The Biz: Feature Articles

What do turtles and humans have in common? Why don’t jumping spiders need to look over their shoulders? Can squirrels really fly? These intriguing questions and many more are explored in Curious Critters, a picture book for kids by photographer David FitzSimmons. The book, published by Wild Iris Publishing, contains stunning images of animals that many never see, including the red flat bark beetle and the Eastern spiny soft-shell turtle. Each photograph is accompanied by information, told from the critter’s perspective, to educate and entertain young readers.

Central Vermont, home to Maple Landmark Woodcraft, has a long and proud history of crafting wooden products. Over two hundred years ago, most Vermont towns had several individuals who made functional items from wood. Mike Rainville, the founder of Maple Landmark, is proudly part of this continuing tradition. Since the business began, customers have responded with enthusiasm to the cars and trucks; games including checkers, chess and dominos; train whistles; fairy wands; and scores of other finely crafted items and “Made by Me” construction kits that encourage kids to build creatively.

If I mention Groupon®, what comes to mind? For me, I think I’m getting a deep discount off of something. I just love a good deal! The idea of getting something at half price or better is tough to resist, even if I don’t necessarily need it. Groupon and the countless other daily deal sites are banking on the irresistible temptation of getting that “good deal.” Despite its relative newness in the marketplace, this category is evolving, with more specialized children’s products sites such as Zulily, BabySteals® and Totsy appearing. What does this mean for manufacturers who are contemplating a daily deal or are already selling through these sites?

Itzy Ritzy
JP Lizzy

Many American companies find that manufacturing in the U.S. helps them do a better job of maintaining quality control and reliable delivery. While big retailers can afford to keep buyers abroad or send executives across the Pacific to check on suppliers, this doesn’t make sense for smaller companies. Made in the U.S.A. brands provide goods buyers want, made to their precise specifications, and delivered on time. These brands are just a few good examples of American-made pride: Petites Frites, Noli, Noli, Funkie Baby, and Fleming Clothing.

Trade shows are great places to get revved up. Surrounded by new and familiar faces, fresh designs and a positive vibe, my creative juices always start racing. No, I’m not driving toward a disclosure about hidden design aspirations. Rather, my mind fills with business ideas and growth opportunities on behalf of the exhibiting companies. For the newbies who have just left the starting line, I can already envision ways they could expand on their concepts, protect their proprietary ideas and boost their visibility. And for the more established brands, I imagine a myriad of ways for them to shift into a higher gear.

Children need to have innovative outlets, and they need to have their own work (and play) appreciated to build confidence. There’s no better way to do this than through crafts. Recent studies have shown that crafts help relieve stress –– something that everyone can appreciate. Clayzee by Aliquantum-International, Creations by You, Sandtastik, and the Chenille Kraft Company all provide pleasurable, safe crafting materials that delight the senses while allowing children’s personalized artwork to be shared with an appreciative audience.

J. Austin Ryan Designs
Caletha Crawford

Parents will always remember their little one’s first day of school: picking out a favorite outfit, taking lots of pictures, and waving as their child sets off on new experiences. Few parents know what’s going on in their child’s head as they face the rather intimidating first day. Even though a child may beg every day to ride the big yellow school bus, actually looking up at it can be a daunting prospect. Even more nerve-wracking is going to a big building with new people, teachers, and authority figures. Butterflies in My Stomach and Other School Hazards by Serge Bloch helps to ease the fears of elementary school attendees.

Kids lead on-the-go lives that zip from one activity to the next. When you offer well-designed clothes that keep little ones looking good, shoppers perk up and take notice. In addition to plenty of style, customers also warm to easy- care fabrics that withstand repeated laundering while holding their flash and dash. Each child is unique, so their clothes need to reflect originality to help them stand out in the crowd. Take note of these companies that feature threads for tots high in both pizzazz and practicality: Persnickety, Mooncakes, and ZAZA couture.

As if Facebook®, Twitter® and Linkedin® weren’t enough to keep us busy, Google® recently launched its own version of a Facebook-type site called, Google Plus (Google+). Yes, you read correctly, search engine giant Google has officially entered the social media realm. Why care about this site and not the countless others that also exist? Simply put, because this one is from Google. The world’s largest search engine, combined with the communication capabilities of its own social media site, can only serve to offer more efficient marketing efforts for those trying to bolster their online presence.

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