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Welcome to Better Know a Store Owner, a weekly Racked feature focusing on the people who run our favorite boutiques around the city.Photos by Rebecca Dale
Liza Dare currently doesn't have any kids of her own, but that didn't stop her from opening Cute Attack!, an adorable children's boutique on Metropolitan Avenue in Williamsburg. Her earnest approach and genuine love of all things cute means that the store feels exactly how it should: approachable, playful, and not at all stuffy, with merchandise that includes flower crowns, reversible capes, printed drooling bibs, and winking monster pillows.
In addition to being a great resource for hip new moms and dads, Dare's shop is the perfect place to pick up a gift that's lighthearted, unique, and appropriate for one twenty-something to give to another('s kids). After the jump, she explains what made her open a children's store in the first place, why she stocks mostly Brooklyn brands, and the ins and outs of hosting a sing-a-long.
What made you want to open a kid's store?
I've lived in Williamsburg for the past five years. It's changing drastically, and in East Williamsburg I noticed that there are a lot of families coming in. There was a woman who owned a kid store here for two months and when I found out that she had to move to LA, I saw the opportunity to support my neighborhood. I've never worked in retail before, but I felt that I had a flair for fashion, and I'm obsessed with kids, so I thought it was the perfect fit. It was between me and a mommy-blogger, and I got it!
What's the reception been like from the neighborhood since you opened?
People love it, because I try to reflect the neighborhood with the things that I buy. That's why I felt like I had to do it—because I didn't want some mom from another neighborhood or Manhattan coming in and buying things that didn't fit. People like it because I buy things that they would actually want their kids to wear. It's about 40% moms shopping and then the other 60% are people like me who are shopping for their friend's kids. Buying a gift can be really overwhelming, but they immediately find something that catches their eye.
What are some of the lines you really love? The House of Brooklyn Rascals stuff is really adorable.
Yea, I just got them back in which is really exciting. When I first opened I just had their cape shirts, and they were such a huge hit—they're just shirts and onesies with capes attached. Original but simple and ingenious. The designer makes her kids' clothing, and she walks them up and down Grand Avenue and people call her daughter Olivia "The Little Gypsy."
She also makes these reversible capelets and skirts with polka dots and little tooth fairy pillows. The fabrics are beautiful and everything's hand-sewn. She is Venezuelan and French and gorgeous. She lives right down the street from me and our meeting was just me going to her house and her putting everything in a bag and her daughter saying, "Will you paint my nails?" Her son kept coming up and giving me kisses. It was perfect.
Are a lot of the brands you carry are made in Brooklyn?
Yes. Another great Brooklyn line we have is Kid Falco, we carry their Bibdanas. They're drooling bibs, and they come in cute prints like deviled eggs and pizza, and they're reversible. The designer's name is Rebecca Rosner—her husband's a chef at Roberta's, and they have two sons. One of them has a mullet.
Estella is another New York brand we carry, but the products are made in Peru. I have their little rattles that are shaped like taxi cabs and Metrocards.
Gnome Enterprise makes screenprinted onesies, and Lil' Misfits does these handmade blankets that are super beautiful. Caitlin Wicker makes mobiles and sweater toys—I had another mobile here but it just sold. Whenever they're in they sell out. They're made with recycled sweaters and they're stuffed with recycled material. She's based out of Red Hook and she's so creative. She's also bringing in these little hammerhead rattles.
And Veronica Chen makes these little beastie pillows. Oh, and my unicorn horns! My unicorn horns are from Brooklyn Owl, and then I make the flower headbands.
When did you start doing those?
I started making those on my birthday a year ago. For some reason I wanted to make floral wreaths so all my girlfriends and I would look really pretty when we went out for brunch. Then I made one for a little girl that I know named Mirabel. I started making them on headbands and then I came up with the cat-ear idea. They actually got in Teen Vogue.
Do a lot of people ask for them now?
Yes, I'm actually empty right now. A woman came in today to pick one up for her flower girl, who's 25, and she's wearing one of my headband for her reception. I think that's great because most woman wear fresh flowers but she's not—she's wearing a Liza Dare original! I gave her the headband for free because I was that excited. So if you wear my headbands to your wedding, it's on the house.
You do have a lot of cute stuff for adults.
Yeah, and I'm bringing more in, like jewelry from Alexander Beth Designs.
Are you going to do kids jewelry?
Well that's actually not kids—I mean it could be, they're knuckle rings. But since my website's launching, this line will only be on the website but for the holidays I'll bring it to the store. They're knuckle rings with letters, so you can pick your kid's initials. She's actually my cousin. I'm also bringing in Temerity Jewelry. But everything I have in terms of jewelry and accessories I think goes both ways. I have women who come in to buy the bows and the headbands for themselves, but I make those for kids. The only thing that doesn't fit adults is the clothing—and the tooth fairy pillows.
Are there other kid's stores in the neighborhood?
By McCarren Park there's Caribou Baby, and then over by Bedford there's a ton, but it's just me over here. So I'm the only kid's store, but I'm not the only kid's resource. There's a kid's play space called Twinkle, there's a Montessori School right around the corner, and there are kid's swimming class that all the mom's go to. They come from Greenpoint and South Williamsburg. There are so many kid's things going on and that's why I thought it'd be perfect to be here.
Are you here everyday?
I'm here six days a week. I'm closed on Mondays, and it's just me. Once a month I'll have someone come and work for me when I'm like, "I need brunch."
Are you ever going to hire more people?
I thought I was going to hire someone six months into opening. I feel so overly protective of the store, but we'll see. I will someday.
Are there challenges to selling kids clothes that wouldn't come up if you were dealing instead with adults?
Yes and no. I think that I had to learn about buying sizes in kid's clothes the same way I'd have to learn for adults. There are more popular sizes just like there are more popular sizes for adults. So if I decided tomorrow that I wanted to make it a womenswear store, I would feel a little lost because I only know kids. Or if I wanted to bring shoes into it it would be difficult too.
It's interesting because as I'm launching the website, people are saying I should have a sizing guide, but it's kind of difficult with kids because the clothing goes by month—which actually makes it easier because it's not by body type, so I can just say, "How old is the baby?'" And you should go up a size when you're buying gifts. I just asked my friends who had kids, that's really how I learned. And just because I don't have a baby doesn't mean I'm not a baby expert—I know so much about babies.
Do a lot of babies come in here?
Not as much as I'd like! When I opened I was like, "Great, this is the best of both worlds: clothing, I get to talk to people, and I get to hold babies."
Do you ever have kids events here, or parties?
I had one sing-along and I was actually the singer. My friend Zach played, so I just sang and clapped my hands. And the place was packed! I have a small space, and when I tried to host the event people were opening the door on kids, so I'm trying to figure it out. Every once in a while I host craft brunches at Isa. I'm more than willing to look for collaborators, or if you wanted me to do a DIY...
Like at a birthday party!
No, don't hire me for a birthday party—I'm not a clown! I'd love to start decorating people's nurseries because I've got some really good ideas, and I don't have a nursery.
Okay, time for the lightening round. Ice cream or cake?
Ice cream cake.
Cats or dogs?
I used to be a cat person, but now I have a dog. I'm going to say cats, because cats get a bad rap. But male cats, because they snuggle.
Suri Cruise or North West?
Favorite travel destination?
This is so lame, but when I went to the north shore of Oahu with my friends. That was really fun.
8am or 8pm?