More than 13 billion pageviews on Tumblr every month…some online numbers are astronomical. This makes me wonder how many children’s online boutiques open every month in the world…300, 3000? Hard to say. Today I have selected three new e-stores worth visiting: Brooklyn Makers, Father and The Vitrine, and invited  their talented founders to speak about their business.

Brooklyn Makers

Teresa Lagerman started the blog Brooklyn Makers in May 2012, the e-store launched in February this year. It offers a curated selection of “Amazing creations by Brooklynites” for adults and children (clothes, toys, accessories,home goods, stationery). “We focus on great design, high quality and sustainability” says Teresa, “and you will particularly like the stylish clothes by Lady Handmade, up cycled cashmere monster dolls by Snuggly Ugly, graphic onesies and t-shirts by Brooklyn Junior or the wooden toys from Goose Grease”
How much time between the idea and the site launch? I had been writing the blog for months and slowly started thinking about expanding Brooklyn Makers into an online shop. I began thinking about it more seriously in December 2012, started reaching out to makers after the new year, and we were up and running a month after that!
How is the traffic : equal, below, beyond expectations? So far we’re on target. We’ve had some crazy spikes that we weathered well, like when we were featured on Daily Candy!
How many people involved in the site (working on it)? I do most of the work myself, and I’m fortunate to have a rockstar tech support team behind me.
What did you do before and what’s your educational background?
Brooklyn Makers is a passion I combine with the web company I’ve been running since 2005, mimoYmima. I have been working on digital marketing since 2004. I have a BA in Advertising and International Relations.
The reason of your success?
People are increasingly appreciating handmade goods. We’ve been getting great feedback about our curated selection.
What is it that you really love in managing an e-store? what’s you favourite part and the one you’d happily skip?
I’m always on the look out for new talent. I love bringing on new makers – we’re still a small shop, so every time we add a new designer it’s very exciting for me. Sales taxes is not my favorite thing to deal with, but luckily they only apply to non-clothing orders in NY State.
What are according to you the main changes in consumption and the latest trends?
I see two kind of contradicting trends: on the one hand, we want things fast and cheap, and big online sites make it possible with their next-day deliveries. On the other hand, we want to know more about the products we’re buying – we’re going back to the farmer’s markets, we’re shopping local. I’m a perfect example of this – I’ll get my paper towels from Amazon, but my jewelry is all from independent designers.
What are your 3 favourite products on Brooklyn Makers and why?
Just three, that’s so hard! This will be a bit random.  My younger son has been wearing his pocket pants by Lady Handmade a lot this Spring – super comfy and cool. Celine’s Dolls are new to the shop and they have been making me wish I were a little girl again. Goose Grease’s wooden craft kits have been my go-to gift for kids this Spring, perfect for creative kiddos!
What’s so special about Brooklyn and its artist community?
Over the years, more and more creatives and entrepreneurs have moved here. People are working together and supporting each other. It’s a tight community that really appreciates small businesses and local talent. One example is the boom of local outdoor markets – day and night, food and handmade goods.
Anything else you would like to tell us? We are thrilled to make these local goods available worldwide through our shop! Thanks Pirouette  : )


Simon Tyler launched just a few months ago (March 2013). The site emerged as an idea soon after he launched a parenting site for fathers, called Not a Bad Dad – that launched in April 2012. It took till November 2012 before he really knew that he wanted to make the shop. Father is based in the UK (Sussex), stocks kids clothing and footwear, toys and games, books and magazines, homewares, gifts and grooming products. Simon’s plan is to expand into menswear and mens accessories as soon as possible.
How is the traffic : equal, below, beyond expectations? The site launched entirely unhyped in advance, as I wanted to grow it gradually from scratch. I didn’t want to create a massive fuss and then have something go wrong – there’s always something that goes wrong! As such, the initial traffic was quite small, but as the press start to take notice it has grown significantly. I won’t be satisfied until it’s a lot bigger though!

