Over The Ocean
Over The Ocean has been founded by Birgit Sfat, with the support of her husband Raul and daughter Milla.
Hailing from Munich, the family moved to San Francisco in 2013 enjoying the warmth and friendliness of the West Coast.
The small&family-run business was created in an effort to share with others what inspires Birgit… what she knows and loves.
Over The Ocean highlights the best of European design with a handpicked selection of children’s clothing, toys, and home goods.
All pieces are contemporary yet timeless, made with care and skills that are meant to stand the test of time and play.
We chose Over the Ocean because we admire Birgit’s bravery in bringing European style and design to the U.S.
OTO reflects the authentic style of creative mothers living in different European cities.
Birgit says: “These muses open the doors of their family homes, share the essentials that make their everyday life more beautiful and show us how they combine their favorite pieces to create their unique aesthetic.”
1. How do you have found the name of your store. Is there an anecdote to tell?
Over the Ocean… I like how simple it explains the concept of my store, offering European design in the United States. And isn’t there always a desire to know how life is on the other side of the ocean?!
2. How would you describe the concept of your store?
I founded the shop after moving from Munich to San Francisco in an effort to share with others what I love. OTO carries a thoughtfully curated selection of European children’s clothing, toys, and home goods. What defines our styles can be best described as European casual: good looking without sacrificing comfort.
3. Which labels did you present from the beginning and which have you added recently?
Right from the beginning I had a mix of small gems that I introduced first on the American market like Le Petit Germain which I think has great kids tees and knits in extraordinary colors, Minimalisma who makes the softest and most beautiful baby basics in silk-cotton, Poudre Organic which offers classic baby silhouettes that could be described as modern vintage…. I also carry better known brands such as Bobo Choses (Milla and I love their playful graphics), April Showers who updates basic silhouettes in a modern way with the best fabrics and construction around, and finally, Wolf & Rita whose avant-garde styles are really inspiring.
Brands I added later are Yellowpelota, Macarons and for this spring, The Animals Observatory, Treehouse by Anja Schwerbrock and Repose Ams.
4. You are based in San Francisco. What’s the best place for kids there?
Ocean Beach is always a good idea. Not to swim though (much too cold and strong currents) but to run around, fly a kite, play in the dunes and shallow water, collect sand dollars and get some fresh air.
5. How fashion-oriented is your daughter Milla?
She is actually not overly interested in fashion. Unlike most girls, she never had a pink or glitter phase and she really likes to wear pants. For her it is most important that the styles are comfortable to run around in all day and then if it has something fun or special about it on top, she loves it. I always let her pick a few styles from the new collections and I can see that she is drawn to Bobo Choses (they really seam to speak the language of children), she also likes the overalls from April Showers by Polder since they are so easy (and yes, so cool) and she loves to wear cozy knits like the ones from FUB Denmark, especially layering pieces like vests and cardigans she can take on and off. Nothing to complain about from my side! 😉
6. Do you have a hint for parents when shopping for their kids?
Buy less but better. Well made pieces that also feel and fit well, but don’t forget the fun. Kids should neither feel nor look stiff. I don’t believe clothes should be divided into school clothes or play clothes – all the styles we carry can be worn for any occasion; they’re beautiful to look at and to touch, but also feel good to wear and play in.
7. What was your favorite toy when you were a child?
I had a plush monkey that I loved and a little wooden pull toy, a millipede, that I pulled around everywhere when I started to walk.
8. Are you realizing mood images for your website? If yes, do you think that these images could influence the shopping experience of the costumer?
Yes, I mix different styles and brands and show these looks on Milla and her friends and create some flat lays. This is one of my favorite parts of Over The Ocean – especially the little videos. I receive a lot of positive feedback from customers that they were inspired by these looks. It is a great opportunity to show the personality of our store.
9. How do you think online shops will evolve in the next future?
I think the best online shops will offer a more personal experience for customers who are seeking this. When I shop online, I very much prefer when the shop has excellent customer service and makes me feel acknowledged rather than just an anonymous sale with a huge offer. Online should not only be about easy shopping, but also offer inspiration and personal style. Via social media there can be a lot of interaction with the customers, look proposals are great styling advice tools and with additional content on the site, this builds a unique experience. I love getting to know the families that shop with us and building these relationships is what makes the hard work of running OTO worth it at the end of the day.
10. Kids and internet…..what do you think about it?
My daughter is 7 and it does start to get tricky for us. We have always been very strict with any kind of screen time, but are now opening this up – with limited access. Yes, the internet can be a good tool for learning, for communication (we skype with the grandmothers) and also entertainment, but it easily gets too much and it is important to us that she spends most of her time playing in the real world.
11. Could you share with us your favorite website and the Instagram accounts you like?
Since we are remodeling our home, slowly, room by room, I am often on Remodelista. On Instagram I love to follow my customers and OTO muses and because it does not always have to be about kids: jewelry designer Kate Jones and my friends Regina and River who create gardening projects in Palm Springs.
12. Please complete this sentence: Kids should always…
… be themselves and explore life with all their senses and in their own individual way. This means that a baby should also use the fingers when being fed the carrot mush, that it’s ok when your kid jumps into the puddle and likes to make mud soup. It also means that a shy or slow daydreamer does not need to be pushed and a very active child slowed down all the time. All this of course in a respectful way to others.