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Meet Jennifer Cattaui, host of Earnshaw's Seminar and so much more!

From tax law consultant to Editor in Chief at one of America’s oldest magazines, Jennifer Cattaui has done it all! She has worked with us at Playtime for over 9 years as a Press Liaison and freelance writer. You may recognize her from her recaps of the Earnshaw’s seminar each season at Playtime & Kid’s Hub New York, or from one of the many other publications she has written for. Maybe you’re familiar with her incredible boutique, Babesta, in New York City. However you’ve been introduced to Jennifer, or if you have yet to do so, here is a little more about her and her extensive experiences. Gain insight into the mind of a savvy buyer and a magazine editor, and enjoy a sneak peek at the theme of Earnshaw's seminar you can attend at Playtime & Kid’s Hub New York February 14th at 8:00am. Spoiler alert: it's a subject you won't want to miss!

Join us as we dive into the versatile mind of Jennifer Cattaui!

kid's fashion boutique

Playtime: Please introduce yourself, for those who aren't familiar with you and your incredible work!

Jennifer: I am the owner and founder of Babesta, a boutique specifically designed for the cool city kid. I am also the Press Liaison at Playtime New York and a Freelance Writer for a host of publications and corporate clients, which have included Neiman Marcus and In New York Magazine.

children's fashion boutique NYC

Playtime: You started your professional career as a tax law consultant and then as a legal consultant at the Institute of World Business Law - what made you want to take a position at Animal Fair Magazine? Was that the first magazine you wrote for?

Jennifer: My career path has been a long and winding road! Starting in tax law, moving into media, consulting, writing and starting my own business . . . I took the position at Animal Fair after 9/11 when I realigned my priorities and decided to pursue a passion. It was the first magazine I wrote for, and the founder was a dynamic entrepreneur who I found very inspiring.

Although it’s been a non-linear career path, I’ve taken knowledge and skills from each experience, and knew at some point, I’d get to bring it all together. I gained perspective on business, law and finance at Ernst and Young as a tax lawyer; event organization and seminar design at the Institute of World Business Law; and understanding the press and media through my various editorial roles. . . I was able to use all of those skills when starting my own company Babesta that I’ve been able to grow for 15 years. Now I am exploring a gap in my learnings - namely fundraising and venture capital - who gets funded and why? What does it take? I’m most focused on scalability of service through technology, web3 and the next opportunities in retail. With any luck, I’ll position Babesta to flourish for the next 15 years!

children's fashion boutique NYC

Playtime: Can you please describe your store Babesta and what makes it unique for us?

Jennifer: I founded Babesta in 2004, and wanted it to be the go to store for city dwellers. There are so many people in New York City, you really have to dress well to stand out and show off your personal style! There are also needs that are specific to the market in New York City versus the rest of the United States. We sell strollers and other essential gear, and they have to be of top quality to endure city life! Parents aren't folding up their stroller to put in a car, but rather pushing it around the city and taking it on the subway, so it really needs to be sturdy. We carry everything parents need for the city lifestyle; fashion and gear as well as toys, accessories, and furniture that are stylistically more modern to suit the general NYC aesthetic.

children's fashion boutique NYC

Playtime: As the buyer for Babesta, what makes brands stand out to you? Do you find your extensive experience working for fashion and lifestyle magazines gives you a competitive edge in buying?

Jennifer: I really look for brands that are high quality, eco-friendly, and fun! They need to have a pop! I want brands that have a strong ethos and values that align with mine. I like to include independent labels, small batch collections and products made by artists. There needs to be a story there and a point of view - that's my inner editor speaking! As for strollers and other baby gear - the most important thing I look for is do the products meet the needs of my customer? Will they be able to handle the fast pace of city life?

I think my experiences do inform my buying decisions. When I became Editor in Chief at Earnshaw's it was because I really wanted to gain a global perspective of the market, to look at the whole rather than what just the Babesta customer needs and wants. I think that having a broader understanding of the fashion industry can help everyone make good buying decisions. We can limit ourselves and miss opportunities when we don't look at the whole market and the broader industry.

children's fashion boutique NYC

Playtime: You started a magazine for your store. Can you please tell us a bit more about Babesta Beat? Is it the only magazine you've started and does it make you want to start more?

