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KooKoo Bear Kids Owner Talks Expansion, Weathering Tough Economy

Tara Mediate, owner of KooKoo Bear Kids, shares her dream of owning a children's boutique.

What is the business and how long has it been going?

KooKoo Bear Kids started in 2003 as a result of Tara Mediate's dream to own a children's store of high quality, unique products not found in the malls or at super centers. With three boys at home, she never had time to go shopping, particularly for children's clothing, décor and gifts. Mediate figured she wasn't the only mom who was looking for a convenient way to shop for these items and KooKoo Bear Kids was born.

Mediate knew what kinds of products she wanted and where to buy them. She got capital from her husband to start the business; and her sister - who is also a co-founder - brought experience designing and developing catalogs. They gathered inventory, created a website, set up order processing and shipping, and developed a catalog to sell their products.

A year later, KooKoo Bear Kids opened their first retail store in Roswell in the SoCa shopping center off Oak Street. In 2007, they tripled their space in the same center. The following year, KooKoo Bear Kids moved to Sweet Apple Village. KooKoo Bear Kids won the Retail Star Award 2010 given by Kids Today magazine.

In 2011, KooKoo Bear opened a second retail location in Norcross; and plans for 2012 include a possible third location, as well as an online catalog.

What makes them good at what they do?

Mediate works with her husband, Joe, and together they compliment each others’ skills. Mediate, who has buying experience at retail giants like Neiman Marcus, buys all the products and is responsible for customer service. Joe handles the financial aspects of the store along with marketing.

Mediate attributes her success to her buying experience. She knows what to buy – unique, quality items that you don’t see elsewhere. She follows her sense of style, which shows in the designer rooms she creates. Mediate doesn’t let herself get overwhelmed and keeps cool under pressure, which she believes this is important to succeed in business. 

How did they end up in the Roswell area?

The Mediates grew up in Connecticut. When they moved to Georgia for Joe to start a technology company, they decided on the Roswell area because it reminded them of their home. They found the historic district very appealing and soon realized that Roswell was a great place to raise their children.

What do they enjoy doing in their free time? 

Mediate enjoys spending her free time with her three children and husband. Her kids are 16, 14, and 12 and are very active in sports. She enjoys activities at school and attends every game she can. To get away from the business, however, she and the family travel. They go to the beach or go skiing. They find that traveling is the best way to relax and leave the business behind.

What new hobbies or classes have they recently taken up?

Mediate enjoys reading entrepreneurial and business books, especially ones on how people and companies have survived during tough times. She tries to focus on keeping positive in this down economy. She and her husband have fought hard to weather the recession and they believe that the worst part is over and see a pick-up in their business revenues.

How do they stay connected to the community?

Tara stays connected to the community by attending and getting involved in school functions. She also gets to know her customers well through the store, so she stays connected to the community through them.

Tara also believes in giving back to the community and has been involved in raising money for CURE Cancer for Kids.

How can you find them?

KooKoo Bear Kids is located at Sweet Apple Village at 12060 Etris Road in Roswell, the store phone number is 770-771-5665, or visit the store website.

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