Let’s take a trip in the Wayback Machine, shall we? Goodness, it’s been a great trip, hasn’t it?
“Well, how it all started is me being an obsessed mom,” says Deanna Stewart, proprietor of Everything But The Princess. She was shopping online for European fashions from stores all over Europe, because 13 years ago, there really wasn’t that much in the USA. At that time, more European brands, particularly French and Dutch brands, were beginning to export to the US, exposing mothers of young children in the states to a different design sensibility. In 2004, with her last little one off to school, Ms. Stewart found herself wondering what to do with her time. She had a degree in business and finance, but living in a rural area found work in her field limited. Lucky for us, because she also had a love for fashion.
A friend said, “You know more about these designers and European clothing than anyone I know. You should open a store.” Deanna wonders what gave her the guts to think she could pull it off, but she thought, “what the heck? Why not?” She had empty days with the kids now at school all day long, so she simply opened a website and ordered a dozen of her favorite brands. Deanna and her friend brainstormed ideas for a name. The concept at the time was one store that had the clothes, the shoes, the hair bows, all in one place. Deanna was tired of scouring the internet for items to complete an outfit. She wanted a one-stop shop where busy moms could get the whole look without spending countless hours on Google, tracking items down and spending a fortune in shipping to get it. That was the vision – “a princess closet,” everything but the child. Then the name Everything But The Princess came into being. “It’s too long,” her husband warned, but that’s Deanna. She did it anyway. And it may be long, but it really describes her concept to a T: Everything – but the princess. It was the store she was dreaming of, with everything she needed in one place.
That first season, under the slogan “Only the best for our little princesses,” Everything But The Princess offered Baby Gassy Gooma, Baby Nay, Biscotti, Cakewalk, Chatti Patti, Greggy Girl, Indygo, Katanda, Kate Mack, Keedo, Lillian Grace, Meli Meli, Mim Pi, Room Seven, and Shilav. She never dreamed that Everything But The Princess would be more than a hobby to keep her busy while the kids were gone all day. Each season, she added another two or three brands, and over time, the little shop grew. Deanna relished spending the day talking with people who shared the same passion for fashion, particularly European designs, that she did. She had nobody else who care about this stuff in her life, so it was “awesome to chat with ladies who were actually excited about clothes.” She laughs that her circle was ready to have her committed for spending so much money on a toddler. The just didn’t understand her love of quality, of design, of uniqueness.
That special something that brings art to the everyday in the form of design. Everything But The Princess not only filled her time with something she enjoyed, but it opened up a great network of like-minded women to work with on a daily basis. It brought her family together on the project too, with the kids (Amanda and Katie) and her loving husband Ray working alongside her, steaming dresses, putting things on hangers. “They really helped me to accomplish my dream,” she remembers.
By the time Everything But The Princess had been in business 5 years, this little shop was really expanding. Deanna had discovered that she wasn’t alone in her desires, and a dozen brands were being added each year. More gifts, shoes, hair accessories were added, broadening their selection significantly and keeping EBTP on track as the one-stop-shop that Deanna had envisioned. Sales grew, as did repeat business from around the world, with a large international following.
Inevitably, as will happen, Deanna Stewart became a grandmother. “She really doesn’t seem old enough to be a grandma,” a friend laughs, “she’s just too stylish!” As the grandmother-to-be of a little boy, she went looking for a gift. Finding a similar drought of acceptable [to her taste] items for boys, she did what any entrepreneur grandma would do: she opened a boy’s shop.
In 2010, The Little King Boutique opened, with an equally long but descriptive name. A haven for those shopping for boys and looking for something that’s just a little different than the pablum usually served up for little boys. Something interesting, for goodness sake. Something you’ll be proud to see him in. Something that shows you care what he looks like. The Little King Boutique follows the same principle as the girls’ shop. What Deanna found was that just as looking great is good for little girls’ self-esteem – it’s good for boys too. As before, her “why not?” thinking brought a crowd of like-minded shoppers to her little treehouse on the internet.
In 2011, Everything But The Princess opened its first brick-and-mortar store, a little boutique in Delta Junction, Alaska, Deanna’s hometown. Yes, of course it was pink. Bright pink. “It’s a cheerful environment to work in, and it’s nice that our local fans can come to see us in person,” says an employee. Can’t get to Alaska? That’s just fine. Everything But The Princess still has the friendliest personal service on the internet. “It’s just like being there,” says a regular customer from California. “You can ask for advice, get measurements, even get recommendations for accessories!” The internet has brought the world closer together. It’s allowed a small-town dream to become a reality for one style-obsessed mom. Today, Everything But The Princess has gone from a teeny hobby store to a 1500 square foot boutique and 5 online employees to serve you best. Each of these employees takes pride in the business and genuinely cares about customers. No matter how big they get, it’s this personal attention that will continue to win the loyalty of their customers – in Alaska and around the world.
~ Because they’re not just clothes, They’re memories. ~