Courtney Collins dreamed of planting a garden. Not in her yard, or even at her house, but in a store. Here, she wouldn’t grow flowers or vegetables; she would cultivate creativity.
Enter Little Junebugs, Pasadena’s newest crafting space and gift store for children and adults. Collins, a former art teacher and nanny, created the recently opened shop with co-owners Brian Flanagan and Andrea Jensen Wader.
Little Junebugs, (named for the June birthdays shared by Collins and Jensen Wader), is a whimsical venue for children and adults to make art. The garden-themed store, located in historic downtown Pasadena, is decorated with nature-inspired handmade crafts and stocked with an expertly curated selection of books, art projects and other innovatively designed gifts for the young and young at heart.
Little Junebugs is also a crafting space. A chalkboard lists the store’s rotating selection of art project options, which include portable cardboard dollhouse kits and three-dimensional puzzles. Projects sell for as little as $6, and after purchasing a kit, kids and parents can assemble their selection in the craft studio. Glue, scissors and other materials are supplied, and a staff member is always on hand to assist in the creative process.
Little Junebugs is also a space for gatherings and parties. On Sundays, the store can be rented out for private birthday celebrations for kids in the 3-10 age range. Party themes include “butterfly princess ball” and “snails, trails and fairytales,” and a craft project, custom handmade decorations and cupcakes are provided by the store. Food can be brought in or catered for an additional fee.
Housed in a historical building with high ceilings and lovely vintage touches, the classically designed store is also a place for adults to play. Little Junebugs will host bi-monthly extended hour evenings for grownups to come in and craft such projects as scrapbooks and painted wine glasses and coffee mugs. The space can also be rented out by bridal parties, baby showers, book clubs and other groups who want to connect over drinks, snacks and crafts.
“We really encourage private parties,” Collins says. “Our hope is that people will come to us with craft ideas so we can provide them with everything they need to have a great time making that project.”
Little Junebugs will also be collaborating with its next-door neighbor, the Pasadena Playhouse, for kids’-night-out evenings, during which parents can attend a show at the theater while their children go on a tour of the playhouse, eat dinner and make a project at Little Junebugs. Collins says that the store also eventually will offer children’s theater events in collaboration with the playhouse.
With all the occasions that Little Junebugs provides for kids and adults to enjoy fun, creative experiences on their own, the most attractive aspect of the store is perhaps the opportunity it provides for parents and children to connect and create together.
“It seems like every parent has given their child a cell phone to occupy them while they do errands,” Flanagan says. “That’s great and helpful, but relying on that distraction can consume the parent-child relationship. Coming here provides an opportunity to be in a magical, inspiring space where families can do hands-on activities together.”
For the owners, Pasadena is the ideal location for this family-based operation. “We wanted to open the store in Pasadena because the area is so family friendly,” Collins says.
“Our goal is to create the same neighborhood feel inside the store,” says Flanagan. “We want to be a space for families to drop in and hang out.”
Little Junebugs is also reaching out to the community by collaborating with Milk and Bookies, a non-profit organization that provides new and gently used books to underprivileged children. The store will also bring crafting into the classroom through collaborations with area schools.
Through all of these ventures, Collins’ dream of planting a creative garden is in full bloom. “We’ve designed this place with so much care and love,” she says. “We hope that everything about Little Junebugs is inspiring for everyone who comes to play with us.”