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Vera Bradley fans expectant over new line

| Monday, Feb. 18, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
VERA BRADLEY
Vera Bradley Mary Jane soft shoes0-6M ($28). VERA BRADLEY
VERA BRADLEY
Vera Bradley dress and bloomers, 0-3M, 3-6M, 6-9M, 9-12M ($49). VERA BRADLEY
VERA BRADLEY
Vera Bradley bear ($19). VERA BRADLEY
VERA BRADLEY
Vera Bradley 3-piece layette set 0-3M, 3-6M, 6-9M, comes with rattle ($60). VERA BRADLEY
VERA BRADLEY
Vera Bradley hooded towel and bath mitt ($42). VERA BRADLEY
VERA BRADLEY
Vera Bradley baby bottle caddy ($18). VERA BRADLEY
VERA BRADLEY
Vera Bradley backpack baby bag ($115-$135). VERA BRADLEY
VERA BRADLEY
Vera Bradley baby items. Convertible baby bag ($109), bunny and bear book ($8), bunny ($19), bear ($19), baby socks ($19 for 3 pair), plush blanket ($48) and bottle caddy ($18).

Vera Bradley is expecting a new arrival March 14.

That's when the designer loved for colorful bags and accessories will release a baby collection — for the smallest fashionistas.

“Our mission is to be a girl's best friend,” says Melissa Schenkel, public relations manager for Vera Bradley. “And we want to be there for our friends through every stage of life and, most certainly, the stage when they are having a baby.”

Much like other milestone occasions, having a baby is the perfect time to celebrate with Vera Bradley, and now a wee bit more adorable, Schenkel says.

The patterns are called Lilli Bell and Tutti Fruiti. Items include everything from a dress and bloomers, blankets, bibs and bottle caddies.

As soon as she found out about these little items, Ilene Levy wanted them in her store. She owns Cheeks in Shadyside. She has been carrying the Vera Bradley line and says this new collection fits perfectly with other baby brands she has available.

“It is a fabulous collection,” Levy says. “There are lots of baby bags and cute little items. I feel it is really an untapped market. And the price points are reasonable, as well.”

Her favorite piece is the hooded bath towel and bath mitt. It retails for $42. Cheeks has carried Vera Bradley since before Levy bought the store in 1997. Levy likes that the company comes out with new prints several times a year. The baby merchandise complements her store's inventory, she says, with items to help women celebrate special times in their life from an engagement and wedding to, now, a baby.

Megan Toman of Greensburg is such a huge Vera Bradley fan that she wrote a letter to the company saying she wanted to include the designs as part of her 2010 wedding. She included a photo of her and then-fiance Bradley Toman standing near the more than 40 pieces she owned at the time. She has since added to her collection. A member of the Vera Bradley team worked with the couple to create exclusive pew bows, a garter for the bride, a ring-bearer pillow and tie, invitations, table bands, head bands, handbags for the flower girls and other items.

“Vera Bradley is wonderful and beautiful and everything I could have wanted and more for my wedding,” says Toman, who still has fabric from her wedding items that she thought about making bedding or drapes for her children's bedrooms someday. “The baby line is something I would definitely consider when I have kids. The line is all very durable and washable and anything Vera Bradley I know I will like. I know it is for girls, but even if I would have a boy I could get a diaper bag for me to use.”

And although the clothing assortment is designed for girls, Schenkel says many of the products would be great gifts for mothers of boys. She suggests items such as the pacifier pod, baby-bottle caddy and the full assortment of baby bags.

“The initial reaction from fans has been positive,” Schenkel says. “Our hope is that Vera Bradley Baby is something that mothers and daughters can continue to enjoy together.”

Seeing this line has prompted Rosine Dull, who owns Never Enough Boutique in Greensburg with daughter Christie Dull-Rhoades, to create an entire baby department adding other lines to the new Vera Bradley collection.

“Vera Bradley has a wonderful team of designers who are always on-trend in creating pieces that are both fashionable and functional, and that is what women want today,” Dull says. “The collection is always fresh, and the baby line is just so cute. We are so excited to bring this collection to our customers.”

The baby collection will be available at the Vera Bradley store at Ross Park Mall and one opening in April in South Hills Village. For other dealers carrying the collection, go to www.verabradley.com.

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at jharrop@tribweb.com or 412-320-7889.

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