Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Belleville has closed it doors.

If you've visited Belleville recently then you would have realised that the store is now closed.

I'm very busy building an online store that will launch mid year, while searching for more and more unique and individual clothing from small independent Australian & New Zealand labels (have to extend to our southern neighbours as there's so much goodness & creativity coming from there!).  There'll be some of your old favourites still like Peace Street, Sudo and Rock Your Baby, but the aim will be to have less established and more emerging labels.

Until the website is live though, please do drop into the blog for updates - I will aim to keep it entertaining for you and will be sharing my favourite Kid Fashion inspirations.  If you are a fan on Facebook, then please spread the word and encourage your friends to 'like' Belleville too - the physical store may be closing but IT'S JUST THE BEGINNING! 

Billie of Belleville 

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Shoes Shoes Glorious Shoes

Buying shoes for kids is hard, no two ways about it.  I often get parents & grandparents come in and want to buy a pair of shoes as a gift and my recommendation is always the same - bring the child in to try them on.  I always have a little smile on my face when they say something like "it's for a 3 year old" - I have yet to meet two children of the same age with the same size foot, never mind all the other variables.

Even if you may know the general size of your child's shoe there are so many variances in styles and even within the same brand and same style there can be small differences which can become and issue.  A slightly too small or too wide shoe will not get worn, no matter how much you've paid for them.

And whilst I don't like to give kids too much power in the decision making process (otherwise my own daughter would be living in tap shoes 24/7) I do love to see children involved in it.  Often the last pair of shoes you would have chosen if shopping alone end up being the ones that both child and parent are happy to leave with.

I'm very selective about the brands and styles I have in Belleville and I get quite a chuckle being referred to as the Shoe Lady.
Have a look at some of the new styles just in.... and going fast!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Documenting our kids lives

I have about 6 photo's of me from my childhood.  In those days having a camera was a luxury, film was expensive and more often than not a 24 photo roll took months to consume, weeks to develop and then the precious photos were sent to far off family never to be seen again. 

I have about 4,000 photo's of my daughter who has just turned 6!  I can't help myself, I just want to document as much of her as I can because as the saying goes "they grow up so fast". I also have a child who loves to perform, and she in turn has a mother with a shocking memory.  Oh I had great intentions of keeping a journal of the pregnancy and her childhood, things like first words, dates of big things like teeth, first steps etc.  But I never did get around to doing that - thankfully I always have my little camera and phone handy and so the photo's have become that journal (and they very considerately date everything and put them into little folders for me).  Despite not having a video recorder I've made many 2 minute long clips on my digital camera of my daughter talking to me and making up songs, so I've handed over the documenting to my fairly basic technology at hand.
Taken on my phone one mornin last week - Sanja the Sun Princess
Having Belleville has been a double blessing.  Apart from fulfilling the dream of having a unique store that catered for stylish kids and their adults, I've also had to have several photo's taken for the store.  Who better to model the clothes for me than my daughter Sanja and the kids I've gotten to know through the store and the community around me.  And so I've been lucky enough to get some professional photographs of my daughter to tack onto the MANY amateur shots of mine.

I've never been the type of person who would have considered having a professional photography shoot for either Sanja or myself (or heaven forbid, a portrait of the two of us!).  I honestly couldn't justify the cost and more importantly didn't really ever think that posed shots would ever be as beautiful at capturing a moment that just happened by chance.  But I'm completely converted now.

Over the past year I've had 4 very special photographic experiences.  The first was with a shoot for Brisbane's Peekaboo Magazine with Naomi Vassington as the photographer.  Sanja was photographed alongside several other children who had specifically been selected for the shoot (I think you'd call them child models).  Whilst the other children seemed perfectly at ease with natural gentle smiles, flicks of hair and poses, Sanja had a very sombre face and nothing could make her smile.  But Naomi clicked away and the result was beautiful.  She looked etherial and that pose has become her little trademark, much like Zoolander's Blue Steel.
Next came Liz Jones from Redboots Photographic who was first a customer of Belleville then friend and photographer. She's taken 2 shoots for Belleville and we've posed for her together as part of her portfolio.  With each shoot Sanja is more comfortable with the camera and brings more and more of her personality out.  Seeing her confidence grow has been a wonderful thing.
Last week we were priveleged to have Benjamin Nichols of Big Fry Photography & Video come into Belleville and take some shots of Liz's delightful boys Reuben & Ben and my Sanja.  I've been a fan of Ben's photography for a while and knew he would capture the kids and the store perfectly.  I even braved it enough to have my own photo taken.  His approach to the shoot was just wonderful, the way he made the kids feel comfortable and turned what could have been hard work into a fun morning was enough to make me start planning a personal shoot for Sanja and I - told you I'm converted!  I've never liked having my photo taken and now twice in as many weeks and more planned.

Then just days later I discover that one of my favourite customers Hailey Bartholomew is also a photographer and we spoke about how lovely it is to have special photographs and videos documenting our lives.  Looking through Hailey's website and blog was so much fun, her photo's are like what I'd LIKE mine to be, with perfect focus, great lighting and amazing clarity.  She captures those moments that I love, there's nothing staged about them and they are as far from those unattractive portrait shots I never wanted to have as is humanly possible.

