When you walk into Tadpole Apparel on the corner of Southeast 47th Terrace and Vincennes Boulevard in downtown Cape Coral, you will find children's clothing that's somewhat different from what would normally be found on hangers.
The articles are more upscale retro, maybe a little pricier, but all made with the care that grandma used when she sewed that little girl's first dress.
That's because all the clothing is handmade in the store by one woman, owner Donna Johnson.
These sisters wear matching outfits
— an example of the clothing available
at Tadpole Apparel.
Johnson has been in business for a little over a year, sharing her space with her husband, Todd, who bakes artisan bread to create a unique, but successful combination where "Todd feeds you and I clothe you."
Making clothes has always been one of Johnson's passions, as it was around her much of her early life.
"I've been doing it since I could hold a needle in my hand. My grandmother made quilts and my mother had eight children so she sewed for the girls," Johnson said.
Johnson started her own business while she and Todd lived in the Bahamas because she couldn't work there, being an ex-pat.
"I was bored, so I started making clothing again. I told my husband I really wanted my own business," Johnson said. "I went back home and started an online business."
Johnson briefly closed up shop when they moved back to the Bahamas so Todd could start his bread business, but they returned to Florida when business slowed and she began selling her clothes at the Farmer's Market.
"People kept telling me my clothes were too upscale and that I needed a shop and wanted me to go to Sanibel," Johnson said. "But I lived in the Cape and we decided to use his name to draw my business."
Business has been strengthening, and with the Farmer's Market and season approaching, Johnson said she expects business to increase even more.
Tadpole Apparel is an appropriate name, as Johnson makes clothes for children, mostly girls, from newborn to middle-school age. It's is all made in the store and most of the materials bought locally.
Johnson said prices average about $25, with some of her fancier merchandise selling at between $40 and $90. They look nothing like you would get at a big-box store.
"I think what they sell nowadays in children's clothes is ugly. I like where you dress girls in dresses below the knee and boys aren't wearing a thug on their shirt," Johnson said.
Tadpole Apparel is open Tuesday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
For more, call 540-3939.