The Biz: Feature Articles

Recently I took stock of my wardrobe and determined that I really didn’t need anything new for fall. As a result, I’ve spent very little time in stores or on shopping sites. Not exactly music to retailers’ or designers’ ears, I’m sure. But don’t worry. Just because I haven’t been seeking out new products doesn’t mean they haven’t found me. Within the last week alone, I’ve fallen under the spell of two items I didn’t know I needed until I stumbled upon them and they spoke to me, begging me to bring them home. But these enchanted encounters didn’t happen in a store. Nor did they occur in an online shop.

Reports of childhood bullying are in the headlines. Kids pick on others because they don’t act the same or have some distinguishing feature or attribute that singles them out as different. Children want to be like their contemporaries and, when someone isn’t, the temptation to bully often rises. Advocate against intolerance and give customers a way to do the same with Just Like You, a story that aims to explain what being “different” is about to young children. Stock this informative, easy to understand book and help everyone spread the word that we are each valuable in our own, particular way.

There’s an old fable that goes something like this: A father asked his sons to bring him a bundle of sticks and then challenged each in turn to break the bundle over their knees, which they found impossible. He then split the bundle and showed how each individual stick could easily be broken. “United you are strong; separated you are weak,” he said. I’ve noticed within the children’s business, some companies try to go it alone, and this results in those companies, along with the dreams of their owners, being easily broken.

HALO® Innovations

Parents are taking advantage of every opportunity to boost their children’s skills and intelligence levels from the earliest age, and research studies support the idea that music gives children a competitive edge. Music aids in the development of a child’s brain, and may be an important factor in increasing mathematical abilities. However, just listening to music won’t give junior the edge –– he actually needs to learn songs and play instruments. Jamtown, Woodstock Chimes, Hohner Kids, and Schylling Toys know that music needs to be fun, so they draw on a wealth of differing experiences to bring children the great instruments they love to play.

Gifts that spark an intellectual response and curiosity from a child may have more long-term play value than other less creative choices. In today’s eco-conscious climate, many parents look for innovative ways to bolster kids’ natural curiosity and inspire them to think about others and the environment around them. It was this desire that led Phoebe Hayman to create Seedling, a company that creates kits which encourage kids to use their imaginations and explore the world… naturally!

Even in nature, youngsters love soft, cozy places. From baby birds in nests to little mice in beds of grass and weeds, moms lovingly construct comfortable places for their little ones to thrive. Human moms of course take this instinct a bit further and add all the fun decorative flourishes that take room design from the bare basics to fashionable and stimulating. Roman, Inc., Stephen Joseph, Douglas, and Maison Chic are all companies that help families stay in style with high-quality room décor, school gear, toys, accessories and more.

Republic of Pigtails, LLC

When Tera Petersen had her daughter and wanted simple organic t-shirts for her, she found a lack of quality pieces that she wanted to buy. What to do when you want something for your little one that doesn’t exist? You make it yourself, of course! Tera created lunacy design, a green company featuring all organic hand-screened t-shirts, complete with non-toxic ink. Based in Brooklyn, NY, lunacy design t-shirts are all made from cloud-soft 100% organic cotton.

You’ll often hear President Obama talk about his attempts to get outside “the bubble,” referring to the excessive amount of time presidents spend in the White House and surrounded by Beltway insiders. Living such an insular life, he recognizes, gives one a skewed view of reality. Similarly, the New York Times On the Runway blog featured a post two weeks ago entitled “Bursting the Nutty Bubble” about the fashion bubble that makes those who work in designer and luxury markets forget that the real rainmakers in the garment industry are popularly priced goods, not the $15,000 handbags and $3,000 shoes to which they’ve become accustomed.

Sometimes well-known trademarks are so familiar to us that they become synonymous with the products themselves. Brand names like Band-Aid, Kleenex, Spandex, Xerox and many more have entered our vocabulary, so much so that we use them to describe generic products other than the originals. When was the last time you asked for a facial tissue? While it’s not illegal for consumers to do this in everyday speech, it can be a big problem for companies who use a well-known trademark, perhaps without realizing that it is a registered trademark, to describe their own products. I think the most commonly misused trademark in the children’s apparel industry is ONESIES®.