By Bruce X. Forey | Photography by David Teran
Belles & Beaux attracts customers nationwide with a charming collection of premium children’s clothing and accessories.
Whether it’s a special occasion or everyday attire, many of the best-dressed kids shop at Belles & Beaux. Located at Sunset Ridge shopping center since 2011, the boutique specializes in a distinctive collection of upscale children’s items. The store’s specialty is girls’ and boys’ clothing, with sizes from newborn to 14. It also sells shoes, accessories, and toys. Here, it’s ok for kids to touch.
The store is tightly filled. To make room for strollers and more items, Belles & Beaux is expanding. Work is scheduled for early 2024 to basically double their store space.
“We needed to grow but didn’t want to leave Sunset Ridge. I feel this type of old-school, walkable shopping center is right for us. We’re excited to get the space next door,” said Christen Wommack, Belles & Beaux owner. “In addition to spreading things out, we’ll also add a line of boy’s athletic wear and have additional room for displays.”
Upscale children’s boutiques aren’t common in clothing retail. It wasn’t Christen’s intention to get into this line of business. Christen learned that the original Belles & Beaux owner was interested in selling through some friends.
“It was kind of the perfect opportunity at the perfectly wrong timing,” Christen recalled.
She was conflicted about operating a retail business as the mother of three young kids, with plans to have another child. After discussing with her husband, George, Christen took a leap of faith and purchased the business.
“My husband was really encouraging and reminded me opportunities like this don’t happen often, and I should do it,” Christen added. “So, we did, and it’s the best thing ever. I’ve loved every minute.”
Christen employs nine part-time employees. Many have been with the store longer than she’s owned it. The experienced staff makes it possible for Christen to balance life as a mom and an entrepreneur.
“I’m very happy being a business owner and being a mom,” Christen added. “I love to go into the store and have that outlet. But, If the kids need me or there’s something at school, I can leave, so it’s very flexible.”
Belles & Beaux’s focus on premium brand children’s clothing makes the store a favorite with customers around the country. The store grew its base from local, mostly 78209 clientele. Social media and online shopping helped the store reach new shoppers. Word spread through the internet, and soon, the store was selling items throughout Texas and beyond.
“We ship coast to coast from Hawaii to New York and many other states. Once they buy from us, many become repeat buyers,” Christen said.
This nationwide customer base helps Belles and Beaux generate sales throughout the year. Spring and Fall are the busiest periods. Baby shower registration helps the store stay steady in the traditional slow retail months of summer.
Belles and Beaux’s distinct selection of toys is a growing part of their business. Christen seeks out items not normally found at department stores that inspire the imagination.
“We want unique kind of whimsical or special toys. One of my biggest surprises was the singing animals. We sold several of them and never thought that toy would be such a hit.”
Surrounded by toys, cute clothes, and adorable kids, there’s a noticeable positive energy in Belles & Beaux. You sense the excitement and see the smiles from children and adults when they walk through the door.
“It’s definitely a happy, joyful place. The children are so cute, funny, and very honest if they don’t like something,” Christen laughed.
Christen says she’s been approached about opening more locations in San Antonio and other cities. She feels Belles & Beaux is in the ideal location at Sunset Ridge. And, with the store expansion happening soon, there’s plenty to keep her in the moment.
“I’m going to focus on doing what I can do well and still have enough time to be a mom and be part of my kid’s life,” Christen said. .