Just a few years ago, you could only find clothes and accessories for babies and children in large department stores. These days, children’s boutiques are popping up all over the city. Clod Bernegger and Hanna Kawasaki were two of the pioneers of this trend in Zurich with their shop Making Little Things. This boutique doesn’t just care about the figures, but also the emotions associated with the products they sell.
When Making Little Things first started, Clod Bernegger and Hanna Kawasaki had already opened their first store: Making Things on Grüngasse was the result of a collective workshop and design studio. Here the two young entrepreneurs sold fashion and accessories for women, men and children.
But Hanna soon had a vision of opening a boutique that exclusively sold items for children. In 2014 there were hardly any shops in Zurich that specialised in clothing and accessories for babies and children. And in the few shops that did exist, Hanna never found anything she liked for her own child. The predominant style of children’s clothing in these boutiques was traditional – lots of frills and ruffles.
Making Little Things doesn’t want to be any old children’s fashion boutique.
Making Little Things is located in the Kalkbreite cooperative. Clod and Hanna had already started developing their business concept two years before opening their shop. Their idea to offer fashionable and functional clothes for babies and children established Hanna and Clod as pioneers in this niche area along with a few other businesses in the city. According to the two shop owners, large shops still refer to their website today to discover new trends.
Clod and Hanna see the fact that their Making Little Things range is aimed at all ages from toddlers to teenagers as an advantage. But they also set themselves apart from the competition with their unique selection: Making Little Things doesn’t want to be any old children’s fashion boutique. That’s why they sell items that are both cool and functional.
Fairtrade and organic certifications are more important than label names.
The store’s bestsellers are baby accessories like teething rings and dummy chains. This includes those made by Little Molokai – a business owned by a friend. And ‘Sandals fly off the shelves,’ says Hanna. Specifically, Salt-Water sandals. The two women point out that baby items do particularly well, even though these are sometimes more expensive. Hanna and Clod can thank the nearby ‘Delphys’ maternity unit for the high demand for items for newborns. It is located within the same development.
‘When we like something, we buy it.’
Hanna and Clod attend trade fairs specialising in products for children in Paris twice a year. They also get recommendations from the labels they are already friendly with. They tend to stay loyal to the brands they already have. ‘We stand by our labels, even if they aren’t doing so well. We don’t just look at the figures,’ they both say in unison. This is because they fully believe in the products they stock. And because they have a long history with many of the founders of the labels. For example, they have one friend who always cooks for them when they visit the French capital for the trade fairs. Emotions influence Hanna and Clod’s purchasing decisions. ‘When we like something, we buy it – as long as we still have our shop,’ they both say, laughing. And that will be around for a long while yet – the store is thriving.
Clod and Hanna’s loyalty earns them exclusivity as many labels only sell their products to them. Such as London-based label Wynken, which is only available in Zurich from Making Little Things. In most cases, the brands only produce small quantities, so even if they wanted to, they would not be able to supply major department stores. But Hanna also adds: ‘Our customers don’t care that much about exclusivity.’ Fairtrade and organic certifications are more important than label names.
Making Little Things stretches across two floors. Things for younger children are on the ground floor, while older kids’ clothing is stocked upstairs. There’s even a little den hidden away under the stairs. It’s not a hit with all the children who come in the store, but some refuse to leave.