Neighbourhood Shop Spotlight: Citrus Kids
By Tina Christopoulos
Inspired by her extensive research into the products she purchased for her own two children, Leslie Harris founded Citrus Kids. She talks about her dream to open a brick and mortar store following her online launch, and what it means to be a local shop in her Nanaimo BC neighbourhood.
How would you describe being a local boutique?
Being a local boutique is very rewarding because every time someone experiences Citrus Kids it is entirely unique to our shop and commerce platform. People tell me they find the store refreshing because it isn't like anything else around. Shops like mine allow us to celebrate emerging brands with ethical heritage and a personal touch. I think people are yearning for thoughtful collections of items as opposed to the generic offerings.
What can you tell us about your neighbourhood?
Nanaimo's demographics have changed a lot in the last twenty years and the community has doubled in size since I was born here. Our shop is located in a neighbourhood where there is lots of growth—particularly with young families and retirees. Vancouver Island has a laid-back feel and people here like to buy local. Families in our neighbourhood like to enjoy the outdoors and they like to be comfortable in all the elements while still maintaining a "West Coast Chic" look.
Is your clientele mainly local?
While I launched Citrus Kids as an e-commerce first, I always wanted to have the brick and mortar boutique. Everything I sell is so lovely and no matter how good a website is, it can't replace the touch, feel, smell and experience of shopping in a boutique. We have customers all across Canada and in places like Scandinavia and Australia. That said, most of our business is done in BC and we have a very loyal base of local and regional clients who shop in store and online.
What do you look for in a new brand?
When Tony and I started having children we loved researching every purchase decision and it was so interesting to see how many spirited emerging brands were out there whether in clothing, gear, or toys. I guess for me the brand has to have its own unique identity that I can identify with as a mom. Things have to be practical while being beautiful or intelligent or interesting. I look for items at the intersection of form, function, quality, beauty, and of course there has to be a good value proposition because my clients tend not to be frivolous whatever their socioeconomic situation.
What attracted you to Miles baby?
I first saw Miles Baby in a small boutique in Scottsdale, Arizona. I was shopping for my own children and fell in love with the mix and match outfits, and truthfully that not everything for my daughter was pink. I then found Miles Baby in Canada and learned the brand is Canadian. Once I decided to open a children's store, I knew I had to carry Miles Baby!
What do your children think of your boutique?
Tony and I have two children: a four-year old boy Beckett and a two-year old girl Emmeline, and one on the way! The kids love coming into the store and I have lots of colouring ready behind the counter when they arrive. Some days after school Beckett will come and spend the balance of the day with me which I LOVE!
Do you prefer being on the floor in the store, or behind the scenes?
I have managed several businesses, most recently a large car dealership, and while on each of my maternity leaves I learned that I really missed interacting with customers. Being on the floor is really rewarding for me and I just love connecting with all of the guests many of whom are mommas and grandmas who I can relate to. That said, my husband says I light up whenever I am talking about a brand or a line or a new order. To be honest, I like the numbers too, so I do enjoy keeping everything organized on the backend. Being an entrepreneur means you have to be able to wear many hats and I thrive in that space.