In conversation with Jenn, Store Owner, NY

Jennifer Cattaui / Babesta Store NYC

Mother of Amina and Camille, owner of children’s store www.babesta.comJennifer Cattaui was also, until very recently, Chief Editor at Earnshaws Magazine.  A tax lawyer by profession, Jenn took a pretty non-traditional career path after September 11 : she became an executive editor at several fashion magazines, she launched a jewelry line, she created a start up on the intersection of fashion & technology with partners.

Jenn and her husband Aslan moved to Tribeca in 2001. They have two beautiful daughters, Amina (9) and Camille (6) and three cats : Spike, Elvis & Baby Gaga.

About Babesta

I opened my store in Tribeca in April 2007, right before the Tribeca Film Festival. We opened “in Beta” (and I think we still are –but who isn’t?). This store focused on fashion and accessories for 0-12 year olds. We started selling strollers and furniture too out of this storefront “sight unseen” to test the market. We decided to open a second store to address these categories in 2009.

I am obsessed with indie fashion brands—and scour the globe to find great brands to bring in. We’ve seen the market grow tremendously—there are so many great designers in children’s today. It’s so diverse. We bring in what’s a bit edgy, rock and roll and indie & we love nods to pop culture. If a brand becomes too “big” (can be purchased at major department stores or there is too much market saturation), then we move on. I believe our role is to introduce parents/kids to what’s new and fresh in fashion. Some of my favorite brands: Rowdy Sprout –the best rockin’ tee line and our Babesta brand, where we make-to-order cool tees, Bobo ChosesA for Apple and Mini Rodini. We just brought on Mini & Maximus. I’m totally feeling that brand right now.
At Babesta, everything is “curated for the cool city child”. From a fashion standpoint that means unique indie designers & clothes that are low maintenance with swagger, and from a gear/furniture standpoint it means best-of-breed and nothing superfluous. Many of our clients live in lofts, so everything is out in the open. Products that are “smart” and do double duty and do not leave much of a footprint are essential.  From a service standpoint of course, we’re all about when you want it, how you want it – we know city parents are forever short of time and we work to accommodate” says Jenn.

My plans for the future: Keep building Babesta—hopefully open another store, keep doing creative work, writing, and doing my part to help grow and support the indie fashion world. I don’t believe that fast fashion is where it ends. I love goods with a story that bring out emotion and represent a strong creative POV. My ultimate goal: continue to surround myself with great, inspirational and creative people and see where it all goes!

 About Earnshaws

Two and a half years ago I was asked to come on board at Earnshaw’s and I took on the role in parallel while continuing to oversee the store and its overarching strategy, stepping out of the day to day.
My objective coming to Earnshaw’s was to inform and inspire with well organized, visually arresting content. I wanted to make sure that the trade magazine was as beautiful and well considered as a consumer pub & I wanted to support the best creative teams that we could possibly get together to showcase goods from every segment of the industry (and every price point) and make them all look desirable, beautiful and quality.
As for content, we wanted to talk about things that retailers really cared about and were questioning. We wanted to provide an assist, sharing other retailers’ experiences, doing the math so to speak, providing the positives and the negatives of opportunities the market presented. My retail experience really helped direct the content because I thought “what would I find helpful or of-the-moment?
As for the visuals, I am a visual person, and I think buyers by in large are too. In fact, I think with the rise of such social media outlets like Instagram and Pinterest, everyone is visual these days. There’s such an information overload—that a picture is worth 1000 words has never been more true. I really wanted the visuals to guide readers through the magazine alongside relevant content.
It has been a really great experience not only working with a property that is nearly 100 years old (and I got to do an extensive research project on the history which took me to the Library of Congress where I sifted through issues dated back to 1917 which was AMAZING), but also getting a broader understanding of the children’s industry. I recently parted ways with Earnshaw’s and am focused on Babesta and in the early stages of a media project with some amazing creative partners.

Time management

Time management is an art. I am a “To Do” list person. I’ve downloaded EVERY app on my iPhone for organizing my time, but continue to find calm and order by hand writing my list as the last thing I do before going to sleep. Obviously between the different hats I’ve been wearing, organization is the biggest struggle. But most importantly, I have been so lucky to have a tremendous team in the stores that I trust implicitly. They really know the Babesta brand and represent it well.  At Earnshaw’s, I was lucky enough to work with consummate professionals and strong creative forces, from the brands defining the trends and the creative/art directors, Nancy Campbell and Trevett McCandliss to freelance stylist Michel Onofrio and top fashion photographers like Cleo Sullivan, Christophe Kutner, Katrina Tang and more. It is so inspiring to be working alongside people like that!

Kids trade shows

I am always so overwhelmed and excited by the trade shows—and March was no exception. ENK is of course an amazing overview of the market, but my heart belongs to Playtime. It’s like a jewelbox of kids’ fashion. Even though there are brands that don’t work for Babesta, I’m guaranteed to be blown away by nearly everything. And I always pick up a new brand or two—one I wrote in March was Little Creative Factory, out of Barcelona. It’s so well considered and interesting and I’m stoked to have them on board. Also I brought on Herschel backpacks, which I think will be fresh for back-to-school.

Tribeca & tips on restaurants

It’s a super cute neighborhood and I love it because it’s very personal—you walk down the street and know people -it’s not anonymous like cities can feel – it’s a real community.

I am a creature of habit when it comes to restaurants. My husband and I have kept the tradition of date night on Fridays and normally I am exhausted so am not as experimental. But I love love love Locanda Verde in the Greenwich Hotel, Mesa Grill (I die for their Queso Fundito & Sophie’s Chopped Salad), Mr. Chows, Bond Street, weekday breakfast at Crosby Hotel or Balthazar (scrambled eggs with asparagus & mushrooms). None are “kid” restaurants, but my girls are old enough to be good to come anywhere (finally!) If I’m thinking kid-first, we do Coffee Shop in Union Square (great veggie burgers, really nice service), and our pediatrician (Dr Michel Cohen, quite famous in NY) just opened a cool new spot in Tribeca called Saleya!

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