The Biz: The Grapevine

Moms sometimes decide to dress down or forgo the fashionable in lieu of the comfortable and functional. Haute couture purses and scarves give way to bulky, pink monkey-splattered diaper bags and blue burp cloths. Parents don’t mind sacrifice when it comes to their children, but what if stylish adults didn’t have to give up looking great in order to schlep baby’s gear from place to place? Products that do double duty as functional and fashionable are especially trendy since both parents often work outside the home. Accessories from Funktion marry panache and utility in a natural way to serve a growing family’s needs and wants.

The Candy Cottage, developed by two busy moms who still wanted to enjoy family time, is a faux-gingerbread plastic cottage that snaps together. Instantly, the original time-consuming task of making, baking and assembling real gingerbread pieces went from a chore to a simplified family project. “We’re thrilled to see our dream take flight so quickly and be sold in so many specialty gift shops nationwide,” enthused Rhonda Dunn, one of Cottage Products, LLC’s co-owners. After a gangbuster first-showing at the 2011 AmericasMart® gift show in Atlanta, sales have continued to climb as stores clamor for the family-friendly Cottage.

Sports fans and university alumni do not need to settle for pastels or neutrals when dressing their little one. Now, they can show their world that their team or alma mater has a brand new fan, sporting clothing and accessories from Little BIG Fan. The Little BIG Fan team is small but powerful with moms leading the business, dads cheering them on, and kids keeping everyone on track. Like the teams they support, they work and play hard to provide some of the best products for legions of fans. Passionate about creating products with a purpose that are stylish and fun, Little BIG Fan is for loyal sports fanatics.

Little Things Mean A Lot

There’s never a bad time to give a baby gift, but the perennial problem that plagues most givers is the selection. When it comes to babies and toddlers, this can be an especially tricky issue. Companies with long track records of service and quality are great places to start when it comes to solving this problem. Experience always tells, and this is true for businesses, too. AM PM Kids, an offshoot of the Mullins family company that has been serving customers for over 30 years, delivers quality gifts based on a strong understanding of what families want.

Kids love to crawl, squiggle and draw on the floor. Carpeted floors seem like they would be safer places for babies and tots, but the number of tiny objects kids always find is shocking. Hardwood or laminate flooring is a particular stressor for parents. After all, one hard fall could mean anything from a long crying bout to a trip to the hospital. The best way to help families with their floor-lovers is to provide a comfortable landing pad that is not only easy to clean (always a big seller for families), but also attractive to kids. Dwinguler offers a solution.

Shoppers can deck themselves to the hilt or gift another be they woman, young lady or teething baby with multi-purpose silicone jewelry and gum-worthy chews. Big necklaces, pendants and bangles in stand-out colors are all the rage. All jewelry from Jellystone Designs is BPA–free with custom-made clasps that separate easily if tugged. A non-toxic alternative to ordinary costume jewelry, these organic bangles have a fluid, not-quite-circular shape and come in pink, purple, green and lots of other colors in the spectrum.

JP Lizzy
No Slippy Hair Clippy, Inc.

While many families would love to craft, not all find it easy. Not everyone has the time, inspiration or ability to pick up tools and materials and make something new. Luckily, there’s a company that can help parents and kids with crafty ambitions. Lullubee is a New York-based craft company that takes a unique approach to crafting. Rather than simply selling supplies, Lullubee provides customers with detailed directions for projects, complete with pictures of the finished product. The crafting supplies are high-quality, and projects are dreamed up by Lullubee’s resident craft artists.

There are a variety of foreign-language resources available for babies and young children, but few are as visually pleasing and heartwarming as those by Bebe Bilingual. Bebe Bilingual offers parents convenient flashcards and other products to help steep a child’s world in the beauty of both language and art. As an avid traveler who understands the importance of language immersion, Kimberly Schwede wanted to offer learning tools that would be easy to use on the go. In addition to the flash cards, the company also designs lunchboxes, and placemats that are meant to be used as part of the child’s everyday surroundings.

Brixy, the new trade association for independently owned stores in the juvenile industry, has taken another step in preparing to launch on January 2, 2013. Today the organization formally announced its membership criteria and timeline for accepting applications. “Our focus is on helping juvenile brick and mortar stores to grow and thrive,” explained Executive Director Jill Cartwright as she outlined the membership criteria.