Kirby Girl: A Q&A with owner Elaine McCleary - New Canaan & Darien Moms
What is the overall concept of the store?
The shop was designed to be the go to for gifts, decor and fashion for young women coming of age or for the girl in all of us “young” at heart. The assortment is fresh, youthful, fun, spirited and unique just like our target customer base. We like to think it takes girls on their journey from their first backpacks to their first apartments.
What influenced you to open the ‘little sister’ store of Kirby and Company? Why target this age group?
We have been really listening to our customers at our main shop over the past few years and asked what they feel is missing in our town. And being the mother of two girls ages 9 and 13 age group. as well as all of the girls I have been privileged to meet since moving to Darien in 2008 that have been a constant inspiration for the assortment at the shop. This is truly a shop designed for them. But I firmly believe there is a girl in all of us – whether you are an 8-year-old girl or a 80 year old man or anywhere in between – being a Kirby Girl means you have a spirit of kindness and joy that is in your heart. The shop has something for everyone who loves to celebrate being happy.
Why yellow?
Our vibrant signature yellow is the color of optimism and joy. We want the whole shop experience to be about being happy. Yellow is also a color I grew up with – it was my grandmother’s favorite design color. I have such a fond memory of her living room splashed with this vibrant color. It was a color she wore all of the time and she was the most joyful person I have ever met!
The background story behind ‘Stay on the Sunny Side of the Street’?
When I was a little girl, my grandfather always told me to “Stay on the Sunny Side of the Street”. When I turned sixteen, he gave me a framed vibrant yellow sun cut out with the quote in calligraphy. That print inspired our sunburst logo. Staying on the Sunny Side of the Street means to look for and find joy in yourself and in the world you live in. This shop is my sunny side and the hope is that it will encourage all that visit us to find theirs.
How did you find your vendors? What was the criteria for the vendors?
We hunt. And we hunt and hunt! Yes, we do buy at industry trade shows – but we comb Etsy, Instagram, local craft fairs and everywhere in between. We love finding small female owned companies and have them collaborate with us to create collections exclusively for us — especially women in CT and metro NY.
Are there any overlapping vendors from Kirby and Company?
A few – but the product is all different! We want our customers to have two very unique shopping experiences.
Special vendors you would like to highlight?
Gunner and Lux
The Two OH Three clothing
Jea Jea Sport
Suburban Riot
Inspiration behind Kirby Kandy
We LOVE sugar. So, it made sense for us to brand our own Kirby favorites. Something sweet is the best treat to add on to any gift (or a little self-love purchase) We have a 10-foot yellow gumball machine in the shop filled with smiley face gumballs – maybe if you give us a super smile you may get a quarter from one of us:). We hope to establish a Kirby Girl Scholarship in the future from the proceeds of the famous happy gum ball machine.
What is in store for the future of Kirby Girl?
We are building our ecommerce later this year and hope to launch a super cool app.
Any store details you want us to highlight?
OUR STRIPED WALL! We wanted a backdrop for all to take great selfies together or solo and share on all social handles. If we love them – we repost our favorites! It’s already becoming a landmark!
📷Julia Dags

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