Tootsa MacGinty stockist Jenn Cattaui founded children’s wear shop Babesta in 2004. As well as the online store (Babesta.com), she now has three stores in New York – two in Tribeca and the most recent at Brookfield Place. She was Chief Editor at Earnshaw’s Magazine, and has been executive editor at several fashion magazines. She is mother to two daughters, Amina and Camille.
Today, we chat Mother’s Day, New York and career changes …
Tootsa: You have described your career trajectory as “atypical”, from studying law to running two children’s wear boutiques, via journalism. How did you go from law to specialising in children’s wear journalism?
Jenn: It was over some time, but I graduated law school and then worked for Ernst & Young in their tax law consulting practice. I thoroughly enjoyed that but then had the opportunity to move to Paris and couldn’t pass that up! I ended up moving out of tax law (I had focused on state and local tax law, not so relevant in Paris!) and ended up working at the Institute of World Business Law. While in Paris, I was freelance writing for different magazines on the side for fun. In 2001 I moved back to NYC and bought a place in Tribeca. It was right before September 11th and I had been interviewing in various legal/finance related positions. After 9/11, like many people, I re-evaluated what I was doing and what I wanted to do. It made you think about your career in a different way. I ended up pursuing journalism on a full time basis. I worked at a range of magazines focused on celebrities, pets, women’s fashion, and NYC lifestyle. I met some really inspirational entrepreneurs which definitely made a lasting impact. My last mag was an edgy fashion mag and, when I was pregnant, I started looking into edgy fashion for kids. It was the beginning of a movement of niching up the kids’ industry and I found that really compelling. Babesta started online in 2004 as a side project while I was still in media, but it grew into a full time business and ultimately where I hope to make a mark!
Tootsa: What inspired you to open a children’s wear boutique?
Jenn: I had been selling cool rock & roll and pop culture based clothing online since 2004. Then, in 2007, I stumbled upon a location that I thought would be perfect for a brick and mortar store. Everything came together and I went for it. It has been a tremendous adventure and learning experience and I’ve loved this exciting challenge.
Tootsa: You have opened a second boutique in New York. Are there any more Babesta boutiques planned and would you like to bring the store to other cities?
Jenn: We actually just opened our third, at Brookfield Place. We have two boutiques in Tribeca – one dedicated to clothing and accessories, and the other dedicated to furniture and gear. We’ll see where we go for now. Short term, I’m focusing on this new shop at Brookfield, but am open to opportunities in places that could use and appreciate a fresh baby & kids scene!
Tootsa: Since you started working in the children’s wear industry, what changes have you seen in terms of what clothes parents are buying for their children?
Jenn: I think that parents take more risks and have fun with the clothes. Boys styles are definitely changing and there are many more choices and cooler, less traditional things happening there. There are fewer gender rules which I love.
Tootsa: Being a parent and running your own business is a very demanding schedule! What do you do to relax?
Jenn: Go for a jog, play tennis and binge watch Netflix, Showtime & HBO. Read in a sunspot and research fun places to travel next.
Tootsa: Mother’s Day in the US is fast approaching, what is on your gift wish list?
Jenn: We love our “Word to Yo Mama” tees that we have made for the occasion! We do a sort of Jersey Shore meets downtown hipster in our shop with our heat press tees and that’s our latest exclusive design for all the moms out there!
Tootsa: What advice have you received from the women in your life that you will pass on to your two daughters?
Jenn: Be bold, be kind and have fun. Never think “I can’t”. Go for it.
Tootsa: What are your favourite family New York destinations?
Jenn: I love being out along the water in NYC! Battery Park City and up the Hudson River – there are a bunch of parks to visit, stretches of lawn, all looking over the water. The girls love the parks there because of the sprinklers in the summer and all of the lawn games. I love hitting the marina when it’s packed with mega yachts and grabbing a picnic lunch from Hudson Eats with the family on a lazy Sunday. There’s also a restaurant that docks during the summer called Grand Banks that we love going to – it’s a boat where you can have a drink and a bite literally on the water.
I love the MET and the MOMA – both have great programming for kids and I’m totally looking forward to the new Whitney in Meatpacking! Someday we will do that sleepover at the Natural History Museum – its always intrigued me. We often hit the 2-fer booth down at the Seaport to grab inexpensive tickets to shows we haven’t seen. I always need my NY culture fix!
Tootsa: Babesta has been selling Tootsa MacGinty for 3 seasons now. What are your favourite picks from the SS15 collection?
Jenn: I always love the Tootsa line – it’s so much fun, great colors and the knits are out of this world. I love the knit hippo sweater and the leopard harem pants (great shape!!!) but I think hands down one of my favorite Spring Summer musts is the uber-retro super cool quilted sunrise jacket. We’ve had both girls and boys buy it and rock it! It’s simply awesome!
Tootsa MacGinty featured in the Spring Summer 2015 Babesta Beat online magazine –
With only a few days left to find a gift for the stylish woman you look up to, here are our Mother’s Day picks:
1 You Taught Me To Fly Mother’s Day Card by Papyrus // 2 Brass Triangle Stand from Ferm Living // 3 Home Style By City available at Anthropologie // 4 Inspired by Rome’s streets, the Confetti Bronze Portofino Pouch by Lee Coren // 5 & Other Stories angular Stone Stud Earrings // 6 Aesop Jet Set Travel Essentials // 7 Colourful Beach Blanket Throws from Spartan Shop // 8 Mint + Wood Geometric Succulent Planter from Greatly
Happy Mother’s Day!