The Biz: Feature Articles

Wen C. Reese brings her contemporary design sensibility to nighttime with Skylar Luna, which launches at ENK Children’s Club (booth #2211). Moms can appreciate the eco-friendly properties and reasonable prices; while kids want to cozy up to these comfortable and stylish pajamas. Skylar Luna will also entice retailers through its year-round availability, which allows them to order only what they need, when they need it. Reese states, “Skylar Luna is soft, organic cotton washed in a sophisticated palette using simple designs — no busy all-over prints or mass-market characters.

“Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.” Had Rudyard Kipling been one of the greatest psychiatrists of our time, he could not have distilled the essence of communication any more clearly. The words we use in everyday life are vital to building solid relationships with those around us. As parents of two growing boys, entrepreneurial couple Meredith and Lance Looney have developed their ideas on the most important way to nurture a close, joyful family life by letting their loved ones know that they are important, welcomed, and loved. With this in mind, the I Like Book was conceived and published in 2010.

Having just returned from a round of paper craft-related trade shows where I was a buyer for once, I must say, vendors of the world, we need to talk. Ah, there they are, the four most dreaded words in the dating dictionary. Drop that phrase on a spouse or a loved one today and watch them cringe in response. Maybe it’s too soon in our Giggle Guide relationship for such a heavy conversation, but given that we’re on the brink of another show season, the time has to be now for some straight talk aimed at vendors.

J. Austin Ryan Designs
Feather Baby

While Kermit sang of the difficulties of being green, toymakers are creating new toys that make it easy and fun to be “green.” With the continuing trend toward greener living, Toobalink is a new toy company that encourages imagination with an eco-friendly, reusable twist in building kits. Recyclable toilet tissue and towel tubes get a new life when combined with the Toobalink connectors and couplers. Developed initially as part of a Classic Play toy class at Pratt Institute, Toobalink was inspired by children playing with often tossed-out household items. The brand re-imagines traditional building blocks and logs, with creativity and a focus on helping Mother Nature.

Cloth diapers have come a long way, babies, from the days of diaper pins and rubber pants. Today’s cloth diapers come in an array of fabrics and styles from all-in-one (AIO) to prefolded to contoured, and that’s only the beginning! With so many choices, there’s bound to be a cloth diaper choice for every parent-to-be. When shoppers opt for cloth, everyone benefits: the baby, the family budget, and the environment. The Giggle Guide® promotes changes for the better with information about the Real Diaper Industry Association, Super Undies, and Happy Heinys.

Béaba is a French company that creates innovative toys and household items that make life easier for parents of young children. Founded in 1989, Béaba’s attractive and easy-to-use products have become part of family life in countries around the world. Béaba’s flagship product is the Babycook, an all-in-one baby food maker that simplifies the entire process of feeding an infant or toddler. Béaba offers an excellent selection of booster seats, bottles warmers, meal accessories, bath items, toys, and more. All items feature a signature contemporary style and bright colors that enhance the look of a home and offer sleek style on the go.

Itzy Ritzy

What are little boys made of? According to the 19th century nursery rhyme, “Snips and snails and puppy dog tails.” While the Victorians may have been satisfied with this description, the modern boy is a far cry from it — and his parents are ready and willing to dazzle the world with junior’s guy style. English Laundry, d mo baby, and Alpha Industries are on the well-dressed boys’ short list for the finest in targeted, youthful fashion, while Spitfire Girl is keeping it real with a new take on old-fashioned, favorite toys that capture boys’ imaginations.

Historically, boys have been easy to please when it comes to shopping. They tended not to fuss over clothing styles and many were happy with simple, action-themed toys. Today, many parents of sons voice a need for more variety in boys’ products. To some extent, they crave a return to the traditional ideal of carefree, outdoorsy boyhood. At the same time, they’re aware that a young man needs to develop his mind as well as his body. Kapital K, Outset Media, Lil’ Teammates, and Manhattan Toy are all doing their part to expand a boy’s world well beyond “snakes and snails and puppy dog tails.”

July’s “High Five” column counts down a handful of products that Editorial Director David Gaunt discovered at the Licensing Expo and ASTRA trade shows. His personal shout outs include an animated “reunion” with Warren Buffet, smiles from Puerto Rico, a recommended store appearance by a famous silhouette artist and author, card-caring creators of family games, and an original new entry in the silicone bandz craze that stands up to any competitor.