by Linda Mayer Flaherty
It is my deep rooted passion for sewing that led me to the baby business. (I was one of those students who took Sewing in Home EC in the 7th grade and actually loved the class.) In the years that followed, professions such as seamstress, designer and importer have all played important rolls in my journey as an entrepreneur/retailer.
In April, 1994, I took my love for sewing in a new direction. Nursery Décor, a small cottage business designing and making custom linens for nurseries was started. I designed and sewed custom linens for cribs, cradles and bassinets.
In a few short years, my home business grew and evolved into a retail store. On November 30th, 1996, Once upon a time, LLC, a children’s specialty shop, opened it doors at 67 Church Street, Crestline Village, in Mountain Brook, Alabama. This new dimension of the business created new opportunities as well as challenges. My vision was to continue to design crib linens but also to offer baby products that meet the highest standards for design, durability, workmanship and safety. Product mix was expanded to include nursery furniture, crib linens, decorative accessories and gifts. Every item was personally selected.
A few years later, layette and infant clothing were added to the product mix. Once upon a time, LLC soon outgrew the Church Street location and in October 2003, we moved to 229 Country Club Park in Crestline Village. This larger location allowed us to bring in more of the specialty items our customers were requesting.
As the business grew, so did our staff. My youngest daughter Sarah, who had previously worked with us during her college years, joined us in August 2005 as store manager, and buyer. With her she brought her love of art and design and quickly became a vital part of our design team lending her expertise in designing custom linens and nurseries. As a buyer, she has added a new perspective to the buying process.
As we continued to grow, we added a monogramming machine, and on site monogramming services. We have since added a second machine to the business and offer monogrammed services on linens in addition to the clothing.
Over the years, design opportunities have included two Decorators Show Houses, and participation in the Southern Living Idea House in Birmingham, Alabama. Once upon a time, LLC products have also found their way into the homes of many discerning clients including Courteney Cox.
Now in our thirteenth year of business, 2009 has proved to be as exciting as it is challenging. My daughter Sarah has become a part owner and together, we have expanded the business with the opening of a second location at 2900 18th Street South in Homewood, Alabama, and a new website. In addition, we welcomed the opportunity to move the Crestline store from 229 to 201 Country Club Park and are now enjoying two new locations.
In appreciation for our business, we believe in giving back to our community. Throughout the years, Once upon a time, LLC has been a consistent contributor and supporter of various local children’s charities, and a volunteer with local community groups and organizations.
As we begin our 16th year, I thank God for all of my blessings, too numerous to mention, but especially for the opportunity to work in a profession I love, with my daughter, and others who share my passion.