Magpie: Hand-Crafted Kid’s Clothes in the Central District
Malia Keene opened Magpie in 2011 in a neighborhood that less than a decade ago seemed to be filled with far more single twenty-somethings than young families. But with the number of strollers spotted on the street growing daily, Keene has found success at her neighborhood-centric children’s clothing and toy boutique next to Tougo Coffee on 18th Avenue in the Central District.
Magpie sells its own sweet and stylish line of clothes, shoes, hats, and diaper bags for babies, toddlers, and children up to age 8. Think reimagined leather Mary Jane’s, aviator hats, pint-sized Pendleton plaid jackets, and vibrant wool peacoats. There are also handpicked accessories, books, gifts, and curated consignment items lining the racks. Keene’s current favorite goods include Trunki rideable animal shaped suitcases and embroidable cloth growth charts.
After graduating from Seattle Central’s apparel design program and interning at shops around town, Keene settled into a post at high-end bridal boutique Cicada in 1998 and stayed with the company for more than a decade. “I did everything from sales to alterations to finally settling on being the lead seamstress for custom bridal and patternmaker,” she says.
The mother of a four-year-old daughter and a seven-year-old son, Keene struggled to find quality, stylish kids wearables and set to creating her own. After buying a house in the Central District in 2001, she began to imagine launching her own area store centered around kids.
SC: Can you talk about the community of merchants and neighbors working and living around Magpie?
MK: I live three blocks from Magpie. Many of the businesses, retail and otherwise, are owned by our neighbors. We see people we know everywhere we go--the grocery store, the park, restaurants, coffee shops. So many people choose to live and work here, and facets of our lives overlap. Our teachers turn out to be neighbors and customers become friends.
SC: Explain the ethos of the store.
MK: The shop definitely has a vintage vibe, but also a lot of crafts and classic toys. I don't get out much in the fashion world, so I go with what I know and what I like. I have a strong aesthetic in the shop and hope people come and discover they can consistently find something they will love.
SC: What sets the shop apart from similar Seattle children’s boutiques?
MK: That I make items in the shop and can do custom. I can experiment with different styles and get them out quickly. People love to see the production process and know exactly who is making the product and where it's being made.
SC: Where are you in the process of developing your own line?
MK: For the first year I made individual styles and pieces…that friends and family had really loved. Going forward it will be a more cohesive and complete line and more seasonally driven. I haven't yet decided if I will be doing wholesale. Right now I'm making everything myself, so that would be a big jump in production!
If You Go...
Where: 1408 18th Ave., Seattle.
When:Open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Contact: 206-860-6035; www.magpiekid.com.