Kennewick store goes chic for kids

You won't find Mickey Mouse characters on the clothing at Pipsqueaks.

Instead, owner Lisa Steele stocks her tiny Kennewick children's boutique with what she describes as "shabby, chic, vintage-looking clothing."

Steele's primary line is Maisydaisy, one she began making and selling on the internet seven years ago.

"Not all my Maisydaisy designs are available on the website; too many people go to the internet looking for things to copy," she said. "I have a lot more designs available in the store."

She also carries, on consignment, clothing, accessories and gift items handmade by 18 other vendors.

"All of them are at-home moms and many are local," Steele said. "That way the money I make and the money they make, gets poured back into the local economy."

Her children's clothing runs from newborn to size 6 for both boys and girls. But her handmade headbands and hair clip flowers are popular with teens and moms. Steele also stocks colored human hair extensions and feathers on streamers.

Her 16-year-old daughter, Vanessa, picked up on the streamer trends on the internet.

"We jumped right on them and were the first, or at least one of the first, places to carry them," Steele said. "Vanessa's become my expert on fashion trends."

Steele's always wanted to have a boutique but didn't expect it to come this early in her career.

"It was one of those windows of opportunity. The door was open, and I knew I'd get hit by it if I passed up the chance," Steele said.

Last year, shortly after she and her husband, Wade, moved from Seattle with their five children, Steele went out scouting fabric stores.

She visited Stitch N Bug, a quilters shop in Kennewick, owned by Betty Jean Overstreet. There was an extra room that Overstreet didn't use with an outside entrance. After a few days of negotiations Steele sublet it earlier this year and opened Pipsqueaks.

Steele said website sales have been good but a storefront has an advantage. People can see, touch and have the instant gratification of buying something and carrying it out of the store.

Steele doesn't have a big advertising budget. She depends on word-of-mouth a lot, her Facebook page, website and has been networking with local businesses.

Cross giveaways, she said, have been working really well.

"I make a deal with another small business. They put a drawing for Pipsqueaks merchandise in their store, I put one for theirs in mine. That way customers in one store are drawn to the other," she said.

She also draws customers from Stitch N Bug and vice versa.

"We complement each other," Overstreet said. She's been a seamstress for decades but says it's a dying art, while quilting on the other hand is booming.

Hours at both businesses are from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Tuesday though Saturday. Pipsqueaks is at 132 Vista Way; phone, 628-5603; Stitch N Bug is at 130 Vista Way; phone, 736-3698.