Do you actually have a big father’s audience, or do you also attract non fathers and women clients 

So far the customer split is around 1/3 fathers, 1/3 men buying for relatives, godchildren, etc, and 1/3 women – either mums or women buying presents.
How many people involved in the site (working on it)? 

2 1/2 – myself (I built the site, did all the graphics, photography, chose the stock, etc), my wife Jess (who helps with wrapping presents, some photography and talking to customers, and our two-year-old daughter Sibylla (who tests the toys and books, and will start modelling soon too). I have 2 others lined up for the next step – scaling the business up this summer.

What did you do before, what’s your educational background? I’ve been involved in a family furniture business for the past 10 years. Before that I was a journalist, specialising in food and drink, entertainment and lifestyle..

The reason of your success? It’s still early days, but I think the product selection is quite particular – I pick what I really like, and prefer to have a selection rather than a huge inventory. It’s curated rather than thrown together. Plus the look of the site and the brand design in general is entirely my look – nothing is designed by committee. I think a good selection of product that is coherent and reflects a personality (mine in this case) together with a bold, strong look is a powerful combination. And attention to detail – I designed the wrapping paper that we use for products, and the plan is to add more of those and other personal touches.
What have you learned since you have launched, on consumers habits/trends? Do people generally buy what you thought they would buy or did you have to add/cancel product categories? It’s quite early to say, but the toys have been selling best – we’ve had a lot of present orders – things like the lovely wooden Vilac and TobeUs toys. I think that’s partly because, if you need to buy a present then you will tend to buy it on impulse, whereas fashion is something that people often muse over before they commit to it. Also, the weather has been so bad that our lovely summery clothing might’ve looked a little skimpy when the site went live!
How do you like managing the e-store? The best bit so far has been the adventures tracking down products and suppliers, of which there are many more to come. They are a lovely bunch to deal with, and it’s so exciting when new things arrive. Unpacking things, doing the photography – it’s all great fun. The least fun thing is the number crunching and spreadsheet side of the business, but I’d never say that I’d prefer to skip it – I think balance is important and to be effective in business you need to be just as sharp on the financial side as you are at spotting products that you can sell.
What changes in consuming have you witnessed ? The whole concept of the shop is built on the observation of a shift in consumer behaviour and marketing – the fact that men are (finally) spending money on things for their children that they didn’t used to do. This is coupled to the way that many men now chose to define themselves as fathers, before career, interests, etc. The very fact that they do this has had a really noticeable effect on how they spend their money. And this is why strollers and car seats (for example) are now black and red, and named after supercars (i.e. Miura).
One other trend that I notice and am interested in is the reaction against sexualisation in girls fashion. I’m personally not interested at all in any brands who present their collections in any way other than as fun / innocent / friendly. Dressing kids up and then photographing them in inappropriate sultry expressions and poses is crass and really shouldn’t be happening. Fun and friendly – the Stella McCartney Kids photography is probably the best example of how it should be done.
What are your 3 favourite products on Father and why? The Feiyue Mid Kid sneaker in the red stripe. I totally fell in love with these when I first discovered Feiyue. My daughter got her hands on a pair as soon as they arrived, and they just go with everything – denim, dresses, leggings, you name it. They’re so cool, but the shape and look is so friendly that I think kids love them as much as parents do, which doesn’t happen that often.
The Crochet Basset from Anne-Claire Petit. The Anne-Claire Petit collection fits perfectly into the shop – the quality, charm and sense of humour are just right, plus the story of how the products are made (in villages in rural China, in a wonderful co-operative fashion) is valuable and the kind of thing that we appreciate. The basset is my favourite of all the characters, although only just!
The Relaxing Soap by Le Baigneur. I forget how I first discovered Le Baigneur, but as soon as I did I just had to have their three soaps in the shop. The smell is intoxicating, they are hand-made in the traditional way, and the presentation and wrapping is stunning.
Anything else you would like to tell us? We’ve got big plans to expand the shop throughout 2013, with more products going into the existing categories, as well as a new section for dads. This will include some wonderful accessories, from wallets to belts, household gear, design pieces, and all sorts of other things. We are then planning to start adding menswear as well.
We already have a collection of three different wrapping papers (that I have designed) and we’re going to launch some more of those as the gift-wrapping side picks up pace. The monkey wrapping has been really popular so far, so there might be some more monkeys arriving soon!
I would really like to open a bricks and mortar store in London at some point. I’ve found some interesting potential locations, but really need to concentrate on the online side before taking that idea any further.
The other big plan is to introduce our own clothing line. This will be under a separate brand. I’m still working on ideas for the initial collection, and I’m not quite sure when it’ll all actually happen, but it’s been a really enjoyable project so far!

