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What’s Selling at Hillside Artisans Children’s Boutique in San Diego, CA

Carrying all natural toys, clothing, shoes, puzzles, sunhats and (of course) art supplies, Hillside Artisans aims to be a great place for people to bring their kids.

Hillside Artisans Children’s Boutique is San Diego’s go-to place for artistic tykes. With two locations—one in Mission Hills and the other in the San Diego New Children’s Museum—Owner Karen Dole spreads creativity wherever she goes. With a prior career in animation and illustration, she knows firsthand what artistic endeavors can do for a person and has created what she calls an “artsy upscale boutique that’s not too expensive” to promote the arts to kids. Carrying all natural toys, clothing, shoes, puzzles, sunhats and (of course) art supplies, Hillside Artisans aims to be a great place for people to bring their kids. “We focus on the artistic side of things and want to get kids into art as early as possible,” Dole says. Here, she reveals what her boutique is all about and the items that her customers can’t resist.

Q: What makes Hillside Artisans unique from other children’s boutiques? Our art focus is really what sets us apart. We hold in-store activities, as well as have a strong web presence on YouTube. We post activities for kids, as well as techniques on how to do things, and we’ve got a pretty good subscriber base and big following. Our focus is really on colors and art and being involved in those kinds of activities.

Q: What are your top-selling items? Puzzles are very popular, as well as high quality plush items. Also, people love anything that is handmade artisan quality, whether it’s from South America or around the corner.

Q: How about popular brands? We are the go-to place for See Kai Run shoes. We also do well with Hatley, Kissy Kissy, Mimi & Maggie and KicKee Pants. For accessories, Huggalugs and BabyLegs are favorites.

Q: Are there any new Fall ’15 products that you’re especially excited about? I have to say that our regular vendors have some really exciting things coming out. Crocodile Creek keeps coming out with amazing puzzles and cool balls. Klutz craft kits are a real favorite and they keep it fresh and always have fun new things to offer.

Q: What kind of in-store events do you do? One of my favorite things we’ve done is a city mural painted by 50 kids in our playroom. We’ve done basket weaving, plaster handprints from scratch where we made the clay and plaster (there’s a video online for that one), mosaic tiling, acrylic painting and crochet, among others. Things that have actual technique are important to me. And these events are so fun because they get all the people in the neighborhood together to catch up and share news while the kids are with me doing artsy stuff.

Q: Why do you think customers should shop at local boutiques? I think it should be more than just the fact that they’re local–you have to offer something that makes people want to come in. For me, I’ve always loved to find corner shops with a different mix of stuff, and, yeah, maybe I could find some of those things online for a dollar less, but then I’d miss out on being in the shop, experiencing the colors and music, hearing people chatting and interacting within the neighborhood. That experience is what I think really makes a difference. And I’m lucky to be in a neighborhood that supports local businesses and cares about them.

Q: What’s the best part of your job? What I like best is getting to know the community and feeling like a valuable part of it, feeling like I matter. I’m involved, I watch these kids grow up, I meet new family members—both babies and dogs!—and I hear about what’s going on. Feeling connected like that is great.

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