Jennifer: Babesta Beat stems from my love of the process of creating and producing magazines. I wanted to make this one to articulate the store offerings in a lifestyle way, to offer our customer insight on how to choose products, to explain the trends to them, to have interviews with industry professionals and mom-influencers, and to suggest things to do in New York City with children. Babesta Beat is also completely shoppable. Everything used in it from the editorials to the stories can be found available for purchase at Babesta. Our first edition won the 2013 Gold Stevie Award for Retail Merchandising Marketing Campaign of the Year. Although we distributed it in print for many years, it's now integrated as part of our website.

While I don't have any ideas for another magazine right now, I love the magazine world and everything it encompasses, so I am always open to the idea of starting another one!

children's fashion boutique NYC

Playtime: Are there any trends you're particularly excited to buy for Babesta this AW22?

Jennifer: Some trends I am seeing for AW22 include chunky, cozy knits (like Bobo Choses' gorgeous cardigans!), prints and designs that inspire nostalgia, color blocking, the use of sustainable and surprising materials, designs that give a nod to recycling and climate change (like Molo!), earthy colors that soothe and feel grounding (Rylee + Cru). For us, we are thinking about mixing styles that are fun and upbeat with styles that are nostalgic, comforting, and cozy.

I also love the ever-increasing popularity of gender neutral dressing. This is probably because we started our business selling concert tees for babies. As music is genderless, it was a no brainer that concert tees were not designed specifically for boys or girls. As we continued to grow our selection of clothing and toys, we kept to that point of view, and colorblock the clothing and group toys by age, letting the child decide what they like.

children's fashion boutique NYC

Playtime: You have been the Press Liaison for Playtime New York for over 9 years. Can you describe how Playtime New York has evolved over the years?

Jennifer: I first attended Playtime New York as a buyer, which was always a thrilling experience. I then strengthened my relationship with the Playtime team as Editor in Chief at Earnshaw's, and now as Press Liaison. Of course, there has been a lot of amazing evolution over this time. I feel like the show has really grown into itself. It has always been an artful, inspiring, and elevated show, but it has just continued to expand, all the while motivating brands and buyers. There is always something new to discover and because of its size buyers can really take their time walking the aisles. Even working for the press, one is able to stop and talk with people, to really interact with one another and exchange ideas. As press, you're always looking for what the story is and how will it connect with people. At Playtime, the environment is perfect for facilitating these conversations.

children's fashion boutique NYC

Playtime: What is your favorite part of being Press Liaison?

Jennifer: I absolutely love show days! It's all about relationship building. I love working with the press, to greet them and connect them to brands I think they would like and they may not be familiar with. It's all about forming a group of what becomes old friends, while continuously bringing in new people and perspectives. There are always new blogs, new magazines, and, of course, new moms that are ready and excited to connect with the Playtime community. What I love about Playtime is that it is always new, there is always something exciting to explore. It's not mass market, it's all discovery.

children's fashion boutique NYC

Playtime: We are so excited to have you with us again this season as the host of the Earnshaw’s seminar at Playtime & Kid’s Hub New York! Can you please describe the theme a bit?

Jennifer: The new parents are coming to town, and they are Gen Z! The difference between the kid's market and the rest of the fashion industry is that we are tied to a life stage, rather than an age range. So every time a new generation starts becoming parents, we really need to relearn who they are, where their influences are coming from, what crafted them into the parents they will be, what do they value. With Gen Z, there is a lot of opportunity but it will need to be well navigated. This generation is full of digital natives, they are savvy consumers who prefer in person experiences. They look at brands holistically and are very conscientious of where they spend their money. Authenticity is something they really value, as well as representation. This seminar will dive deep into who they will be as parental consumers, with a panel of experts to help discuss this complex generation.

children's fashion boutique NYC

Playtime: We have one last question for you - Our season's theme is Wonderland. How do you imagine your Wonderland?

Jennifer: To me, Wonderland is a place of curiosity, a place to be explored - with surprising colors and textures and unexpected details that twinkle in the light. There's a disco ball moon and colorful music with fanciful animals that combine the familiar and imaginary - a unicat with a long trunk and a penchant for peanuts. The whole place gives one the sense of synesthesia. It's trippy, fun, and makes you smile and swear you're in a wonderful dream.

What a dreamy description of Wonderland, and some incredible insight into the mind and experiences of Jennifer Cattaui. Now working as a Fellow at Alumni Ventures, Jennifer is learning about venture capital and investing. She is focusing on all types of parent-related companies, from healthcare to consumer goods, while still running Babesta and doing freelance writing.

Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us Jennifer!

Be sure to meet Jennifer in person at Playtime & Kid’s Hub New York and attend the Earnshaw's seminar she will be hosting on February 14th at 8:00am, and why not visit Babesta while you're in New York too!


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