New baby boutique will nestle into Wrangell this summer

A berry pink jumpsuit with pleated sleeves and a whimsical coral reef pattern; a sea-green onesie covered in cartoon octopuses, each of them unique; organic oils, teas and lotions for postpartum moms -all this and more will be available at Hannah Miethe's new online baby shop, Little Nestlings Boutique, which is slated to open early this summer.

"I grew up here in Wrangell my whole life and I saw a need for children to have clothing," Miethe said. "I don't see a lot of postpartum things in town or things for mothers. Usually, if you need something and you're in a rush to find it, you can't find it here in town."

The boutique will launch June 1 and will become a regular presence at the Nolan Center's community markets. Its name - Little Nestlings - was inspired by Miethe's family.

Tawney Crowley designed the logo, which depicts a nest with three eggs, surrounded by Southeast wildflowers. It represents the three Miethe sisters and their Alaska home.

Miethe's firsthand knowledge of Wrangell family life influences all aspects of her business plan, from the products she buys to the way she plans to sell them.

Unlike many stores in big cities, which order large quantities of their most popular designs in every size, Little Nestlings Boutique will avoid duplicates in its inventory. "I'm trying not to order an abundance of the same style or the same print," she said. "It's such a small town. I just don't want everyone having the same swimsuit when they show up at the pool." She recalls attending a Christmas recital wearing the same dress as another girl and wants to help kids find one-of-a-kind pieces to express their unique style.

She prioritizes products that are biodegradable, reusable, chemical-free and dye-free.

Growing up on an island, Miethe spent countless hours on the beach, where she'd often find discarded shoes and toys buried in the sand. "Things that are left behind have such an impact on our Earth," she said. "And they're there forever. I want to leave as small a print as I can."

Many of her toys are composed of silicone, making them dishwasher-safe and mold-resistant - perfect for kids who like to play in the mud on rainy days or take their toys on a boat upriver.

Miethe is proud not only of her products, but their prices. Inflation and high shipping costs have put a dent in the community's purchasing power, so she's taken care to research whether each piece of inventory is worth the cost. "I've researched all of this stuff and I know what I carry. ... I'm very passionate about what I have."

She plans to start a family on the island and hopes to provide mothers with the kinds of high-quality baby products, toys and clothes that she would want to use.

Starting a business is a longtime dream of Miethe's. Entrepreneurial since childhood, she'd spend her days writing up business plans in her journal for the candy store she hoped to open one day. Her goals have shifted from confectionary to chemical-free kids' products, but her drive to own a business has remained.

The pandemic motivated her to make those dreams a reality this year. "When COVID happened, it was really a realization of, 'wow, we really need a way in the future to make money from home," she said. "I started to think really hard during that time."

Then, when her niece was born in January, she became aware of the community's need for baby supplies and maternity clothes. "If (my sister) needed new clothes or something, she needed to order them," Miethe recalled. "Then when they arrived, they wouldn't fit."

As a new mom, her sister was already exhausted. The cycle of buying clothes, waiting for them to arrive, then returning them only added to her stress.

To alleviate this struggle, Little Nestlings Boutique will provide prompt, free delivery in town.

The shop will be online-only, catering to Wrangell and other communities in Southeast. However, Wrangell mothers will get first dibs on the selection. Miethe plans to bring her inventory to the monthly community market before making it available for sale online.

The website will launch the night before July 1 and inventory will be available for in-person purchase at the July 1 community market.

In the future, Miethe hopes to have a storefront, where she can establish herself as a community resource by holding fun activities for kids, like painting classes. "Our community does a great job at making fun things for the kids to do," she said. "I want to be a part of that."

She may also develop a baby shower registry program once her business is up and running.

"I really want to work with the moms in Wrangell," she said. "The moms really deserve a pat on the back. ... I want to be able to be reached out to anytime."

 

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