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Established in 2012, Buttercup in Whitstable is a shining example of a thriving independent children’s boutique. Owner Mary-Jane Higginson left a career in teaching to open the shop, having previously taught secondary students to A-Level as head of design and technology, as well as training in toy design.

Higginson now applies her eye for the aesthetically pleasing to buying and curating her shop, sourcing everything from books and traditional wooden toys with a contemporary twist, through to babies’ and children’s clothing and shoes and lifestyle pieces for children’s rooms.

In terms of clothing, brands stocked include Tobias & the Bear, Coco & Wolf, Amy & Ivor and a range of hand knits. Toys are available from the likes of Bajo Wooden Toys, Moulin Roty, Djeco, PlanToys and Melissa & Doug, while lifestyle product can be found from Meri Meri, Wee Gallery and Love Mae.

Higginson has a very defined criteria when buying. Everything Buttercup stocks has a focus on sustainable, ethical and organic production, while toys have to meet the added standards of being gender-neutral, well designed for their intended purpose and with a strong emphasis on learning through play. Subsequently, merchandising of the store reflects these values; non-gender defined, playful and strong.

In-store events form another important element of the business, with Buttercup playing host to everything from visiting authors doing book readings for children, through to activity events, a recent example being a ‘Make a pair of baby moccasins’ class for parents run by footwear designer, Rose Choules. Other events are tied into occasions in the local town, such as the Whitstable Oyster Festival.

A frequent user of Instagram, as well as using the platform to engage with customers and brands, Buttercup regularly gets involved with ‘loop’ giveaways. Check out the store’s account at @buttercupwhitstable.

Buttercup, 16 Harbour Street, Whitstable, Kent

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