modern and felt great but were also well priced. I was able to find things online, but I didn’t want to buy without touching and feeling.
My concept was to create an assortment that is unique, well-made and priced for today’s family. My philosophy is that our team has a small chance to make a difference for the better in someone’s day. We enjoy the relationships that we have developed with our clients. They chat, they shop, they change diapers. Parenthood is so much better when shared. You need to laugh, and tell up-all-night or screaming-toddler-in-the-grocery-store horror stories to other people who get it.
BFB: Hard to believe, but spring break is around the corner. What are going to be the season’s trends? What’s new? What’s going to be the talk of the playground?
BQS: Many of the lines that we carry are adult lines first (Splendid, LA Made, Ella Moss, Joe’s Jeans) and even if they are not modern kids designers pull heavily from the same trends that impact the adult market. We are seeing lace embellishments, bold colors like red & cobalt and soft hues like lavender and coral. There is also a fresh, polished take on tribal prints. We have some beautiful Spring holiday dresses in stock now and we are preparing for camp season with expected shipments from Butter Super-Soft, Roxy and more.
Our #1 bestselling line is Tea Collection (see first photo). Tea is a terrific line for both boys & girls that allows a lot of creative license but still looks “put together.”
BFB: Kids can be finicky or particular about certain textures, fabrics, or cuts being uncomfortable. What kind of clothes satisfy a parent’s need for quality and looking good with a child’s need for comfort and the ability to move around?
BQS: Many kids struggle with tactile sensitivity. The best advice that we give is to dig into why a child won’t wear something because it is often about comfort, and that is easily fixed if you understand it. The plain truth is that there are a lot of shortcuts in the production of a tee-shirt that retails for $8, spending a bit more for better quality pays for itself in the long run. I am a self-professed fabric-phile and a mom. I touch everything to insure that the hand is right and check interior seaming and linings for comfort before it’s added to our assortment.
BFB: Wow. That’s serious dedication. Now, we’ve all seen kids put together some pretty ridiculous outfits when left to their own devices. What kinds of things are the best for satisfying both parents’ and kids’ tastes?
BQS: Even at young ages, fashion is a form of self-expression. It’s important that kids feel supported and allowed to create a “look” because it helps to build their sense of self. That said, it’s a parent’s job to make sure their kids are warm enough and dressed appropriately for whatever their day holds. Practicality is not normally factored into the decision making of a 4 year old. We encourage parents to bring their kids shopping. We have a TV with an endless stream of Mickey Mouse in the dressing room and lots of mommas on hand to help entertain, or ooh-ahh at the right moments. Our return policy is also really liberal (30 days for a refund, unworn) so those pieces that don’t fit perfectly or just get the smack-down for unexplained reasons don’t hang in your closet taunting you.
One of our favorite pieces of advice for managing creative disputes in the morning is to lay out a few top options and a few bottom options the night before. If you pick the pieces properly the outfit will be good no matter what combination your child chooses.
BFB: Any great overheard “kids say the darnedest things” moments in recent memory? There must be when parents take their children clothing shopping.
There are so many. I could hardly recall them all. We added sizes 8-10-12 for girls last season and we are having a lot of fun with our new tween clients. Our mix is contemporary to start with so we had a lot of requests to go up in size. The tween years are such a challenging time because the kids are interested in fashion that can be a bit ahead of their age.
Two of the members of our team are raising tween girls and we relied heavily on their experiences in building this category. The reactions from the 8-12 set has been really positive and mom is happy with the improved quality and taste level compared to other options for this age group. There are a lot of giggles and Oh-my-god-that-is-so-cute! in our future but we are eating it up.
BFB: The Little Characters project seems so exciting. It’s nice to think that the kids modeling for a local children’s boutique are just regular, local kids. What was the inspiration for the project?
BQS: Little Characters was the product of a brainstorming session with my collaborative partner, Laura Black. Laura is an amazing photographer and mom of three with her own studio in Reisterstown. We first met when she was shopping for her daughter in the store. We started chatting about the joys and challenges of owning a business while being a mom. We had a lot in common and starting working together on projects. We worked well together and started pushing forward with bigger ideas. Little Characters was an opportunity to showcase Wee Chic’s unique approach to dressing kids as well as Laura’s talent behind the camera. We decided to use local non-professional kids for the photo shoots because we both value the authenticity that it adds to the images. At the end of the day parenting is a string of really cool moments that help get you through the tough stuff. We want to capture a bit of that cool stuff. (Submit your litte one to the Little Characters Search by clicking here, and view the Little Characters Gallery here.)
BFB: So how’s this year’s search been so far? What’s new this year?
BQS: I am so excited that we have added The House of Ruth as our first charity partner in the 2013 Search. I think people often think of domestic violence as an adult issue, but most cases of abuse are actually first reported by children. The House of Ruth does amazing work in breaking the cycle of violence by caring and advocating for the children affected by abuse in the home. Wee Chic is happy to be partnering on some exciting upcoming projects specifically for the kids in the care of The House of Ruth.*
Wee Chic is located in Green Spring Station at 10751 Falls Road in Lutherville. You can also visit their website: www.weechic.com
*You can help the children at The House of Ruth by donating gently used children’s clothes at Wee Chic, one of the official drop-off stations for The House of Ruth, or make a charitable donation to House of Ruth by clicking here .