The Biz: Feature Articles

Over thirty years ago, seven university students graduated and vowed to develop a company that would make a positive contribution to society. One graduate, Vitool Virapornsavan, was both an architect and the future founder of Plan Creations Co., Ltd. Since Plan Creations began, PlanToys has created innovative playthings for kids produced to meet the highest quality, safety and environmental standards. Today, the company employs over 1000 people, operates two subsidiary businesses, and is the first company in the world to manufacture toys from reclaimed rubber wood.

American toymakers and clothing designers may appreciate tradition, but they also love innovation. They can integrate the best of old and new to produce products that are unique and functional. 3 Marthas, Two Bros Bows, Papersalt, and The Beaufort Bonnet Company are all very different enterprises. A clothing company reaching its silver anniversary, a business that makes a rugged outdoor sport safe and fun, a publisher that helps to inspire family values, and a designer who recreates novelties from the past. Each one embodies the American spirit in its own way and makes us proud.

Michele Keeler is a triple threat in the design world, creating clothing, shoes, and items for the home. This is quite the impressive resumé for someone who became a professional designer by “accident.” It was 1996 and Michele was a single mom of two young children. Like many moms, especially those living on a single income, she faced the challenge of keeping her little ones in clothing that looked good and fit them well. Luckily, she had sewing skills and a good eye for fashion, so making clothing for her kids wasn’t just a task to endure, but a pursuit that made her happy.

Itzy Ritzy
All Baby & Child, Inc. (ABC Kids Expo)

Bottle feeding has been an issue throughout the ages: as early as 2000 BC, concerned parents were using a range of designs to deliver nutrition safely and effectively to infants and toddlers. Modern bottles are a far cry from their predecessors. A sincere desire to provide safe feeding solutions to parents has resulted in the creation of non-toxic products. Even the nipples have evolved from simple spouts to durable silicone nipples, designed to prevent gas and colic issues. Here are some top brands that provide parents with feeding solutions: Silikids, Bouche Baby, Cherub Baby, and Steri-Bottle.

Few milestones are as important to parents as a child’s first steps. What’s on their little fearless feet during this time is crucial for development and safety. As studies continue to show the importance of keeping tykes toddling in soft shoes or socks, some can be too tight or too slippery. These four companies can keep little feet rocking without compromising security or fashion: Zuzii, Bubysums, Snowflakes and Sunflowers and Vs. Stuff.

Often, when a company does good deeds or creates life-enhancing products, they benefit by getting increased media attention and positive word of mouth. It’s Business 101; when customers feel good about their experience with a company, they’re likely to buy from that company again and to recommend it to others. It also helps if your products are interesting and unique. Seeds of Happiness and Peace Passion Positivity are two companies that are getting plenty of good buzz right now.

Playtime New York
pediped footwear

Spring is just around the corner (it just doesn’t feel like it in some places!), and soon the air will be full of birds’ songs and croaking frogs. Green shoots bring back new hopes for a fresh start, and one great way to kick off the season is with earth-friendly pieces. Fred’s World, a Scandinavian company that produces attention-grabbing, comfy children’s wear, is poised for another blockbuster year. Part of the company’s attraction has been its very strict dedication to creating clothes that are wearable, adorable, and gentle on the planet.

Shark Tank has been a Friday night viewing tradition of mine since its premier in August, 2009. Many children’s businesses have been on the program, so it is also a favorite for our industry. Recently, Betsy Johnson and her brother Berry Wanless pitched the “Sharks” to invest in their SwimZip brand of protective designer sunwear for a $60,000 investment and a percentage of equity ownership.

In February, we celebrate love on Valentine’s Day and our country’s leadership on Presidents’ Day. For retailers, it’s a season for fun gifts and personal presents that show affection in all degrees, from puppy love to lifelong commitment. Make the season a reason to find new gifts for your store. Here I present one handful of finds that I love…

Login:

Username:
Password: