Tom and Mary Lauer have been in the kids’ clothing business for more than 25 years—and the husband-and-wife team behind Wayzata’s Oh Baby! know a thing or two. “It starts with good fabric and wearable design,” says Tom Lauer. “The Oh Baby! brand is all about what kids love to wear, what’s comfortable, and what makes them feel good.” In addition to their signature line, they also curate a “tight collection” of other brands that fit the vibe, mostly focusing on sizes from newborn to mid-elementary (say, kids’ size 6 or 8).
Mary Lauer’s early career was in retail management and merchandising, and when the Lauers’ twin boys were born, she found the options in local stores lacking. So she made her own. She started selling her kids’ apparel at art fairs and then at the Mall of America, via the mall’s entrepreneurship partnership program. Over the years, the Lauers expanded Oh Baby! to locations at Edina’s Galleria, Wayzata’s Lake Street, 50th and France—and have even recently returned to the Mall of America, where it all began.
“Mary designs the entire Oh Baby! brand at her workshop in Minneapolis, where she also manages manufacturing,” says Tom Lauer. “We also partner with several brands from around the U.S. and the around the world.” Walking into Wayzata’s Oh Baby! shop makes it apparent that the impeccably curated boutique houses pint-sized threads you just can’t find elsewhere—soft tees with contemporary, whimsical patterns; accessories galore; comfy shoes; and even beautiful lines of bedding and nursey décor.
“Confident through clothing” is the mantra that drives Katie Peterson’s Honey P’s Boutique, an online children’s clothing store that is celebrating its one-year anniversary this month. “Being a teacher for eight years right out of college, I have always had a passion for working with youth. After having my two daughters, my career path took me off the education path and into fashion,” the Maple Grove resident says. “This boutique is my attempt to still have an impact on youth. If it is an outfit that makes a young girl feel more confident at school; a shirt with a kind message, reminding kids to ‘Be kind to one another;’ or a shirt that has an awesome dinosaur on it that helps a young kid feel brave, I think clothing can affect how someone feels, consciously or not,” Peterson says.
Peterson thoughtfully culls clothing, sizes 2-16, from Chicago to California with brands including Chaser, Tiny Whales, Andy and Evan, Appaman, Brokedown Clothing and Hayden Los Angeles. “I am discovering new companies daily,” she says. “If I can help [people] take the stress out of shopping, that is the least I can do.”
For sizes 2-8, Peterson focuses on comfort, fun messages on shirts, and easy one-and-done dressing. “There are a few pieces I order for these sizes that are fun and over the top, because who doesn’t want to see a 4-year-old rocking a leopard print fuzzy jacket?” she says. For sizes 8-16, Peterson strives for comfort and confidence-building pieces, aiming for clothing that reads beautiful, rather than cute. “For boys, the vibe I try to go for is sporty … simple and comfortable, tough but nice enough to wear to dinner,” Peterson says. “These kids are in school five days a week, so I for sure think about school gear when purchasing for this age.”
Parent Pro Tips
Boutique owners offer ideas for dressing kids in style and with a smile.
Any parent knows that getting children dressed can result in minor (or major) kerfuffles. Anything from sock alignment to itchy tags can lead to upheaval. Add in special occasions, and the wrong outfit can blow the lid off of happy family moments. We turned to Katie Peterson and Tom and Mary Lauer for tips.
So what’s the Lauers’ biggest tip for micro fashion this spring? As you’re picking out special-occasion outfits for holidays, weddings or family photos, turn to the kids first—and prioritize comfort, something that’s easy with Oh Baby!’s looks, which combine softness and flexibility with high style. “Look for what the kids want to wear,” says Tom Lauer. “Nothing stiff or scratchy. You want them to stay dressed up, not beg to get into their play clothes.”
“First off, whenever you say special events, I automatically think of the stress level being high already,” Katie Peterson says. “Maybe it’s a family holiday or wedding, but no matter what, … preparation is key.” She sets it out for us:
- Lay out the outfits the night before with kids’ help.
- Kids thrive on making decisions, so set out two outfits that you are okay with them choosing, and let them pick the “winner.”
- Take personalities into consideration, but with the younger kiddos, comfort is key. It is usually hard for them to enjoy themselves if they do not like what they are wearing or it is itchy or hurts.
- If the occasion calls for a tie, find one that reflects the child’s interests. There are plenty of printed ties out there, dotted with dinosaurs, planes, fish and more.
- White probably isn’t the best color for this age group. Choose a patterned top, so a spill can blend in instead of stand out.
- In terms of comfort, shoes take the cake. When it comes to picking your battles, wave the white flag on this one. There are plenty of up-style sneakers out there to make everyone happy and comfy.
- Who doesn’t feel better about his or her outfit after receiving a compliment? When all else fails, get Aunt Lucy to toss some approving words in your kiddo’s direction. It might help!
Honey P’s Boutique
Hayden Los Angeles Reversible Sequin Velvet Shift Dress $40; Hayden Los Angeles Velvet Pleat Midi Dress $42; Appaman Eve Dress $89; Andy & Evan Red and Blue Plaid Shirt $48; Andy & Evan Striped Varsity Cardigan $45
Luxe Kitty Long Sleeve Tee in blush $55.95; Glinda Stardust Skirt in ivory $69; Rainbow Long Sleeve Tee in light pink $55.95; Bow leggings in mustard $39.95; Minnesota Love hoodie sweatshirt $59.95