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New Brambler Boutique in Lawrenceville equips parents, kids for the family journey

Brambler Boutique
Elizabeth Shestak
March13/ 2016

Kati Fishbein and Andi Calcagno could not find a word suitable to describe their new business venture, so they invented one. Brambler Boutique, a carefully curated shop selling essentials for expectant mothers, new parents, and newborns through preschoolers, resides at 3609 Butler Street in Lawrenceville. Fellow bramblers are welcome to bramble their way over on April 2 to celebrate its opening, where there is sure to be plenty of brambling.

It’s a noun, if you’re wondering, meaning one who seeks adventure, accepts differences, makes friends easily, feels as comfortable alone as with others, wiggles while walking and rambles while ambling. In Fishbein and Calcagno’s opinion, it perfectly describes parenthood, or at least their take on the journey. They offer gear as functional as it is appealing and apparel that mirrors what today’s groovy parents like to wear. Oh, and they vow to always have complimentary coffee on hand for patrons—pure brilliance from a business standpoint.

Fishbein nurtured an entrepreneurial spirit before becoming a mother. From 2011 to 2013, she owned and operated Women’s Work, a handy-lady business based out of her home in Lawrenceville, while working as exhibition coordinator for the Society for Contemporary Craft in the Strip District. She eventually trained to become a pediatric echocardiographer, conducting ultrasounds on children. While not physically painful, it’s an experience many children find highly stressful, and Fishbein works hard to mitigate the anxiety for her patients.

“I enjoy trying to make that less scary. Maybe fun,” she said.

Brambler Boutique
Andi Calcagno (left) and Kati Fishbein

Fishbein brings the same mindfulness, along with an artist’s eye, to the shop. It will be a judgment-free zone, something hard to come by in this parenting age. Fishbein is in charge of gear, Calcagno apparel, and they stock breast-feeding accoutrements alongside formula-friendly bottles. Dads with babes in tow will have access to a changing table in the gender-neutral restroom—a common challenge in men’s bathrooms.

Most of the clothing will be gender-neutral, sustainably sourced and well-made— items that will hold up to hundreds of washings and multiple childhoods. Think dresses with a navy pirate ship print and bloomers in gray and turquoise that fit both cloth- and store-bought-diapered bums.

“We were really lucky to find a lot of small brands that are making really great clothing,” said Calcagno, who will work the retail side of things weekdays and continue waitressing at night. Most of Brambler Boutique’s apparel will be hard to find within a 300-mile radius. “No, it’s not like a Target onesie for $5, but it’s a nice onesie, and it’s going to last a long time,” Calcagno added.

Brambler Boutique has space set aside within the shop to allow mothers to nurse, children to play and gatherings to take place. Fishbein and Calcagno plan to work with the Shining Light Prenatal Education center a block away to organize workshops and classes.

The business partners say they hope Brambler becomes a place for community, not just shopping.

“Our idea is that we need to make mom happy,” Calcagno said. “Finding a supportive group of women can be the most empowering thing that can ever happen to you.”

Elizabeth Shestak

Though Elizabeth Shestak was raised in New England, her writerly roots run deep in Pittsburgh. After 10 years covering news and food in the South, she is happy to be back where it all began with a writing degree from Carnegie Mellon University -- except this time, she brings a family in tow.