Neighbourhood Shop Spotlight: August Kinn
By Tina Christopoulos
Friends Julie and Katie, the two moms behind the baby store August Kinn, talk about what it means to them to be a neighbourhood shop and how proud they are to have become part of the fabric of the community they live and work in.
How would you describe being a neighbourhood shop?
Our neighbourhood is EVERYTHING to us. The importance of neighbourhood shops in general can't be overstated because they inject neighbourhoods with their own unique characteristics and help to make smaller hoods a destination for people from other parts of the city. There's nothing more fun than going to explore a new neighbourhood in the city and popping into all the different cafes, restaurants and shops.
What can you tell us about the community in your neighbourhood?
Our Danforth East (Toronto) neighbourhood is really closely knit and very family oriented. When we were on mat leave together (2 years ago) we were inspired to open a shop that not only carried the best baby apparel and nursery decor but could also be a gathering place for families with children and parents on mat leave. We knew all too well how isolating mat leave could be! So, we opened our boutique on the main floor and a studio space in the basement for hosting meet ups, play time, music classes and workshops, all geared towards new parents.
What type of relationship do you have with your clientele?
Within our first year of business, we have grown from servicing mostly local clientele to now working with amazing customers from all over the Greater Toronto Area and beyond. We are blown away when people tell us that they drove (sometimes hours) from out of town just to come to our boutique! It always makes our day! We have also built relationships with new and repeat customers who shop online with us from all over Canada. People seem to want the "local boutique" experience even when shopping online. They are still making a conscious decision to shop small and support a local brand, even if they are on the other side of the country.
What do you look for when you bring a brand into your store?
We look for quality over quantity, and we ALWAYS test the brands out on our own kids first. Because we sell in both a brick-and-mortar location and in the online space, it's important to bring in a unique mixture of items. Some are more mainstream/well-known brands and a lot of our lines are new/up and coming and locally made. Most of all, there is a common thread and aesthetic that unifies everything we carry. And we focus on gender neutral styles so there is always something for everyone.
What attracted you to Miles baby?
The fun and unique patterns, quality of the garments and the gender-neutral styles. We also love that it is designed in Montreal!
What kind of relationship do you have with the other business owners in your neighbourhood?
We love supporting other local businesses in our hood. When other small businesses do well, it benefits everyone in the community. We have a "the more, the merrier" mentality because we want our stretch of the Danforth to become even more of a destination. Our kids frequent the play centre Jump for Joy and we partner with our neighbour Red Rocket coffee to provide free coffee for the parents at our weekly programs.
Do you prefer being on the floor in the store, or behind the scenes?
There's always a lot of behind the scenes work to do but we love being on the floor and seeing our clientele. We have watched so many of our customers go through pregnancy to becoming new parents, and we get to watch their babies grow up! We wouldn't trade that in for anything. It's the absolute best part of what we do!
To find a Miles Neighbourhood Shop near you, see here