We love learning about our buyers as much as we love discovering the stories behind brands in our community! This season, we’ll follow the team from Studio Play as they explore Playtime Paris to share the first-hand experience of a buyer at The Big Small Show. To make it more personal, let’s rewind to learn the story behind this retailer who has gone through several evolutions. Based in Antwerp, Belgium, press ‘play’ on our interview with Liesbeth, who, with her husband Stijn, founded Studio Play! Get the history on this retailer before going forward to see their experience at the show June 29-July 1 on our Instagram.


studio playLiesbeth Wouters and Stijn Gilles, founders of Studio Play


Hi, I’m Liesbeth Wouters! My husband, Stijn Gilles, and I founded the store Studio Play.  Studio Play is the result of 15 years of being in business which has expanded and evolved our store.

Both Stijn and I studied psychology, but realized we weren’t interested in working in that field. So I went to study fashion and he studied journalism. After six years in the fashion industry, I decided I wanted to start something of my own with my husband. We’re a really good team, quite compatible. The things that I’m not very good at, he is, and vice versa.

I discovered a shop in the Netherlands whose concept was to offer commercial designs that are practical and all made with sustainable materials. It was something between art and design, which I had never seen before. I was so impressed by the originality of it, it was all so new! I’d never seen anything like it, so I called Stijn and said I know what we’re going to do.

family concept storeTheir first store, Rewind

We started to look for products within this region of recycled design, and a whole new world opened to us. At that time 15 years ago, people were not as interested in sustainability, recycling, and things like that. It was all very new! We found many artists and designers that make beautiful things, so we opened a shop. Centered around the concept of recycled design, we called it Rewind. We thought that name was really fitting because in our store you would see something and it has a whole story behind it. The history of all the things that came together to make this final product and that makes it more interesting.



When we started Rewind, I decided to start a baby and kids brand within it called Mevrouwtje * Meneertje, which means little miss and little mister in Dutch. We would have children draw doodles of little miss and misters, and select a few winning drawings every few months to print on our t-shirts. The winning children were the designers, and you could find their picture, name, and age on the t-shirts with their drawing. We built up this universe with pants, pajamas, and bonnets with the words “Mevrouwtje” or “Meneertje” on them. These were the ideal baby gifts for parents! This concept brand of baby and kids clothes in Rewind was the beginning of everything that came after!

We saw a really enthusiastic response to our store. It was very conceptual, which wasn’t a common structure for retailers at the time. People would come by with family and friends who were visiting Antwerp and present the products saying “Did you know this chair was made of this and that?” and their visitors would be amazed! It was really fun to see the reaction of clients who were so inspired by our offer. It made us feel sure that we were doing something right, and something that was unique.

Studio Play

After 3 years, the baby and kids clothes selection became bigger. A lot of people were buying it as a present, but it didn’t really make sense in Rewind with the conceptual adult products. I realized if it was to grow, it would have to be in its own store. I thought that if we isolated the baby and kids clothes in a little space that was its own universe, it would work even better. So we found a small spot next to Rewind and made a little baby and kids shop called Play.

We thought it was a bit boring to just have clothes, so we found some gifts to include as well. These, of course, remained within the ecological philosophy of our business. This was really hard at the time. We wanted products that were made with sustainable materials and have nice stories behind them. This widened our scope, leading us to search for other products than what we had been looking for for Rewind. This was the start of what we do today.

The new kid’s store, Play



It was a rocky start, we had a hard time finding products. But what we did find, we put together with our little brand in our cute store of 40 square meters. People really took time to discover it, they wanted to buy the clothes even though babies grow out of things so quickly. After a year or so, everybody seemed to know our little store, so we decided to start with one more fashion brand. Due to their sustainable practices and unique style we selected Mini Rodini, who we still work with today. When curating our selection for Rewind and this store, we always wanted something that was unique and a bit amazing.

Suddenly, everything started to explode with the kids shop. We realized we needed a bigger space, so we found one that was double the size. Over the years, we’ve moved the kid’s store four times to bigger and bigger spaces. The shop grew to include our brand, toys, shoes, fashion, room decor, a little bit of everything. Choosing brands that were not easily found everywhere, that was our key business. That, together with the story of sustainability. 

At a certain point, we started selling shoes. We started with two brands, Veja and Salt Water Sandals. It became such a big thing, everybody was coming to us for their kids shoes. But shoes take up a lot of space! So we decided to open a third shop, Forward, that was all baby and kids shoes. We continued to play with the buttons on the remote, with our loyal clients jokingly asking when we were opening our ‘eject’ store!

Forward, their kid’s shoe store


So here we were with three shops, and a webshop. The logistics weren’t very easy, sometimes you’d have to take one thing from each store to be shipped from the webshop. Things had also evolved to a point where many people knew the kids shop Play, and less people knew Rewind or Forward. We decided that it was important for our clients to know we were all one business, especially the new ones.

