Feature Articles: Features

Summer lovin’ is here, so take advantage and fill your stores with waves of wonder! No more tying a towel around the waist; kids can wear their towels proudly with Kiki’s Nation. This innovative company designs pants, jammers, skirts and even bags all made of super-absorbent towel material. Under the sea has never been more fun than MerFins, imaginative beachwear that allows girls to experience Ariel’s world by morphing from legs to fins. Art meets fashion with Kaeli Smith Designs beautiful resort wear in vibrant colors, perfect for a summer BBQ or garden party. Babies stay safe seaside with sport & water wrap baby carriers by Beachfront Baby.

Time magazine’s “Curious Capitalist” Rana Foroohar penned these words that always seem to elicit sighs of relief from some quarters and cheers from others: “Made in the USA is making a comeback.” Having products made in The States not only supports local communities, but also provides other tangible benefits. Quality control is high on that list: a quick walk down to the factory floor can straighten out an issue. Small quantities of well-made products can be created without trouble. Plus, more customers are interested in purchasing US goods. Companies that continue to provide goods made in the USA, like Alex Marshall Studios, Little Korboose, Connor’s Kits for Kids, and Harrisville Designs, are staying strong.

According to a survey by the Consumer Reports National Research Center, if shoppers were allowed to choose between a U.S.-made product and something identical made abroad, 78% of people opted for the American product. The reasons? Many respondents cited a wish to keep American manufacturing strong. Others expressed concern about the use of cheap labor overseas, and still others felt that American-produced goods were better quality. The Giggle Guide® spotlights products made in the USA, including: Royal Baby, Dreamspun, Suoak and Polka Dot Moon.

Bibi & Mimi
bINK'd Pierce-free Temporary Tattoo Earrings & More™

What has four sides and keeps babies clean? It’s not a quiz, it’s a Quib — the totally reversible bib from Bébé au Lait that gives parents the possibility of four clean sides. Feeding a baby is always an adventure, so why not make it a personalized one? Dibs on Bibs has enjoyable shapes that make mealtime more fun. Kiddologic’s bibit-all features long sleeves with ribbed cuffs, a high-ribbed collar, full coverage that extends to the lap and an innovative waterproof lining. Bella Bundles proves functional doesn’t have to be boring with the Reversible Black Hollywood Bib, which features a modern geometric pattern in black or pink.

You may have been offered a penny for your thoughts, but what would you say to someone who is willing to plunk down a cool $15,000 for them? That’s what Huggies is offering to moms who come out on top in its MomInspired grant program. Kimberly-Clark’s Huggies brand, long known for its quality baby and child products, also lends a helping hand to moms with bright ideas. The Huggies grant is awarded to ideas that are creative, useful, and have marketing power. Past winners include companies like Linda M. Varga’s Solar Eclipz (ezShade) and Allyson Phillips’s Tilty Cup.

It’s encouraging to see companies manufacturing their products in the U.S.A. Today, consumers are more conscious and making a real effort to buy from manufacturers that produce their products in America. Buying North American products is a great way to support the companies that are providing jobs and opportunity to homeland workers. Sweet Spud, Bambino Burper, Mood Lights and Winsome Fragrance Co. are some U.S.A.-based companies that are producing innovative products and supporting the American economy.

All Baby & Child, Inc. (ABC Kids Expo)
RuffleButts / RuggedButts

They may be seduced by television and video games, but every kid loves a good craft project. With products by Easy Student Publishing, any budding bard can publish simply by uploading their original writing and illustrations. Parents can arm their iPads with a protective case that interacts with the ArtSee Studio app to transform kids’ masterpieces into animated games and activities. Turn the results into museum-quality showpieces with My Art Gallery — funky yet functional frames. With Press-N-Paint, kids can mix paints without spilling a drop. Make summer fun and stock your shelves with these creative solutions.

I am looking forward to attending the ABC Spring Educational Conference at South Point, Las Vegas on May 7-9. After attending so many trade events over the last 30+ years, I enjoy learning more about the children’s business, and especially seeing new things that may take me by surprise. The ABC SEC is one event that allows buyers, manufacturers, reps and media to get to know more about each other. The element of surprise is always part of new experiences. That’s why I asked several exhibitors these questions: “What would someone be surprised to know about you?” and “What will buyers be surprised to see in your 2013 line?”

As parents can attest to, kids change constantly. The bookworm becomes a glamour-puss, while the boy who was glued to his electronic device suddenly opts for active sports. Retailers need to offer a range of items that capture the mercurial nature of youngsters and be prepared with items that can change, increasing the play factor. Dolls that morph from one personality to another; games that get kids up and around; action figures with variety built into them; and makeup that helps girls experiment safely are a few currently hot items. Get in on the action with selections from Playhut, ParkZarz, BackSlapz and Luna Star.

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