Have you ever wondered who the individuals are behind the magic of Baby & Company? Wonder no more, and get acquainted with Jill and Wayne Donnelly–company owners, fashion enthusiasts, and well-traveled Seattleites. Learn how this intrepid duo met, where they love to people-watch, and how they bring the Baby & Company identity to life.
How did the two of you meet?
Jill: Wayne and I met at a Seattle gym called The Met! Although, we had known each other casually over the years.
Wayne: I had returned to Seattle from schooling in Europe and I found myself back at that same gym. She and I were the only ones there on a Friday evening; our first date was teriyaki chicken in gym wear.
What is the last job each of you had before taking on Baby & Company?
Jill: Before Wayne and I bought the store, I had been the manager and buyer at Baby & Company since 1987. It had been my favorite store since it had opened in 1976 (I was a senior in high school). When it became known that Baby and Uri–the original owners–were ready to retire, I was faced with working for someone else or working for myself. Wayne was ready for a career change and the opportunity was right at our feet. We decided to keep the Seattle icon from closing and felt confident we could ready her for the next generation.
Wayne: I was a watchmaker. I managed the After Sales Service Department for Ben Bridge Jeweler here in Seattle. I was trained and certified in Switzerland and had a very long career in this field. I miss the craft. My day to day at Baby & Company keeps me very busy, but I hope to find some time to get back to the bench in the future, even just as a hobby.
Which city do you think has the best fashion and/or street style?
Jill: Hands down Paris. France cherishes and celebrates its genuine love of fashion and dressing well. Like it’s love of food, fashion is built into the French cultural landscape. Needless to say, the street style NEVER disappoints. I will say, Milan is a close second.
Wayne: I think Paris as well. I love the fact that it still remains the most efficient place to do our buying. I am personally much more influenced by current street style versus what we see in the showrooms. I’ve become a huge Francophile; we find something new in Paris every time we visit.
If you had to choose a historical figure or someone from popular culture that best represents who Baby is, who would you choose?
Jill: Baby Burstyn of course–she is the real deal! She and her husband Uri opened the store to offer Seattle a whole different shopping experience previously nonexistent in the city. This was 1976! Punk and disco glam rock were driving fashion. Baby and Uri were 28 when they opened the store. They went to New York, London, Paris, Japan, and Scandinavia to source the most current and interesting clothes and objects. Baby was bold, courageous, unstoppable, fierce, and smart. Those are all the attributes found in the spirit of who Baby is! Other fashion icons for Baby & Company include Diane Keaton, Lauren Hutton, and Katherine Hepburn.
Wayne: For me it’s Barack Obama, now more than ever. Style, grace, and courage. He had it all.
My good friend Matt Vaughan has owned Easy Street Records in West Seattle since forever. He was my role model when I was staring down the prospect of becoming a business owner. Matt has prospered through some pretty drastic changes in technology over the years and he’s reinvented himself and remained fluid as a retailer; I consider him the Mayor of the West Seattle Junction. Matt’s wife Kisha has been featured in our Who is Baby campaign; I think Matt is plenty Baby too.
Who is your current favorite designer that Baby & Company carries?
Jill: That’s a tough one because I only work with vendors I admire and align with. It’s like asking a mother who her favorite child is! The designers I wear the most are Ter et Batine, Hache, Marsèll, R13, Sibal Sarel, and Louiza Babouryan. And Lola hats!
Wayne: Kristensen du Nord. I love everything about them: the fabrics, the colors, and the washes. The garments even come with a specific fragrance, which is normally not my thing. Also, they’re the last of the designers that we’ve had from the start. They’ve had the same folks running things all along, and we have a wonderful relationship with them.
Describe each of your personal styles in three words:
Jill: I would describe my personal style as boy meets girl with a dash of the unexpected.
Wayne: "No Holds Barred!” kidding. Functional, bespoke, curious.
What are you most excited about for Baby & Company’s future?
Jill: I am most excited to share Baby & Company through Pop-ups. We will always keep you surprised and wanting more!
Wayne: Agreed. Pop-ups are such an exciting part of our business. Looking forward to exploring some new territory this year.