Pamela Thompson has lived the fashionista life and now Barbie is reaping the benefits.
A former clothing designer in New York, Thompson operates a fashionable and fun online Barbie clothing store, Tiny Frock Shop. While that's no match for Barbie's 120-plus careers, Thompson has made a seamless transition.
The Wilmette native moved to New York City after college and forged an impressive career in the fashion industry. She's headed up design teams at Betsey Johnson, Heatherette and Anna Sui. She's owned her own store and designed her own line. Marc Jacobs has attended her fashion shows.
But the dual realities of becoming a mother and living in post-9/11 New York made her crave the comforts of home. She and her husband are now raising their daughter in Deerfield, where she's merged her fashion background with her love for Barbies.
"I was cleaning out my mom's house one day and found a trunk full of my old Barbie clothes that my mom had saved," Thompson says. "I thought, these are amazing! I can only imagine how much stuff is out there."
Frustrated by the lack of stylish options at local toy stores, she decided to reach out to others with their own troves of vintage Barbie fashions. And thus, Tiny Frock Shop was born.
Open for just over a year, the resale and vintage online store offers chic and nostalgic vintage Barbie clothes. Thompson makes no pretenses that these are clothes for collectors; she encourages her customers to use them.
Her now-3-year-old daughter is the unofficial CEO and happily offers advice, particularly about Barbie's shoe choices.
Thompson's sense of fun comes through in every listing. The dolls are the models and each has their own personality (told through tongue-in-cheek "profiles"). The clothes are retro and utterly stylish.
"The dolls run the show here," she says. "I want to engage kids in the world of fashion through these amazing little clothes."
More than anything, she wants moms, daughters and grandmothers to enjoy the experience together. She hopes the clothing designs will open discussions about how people lived and dressed in different eras.
Although she doesn't rule out returning to the live fashion world someday, for now, she's happy where she is.
"I really love doing this. It brings together all of my experiences," she says. "Only now, the models don't talk back and tell me they don't like what they're wearing."