Magic happens at Thibodeaux’s shop
Finding the tiny lady behind the streaming red lace, miniature mannequins, bolts of designer fabric, and an aged yellow sewing machine isn’t difficult. Waved in, one follows the zigzag trail of loud, funky, playful and jungle-ish children’s clothing; passing the odd object in the aisle – a colorfully busy, designer shopping cart cover.
The crop of girl hats sprung daisies, white peonies and red roses. And the boy hats were a bit noisy – Rock ‘n’ Roll, guitars, tie-dye and peace signs.
And then there was the squeaker shoes section. This is the style of shoe that prompts moms to make that squinty, “that’s so cute” face, and at the same time cup their hands over their ears because these shoes are made to, well, squeak. They are mom’s personal motion sensor devices to keep track of baby.
Behind the black and white curtain is where all this magic is born. That is also where the use of just black and white ends. The curtain opened into a colorful center full of rough sketches, pattern books, heaps of spools, a giant cutting table, a jungle of animal prints and old Dick and Jane style fabrics and, of course – the old sewing machine.
This is the backdrop of Casey Thibodeaux’s life. It all started when she went to the doctor’s office and learned she was having a girl.
She decided to open Bae Renee’ Children’s Boutique the moment she learned she was pregnant with her daughter, Baelynn Renee’, now 5. The name Renee linked the generations, as it is a middle that is common to Casey and her mother.
“I was one of those moms who would see these outfits, like you’d buy at Target and comment how ridiculously priced everything is,” she recalls. She was convinced she could create the same quality garments, only cheaper.
She doesn’t pull from a lifetime of experience in this trade. But in many regards and through lots of practice, has become an overnight success. She will be the first to tell you, in her childhood, nothing she dipped into of sewing value lasted for more than two days.
A lot has changed since then.
“Most of my custom stuff is what doesn’t hit the shelves,” she said. This is because about 60 percent of her total sales come from the sale of her custom designs.
Her designs have caught the eye of people in Lake Charles, Houston, Hardin County and surrounding cities of the Golden Triangle. She is also taking online orders through her Web site.
“I just like unique and funky. The louder the better,” Thibodeaux said. There are some customers who still want traditional, like Dick and Jane style, but she still manages to customize each piece. Adding, she’s learning to curb her tastes and branch out in order to fit this nostalgic niche.
As far as advertising goes, she is learning kids make the best billboards. Many referrals have come from potential customers who have seen children, out and about, wearing her designs.
The animal, polka dot and nostalgia prints are the themes that seem to be leaving the shelves the quickest. Thibodeaux has worked these designs into weddings, birthdays and other events.
A big consideration for kids’ clothing is durability and anticipated messiness.
Bent on choosing fabrics that are both adorable and sturdy, Thibodeaux has chosen to work with basic cotton, designer fabrics; but with many accents. Prints include Michael Miller, Robert Kaufmann and Amy Butler. And each may be adorned with feathers, lace and colorful roping.
Designs are fit for children up to age 12.
Perhaps, Casey learned how to make things built to last and pleasing to the eye from her father John, who is a homebuilder. He has been an influence in terms of his daughter’s ability to work meticulously and deliver quality work.
“He is neat and organized. And if you give him two, two by fours, he can make a bird house look like the Taj Mahal,” she said.
How to Connect:
What: Bae Renee’ Children’s Boutique
Where: 2224 MacArthur Drive and www.baerenee.com
When: Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.