Coastal Crab clothing has new home in Niantic with Smoochie Bird

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East Lyme — Cindy Lightner had been following Coastal Crab CT on social media, and so when the clothing-brand owners popped into her gift shop, she felt they'd be a perfect fit.

"They complement each other — color, fit, style," she said of Coastal Crab and Smoochie Bird.

Coastal Crab owners Rachel Redding and Laura Westner were looking to sell their beachy apparel in Smoochie Bird, but Lightner later had an even better offer: What if they took over half the shop, and added a Coastal Crab sign next to the Smoochie Bird one out front?

And so Coastal Crab moved in Aug. 1, and Niantic Main Street held a ribbon-cutting at the 377 Main St. location on Wednesday.

"This will now be THE must-shop shop in town, not that we don't have a lot," said Rep. Holly Cheeseman, R-East Lyme. Already sporting jewelry from Smoochie Bird, she noted she'd now have to get her t-shirts there as well.

Inspired by the Vineyard Vines aesthetic, Coastal Crab carries affordable clothing for adults and youth in eye-popping colors like highlighter pink, seafoam green, cerulean, periwinkle and Nantucket red.

The collection ranges from about $15 to $40 and includes short-sleeved t-shirt, long-sleeved t-shirts, sweatshirts, vests and hats. Oh, and t-shirts for dogs. The owners plan on adding new styles, like a Sherpa quarter-zip pullover.

The clothing is unisex, and Westner commented, "We like the fact that we see a guy wearing pink, and we like the fact that we see a girl wearing Nantucket red."

Redding and Westner, a married couple living in Waterford, started the company in July 2016. Redding teaches computer graphics at East Lyme High School while Westner teaches physical education at Old Saybrook High School.

As a graphic designer, "I always wanted to do something like this, and I woke up in the middle of the night and thought of Coastal Crab," Redding said. The branding of the phrase "Coastal Crab" and a picture of a crab was inspired by shoreline living.

As two teachers, this gave them a way to make extra money in their summers off together.

Redding does the printing, while Westner said she has "nothing to do with the creative part" and instead helps with things like ordering, shipping and social media.

They originally had their clothing in 10 stores but cut back on purpose, finding that scale difficult to manage. Now, aside from Smoochie Bird, they sell at Fun Company in Stonington, A Cut Above Hair Design in Waterford, the Little Gift Shoppe in Old Saybrook and bellaPerlina in Madison.

Redding and Westner also sell on their website and on Amazon Handmade.

e.moser@theday.com

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