Family photographs are no longer rigid and contrived in a blank studio, but shot in your house, your yard or anywhere that's important to you.  They are spontaneous and fun and capture moments that never can be posed for.  They are also no where nearly as expensive as they used to be and are tailored for your budget and needs.

There's a new breed of photographer out there, and I'm quite happy for them to shatter my delusions that I know what I'm doing when I take my happy snaps.  Not that that will stop me, but I will definitely be putting aside money each year for some special photographs to be taken of both Sanja and I.  Photographs that we will both treasure when she's grown and off on her own adventures. 

Have a look and tell me what you think.


Friday, August 27, 2010

Never work with children or animals...

or at least that's what they always say.  
Perhaps I'm a wierdo, but I love working with kids, and it's one of the very reasons that Belleville exists.  And never more than when working on a photoshoot.  Perhaps because I'm really just a kid (and not much taller than most of the kids I work with) but somehow they seem to respond to my requests - whether it's to be playful OR to stop playing up.

OK, so today we had the first of the Belleville Spring/Summer collections.  A tad stressful as MOST of the stock that was due to arrive earlier in the month still was nowhere to be seen.  Not to mention technical dramas and 6 restless children making every minute seem like 10.

 But once we started going it was SO MUCH FUN.  I love how children become completely different once there is a camera and lights infront of them... the shy ones come out of their shells and the super confident ones all of a sudden become like bunnys caught in the light.  ALL the children today however are just such stars without a bit of preciousness.  They each bring joy into my life on a pretty regular basis, and I'm so happy to have them and their adults in my life.  And none more than my dear daughter Sanja, who didn't seem to be phased in the least by losing 2 front teeth the week of the photoshoot... she just worked her closed mouth smile like she was being paid for it.  Bless her.

To see more of the pics simply click here... and if you're not a fan of the facebook page you definitely should be one :)

Billie x

Monday, June 28, 2010

Kids finding their own style

I've always known what my style is - even when I was very little.  I've always been interested in what is 'in' fashion and sometimes have jumped onto the bandwagon - but never if it didn't feel right for me.  I rarely wore things to feel part of a group or scene and there have been many choices, particularly in my teenage years, were I was definitely the odd one out.  Sometimes I do the exact opposite just to stand out from the crowd... when others wear skinny jeans I wear flares, when waistlines drop to obscene lows I wear absurdly high, if everyone is wearing sneakers I wear heels and so on.

So it's been interesting watching my daughter develop her own style.  I've not been able to choose her clothes since she was 18 months old so she's definitely had her own strong opinions about what she likes to wear, and as she's gotten older, how she wants to look as well as feel in clothes.  Now almost 6 she's my right hand girl in Belleville and I wouldn't think of buying stock without her opinion.  We don't always agree, but I love her opinion - it makes me look at everything in a different way.

Before Belleville I thought people, regardless of gender or age, either liked clothes or didn't.  I love having all my preconcieved perceptions crushed.  I have customers who adore clothes but have children who are neither interested or excited by them and vice versa.  I have one customer who is what I would call a 'functional shopper'... she looks for value for money, ease of wear (no buttons or fussy fabrics) and longevity (will her younger children get some wear down the track too).  She however has a young boy who is very particular about what he likes and what he wants.  Through talking to them both I've learnt what makes a great piece of clothing for children, and it's been wonderful watching this functional shopper become interested in fashion, her sons love of it and how he uses the clothes he wears to show the world what he's about and who he wants to be. Having a store that caters for both their needs is a thrill.  And having a brand like SUDO makes it just so much easier for me.  They tick all the boxes for both function and fashion.  Yes they are a little bit pricier than some other brands I stock, but the quality and style are so worth the few extra dollars.  My daughter will wear her SUDO pieces every day if I let her - and if I were to compare the cost per wear alone there is a clear winner.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Peace Street Winter is here!!!

Frantically unpacking (along with a lot of squeals of delight) the much anticipated delivery of winter Peace Street.  And really, there's not much more to say than "oh my..." Here's a couple of sneak peaks of their amazing velvet and silk girls coats - warm enough for winter but not too heavy for Brisbane.  More to come!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Belleville Boys

One of the most delightful things about having Belleville is how many lovely boys have come into my life. Of course there are mothers with great fashion sense who come to buy special things for their boys, but more and more I'm getting young boys in AS customers, boys specifically asking for a trip to Belleville. Some come for the street wise pieces from Rock Your Baby, who thankfully have children growing up themselves so the sizes ranges are going up! Some come for the classic, beautiful quality pieces from SUDO and then of course there are those that just love the Electric Boy T's (nothing says carefree youth as well as one of their T's). And with SUDO adding to the shoe range (along with my staples of Scruffy Dog & Yunginz) you can dress your boy from head to toe is gorgeousness. But nothing is as lovely as having an 8 year old boy come in with his pocket money saved to purchase his SUDO grey wool duffel coat. I didn't want to charge him. So with each season my range for boys increases and by next summer it should be equal ratio with both Polka and Chalk & Cheese coming soon to Belleville (both with great boys ranges).