One of the things I miss most about living in The Big City is the ability to walk out of my door and be surrounded by great shops.  I never ordered online, instead I wandered around our Bucktown neighborhood and in a few blocks could find every necessity.
The Red Balloon was a favorite place to stop by and not only shop but be inspired by all things children.  Now The Red Balloon has grown up to a bigger space on the same Bucktown street and we chatted with owner, Jennifer, about upcoming trends, what we can find in the new space and shopping local!
The Little Style File:  How did The Red Balloon come to be?  What is the story behind the name of your shop?
The Red Balloon:  I started the store as a source for vintage and handmade furnishings for kids.  I carried a beautiful line of decoupage furniture from England initially, and I also found vintage American pieces, and custom bedding.  I soon started carrying some children’s clothing lines and this part of the business really took off.

In naming the store, I wanted a name that was reminiscent of the past, but still whimsical.  I always look to books for inspiration, and The Red Balloon picture book was in one of my collections!

 The Red Balloon

TLSF:  Congratulations on your new Bucktown space!  What new things will we find in the shop?

TRB:  Most importantly you will find space! There is much more room to move around while shopping.  We were busting at the seams of our old storefront.  You will also find more room dedicated to sizes 10-16yr clothing, for both boys and girls.

And I am in love with our decoupage dressing room.  I finally found use for my boxes of antique children's books!


TLSF:  What is your best selling item?

TRB:  Our initial tees are our most popular item.  They are made exclusively for us, and we create new colors every few months.  They are a great gift, and kids love showing off their initial. We carry them in infant sizes, up to 8 year old sizes.


TLSF:  Do you have any Back To School must haves you'd like to share?

TRB:  It’s terribly "practical-mom" of me, but we will be offering a great selection of lunchbox items.  I get tired of making my kids lunch, and dealing with ziplocs and tupperware, so I ordered fantastic lunchbox packaging this fall.  I figure if packing up lunches drives me crazy, chances are my customers feel the same way.

 The Red Balloon

TLSF:  What trends we can expect to see at The Red Balloon this fall?

TRB:  As a sweater-loving Midwesterner, I am happy to report that we are seeing great knits again!  We have adorable sweaters this year.  They are super soft and machine washable - both moms and kids will be happy.

For fall colors for girls, we will be seeing beautiful jewel tones, mixed with some of the 80's neon that we saw a bit of this summer.  There is also a lot of black, but we try to offer that more for older girls, and stick with fun colors for the younger kids.

For boys, we are always a go-to place for pants.  From what I hear from our customers, we have the best selection of boys pants, year-round!  The color trend for boys is still very Classic - navy, kelly green, mustard yellow.


TLSF:  How would you describe your kids' style?  What is your favorite thing hanging in their closet?

TRB:  My son is quite the dandy.  He loves his plaid suit from last winter (it’s hard to explain to him that he can't wear wool suits in 100 degree weather).  But his favorite things are bow ties.  He adores them.  We sell Urban Sunday ties - very cute.  My daughter loves easy-to-wear clothing, like her mom.  Cotton knit dresses, shorts and jumpers have been her go-to this summer.  She is always wearing Splendid and Love U Lots jumpers.

The Red Balloon

TLSF:  We love to shop local and independent businesses.  Can you give readers a tip on how they can find and support independent businesses in their area?

TRB:  When I decide to shop, I want three things: a unique experience, a personal connection with where my hard earned money is going, and I want to be surprised.  I know how important independent businesses are for communities, but I also need to have fun!  One idea is to approach shopping local like a tourist - just walk on in to a place you have never been before, and check it out!


Thanks, Jennifer, for chatting with us!  Be sure to stop by The Little Style File tomorrow for a super fun giveaway from The Red Balloon!

The Red Balloon has two Chicago locations:  1940 North Damon in Bucktown and 5407 North Clark in Andersonville.  Not a Chicago area resident?  Visit to shop online!

the red balloon