Local Business Update: Babesta

Like so many stores in the neighborhood, Babesta — the children’s gear shop on Warren — has tried to shift to a strictly online market from a business model where touch and feel were crucial to shoppers. For the parent who wanted to try collapsing a stroller, or test out a high chair — how could they still offer that service?

“That’s the tricky part right now,” said owner Jenn Cattaui, who started the company online in 2004 and opened the first brick-and-mortar store in Tribeca in 2007 and Brookfield in 2015. “Our clients walk out of the store feeling a lot more confident — they know why they chose something, and they understand the differences. So the challenge is how do we make the service we give in the store as close to that experience as we can, but online.”

They have started with consultations on Zoom (you can see my call with Jenn below) where Jenn can talk face-to-face with clients to assess their needs — give them the big picture on what’s available (though already the store’s products are curated for the city child) and then delve into the particulars. What is your lifestyle like? Are there stairs getting into your apartment? Will you get on the subway? Or use a car often?


They then use the screen-sharing feature to toggle between their own PowerPoints crafted for each product and brand websites. They also have videos to help parents see products in action. Their clients, of course, are still having babies, so they are still trying to work with them where they can — and as a business, be as nimble as possible. None of it has been easy.

“I always try to approach everything with a silver lining, but certainly it’s hard for a small business. The worst is the responsibility you feel to your team. We’ve had to make some hard decisions,” she said. (Jenn was a tax lawyer in her former life and then worked for a woman entrepreneur in magazines, which inspired her to open her own business. She and her husband have two teenage daughters who went to Montessori and 234. “Although they outgrew everything we sell years ago, they still inform and inspire!”)

But she’s now trying to shift her thinking to the future, even if it appears cloudy for now. Perhaps there is a halfway point where some strollers can go out as samples and be loaned for an hour or so, even if people can’t shop in a store. She is also trying to train her staff now for more online consultations.

“For entrepreneurs, you have to take your set of circumstances and think, ‘how do I make this a better tomorrow?’ What should I be doing right now that will be great investments for my business I can see going forward?” For instance, clearly online shopping will be even more prevalent in the future, so how can small businesses participate in that segment of the market? How can they scale their service, or a segment of their business, that would put them in a better position long-term?

“I always say, if we can survive we are going to thrive,” said Jenn. “We are going to work our darndest to survive and I think that we will.”


1 Comment

  1. Thank you Pam for featuring us! We really appreciate the support in getting the word out!!