The Vitrine

Blaire Dessent launched her e-store in June 2010. emphasis on artists, designers, architects, craftspeople who like to crossover into other areas- an architect making bags or an artist making kids toys, for example. “Perhaps because I’m between the States and Europe so much of the time I think it keeps my mind open to new things and ideas. I’m not tied down to any one niche or market- which perhaps can be seen as a negative but I’d like to think it keeps the site more interesting, diverse and fresh” says Blaire.

How much time between the idea and the site launch? About 6-8 months of formalizing ideas, writing up a plan and getting it launched. But rough ideas were brewing for a year or two before as I was doing a blog, looking for work in a foreign country and thinking about starting my own business.

Is the traffic : equal, below, beyond expectations?  I feel like traffic has been all of these things at various times.   People don’t walk by like they do in the real world shops, and there is so much on people’s minds when they are at their computers, with many sites to read and browse and to shop on, so I am  always thinking about how to keep The Vitrine in people’s minds and serving as a go-to site, as well as boosting traffic-both new customers and returning. After I had my baby a year ago my mind was elsewhere so things really slowed down, but now I’m working on getting back up there again. .

How many people work on The Vitrine?  It’s just me, but I’ve been very fortunate to partner with Brooks Hudson Thomas of Specific Merchandise on a number of pop up shop projects over the last few years and he is a crucial help to me-creatively and day-to-day.  I need to get an intern.

What did you do before, what’s your educational background?  I studied art history and I worked for over 10 years in contemporary art in New York City and then briefly in Paris before The Vitrine.

The reason of your success? I’m not sure I feel I’m there yet. Although when I’ve felt successful and things are going well, it’s because 200% of me is being poured into it. With your own business I quickly learned, it’s all day, night, weekends, whatever it requires.

Where do you mainly source products? All over. Friends, friends of friends, the Internet, magazines, showrooms, trade shows, other shops.

What is it that you really love in managing an e-store ? I love developing relationships with so many amazing artists and designers and getting to know the work so well. It’s an honor to be able to present someone’s work on the website and hopefully take risks, show new things, get them attention (and sales). It’s fun to have a new product and send it out into the world for the first time and see the response. I’d happily skip the post office waiting lines and customs charges.

What are according to you the main consumption changes and the new trends? What seems to be the current, and likely staying trend, is knowing the who, what, where of a product.  I’ve always loved knowing the story behind how or where something was made. You feel more connected to it and cherish it more and I always wanted The Vitrine to be an open source of information like this. Before buying something; people want and should know where it’s made, how-what are the materials, where are they from; and who the person is who made it if it’s been crafted by hand and so forth. It’s both an economic and informed approach to shopping.

What are your 3 favourite products on The Vitrine and why? That’s so hard to say. I think it changes all the time. I’m proud of the silk scarf edition we did with artist Sarah Crowner in 2011. It was the first Vitrine edition and I think it’s a gorgeous piece by an amazing artist. I’m kind of nuts over these ceramic jars by Ben Fiess. And I love the Kimmel Kids activity books and stencils which were the first children’s things we presented.

Anything else you would like to tell us? I always love to hear feedback and I encourage visitors to let me know how their experience to The Vitrine went. It’s really helpful-good or bad reviews. And Thank you.