We are excited to be interviewing Penelope Stipanovich, the owner of one of our long-time retailers, Smoochie Baby in Williamsburg, Brooklyn! After originally opening the baby clothing boutique while living in Toronto, Penelope and her family moved back to NYC where she re-opened the store in her new Brooklyn neighborhood. Full of “big style for little smoochers,” Smoochie Baby’s a must for checking out what’s fresh in children’s fashion, picking up unique baby gifts, or discovering the latest new brands. We were lucky enough to ask Penelope a few questions about running her own business, can’t miss spots in Williamsburg, and favorite parts of motherhood…
1. Smoochie Baby is full of stylish duds for urban kids. Where do you discover these brands, & are there any new ones you’ve discovered recently that should be on our radar? I am always on the lookout for cool new brands. I visit trade shows, go to showrooms, and get daily submissions in my inbox. I also find new and noteworthy lines through blogs, Pinterest and Instagram. I’m a little obsessed. Always looking… Our newest lines are MimPi from Sweden, Billy Blush from the UK, Little Eleven Paris, and Miki Miette from L.A.
2. Best and worst parts of being your own boss? The best part is I have no one to answer to. The worst part is I have no one to answer to. In other words, I make all of my own decisions about the store but if I make a wrong decision (and I do all the time) I have no one else to blame.
3. When customers stop in looking for a special newborn or baby gift, what do you recommend? Our “go to” recommendation is our Smoochie Baby Brooklyn onesie, an Estella Metrocard rattle, Brooklyn 123 board book & a pair of baby sunglasses. Very Brooklyn!
4. Favorite Estella toy? The MetroCard rattle (naturally!)
5. When you were a new mom, were there any must-haves (for you & baby!) that you always hand on hand? My organic sling from Dr. Sears. I was back at work right after having my son so I carried him in a sling everywhere. I wore him around the house and all through the city, talking or singing to him the entire time.
I also loved the Boppy Pillow and an organic sleep sack. I used it from the time we were done swaddling and he would associate being zipped up in it with sleep time, and go right to sleep. At the time, sleep sacks were not popular in the U.S. (he is 10 years old now) but they were everywhere in Europe. I like to think I played a part in bringing them here.
5. You’re store in located right in Williamsburg, Brooklyn – any favorite neighborhood spots (stores, restaurants, parks, etc.) that we should check out if we’re in the area? Not just because it is my husband’s but my hands down favorite restaurant is The Heyward on Wythe Avenue. They serve delicious “new southern” cuisine and the most incredible cocktails. I also love Mogador & Cafe Colette. The East River State Park (with the Manhattan skyline as its backdrop) is always fun for a stroll but especially so on Saturdays when Smorgasborg is going on. You can sample yummy food form a myriad of Brooklyn purveyors. My favorite stores in the neighborhood include Pearl, Shoe Market, A & G Merch, and CatBird. I always love to stop into Mast Brothers for a bar of their divine chocolate and for kids clothing Smoochie Baby of course!
6. What about NYC in general – any can’t-miss, baby & kid-friendly places or activities (especially now with the warmer weather!)? Pier 6 in Brooklyn Bridge Park has the best playground in New York City. Don’t just take my word for it, Time Out Kids said so as well for the last 2 years in a row. If you’re coming from Manhattan, ride the East River Ferry to get there and be sure to stop at Pier 1 on the way for a ride on the gorgeously restored Jane’s Carousel. In Manhattan, I love the splash pad in Madison Square Park. We used to go there all the time when Max was little. For an old fashioned soda fountain experience head to Farmacy in Cobble Hill and sit at the counter. It’s awesome!
7. Finally, what’s one thing nobody told you about parenthood? That you will not sleep in again until your child is 16. But it’s okay because being a parent is the single most rewarding experience of your life!