The family ties that bind new Fort Worth children's boutique Collins + Conley are as cute as a little pink hairbow. Sisters-in-law Ashley Watten and Sarah Leafgren are opening the new store at The Shops at Clearfork on Saturday, June 12 after two years as a successful online business and popular pop-up.
The shop's namesakes are Ashley's daughter Collins and Sarah's daughter Conley, who were born just months apart, in November 2018 and February 2019. And the brick-and-mortar space is not just a dream come true for the sisters-in-law, but for their parents and spouses, too. From initial idea to final unpacking of boxes, the budding business has been a true family affair.
"If you would have told us even three months ago that we'd be opening a permanent retail location, we'd have laughed," says Ashley. "We thought with COVID, everything was moving online, but I just think people are dying to get out and shop in person."
The store fills a big need for a baby and children's boutique at The Shops at Clearfork — one reason, she says, that both the luxury development and loyal C + C customers asked them to set up a permanent space after a spring pop-up event.
Shoppers will find a wide range of baby and children's clothes for girls and boys from newborn to size 9. Among the many brands are popular labels Rylee + Cru, Quincy Mae, Pink Chicken, Me & Henry, and Angel Dear. There are also accessories, shoes, and some toys and gifts, she says.
A gift registry is in their long-term plans, but to start, she says, items from their shop can be listed on registries through Babylist.com.
It was actually during their own pregnancies with Collins and Conley that the best friends and sisters-in-law started dreaming up their business — and they weren't the only ones.
"We were both pregnant, and registering, and had a hard time finding local boutiques; all the places we used to shop were shutting down and places didn't have brands we liked," Ashley says. "We always said one day we're gonna start a baby and children's boutique with all the brands we love and want and want for our kiddos. Unbeknownst to us, my parents had started to talk about it on their own, and one day we all realized we were talking about the same thing."
They're a close-knit family, so they all pitched in to put plans in motion.
Ashley's brother Kyle Leafgren is married to Sarah; they met when Sarah was a bridesmaid at Ashley's wedding to Trey Watten. Kyle and Trey are in business together, as part owners of two Sylvan Learning Centers in Fort Worth.
"Our family is very entrepreneurial minded," says Ashley.
Still, she says, owning a retail shop is a whole new world for the sisters-in-law; "I feel like we are accidental business owners," she says. Ashley's background is in child development; Sarah is a nurse at Cook Children's.
One more major development has transpired since they first started the business: both couples have expanded their families. Sarah and Kyle now have Conley and Knox, and Ashley and Trey now have Collins and Leighton — a 4-month-old.
Thank goodness, Ashley says, everyone in the family — including the little ones' grandparents — have been working behind the scenes to get the store up and running.
Opening day June 12 will bring treats, snacks, balloons, raffles for giveaways, shopping discounts, a ball pit for kids, and more. They plan to host special events, such as fundraising nights, which they'll announce on their website and social media pages, they say.
Collins + Conley is at 5229 Monohans Ave., between Tiffany and Mizzen + Main. Regular hours will be 10 am-8 pm Saturday, 12-6 pm Sunday, 11 am-7 pm Monday-Thursday, and 10-8 pm Friday.