In this age of mass-produced goods, many people (myself included) have rediscovered their love of handmade, one-of-a-kind and locally made goods.
When it comes to kids gear, I love knowing that quality items can be passed down from one child to another, like heirlooms. Sure, they may cost a bit more, but they last a lot longer!
This month’s featured boutique, Julie Thibault, celebrates all of the above. Julie started selling her eponymous line in 1991 at the Byward Market in Ottawa, in an area dedicated to hand crafted items called Artists Alley. She sold herSweatstuff collection (originally started as an adult collection), which quickly expanded to children’s sizes when she added animal appliqués to the line.
After six years at the Market, she decided to expand her reach, and spent the next nine years promoting her locally made garments at artist and consumer shows across the country. As her collection of children’s products expanded and diversified, she decided to start a bricks and mortar operation, which would allow her to be home with her kids more (then ages four and six). She opened her store on Sussex Drive in the summer of 2006 and has been there every since.
When I first visited Julie’s website, I was intrigued by her innovative product called the Urban Pod. All I could think was, “Life would’ve been so much easier if I had this when my kids were babies!” Julie came up with the idea when her kids used to kick their blankets off the stroller; she lost count of how many were never found, or had to be washed every time they went out. The Urban Pod is a simple way to wrap up baby, yet it allows flexibility to slip legs into strollers, car seats and carriers. For bath time, there’s the Bath Pod – it’s the same design as the Urban Pod, but constructed of soft, absorbent terry cloth.
In addition to the Pods, you’ll find the Sweatstuff collection and a nice selection of hats, blankets, bibs and caps in a fun array of colours and prints.
It’s clear from the bright colours and creative designs that Julie loves what she does. Her passion even extends to her modern, recyclable packaging. She designed it herself – something she’s done from the age of seven, when she had a corner store selling handmade items to neighbourhood kids. Although the purple and yellow cash register and cardboard counters from her childhood have long been replaced, the inspiration still comes from the same place!
And because her store is located on the same street as the US Embassy, National Gallery of Canada, Notre Dame Basilica, The Royal Canadian Mint and the Prime Minister’s residence, she gets to meet people from near and wide. This interesting mix of local customers and tourists visiting her store constantly inspires Julie.
If you’re in the Ottawa area, stop by Julie Thibault to see the latest designs for yourself. Otherwise, check out the store’s website, where you’ll find their best sellers… all made by hand, with love, in Ottawa!
463 Sussex Drive