Bright Beginnings & Bee-yond co-owner Sally Whitehouse says her children's clothing boutique is keeping kids cool in more than one way.

Bright Beginnings offers clothing for babies and young children that is stylish and made of cotton, one of the best warm-weather fabrics. Whitehouse said she and her husband opened the first Bright Beginnings store in 1984 after they could not find cotton clothing in Austin for their children.

"We thought there was a need for it," she said.

Bright Beginnings keeps business local when possible, Whitehouse said. From cribs to tie-dye cotton shirts, many of the products carried at Bright Beginnings are made by Austinites.

Whitehouse said customers enjoy buying from local merchants and knowing the story behind the clothes.

"I'm a networker at heart; I love connecting people," she said.

After being in businesses for 28 years, Whitehouse said the store carries proven, reliable brands while still occasionally trying out new brands. Bright Beginnings employees are informed about everything in the store and can answer almost any question, Whitehouse said.

"We really feel like we have great manufacturers who stand by their products," she said.


About 15 years ago, the Whitehouses opened a second location in Westlake.

Whitehouse said she is proud that both stores can serve someone looking for a quick, cheap birthday gift as well as a grandparent who wants to buy a full range of clothes for a grandchild.

In addition to the two locations, customers can purchase Bright Beginnings' products online. The website, launched in 2000, gives details about the items for sale.

"We started the website with same viewpoint as what we do when people walk in the store," Whitehouse said. "We tell them what they want to know."

Loyal customers

Interacting with customers is the best part of the job, Whitehouse said. She said she enjoys getting to know the customers.

Westlake resident Jennifer Vinklarek has been going to Bright Beginnings since she was pregnant with her now 3-year-old daughter. She said she liked the clothing selection and that it was a boutique store.

"It feels good when I go there and know that it's an Austin store, and it's not a huge chain store," she said. "It feels like you're in a neighborhood store, which I like."


In addition to clothing, the Bright Beginnings & Bee-yond in Westlake has a toy department.

The toy department has puzzles, board games, dolls and stuffed animals.

Bright Beginnings & Bee-yond co-owner Sally Whitehouse said the store started selling the toys after expanding in 2001.

Bright Beginnings & Bee-yond, 701 S. Capital of Texas Hwy., Ste. B280, 328-8989,