Custom baby shower gifts grow into storefront operation for Danville woman
The birth of a business
What started as a way to give unique presents to the moms-to-be in her life has launched a business for a Danville woman.
Tanner Estes, 20, started making baby clothes during her senior year at Danville High School. She didn’t know it would lead to a brick-and-mortar business; she just wanted to give meaningful gifts.
“Everybody around me was pregnant at the time,” she said, explaining that her boyfriend’s three sisters and her older sister were all pregnant — four women total.
“I hated going to baby showers and bringing the same pack of onesies that everyone else was bringing. That just didn’t feel personal to me,” Estes said. “I’ve always been crafty … I purchased one of those little monogrammed machines and started doing simple onesies.”
Then, she started sewing with a sewing machine again. Estes said she had learned when she was young from her “Nana,” Betty Branham. So, with the help of her Aunt Robin Moler, Estes started again.
“I started making onesies and shorts, just as baby shower gifts. Word spread and everybody wanted something to take to baby showers,” she said. “If it wasn’t for my pregnant friends, I probably wouldn’t have gotten any business.”
She launched “shoptann” on Instagram, selecting the name because of the relation to her personal account, “allisontann.”
“It just stuck,” Estes said.
She credits the ease of Instagram for small business owners as a big reason why it was able to spread nationwide.
“I have customers all over the country. I’ve shipped to over 30 states,” Estes said. “It has really helped me.”
Estes said she loves that things can be personal. For one customer with twin girls, she found Paw Patrol-themed fabric in pink and purple, and made matching monogrammed onesies and a matching bow. For another, it was a Mickey Mouse-themed outfit with a matching bow. She’s also made special shorts and a bow tie for a little guy, along with other special items.
Some of her favorite orders are ones that might be more challenging, including those that push gender norms, such as finding fabrics for young girls or boys that verge beyond florals and sports, respectively.
“Sometimes I just go and stand in Hobby Lobby or JoAnn’s Fabrics for hours and just think. I gather my inspiration that way,” Estes said. “It’s fun for me — makes it a little harder and more challenging.”
She held a grant opening for her Perryville Road storefront on May 21. Estes said she wanted to come up with a new name for the store, but “nothing felt right,” so she kept what worked — shoptann, all lowercase.
Her store is in the Danville Square Shopping Center, near Big Lots. The store is tucked into the corner of the complex.
She keeps some fabric on hand in the store to let parents or children pick what they want.
Besides clothes for children and babies, she’s also started making clothes for women, including kimonos, maxi dresses and tunics.
Making kimonos began when she wanted one for herself, but couldn’t find any within her price range. “I finally said, you know what, this is the one thing I’m going to make for myself.”
Estes has also started hand-making maternity items, after listening to an expectant mother who would share how she struggled to find things that fit.
“She inspired me to start making maternity tunics because she would try stuff on and I would listen to what she was saying — ‘the arms are too tight,’ or ‘it’s not long enough,’ or ‘my belly shows when I raise my arms up,’” Estes said. “I would try to listen to what she was uncomfortable about.”
She also carries dresses and jewelry in the store.
Her dressing rooms are decorated with positive messages because she said she understands how painful trying on clothes can be.
“I hate going into a dressing room. It’s very geared toward women and positivity,” Estes said.
Estes, who is attending Eastern Kentucky University, said it is a lot to keep the business going and to attend school, but said she enjoys the challenge.
SO YOU KNOW
shoptann is open 2-5 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, and noon-2 p.m. Saturdays in Danville Square Suites, 1714 Perryville Road, Suite 112. Check the shoptann Children’s and Women’s Boutique on Facebook for any schedule changes.
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