In Marketplace

Andie Zacher is livin' the dream. Truly.

In Marketplace

Little Monsters sells unique boys' clothing.

In Marketplace

The shop is bright and colorful.

In Marketplace

Who doesn't want a gerbil dress?

In Marketplace

Little Monsters opened in August.

Little Monsters off to a strong start

Andie Zacher has a 16-year-old daughter, but while she's at school, Zacher spends her days enjoying other peoples' kids thanks to her new children's clothing and toy boutique called Little Monsters, 2445 N. Farwell Ave.

"Business has been wonderful. I would be lucky to stay this busy," says Zacher, the former manager of the now-defunct Boutique Bebe on Downer Avenue. "I am seeing so many of my favorite people from Boutique Bebe and meeting so many new, fresh, smiling faces. I am beyond thrilled."

Little Monsters offers quality children's clothing made by local and national designers from size newborn to 10, along with shoes, hair accessories, foreign language games, stuffed animals, puppets, wooden puzzles, retro candy and more. Zacher says her best sellers, so far, have been a six-pack of silly mustaches and goofy glasses.

"I cannot keep them in stock," she says.

An interesting aspect of the shop is that it features just as much apparel for little boys as it does for little girls. Zacher was told by other boutique owners that boys' clothing doesn't sell, but she has found just the opposite. Most likely she sells so much because her taste in little boys' clothing is impeccably funky and adorable, offering items like vintage-looking motorcycle jackets, cyclops hoodies and tiny fedoras embroidered with the Union Jack.

Her girls' clothing is cute, too, with plenty of pink and non-pink pieces to choose from. Monster's top-selling line of clothing for little girls is by Morgan and Milo.

Zacher says the transition from being an employee to an owner went smoothly for her and that she's enjoying running her own shop. Also, she doesn't mind working 12-15 hours a day and deeply appreciated the process of putting it together.

"There is not one thing that me or my husband didn't do ourselves, we were so hands on, partly because we had to be to save money," she says. "By doing everything yourselves makes it even more worthwhile. Anybody can just go pay someone to do something for them, and believe me, that is not only lovely, but it can also be a wonderful luxury, but in the end, doing it ourselves made the difference."

Zacher admits it was a little scary starting a business during a struggling economy, but she says because she had already lost her lob when Boutique Bebe went out of business, it seemed like the right time to strike out on her own.

"I lost my job, and with that, I lost my identity. My work for me means so much more than a job. It always has. I know that it sounds kind of corny, but I just had to try, because I didn't want to regret having the chance to do it and not trying to make it work," she says.

Zacher says she never imagined herself owning her own business. She grew up on Milwaukee's North Side with her single mother. She hopes to soon have an event at the shop to benefit lower-income and at-risk children.

"Because that's what I was," she says. "If anybody would have told me when I was a kid that I would own my own business one day, I would have never, ever believed them. It's like living a dream.

"The first week I worked the store, I had this weird feeling, but I couldn't quite put a finger on what it was. Then one day, I called my husband and told him that I realized that when I worked in the store, I felt like a kid 'playing store' and that was the sensation I was having. How cool is that?"


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