Whimsical and oh-so-Instagrammable, Kindred is a space out of a Pinterest fairy tale dream. And to make it even better, everything in the boutique has been curated for a unique shopping experience. Ladue News caught up with visual merchandising manager Samantha Binkley to learn all about Kindred’s mission as a collective boutique, its focus on promoting small businesses including local Midwest designers and how Kindred carries a variety of on-trend products for any style or personality.
Kindred is a collective boutique, so cool! Could you tell us more about that?
Being a collective boutique means that we are essentially a vessel for local boutiques to showcase their product in a higher-paced setting. We try to take down a lot of the barriers to entry for smaller businesses to enter high-traffic shopping centers, while providing shoppers in those centers with the opportunity to buy from local business owners. So the store is very much about community and partnership.
How is shopping in a collective boutique a unique experience for customers?
One of the biggest differences we see is that with larger corporations, they centralize their buying team and tend to minimize the amount of difference from store to store. We take the opposite approach – we want our boutique owners to be incredibly plugged in to the local consumer habits and trends. We also want a diversity of buying styles to ensure that anyone who walks through our doors has the opportunity to find something and support a small business if that’s what they’d like to do.
Because of this, shopping with us provides our customers with the ability to shop their favorite local boutiques in one space. There’s also an element of discovery, because customers are exposed to businesses, brands and products that they might not have heard of before. From a product standpoint, we work hard to offer styles that are specific to the market and to limit the quantities we get so that our customers are going home with something that is unique.
Since your boutique is a space for smaller merchants to get noticed, what is the selection process for brands to be a part of your collective?
About half of our boutiques come to us, and the other half are folks that we identify as potential partners and reach out to. When we evaluate a potential partnership, we like to look at the business’ current size and sales channels. We look at who their customer is, their price point and their fit within our current makeup of boutiques. Ultimately, we want to feel that being a part of Kindred is a helpful endeavor for their business goals. If we can help them generate sales and meet customers on their way to opening their first storefront or launching an online store, that’s the kind of thing that we get excited about.
Are there any familiar local brands represented that we might recognize?
If you’re a big St. Louis Blues or Cardinals fan, you’ll see a ton of people sporting our STL hats to games or even to Ballpark Village. JuJu B’s is a well-known and well-respected shop who carries the STL hat. We recently brought in Series Six, which is an amazing addition to our Made in STL section. We also have Ashley Jayne Boutique, who has a huge following on Instagram and Facebook, in addition to being some of the nicest women we know.
Kindred has two other locations – one in Overland Park, Kansas, and the other in Independence, Missouri. How were St. Louis and West County Center chosen as the next step in expansion?
We opened our original location in Overland Park because Kansas City is home to our ownership team. We’ve developed a great relationship with that mall management team, and they recommended West County Center to us as a possible new location. As we came to St. Louis more to entertain the idea, we really fell in love with a lot of the city. There’s some similarity to Kansas City, but at the same time, St. Louis is incredibly distinct. One of the things that we love most is the pride that folks here in St. Louis take in supporting their city and their local businesses. That’s what made St. Louis such an alluring place to expand.
You guys sell a little bit of everything – clothing, home décor, gifts, apothecary items. What are some of the hottest trends that you’re seeing in the boutique right now?
We are finding that more and more people are drawn to pastels and neutrals this spring and summer. Versatility is also incredibly important in their search for the perfect summer wardrobe. It feels like shoppers have a keen eye for how much trend is too much and are looking to strike that balance between on-trend and timelessness.
We are also seeing a lot of people really drawn to rompers, jumpsuits and dresses that have unique qualities about them. We like to think of these items as “elevated basics,” and we do really well when we find those pieces. Customers want something with a bit of interest – and that, I think, is part of what we do best.
Should we be watching for anything new on the horizon at Kindred?
We are currently working on a Made in STL section in our store, which is inspired and based on our sister store, Made in KC, back in Kansas City. Within that section, we are going to be bringing in the best local makers and designers here in St. Louis to showcase their products. We’ll have everything from apparel to candles to cards. We think that this is another way for customers to support their local business owners, and we’re excited to bring it to fruition. In addition, we’ll continue to look for opportunities to expand Kindred’s retail footprint both inside and outside of St. Louis.
Kindred, 56 West County Center Drive, Des Peres, 314-966-1291, thekindredshops.com