The Biz: Feature Articles

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.

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®.

The 9th Annual ABC Kids Expo will be held at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville on September 23 through September 26. More than 950 exhibitors in over one million square feet of space will show what’s new to national and international retailers, sales reps, importer/exporters and the media. From furniture to baby gear to apparel, gifts, toys and lots more, this show has a stronger vibe than ever! Get ready to see these fantastic brands and many miles more: Niniwalker, GO!screen, oogaa and Levana.

Caletha Crawford

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?