Sarah Heroman and Mary Lou James. Photo by Jackie Haxthausen.

Passing the Rattle: Children’s store Oh Baby! starts a new chapter

Smocking. Pintucks. French seams. When it comes to Southern baby clothing, it’s all in the details. And those details are precious to Mary Lou James.

After 37 years working in food services at Catholic High School, James left the position where she had lovingly become known as “Mama Lou” in 2000 to pursue a new dream. She opened baby and children’s clothing store Oh Baby! that same year, and went from teenage boys in khakis to newborn babies in delicate layette.

“I have been blessed to have had two successful careers,” she says. “And what’s been so special is seeing some of those same boys from the lunch line come into my store as they became parents.”

For the past 24 years, James has worked to clothe Baton Rouge’s babies in classic Southern styles, with Peter Pan collars, delicate lace and plenty of embroidery. Spending late nights in the Bocage Village storefront ironing and merchandising, James says her job has gone far beyond just providing children with outfits.

“I have made memories and lasting friendships,” James says. “Being with the moms as they prepare for their first babies, and then being able to help those babies dress their babies, it’s been a full-circle experience that has created a strong legacy of love within the store.”

As of last month, though, James has turned over Oh Baby! to Mini Macarons owner Sarah Heroman.

“We had been exploring the opportunity of opening up a second location,” Heroman says. “After meeting with Mary Lou and her team, we quickly felt like this was just what we were looking for, and it was God’s perfect timing.”

Mini Macarons opened its doors on Perkins Road in September 2019. Offering the same commitment to classic Southern style, the boutique is the natural companion to Oh Baby!. Now, the two locations will work together, offering customers the ability to shop both stores seamlessly. But don’t worry: Heroman says that Oh Baby! will keep its name and the much-loved cribs for holding baby registries.

“Mary Lou has created something really special in this town,” Heroman says. “I was a loyal customer for years and was even registered there before our first child, Claire, was born, who is now 11.”

As this new chapter opens for both James and Oh Baby!, James says she can’t help but shed a tear when she reflects on the past two decades and the community that she has cultivated. But it’s with joy that she ensures the store’s continuation into the future.

“I have seen so many wonderful people become mothers, grandmothers and even great-grandmothers,” she says, noting that you might still see her around the store with her beloved poodle, Saint, from time to time. “It’s been such a gift, and I’m wishing all the best in customers and love to Sarah and her team.”