Next up in our series of interviews with Estella retailers: Jennifer Cattaui of Babesta! Jennifer opened the NYC baby boutique’s first location in Tribeca when she was a new mom and totally unsatisfied with what was already out there for babies and kids. Replacing pastel colors, overly-sweet patterns, and ruffles & lace with bold designs, humorous graphics, and urban-inspired styles, Jennifer made it her goal to track down hard-to-find, rock-star-baby-approved duds that were still comfortable, practical, and machine-washable. As Jennifer writes of Babesta’s website: “Don’t be afraid to give your little one some personality. Some pizzazz. Poke fun at your own youth with your youth.”
Since then Babesta has expanded its locations, including the newly opened store in Manhattan’s Brookfield Place. We had the opportunity to ask Jennifer a few questions on everything from foolproof baby gifts to the best parts of NYC in the summer and her funniest parenting stories…
1. Babesta is full of stylish items for urban, trendsetting tots. Where do you discover these brands, and are there any new ones you’ve discovered recently that should be on our radar?
We discover them literally everywhere – some designers directly reach out to us and introduce themselves via email, some we spot at trade shows like Playtime NYC, some we find by word of mouth by our customers and still others we stumble upon on Instagram! Our buyer, Chandra, just had an incredibly adorable little boy, so she’s even more on the pulse of everything!! All of us keep our eyes open all the time for things that can inspire us and would be a great fit for the shop!
2. Best and worst parts of being your own boss?
I love being my own boss because when I’ve got ideas, I have no red tape or convincing to do: I can just go for it! It’s a total family affair, which makes it fun, as we are building this all together—me, my husband Aslan and two girls Amina and Camille. The worst part is the fact that it’s 24/7 and the job is literally never done. It’s hard to turn off!
3. In addition to your Tribeca location, you just opened another store in Battery Park City’s Brookfield Place. Are there any go-to spots (stores, restaurants, parks, etc.) we should check out if we’re in the ‘hood?
Yes! Let’s start with restaurants, YUM! We are mad about Hudson Eats! It’s a great spot to go with your family, as there is something to suit every palette – grilled cheese from Little Munster, sushi from Blue Ribbon, salads from Chopt and cupcakes from Sprinkles – just to name a few! And then there is Le District, the French food market, restaurant and more – delicious! And we cannot wait for our new neighbor, L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon. Really, eating, you can’t go wrong! And now shopping! Lululemon, Theory, Posman’s books, Cos Bar, Satya Jewelry we’re loving! And coming soon, Dry Bar next door (awesome!) and Scoop downstairs! There are tons to check out! The area around Brookfield is spectacular – right on the water, with the marina filled with beautiful boats, it’s great to just walk up the pathway that takes you all along the west side, or jog (solo with your iPod or with a toddler in the new Bugaboo Runner!). The parks and large grassy stretches in the area are perfect picnic spots – bring your badminton, soccer ball or whatever outdoor fun you want. There are lots of parks – Teardrop Park and Pier 25 are two of my faves – great water features to cool things down. Favorite after park spot, Grand Banks along Pier 25 – it’s a boat that docks there for the summer and is perfect for a relaxing drink & nibble. Another great R&R spot if you need some quiet, grab a chaise lounge at the end of Pier 25 (after the mini golf, beach volley ball & soccer field) and chill while looking over the water! Late afternoon/early evening, it’s true magic!
4. When customers come in looking for a special newborn or baby gift, what do you recommend?
We try to figure out what sort of gift they’re thinking of giving: a cool new ensemble, a toy, some books or music, some stroller accessories or nursery art. But one thing’s for sure, we always suggest an Estella MetroCard Rattle! That’s an all-time fave! These days, the Lexi Pexi Birkin Bag teether, ODB onesie, colorful bandana bibs, cool shades, BabyLit board books (Pride & Prejudice, The Jungle Book, Moby Dick) and our Onesie of the Month Club (a new cool onesie which arrives in the mail, available in 3 month, 6 month or 12 month subscriptions) are some fun must-haves! We’ve got some more exclusive products coming soon so stay tuned!
5. Mother/child matching – into it or no?
I like the mother-child “sense of style” matching. Not so much into the multi-generational twinsy thing. But if mom has a cool sense of style and rocks a concert tee, jeans and laces up boots, no reason why baby can’t sport the same cool style!!
6. Favorite NYC summer activities to do with the kids?
We just did a staycation in the city and it was so fun! We stayed at the Gansevoort Hotel in the Meatpacking District for the weekend, as we needed to stay close to the new store since its so new but wanted to feel like we were getting away! Their rooftop pool and giant swan pool toy were a total hit and even though we had to run down to the shop once or twice it was like a real getaway! While there, we hit the Chelsea galleries and walked the High Line. Throughout the summer, I love finding out what’s new going on (generally on blogs and through social media) and making a plan to have a new adventure each weekend!
7. What’s your funniest parenting memory/story?
We were cooking at my parents’ house for Thanksgiving. Cooking is not so much my thing, so my dad, husband, and brother usually take over the duty (they are really good!). Well midway through, they discovered that the garlic was dried out and no good. Word traveled as we were trying to figure out who could quickly run to the store before it closed. My youngest (8) hopped up from the sofa and said “don’t worry, I brought garlic!” and sure enough she ran up to the bedroom, brought down her overnight bag and in it, to all of our surprises, was a new head of garlic she had brought “just in case” from our home! We could not believe it!