Brianna Ardizzone, 8, celebrated her sixth birthday by making shirts and eating candy at Appliké Couture on East 75th Street. Photo: Courtesy of Appliké Couture
The colorful and decorative window display of children’s T-shirts, hoodies and onesies, emblazoned with drawings of hearts and cherries, and sayings such as “smile forever” and “vintage,” as well as accessories like backpacks and toys, is hard to miss when walking past Appliké Couture on East 75th Street.
Felicia Wollerstein, 61, and her husband Mark Wollerstein, 66, opened the children’s clothing and accessory store five years ago this month.
“We had just moved into the neighborhood and my husband saw the empty space and said ‘let’s do this,’” said Felicia Wollerstein, who worked in children’s fashion for about two decades prior to opening the store.
What makes Appliké Couture stand out is that children can pick their own designs, which are then added to clothes via a heat press. “It’s a very personalized service and we have customers from day one who still stop in.” Wollerstein said.
Currently, some of the most popular appliqués are unicorns, rainbows and various emojis.
Another part of the store’s appeal are the birthday parties. The store can accommodate up to 20 children (they can take celebrations outside if need be). Appliké Couture hosts about three or four such occasions each month.
Brianna Ardizzone, 8, celebrated her sixth birthday at Appliké and, recalling that she and her friends “made shirts and ate candy,” called the day “a lot of fun.” Brianna is still a regular at the store.
“They have a lot of cool things and appliqués,” she said. Her favorite custom-designed shirt features a “cupcake.”
Brianna’s mother, Barri Ardizzone, raved that “Felicia really makes Brianna feel special.”
“They really are amazing,” Ardizzone said of the Wollersteins. “In addition to a terrific selection of clothes, it’s a great community store that, for example, does fundraisers for schools.”
Appliké supplies school apparel for a number of Upper East side public schools, including P.S. 77 Lower Lab, P.S. 158, P.S. 290, and P.S.6
Ann Marie Meissner, has shopped with her twin 13-year-old daughters for more than four years. She called the shop a “great, unique concept.”
“When they were younger, they’d pick out their own decals, but now prefer buying plain shirts,” she said of her daughters.
For parents who might like to have a day for themselves, dropping their kids off on East 75th Street between First and York Avenues might be the way to go. Along with designing their own clothes, children can also spend time at two dance studios, The American Youth Dance Theater and Manhattan Dance Academy that share the south side of the street, and can also visit the Art Center and the School of Rock on the north side of the block.
Felicia Wollerstein recalled her favorite moment as when one of her early customers, Bella, a second-grader, was asked to do a “before and after” story for school, and did it about Felicia Wollerstein and the store – the blank shirt was “the before” and the decorated shirt was “the after.”
For its fifth anniversary celebration Appliké Couture is planning two special nights, one for kids and another for mothers.
“From the day that we opened nearly five years ago, we have maintained a friendly creative environment and helped kids transform garments into their own creations,” Wollerstein said. “We look forward to seeing the smiles on their faces for many more years to come.”