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Meet Danielle Bayer of La Petite Chenille in Irvine

Today we’d like to introduce you to Danielle Bayer.

Danielle, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
A friend and I originally wanted to open our own clothing line called La Petite Chenille (the little caterpillar) based on the idea that caterpillars eventually turn into butterflies. However, clothing lines involve a lot of time, effort and money and although we could afford to put effort and money into it, we both didn’t have a lot of free time. We both worked full time jobs and both have families. However, although we had temporarily given up on following through with that, I still wanted to do something. That’s pretty much how the store came about.

As an individual, I’ve explored the world and have witnessed culturally rich countries with economically poor living standards. As a parent, I want my children to grow up socially and environmentally conscious of the world around them. To instill this value, we have traveled outside of the country several times with both children (and the younger is just 2), we both speak multiple languages and have tried to engage and inspire our children while fostering their individuality.

I have been equally obsessed with finding brands with an emphasis on California designers that share this viewpoint through their use of organic, sustainable or recycled materials or their global awareness and fair trade practices. Bonus points for unique and fun items.

As for why I opened in Irvine, I looked up the brands that I love and did store searches on each of them looking for a hole where the brands were either scarcely represented or not at all. Since I’m a born shopper (apparently, it’s a genetic trait because both my mom and daughters share that similar characteristic), I’ve just expanded the range from shopping for my kids to shopping for the children of Irvine.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
No road is ever smooth.

Working for someone else does not prepare you for the responsibility of working for yourself. At the end of the day, if someone else doesn’t do it, everything that’s left to do falls on me, from simple things like adding water to the refrigerator, updating a social media site, answering questions, updating website products, inventory, pricing merchandise and hanging clothes.

Time management has also been an issue. There are certain things that can’t be put off, like hosting an Early Access Trunk Show. All retailers participating start at a specific designated time and so must I. Unpacking, inventory, placement photos, web uploading and answering a myriad of questions on social media about the event must all take place before an event even starts and I sometimes only have 2 -3 days to get everything done. I end up staying very late at the store and continue to work once I get home. It’s heart breaking to feel as if I’m neglecting my children by spending so much time working.

There’s also been a growing/learning curve of what people buy. What I want and love isn’t necessarily what others do. Sometime popularity wins and to stay in business, I’ve had to accept that fact and buy things that are in demand.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the La Petite Chenille story. Tell us more about the business.
I sell clothes, shoes, toys, accessories and gear.

I try to specialize in brands that are unique and different from the rest of the products in their class, but also have a social and global conscience. The list originally started with California brands, but has now grown to across the United States, Canada and Europe.

I think I’m known for my unique items. I’ve received all sorts of questions of where I found my brands and products.

I’m most proud of the fact that I started this store from a cart in the District open 2 days a week and have grown into a store and an online presence in less than a year.

I believe that my customer service and product knowledge base is different from most retailers. I research every brand that I carry, I know where they are based and made, what materials they use, what efforts they make to support the communities that make their products. I not only know my products, I know what products are age and gender preferred (based on manufacturers suggestion and my own daughters and nephews).

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
I consider myself to have always been lucky. I don’t necessarily know if it’s luck or hard work or making the right decisions or just rolling with the punches with optimism, but I don’t regret anything (good or bad) and have never considered something bad as bad luck, just something to work your way out of and continue on and it will be better next time.

Contact Info:

  • Address: 3800 Barranca Parkway,
    Suite D, Irvine, California 92606
  • Website: lapetitechenille.com
  • Phone: 949-300-0952
  • Email: info@lapetitechenille.com


Image Credit:
Mainstreet Hub
Jannet Blas Photography

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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