By  on September 29, 2008

It’s clear that at coco bonbons, kids have a say, too.

Founder Coco Kyriopoulos launched the Nashville-based brand’s collection in stores in fall 2006. But Kyriopoulos, who received an M.B.A. from the University of Chicago, didn’t take the same road as many other children’s wear business owners.

“I worked for an investment banking firm out of Nashville before founding the company,” she said. “I think having that strategic, quantitative side allowed me to start this business. Trust me, I’m not the most artistic person, but I’m very creative strategically. I built this company by networking.”

After giving birth to her second child, Phoebe, in 2004, Kyriopoulos decided to alter her career when she was unable to find a coat for her three-year-old son, Charlie. “My choices were either a fleece or a Sunday school peacoat. My son at the time was obsessed with airplanes. I thought to myself, ‘What if I designed an airplane coat?’”

And that she did. With the help of friends in the design business she began working on concepts of apparel that she thought kids would like.

“A child has to love to wear the clothes, that’s my philosophy,” Kyriopoulos said. “Nothing makes a child prouder than pointing at her shirt and exclaiming, ‘Flowers!’ They want to wear things they can identify with.”

The line featured colorful appliqué and prints, such as airplanes, trains and flowers, that boys and girls — especially her own kids — seemed to want.

In 2006, Kyriopoulos presented the line at AmericasMart Atlanta and ENK Children’s Club in New York. After being picked up by more than 100 retailers, the brand launched in the fall with 16 pieces, plus four boys coats, four girls coats and matching accessories. Coco Bonbons is now sold in over 400 stores worldwide, and the current spring line features some 180 pieces.

“It’s over 10 times the size of our first line,” said Kyriopoulos, who did not disclose sales. “We’ve grown quickly. We have continued to double consecutively season-to-season in sales.”

The inspiration for the spring collection, Kyriopoulos said, is “adventure-discovery.” “For girls, we’re showing more florals than usual, while boys have animal-themed apparel. We’re excited about the newer styles in the collection, yet it still possesses the same qualities from the very first designs.”

Apparel sizes begin at three months for infants and run up to five years, and for some items, Coco reaches size 8. Wholesale price ranges run from $11 to $13 for a T-shirt and, depending on the season, apparel goes from $25 to $50. Items in the collection include: outerwear, tops, bottoms, dresses and jumpers, one-pieces, overalls and accessories. Kyriopoulos names each one of her designs after her friends’ children.

Although the brand has no brick-and-mortar stores of its own, “Our near-term goal is to be housed in 1,000 small boutiques,” Kyriopoulos said. “Internationally, our largest selection is in a store in the U.K. Our second is in Israel. We’re about to sign a licensing agreement…there. That’s where the dollar is in value. Our clothes have sold really well overseas — it’s boutique quality, but the price is less.”

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