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Dani Spangler seemed to have everything in her life, except for professional fulfillment. She says she had a “really cool” job working for a clean energy company developing wind farms, but the travel was rigorous. She says she realized after having children, she needed to make a professional pivot.

I have a background in business and law, but once we had our kids, I took time away from work and tried to think about what I wanted to do,” Spangler explained. “Living in Naperville, we had children’s stores but nothing unique, so I saw an opportunity to bring something to the community that would be different than what they had before.

In October 2021, with the nation still grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic, Spangler opened Tinker | A Children’s Boutique in the heart of downtown Naperville. The boutique is a highly curated shop for infants and children filled with clothing, toys, books, and accessories.

We are different because of the products we offer. Everything is highly curated from some of the best international brands, many of which in the United States are either unknown or very difficult to find,” Spanger said. “When people come here, they find something unique and special.”

Spangler says she has carefully selected the merchandise in her store and now carries 20 to 30 unique, global lines with most of these brands headquartered in Europe, Australia, and South America. She says it is quite competitive to establish alignment with many of these leading clothing lines for kids. 

One of the perfect examples of that is a line called Maileg, most often known for their mice,Spangler said. In order to get this line into the store, we had to submit photos of our store. Along with where and how we would display them.


Getting the boutique up and running required Spangler to draw on her creativity, tenacity, and research skills. She said she spent hours and hours on the computer digging into children’s clothing stores and researching clothing lines.

One of the biggest challenges I had getting off the ground was working through our first buying cycle,” Spangler said. I had to buy in advance before securing a lease or knowing exactly when we would be able to get the store open. That was stressful because I bought for an entire season and crossed my fingers and hoped we’d be able to open in time. We really hit the ground running and had an amazing reception in the community. So that alleviated some stress.

Spangler seems to have a crystal-clear vision of her brand, and what her products should look and feel like when her customers come into the boutique.

A lot of it comes down to colors and fabrics,says Spangler. I think the colors are really soft, they blend well and are easy to mix with other pieces. You are not going to find the bright tones with the sequins. It is more understated, quiet luxury is what most people would call it.

Spangler says she opened her doors with no intention of running an e-commerce line of her business. However, when she started getting many requests for purchases from out-of-state visitors to Naperville, she decided to start an e-commerce website.

We have seen we do get a lot of pull just from people who are seeking out unique lines of childrens products because they are so hard to find,” Spangler explained. We see a lot of people on the east coast and west coast seeking out our site to place orders.

Spangler’s best customers, however, are much closer to home. She says her two young daughters love the store.

“They have fun. They have their routine,Spangler said with a proud smile. They will come in, go to the coloring table, and hang out. My youngest always tries to convince me to get her something. But they have a lot of fun. They enjoy picking out pieces and wearing them too!

I find joy in this business, largely in the creative side,Spangler said. I love doing the buying. That is one of my favorite components and also merchandising. I wake up every day excited. It is not work for me; it is a passion. I am thrilled to be able to share it with the people who come in and see us.”

One of the most rewarding things about the store is helping people find a gift they are really excited about. We get a lot of parents, and grandparents, coming in looking for something really special. It is so exciting to see them find something that fits what they were looking for.

Spangler says she thinks the secret to her success is pivoting to a career for which she has great passion. I am always thinking about it. There are always ideas popping into my head, but it does not feel like work when you love what you are doing,” exclaimed Spangler.

I think what I want the people of Illinois to know about retail is, especially with small businesses, every single purchase means so much,” Spangler said. We love having people come in the door, and see the joy they have when they make a purchase with us. It helps us stay open and continue doing what we love.

Spangler also knows her community and her competition.

Being in downtown Naperville, we definitely have some amazing big box stores, and some really unique ones as well,” says Spangler.But without the small businesses, I think you are missing an important piece that rounds out and truly make downtown what it is.

My advice for someone going into retail is to trust your gut as a small business owner,Spangler explained. I think your business is truly an extension of yourself. It is important to feel confident in the decisions you make. At the same time, it’s important to allow your business to evolve and change as you do.”

 I think the future for Tinker is we will always have this store in Naperville and hopefully other locations as well. We always are told people wish they had a store like this in their hometown. So, hopefully the opportunities for us are endless.

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