We started looking for a big shop in the center of Antwerp, which was challenging. But finally, last April, we moved into the ideal space! It’s on a corner, so we have a lot of window displays. We were so excited for this opportunity to show people walking by that we really have everything.

Combining the three stores into Studio Play was the best decision we could have made. I’ve got a few gray hairs from moving everything into one space, but we’re really happy with the results.

Studio Play

Since the beginning with Rewind, you’ve had a wide offer that has everything your clients need. Why did you want to create a store that has it all?

We felt there was an interest in all these products from our customers. Because we had these three shops that were isolated but working well, we were sure that it would work even better to put them all together. This way, you’d have cross selling. People that came in to buy their kids shoes would remember that their friend is moving and they want to get a gift for them, and that it’s summer and they need new shorts, and so on. When you have it all under one roof, it really makes sense.

Of course, you can go to big box stores where it’s all together, but they often have too many choices. They offer so much that clients don’t really know where to look to start making their decisions. So we kind of do all the work behind the scenes for them. We make a selection of everything that is out there that is sustainable and we are transparent about all the information behind it. Our clients trust that when they come to Studio Play, they know there will be something they like that is original, aesthetically pleasing, and unique. They know it will be something with a good story behind it that can’t be easily found in the store around the corner.

Studio Play


We are so happy we are still alive after this adventure of combining our three stores! Our business has grown 40%, and we’re so proud of that. Rewind felt like a success from day one, whereas the kids shop didn’t. It was not an easy start, but it took over completely! Today, our clients know that they can come to us to find products that can’t be easily found elsewhere, that are unique. We’re the store that makes you smile, the store where you find exceptional things, with humor often playing a big role. We believe life is too short to not make the best of it, and that it’s important to bring fun into people’s shopping experience.

We achieve this with the products we select to sell, but also within our store’s design – it is one colorful, happy explosion! There is a playroom in our store that our little clients already know well and run immediately to when they come in. It’s a room full of building blocks made of big cushions that every age enjoys playing in. They never want to leave the store because of it!

After 15 years of being in business, we are proud to say we have a healthy business and we love our job! We are happy with what we’re doing and happy with our loyal, sweet team of colleagues. Everything is done together with our team, so it feels like one happy family at our business.

family concept storeStudio Play’s playroom



Colorful, humorous… I need more than three words! We are original and practical. I would never offer anything in our store that is meant to be put on a shelf and looked at. There is nothing in our offer that can’t be used! Our products are high quality and made of natural materials. The clothes and shoes you find with us are highly comfortable. We don’t carry the chique dress or blouse that you can hardly play in.

The look of all our products together has to be surprising, colorful, and not at all mainstream. Our goal is that you buy a piece in our store that will bring joy to your living room, or your kid’s room, or your closet. That, together with the fact that it is made in an honest and clean way. Voila! That was a lot of words, but that’s true.

family concept storeStudio Play


We had gone to Maison et Objet when we opened Rewind, which is how we discovered trade shows in Paris. Once we started with more fashion brands, it was logical to go to Playtime Paris! In Belgium, we have showrooms of course, but there are a few problems with using showrooms to build your assortment. To begin with, not all brands have a showroom or agency in Belgium. Then, if I were to visit all of them, it would take me two months nonstop!

By visiting Playtime Paris, I can see everything together in one place. I can have a total image of what’s going on for that season and make my choices more easily. I discover new brands, meet with those I already carry, and see all of their collections. It really helps to have this global view to decide where to put the weight of my budget for the season in just one or two days.

We have always found it really important to stay true to who we are and carry brands that not everybody is working with. When we find a new brand we really believe in, we start working with them right away. It’s one of the reasons we go to the trade show, to discover new brands. For example, we found Piupiuchick the first time they were at Playtime Paris. We felt like it was a great brand for us, so we immediately placed an order. Piupiuchick has been one of our loyal brands since then, and our clients know they can find their collections in our store.

We also often find small brands at Playtime that we like to try out in our store. Sometimes we continue working together, sometimes not, but it’s always great to find something new.




We are excited to meet the designers behind the brands we work with because we do not see each other often, only at Playtime. It’s always nice to see them in person, especially to see the excitement on their faces as they show us their new collection they’ve worked so hard on. 

We are always hoping to find new brands we have an instant crush for, too. We always have some brands in mind we really want to meet. Sometimes when we do, it’s not exactly what we hoped for. At the same time, it can be the opposite – we discover a brand and see it for the first time at the trade show which we did not expect to like so much.

studio play at playtime parisThe Studio Play Team at Playtime Paris


We love getting to see everyone in person, too! Thank you so much to Liesbeth for sharing the story of Studio Play with us. We cannot wait to discover Playtime Paris through the eyes of her and her team. Stay tuned on our Instagram to follow along live as they visit The Big Small Show!


P.S. Stay tuned for more from Studio Play coming this September!


All images from Studio Play
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Madeline Blankenship
Madeline Blankenship