Cape Town Meets California
Naartjie Custom Kids, Inc.
Salt Lake City, Utah
CEO and president: Joe Franceschi
Locations: 52 U.S. locations
Naartjie Kids, named after the Afrikaans word for a small, sweet citrus fruit, opened its first store in Cape Town, South Africa, in 1992. The chain designs and sells clothes that are as fresh, comfortable and natural as its target consumer: children 10 and younger.
“Kids are young and vibrant and our clothes capture that,” says president and CEO Joe Franceschi.
“That’s what differentiates us. Almost every garment we sell comes in six color options. No one else does that. Because our fabrics are garment-dyed, our colors are much fresher, brighter and softer.”
Naartjie Kids strives to provide a “unique fusion of fashionable European styling with the more casual styling of Cape Town and California.” The first U.S. store opened in 2001 in Santa Clara, Calif.; there are now 52 locations in 22 states.
The stores, which average 1,500 sq. ft., are brightly lit with maple wood floors, light-colored bamboo perimeter fixtures and pastel wall accents.
Naartjie Kids designs 11 collections a year “so everything is always fresh,” Franceschi says. “And everything is designed to not only be kid-friendly, but also so everything can mix and match.”
Naartjie began franchising this year and now has nine franchised stores in Saudi Arabia. It plans to open 35 to 40 company-owned stores in the United States and South Africa over the next three years.