by Jeremy Jones
Once upon a time in the magical land of Chestnut Hill, Pennsylvania, just over the moon and under the stars … Wait! That’s silly. How can you be over the moon and under the stars at the same time?
It’s OK – this is standard procedure in a fairy tale. Anyway, where was I? Oh, yes. We are sailing in a silver shoe to Villavillekula where our Fairy Godmother, Miss Thing-Finder, is just about to sell our emerald-green fairy wings to someone else. Just kidding. Remember? She told the same fib last year, just to be sure we would come to the big birthday party. So, don’t worry. All is well, and everyone will live happily ever after.
Now – back to reality. Even in reality, Villavillekula is magical.
Yes, there is going to be a big birthday party on Sunday, March 29, from noon to 5 p.m., to celebrate the shop’s one-year anniversary, since opening at 8135 Germantown Ave.
“I’m inviting all my kids,” said owner Beth Milley who is very much a fairy godmother to many children. When she says “her kids,” she doesn’t just mean her two handsome sons in college, she means all the kids she knows by name, face, size and smile, and who come to her shop with their moms and dads and grandparents, or just to stop by for a lollipop.
Milley is also a fairy godmother to grownups. She takes the hunt out of hunting when it comes to finding singularly special clothing and accessories for infants to age 8.
“I can’t stop!” said a grandmother trying to resist purchasing more gifts for her granddaughter as she made her way to the door.
“Everything in the shop is unique, not cookie-cutter, but the sort of style you want to dress your children in,” said Jessica from Chestnut Hill, the mother of four children under the age of 8, with another one due any minute now.
“If Beth doesn’t have what will match what I need, she approaches her vendors to find what I need, and have it in time.” said Jill from Willo Grove who has four children under the age of 10.
“Expect wonders!” said Lauren, a new mom from Wynnewood.
Wonders, indeed. Perhaps this is because Milley has channeled her muse and inspiration Pippi Longstocking, the popular title character in Swedish author Astrid Lindgren’s classic children’s book, first published in 1944, about the playful and unpredictable red-headed little girl with amusing braids who lived in a house called Villa Villekula with her horse and her monkey.
“I always loved Pippi and her spirit,” said Milley. “When I was a little girl, my mom called me a ‘Thing-Finder.’ In the book, Pippi describes herself as a Thing-Finder. You find ordinary things like a rusty can and make them into treasures.”
Milley knows a thing or two about treasures. For 18 years, she owned and operated Butterflies and Bullfrogs in Chalfont; a multiple award-winning resale shop for women and children. This year, Villavillekula (a full retail shop), is one of five children’s boutiques nominated by Philly Family Magazine for “Best Children’s Boutique.” The winner of the award will be announced March 15.
With her award-winning smile and her favorite Pippi quote in her heart – “I have never tried that before, so I think I should definitely be able to do that” – Milley has set sail in Chestnut Hill with flying colors and her “love of seeing through a child’s eyes.”
Milley is all about “quality, color and feel.” On buying trips she will feel the inside of a garment to make sure the texture will feel good against a child’s skin.
A substantial percentage of Milley’s inventory is handmade by over a dozen craftswomen, moms and grandmothers who have been with her for years. And some of these lines of clothing and accessories are sold exclusively at Villavillekula – only in the magical land of Chestnut Hill.
From ball gowns to christening gowns and beach wear to anywhere. For Easter-egg hunts and hunting for homework, you will surely find more than a few of your favorite things at Villavillekula.
My picks: the striped jersey dress and the whimsical jumper with bicycles and butterflies.
“I like everything to tell a story,” said Milley. “As Pippi said, ‘Everything great that ever happened in this world happened first in somebody’s imagination.’”