I met Roberta in Paris quite randomly, in the Playtime shuttle bus. It is always rich to hear fresh comments from retailers so I asked Roberta to share her feedback, her experience and her thoughts about the children’s industry on Pirouette. Although Roberta is Italian and owns a store in Milan, she is not a typical Milanese. She spent all her childhood in San Domingo, on the beach, free and happy, and her mother tongue is Spanish. Married to a diplomat, she came back to Italy and graduated in business economy. She worked in the cosmetic industry, she lived in Paris  and in 2004 she became mother of Matteo. In 2007, her store Teo was born. Fully dedicated to 0-4 years old children, it is located in a residential and quiet area of Milan. Roberta, a very positive and enthusiastic person, has a love for artisanal products, a passion for simplicity, not too commercial, not too loud items.

What brands do you carry in your store?Pepè (Italy), Tammy Donohoe’s (Spain), Kissy kissy (England), Escudama (Italy), Clemence G. (France), Poppy (England), Aymara Daido (Italy),Collegien (France), Lola Coquelicot (France)

How is your store performing compared to the last 3 years? What do you do to adapt to the difficult economical context? After a good start,  I have to say that the global economical climate has certainly had an influence on our volume of sales. A constant search of the right product original and not too expensive has kept us in a very good position. Little by little people start to understand the attractiveness and the benefits of hand made products. Our own personalized production allowed us having less stock and more faithful clients. Our strategy is to offer a very focused service, always more bespoke : birth gift lists, christening ceremony consultancy, meetings with childhood specialists, special afternoons for kids, etc. We aim to create a very personalized relationship with our customers who are always curious to discover what’s next at Teo!

How many shows did you visit this season? Which ones? Can you give a few comments about each one? The 3 fairs I absolutely have on my list are Pitti Bimbo  (Florence), Playtime (Paris), White for Kids (Milan). Pitti  Bimbo is the most important and the most famous children’s trade show in the world, but it is also the most “old style”.  It’s a big mix of independent/artisanal and commercial “fashionist”  where in general the style and scenography is still very classical.  The New View section which is more interesting is too limited in terms of size and content, especially when it comes to the winter collections. Playtime is for sure a show for “complements”, additional lines. Being quite new, it is joyful and it is open to new ideas, concepts, products. I buy almost all of my accessories there, the products that will make a nice window, that will create a buzz and generate impulsive purchases.  It is still a problem though to have a poor offer of in high level products for winter. White for Kids is the newborn. It is very small in terms of size, but I hope it will keep growing in the right way,  i.e to be an alternative to Pitti, not a copy. I do a lot of research online, looking for small labels that can’t afford the high costs of a trade show, and that do original products.  Etsy is a good place for that.

Can you name the brands that piqued your attention this season and the ones you have added to your assortment?Je suis en CP, a French brand, very “classical with a twist”. Good prices and well done simplicity.  Declasse, an Italian brand for boys. Minimalist pieces in good materials, medium high prices. Mebi Nature, a Spanish brand that produces newborn items since over 50 years. Very good prices, classical with great attention to details. Chupeta, the real French style applied to footwear. Simple Kids, from Belgium, vivid colors, a lot of fantasy. Modern and cheerful, especially for boys.

What are your favorite stores? Some stores have a great reputation, internationally. They are a reference point for people who work in the industry, even if sometimes their fame is a bit overrated compared to their real offer. Bonton Paris, Bonpoint Paris, Pomme New York.

Can you give us a list of the hottest places in your home-town?Restaurant Les Gitanes, via Tortona 15, corner of via Forcella – vaguely retro atmosphere for this place filled with Fornasetti furniture. Il bistrot di Giacomo and its patisserie, via Sottocorno – a real Parisian bistrot in Milan, classical cuisine, all nicely done, and amazing pastries. La Trattoria milanese, via Santa Marta 11 – typical Milanese cooking, honest and beautifully made.Hotel Bulgari, Via Privata Fratelli Gabba 7/b. If you have no budget restriction, that’s the place to be. Go there for drinks  in the garden in the summer time. An oasis of calm.La Forestiera di Corso Monforte, a stylish bread and breakfast at a very reasonable price for Milan. It’s the right base to come and discover my sho and then make a stop atLula – a great little chocolate store, sofisticated vintage atmosphere for little delicious bites. If you have time for a hair treat, don’t missArea 6– hairstylist with minimal impact; ask for Alessandro Lisi, the hairstylist who takes care of Anna Wintour when she is in town. Shopping wise, Rossana Orlandifor a great & unique design space, andAntonia, via Pontaccio for fashion treasures.

Teo Boutique, Corso Concordia 9, Milan. Blog