10 questions for Butterfly Pie’s 10th anniversary
Born out of a love for handmade gifts, Blair Bongiovanni took the leap and opened her own space within The Royal Standard 10 years ago. Dubbing the store Butterfly Pie, Bongiovanni fills the racks within her space with personal and traditional children’s clothing, apparel and toys, perfect for gifts or just the everyday.
With Butterfly Pie’s 10th birthday lining up with inRegister‘s own 30th celebration this year, the store is just one of the local anniversaries we are delving into this month. Check out our stories on Sacred Heart of Jesus School’s 90th, Big Buddy Program’s 40th and so many more in the 30th anniversary issue.
Read on to learn more about Butterfly Pie and how it has changed in the 10 years since its grand opening:
1. What is a typical day like for you and your team?
As a mother of three, my workday revolves around the children’s schedule! The partnership with The Royal Standard allows me to really focus on day-to-day merchandising, looking at trends, receiving new products and, when the kids are cooperating or napping, I can start the task of processing and tagging the boxes so that I can get it in store as soon as possible.
2. What is your professional background? How did you get into children’s retail?
After graduating in fashion merchandising from Northwestern State, my mother and I opened a formal dress store in Denham Springs. After my father’s passing, we closed that business and I worked in management for a national brand of women’s apparel, followed by working for a local company in medical apparel sales. When my friends and family members began growing their families, I discovered that my handmade gifts like blankets, bibs and burp cloths were very well received and I enjoyed hand-making the items as well. Those friends and family members then began to ask me to make items for them to give as gifts and I happily obliged! When I realized how The Royal Standard was structured, having merchants who sell goods within their store, it seemed like an ideal plan. I put together a pitch book with examples, space layouts and my brand, and pitched myself and my product line to The Royal Standard. A day after the pitch, we were both discussing next steps, which resulted in a small space within the store to start selling my items.
3. How has Butterfly Pie grown and changed over the years?
When I started at The Royal Standard, all of my items were handmade and my space was literally the size of a baker’s rack. But as the business grew and the demands of motherhood increased, I was unable to keep up with the demand and began to research lines that represented the classic and handmade style that was our foundation and what our clients loved.
4. What is the first thing customers see when they walk into your booth?
My goal is that when a client enters my booth, they feel like they are in a baby’s nursery. I try to maintain this feel by using real life displays, such as a baby crib, armoires, baskets and soft, airy curtains. I want people to feel comfortable and inspired so that they can find the perfect gift for that special baby!
5. What sets Butterfly Pie apart?
I think what sets us apart is the ease, comfort and convenience of shopping. I personally do not like to dig when I shop. I like items clearly visible and displayed in a way that make finding the item you need very easily. I also think that our reputation of being a gift provider helps to keep the product line focused so that the shopper can quickly find an item with a great price point that will be sure to deliver a wow-factor at any baby shower or birthday party. At the end of the day, I can see my own kids wearing everything I sell.
6. What is one thing you think customers should know about your store that they may not be aware of?
We really strive to offer items that stay within a gift-able price point. The clothing items typically are under $40, and the gift items start around $5. It is very easy to grab a few beautiful and unique items and still stay under $50.
We attend market several times a year and get a chance to see so many beautiful things. I work closely with the team at The Royal Standard to know what clients are looking for and asking for, which is extremely important and helps us to know what is driving our customers’ needs. The beauty of the partnership with The Royal Standard is that I don’t have to be in the store on a daily basis, so it is imperative for us to all communicate. It’s so easy at market to want to buy it all!
8. What are some of your favorite children’s trends?
You will always be able to find sweet, simple and classic pieces at Butterfly Pie. Those are my personal favorite and my style. There are always fun, trendy collections that come and go, and we will carry small samples of that, but the pieces that become keepsakes will always be my focus. Sweet florals, hand embroidery, bubbles and jon jons are constant for our store!
9. Can you share a hint about what customers will see this fall?
One of my favorite collections is a denim-colored corduroy paired with classic white for the boys and florals for the girls. It’s timeless and adorable! Fall also brings our focus to gameday apparel for all our tiny Tiger fans!
10. What is your advice for making it 10 years? What would you tell yourself at the opening of the store?
Looking back over the last 10 years, I see that we grew our business all within reason. We made small steps along the way to grow to the size we are now. I never wanted to build my business in debt, so I only grew when it financially made sense. Over the 10 years, my space at The Royal Standard has expanded six different times.
I would tell myself at the beginning, don’t be afraid of change. Each time I grew, I worried if it was the right move. Would my customers like it as much as the previous booth? Would the team at The Royal Standard be happy with the product line and look I brought? But I also think fear is good. It keeps you working hard and never lets me get complacent. I always look for ways to make myself better and better my business.