Photo courtesy of Ajah Lexi Productions.

Gift Shop Plus Winter 2023
A Store for Everyone By Julie McCallum

Smart design creates accessible and inclusive spaces for shopping

When Erin Walker first met Keewa Nurullah, owner of Kido boutique in Chicago, Walker’s daughter Sadie was pretty little, and they were new to her cerebral palsy diagnosis. “Keewa asked us right away how she could make the store more inclusive for families like ours. That doesn’t happen every day,” Walker said.

Kido is an award-winning kids boutique in Chicago focused on inclusivity, sustainability and representation. The Kido store was designed with the factor of accessibility in mind. Having an ample amount of space and room to navigate makes this store an easy place to shop.

Photo courtesy of Ajah Lexi Productions.
Kido is an award-winning kids boutique in Chicago focused on inclusivity, sustainability, and representation. Photo courtesy of Ajah Lexi Productions.

“Kido is an amazing store! We love it,” Walker said. “Sadie loves the clothes and the toys and always finds numerous things she ‘needs’ whenever we go in.”

Founded in 2018 by Nurullah, Kido is home to a curated collection of books that puts protagonists of color, kids with disabilities and other marginalized groups first. Located in the South Loop neighborhood of Chicago, Kido also has unique clothing, sustainable toys and other gift items available.

Nurullah is a fourth-generation entrepreneur. She is a Black Wall Street descendant and has built Kido with a hope to keep her family legacy alive. Nurullah’s great- grandfather had a tailor shop in the Greenwood district of Tulsa, Oklahoma. During the Massacre of 1921, he fled to Chicago and rebuilt his shop on the Southside. Continuing his father’s work, Nurullah’s grandfather learned the trade and built his own tailor shop. Now, one hundred years after Greenwood burned, Nurullah has her own shop in downtown Chicago — Kido.

Photo courtesy of Ajah Lexi Productions.
The Kido store was designed with the factor of accessibility in mind. Frequent customer, Sadie, is a big fan. “Sadie loves the clothes and the toys and always finds numerous things she ‘needs’ whenever we go in,” her mother says. Photo courtesy of Ajah Lexi Productions.

Nurullah knew that connecting her brand with the community was important. With a fellow Chicago mom, she created the Southside Story Time to give local families the opportunity to connect in a safe environment for free. This is where her commitment to sharing books featuring kids of all cultures began. Nurullah strives to educate parents and have every child reflected in the pages of her books.

Walker explained that over the years, Nurullah has had activities at her shop that Sadie has been able to fully participate in, like music classes. Walker appreciates the books at Kido that are so inclusive. “She asked me right away when we met if I could suggest some books about children with disabilities,” Walker said. “… everytime we go in, there Sadie is, excited to find a book that had someone like her represented.”

Nurullah has also featured Sadie in ads for the store, which her mother feels is important. “It is huge because it helps to normalize the disability community,” she observed. “I love everything about Kido,” Walker said.

In addition to curated merchandise, Kido offers an accessible store for customers with impairments and disabilities. Simple tasks like shopping can be an exhausting challenge or even impossible at times for the disabled community. Nurullah designed the store with accessibility in mind and says it starts at the door.

Photo courtesy of Ajah Lexi Productions.
Keewa Nurullah is a fourth-generation entrepreneur. Her great-grandfather had a tailor shop in the Greenwood district of Tulsa, Oklahoma. During the Massacre of 1921, he fled to Chicago and rebuilt his shop on the Southside. Now, one hundred years after Greenwood burned, Nurullah has her own shop in downtown Chicago. Photo courtesy of Ajah Lexi Productions.

“Making sure that the entry is wide enough for a wheelchair or scooter is essential to start the experience,” Nurullah advised. “We have a double door that we often leave open, so families with double strollers and our disabled friends have an easy time entering the shop. We kept all of the aisles open and wide, so that there are no corners of the shop that are not accessible.”

In terms of the merchandising, Nurullah has most items at eye level for both standing and seated individuals. Seating for elders and nursing parents is also available. She added that her staff is always on high alert to provide extra assistance to those who need it.

Loyal customers are the best way to spread the word about Kido’s accessibility for shoppers with special needs. “Many of our parents of kids with disabilities belong to their own communities of support,” she said. “They spread the word on our behalf, especially when we have in-store events that cater to their needs.”

Finding inclusive, representative and sustainable products for kids is a big task, and one Nurullah takes to heart. Sourcing her unique inventory is made easier with social media. “I follow a lot of writers, illustrators and publishing houses that are BIPOC-owned and amplify the voices of marginalized communities,” Nurullah said.

“We also are creating more Kido products to increase representation of diverse and disabled kids,” she said. “Our puzzles feature kids with physical disabilities. We also look for toys that are inclusive in their packaging and, if possible, offer a cultural twist.”

Photo courtesy of Ajah Lexi Productions.
Nurullah says she is creating more Kido products to increase representation of diverse and disabled kids. Photo courtesy of Ajah Lexi Productions.

According to Nurullah, their most popular books are “Chicago Baby,” “Our Skin” and “I Love Us.” Their best-selling toys are the Kido Puzzle, 3D puzzles from Amsterdam and Cubebots.

When asked about her plans for Kido in the future, Nurullah hopes to open locations on the East and West Coasts.

Nurullah offered sage advice on her social media feed in August of 2022, and it speaks volumes about her entrepreneurial spirit.

“Start with what you got. In 2018, we had some clothes and a few books and that’s it!! Most importantly, we had our COMMUNITY. While we saved to collect the items we wanted, we focused on uniting the families who needed us. Future entrepreneurs — it doesn’t have to be perfect! Just start!”

Julie McCallum

Julie McCallum is editor-in-chief of Gift Shop Magazine. She is formerly the editor of Museums & More and has more than 25 years experience in publishing.




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Founded in 2018, @kidochicago is home to a curated collection of books that puts protagonists of color, kids with disabilities and other marginalized groups first. Focused on sustainability and inclusivity, the store was designed with accessibility in mind. Read more about Kido in “A Store for Everyone” at the link in our bio. 📸: Ajah Lexi Productions ... See MoreSee Less
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