By  on June 11, 2007

New York's got a new babe in town. After three years of growing a successful online business, Jennifer Cattaui and her husband, Aslan, co-owners of the children's wear Web site, have opened the brand's first freestanding boutique in Manhattan. Babesta (pronounced babe-sta, a spin on the term "gangsta") is at 66 West Broadway in TriBeCa, a baby-friendly, upscale area of the city. "It's like a suburb down here," said Jennifer Cattaui. "People like to spend money here, and restaurants and shops welcome families with young children." The apparel collection, which she describes as urban, modern and edgy, and ranges in price from $20 to $75, was born out of the idea that children's wear could contain images, phrases and icons from past generations. In other words, Cattaui likes to think of it more as merchandise she (and other parents) would wear. The onesies and T-shirts have quite a range — scratch 'n' sniff shirts, ones with images of John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan, and even shirts that read, "What Happens in Preschool Stays in Preschool." Other shirts feature takes on well-known companies, such as and "Googoo" (for Google). The collection is suited for newborns through toddlers (to six years old) and features merchandise from local designers, such as Pura Vida NYC, based in Chelsea, and Sir Hayes, of Bedford-Stuyvesant, in Brooklyn. Bigger names like Gwen Stefani's line, Harajuku Lovers, round out the offerings. Cattaui became interested in featuring a destination for children's wear when she was pregnant. "We started online, but the idea to open a boutique was impulsive," she said. "The motivating factor was that I wanted parents and gift-givers to come in and feel the products — much of the material used in the apparel is softer than the average T-shirt or pair of pants." The store is a mere 450 square feet, and Cattaui is working to make use of every inch. "It's a work in progress," she pointed out, "but we love the idea of keeping the interior walls and ceiling completely white, and letting the color from the apparel and the toys stand out in this space." Cattaui declined to estimate first-year sales for the store, which opened last month. Nursery decor — giant beanbags in the form of fruits and vegetables ($240), Rubik's Cube tables ($600) and Gummi Bear lights ($99) — is available, as are accessories, books, DVDs, CDs and toys.

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