There’s a new children’s shop in town! Bitte, which means “please” & “thank you” in German, recently opened its doors to the online world and has already made quite an imprint. And we’ll admit, this little shop is close to our hearts. Bitte was cofounded by Maia McDonald Smith, our Art Director! We’ve obviously known about Maia’s inherent eye for great design for awhile, and now – parents, aunts, uncles, or even baby shower attendees can get a dose of her aesthetic firsthand. The online marketplace is filled with adorable, high quality goods that both children and adults will love. With a new business comes a new office, and today – Maia is welcoming us into her brand new headquarters! Filled with Bitte wares and a never-ending abundance of natural light, this is one gorgeous place to get to work.
What inspired the concept of Bitte?
After the birth of my daughter, I was looking for items for her that I were not only beautifully designed but also had sustainability in mind. I didn’t like the idea of buying her a lot of cheap plastic or synthetic things that would not only quickly end up in a landfill but as a designer were not very aesthetically pleasing. I wanted items that she would have for years. Well-crafted wood and cloth toys that would grow with her, and the highest quality cotton and organic clothing that could be handed down to future siblings or even cousins. The types of items that are really cherished by a family and held onto for future generations. My mom has been in the natural toy business for over 2 decades, so with her experience and my vision we knew we could create something unique in the marketplace.
How did you come up with the name?
The name was hard. This is a business idea that my mom and I had talked about starting for years and we’ve been brainstorming name ideas for that same amount of time. It’s like naming a child and I had a hard time doing that as well. It means both “please” and “you’re welcome” in German. I took German as a child, went to german camp one year (nerd alert), and traveled to Germany as a teenager and always felt an affinity to the country. I loved the dual meaning, especially since the items we sell are often given as gifts. And I loved the sound of the word, even if you don’t know it’s meaning it feels fun and child-like. Germany also has a rich history in the toy industry so all together it seemed fitting.
We love that! Stepping inside the office is so fun! What was your inspiration when you began the design process?
I wanted it to be bright and airy. I do a lot of the sites photography in the office, so the walls had to be bright white. I used Colorhouse Bisque .01 which has been perfect. It’s a low VOC eco-friendly paint which I love. Since my daughter spends a lot of time in here while I’m working, it also had to have space for some of her books and toys even though she usually just wants to play with my office supplies. I also knew I wanted tons of plants to bring life to the space. I’m really happy with how it turned out.
We can’t help but notice a few Bitte gems in the space. What are some of your favorite Bitte products right now?
It’s hard to choose favorites. I love our Shibori harem pants because they were one of the first products we developed for the Bitte brand. Designed originally for Ingrid by my sister and my mom, they are a fun gender-neutral staple. I also love all our Holztiger wooden animals – such beautiful and classic toys that can be played with at any age. For apparel, my favorite brands right now are Tiny Cottons and Hux Baby and our customers agree, they have been flying off the shelves. You can see even more of our favorite items as well as curated picks from top bloggers like Ashley from Hither & Thither and Erin of Apartment 34 on the site.
You’ve had quite a successful launch — both with the shop and a super cute blog. Any spoilers on what else we can expect from Bitte?
Thanks! You can expect to see even more curated collections from top influencers and bloggers, including Rue’s very own Crystal. More behind the scenes with many of our makers, which I’m really excited about because I love to learn about the people behind a product and I think our customers do too. As well as so many new brands and items arriving weekly!
You initially raised funds on Kickstarter. Any tips for future campaigns?
It’s a lot of work. You really need to set aside the time to focus on the crowdfunding campaign. For about 3 months that was basically all we were working on. Also don’t be afraid to reach out to anyone and everyone. I was emailing friends and acquaintances, some who I hadn’t seen in years and the support I received was amazing. Also do a video! It’s the first time most people are learning about what you’re doing and so you don’t want to skimp on the details when showing what the campaign is about. The easiest way to do that is with a video.
Thanks, Maia! We love watching Bitte grow and can’t wait to see what’s next.
For a closer look at the office, and details about all of the products pictured, start the slideshow!