Penny Lane Emporium: The shop of Lily and Quinn
By J. Chambless
Shannon Blake, owner of Penny Lane Emporium in Kennett Square. (Photo by Richard L. Gaw)
By Samantha Ferraro
Behind the scenes at Penny Lane
Emporium, a hip and funky children's clothing, accessory and gift
shop in Kennett Square, the woman running it all is Shannon Blake, a
Chadds Ford resident and local hip mom.
But the real stars of the show, who ultimately influenced Blake to leave her 15-year retail position in Philadelphia with Urban Outfitters to open a new shop five minutes from her home are her two daughters, 9-year-old Lily and 6-year-old Quinn. A quick look around the store will tell the visitor that it is designed around Lily and Quinn.
“The commute to Philadelphia, paired with the corporate hours I was working, was taking me away from my family,” Blake said. “I felt the need to reinvent my career with the things I’d learned from my time at Urban. I considered what I knew -- which was retail, kids, and being a mom -- so I utilized that in the best way that I could.”
The store is both whimsical and fun for – quite honestly – all ages. It's styled with fun colors, a vintage tin ceiling, and handmade fixtures and displays made by Blake’s father. The shop and online store offer fun wares for children while also simplifying the lives of busy parents in need of a quick gift. Clothing sizes range from newborns to young teens, with a wide selection of styles to fit everyone’s wants. The store offers brands such as Tea Collection, Chaser, Native Shoes, Hayden Los Angeles, SunnyLife Australia, and many more.
“I drew a lot of my inspiration from Urban,” Blake said. “Store environment is always their top priority. Their goal is to draw customers in, make them stay, and always offer something new. My idea was to create a space that isn’t too childish, but rather an elevated kids concept for the young and the young at heart.”
Blake carefully constructed everything to make for the best shopping experience. She made a space for younger children to play and be entertained while their parents take some time to shop. Children’s movies play on a loop in a tucked-away nook where kids can sit down and relax for a bit after a busy day of roaming around town with mom or dad.
While Penny Lane carries a wide variety of clothing and accessories, it is also known for the events that are hosted in the remodeled back room space, aptly titled, “The Alley at Penny Lane.” Upon walking into the event space, parents and children are greeted by a large mural, painted by Chester County artist Hannah Kelleher. Adorned with a blue floor, festive curtains, and jazzy twinkle lights, the roon gives kids an opportunity to be creative and express themselves through crafting events, yoga workshops, music classes and more.
Blake loves partnering with other creative minds in the community, especially local moms, to help facilitate these events. The workshops also give parents a chance to relax and shop for their little ones.
“There was a demand for a creative community space for kids and a willingness from other awesome moms to share their artistic talents and grow their own brands,” Blake said.
Having a newly organized schedule – while still exceptionally hectic with placing orders, working weekends, receiving shipments, and maintaining her brand – Blake has found that she can spend more impactful moments with her children. She has mornings available to be there when they wake up, make them breakfast, and see them off on the bus. She also greets them after school when the bus drops them off at Penny Lane. She can hear about their days and partake in the after-school pick-ups and drop-offs, which is an improvement over being out of the house before the kids were even awake.
Going forward, Blake would like to continue growing the Penny Lane brand through collaborations with more local artists and charitable organizations. She’s always looking for new ways to get people involved with the store. As a mother, an entrepreneur, a wife and an involved member of the community, Blake has many things to balance. But with so many inspiring women in Kennett Square who live similar lives of running a business, taking care of their kids, and making sure everyone is out the door on time, there’s always someone to offer a friendly piece of advice.
While the task of maintaining a business has many moving parts, Blake wouldn’t trade the opportunity to connect with the Kennett Square community.
To learn more about Penny Lane Emporium, visit shop.pennylaneemp.com.