The Biz

With more and more families becoming ecologically aware and moving toward sustainable living, wooden toys are experiencing a renaissance. Karl Oppen, founder of Tree Blocks, is a business owner who has put responsible forestry practices to work in his company. After overseeing factories in Europe and Vietnam, and becoming familiar with the high demands those locations place on the forestry industry, Oppen opened his first U.S. factory in Wisconsin. The off-the-grid operation uses sustainable forestry, reclaimed wood, and off-cut wood to create a fun and unique line of toys.

What’s better than a jigsaw puzzle with the design on one side? When the other side reveals a second part of the fun. That’s the idea behind Flipzles, award-winning puzzles made of thick, durable wood with vibrant images on all three layers, each a unique piece of art created by Vicki Lewis. Flipzles help kids discover spatial relationships and build hand-eye coordination, yet are compact, easy to store and a snap to take anywhere.

Maple Landmark has been making eco-friendly, educational wooden toys, games and gifts since 1979 in Middlebury, Vermont. Many people know them for their NameTrains, but they craft a wide array of children’s products including heirloom wooden baby toys, toddler toys, board games and gifts. The Giggle Guide® recently caught up with Maple Landmark for a look behind the scenes of this topnotch brand:

Little Things Mean A Lot
J. Austin Ryan Designs

The Netherlands, also known as Holland, has long been known for its tulips, windmills, wooden shoes, and those yummy butter cookies you get every Christmas… but what about couture? While most people still think of Italy and France as the fashion capitals of Europe, Holland has been a quietly growing force in the industry, and lately it’s been hard for anyone who buys or sells kids’ clothing to ignore the influence of this small but vital nation. Leiden-based design house Cakewalk is a great example of the Dutch children’s clothing aesthetic.

Welcome to the preteen years, which some parents have come to nickname “second toddlerhood”. At this age, it can be a balancing act to allow kids the independence and individuality they need, while ensuring they hold on to the innocence and wonder of childhood for as long as they can. By guiding kids’ choices in the right direction, parents can do their part to make this stage of growing up as fun, exciting, and rewarding as possible. Companies like 100% Gumdrop, Lemon, Inc., DeSalitto and Limeapple offer fabulous fashion options for parents – and their awesome tweens – to consider.

Popupshop is a clothing company dedicated to producing high-quality garments and using ethical manufacturing practices. Running a business with standards this high isn’t easy; it’s a process that includes attention to detail right from the start. Popupshop’s clothing begins in nature, with organic, pesticide-free cotton and bamboo. Both these fabrics are known for being gentle on the skin as well as environmentally sustainable and easy to care for. Once these materials are turned into textile, they are brought to Popupshop’s certified factory in Turkey, where they are cut and dyed by knowledgeable workers. The result is a line of clothing that looks and feels great.

All Baby & Child, Inc. (ABC Kids Expo)
Woombie (KB Designs, LLC)

Little darlings will enjoy wearing delights as much as they do eating them with Lili Collection’s moccasins and matching purses. Mouthwatering strawberries, juicy pineapples, ice cream popsicles and more become fashionable and adorable style statements. From picnics to play dates, these accessories are sure to make her the star of the show! Lili Collection also features Animoccs. These cute critters come in purses as well and are perfect to wear in summer and straight on through to fall and winter.

As options open in the home decor market, new parents are clinging to their identities as modern humans, even if they’re feeling less than human thanks to sleepless nights and dirty nappies. With a shared aesthetic and appreciation for design, Jennifer Kelly and Rebecca Perren found a void in the market for what they wanted for their own homes — the right mix of classic and modern, the subtle balance of fresh yet sophisticated design. They created Pehr Designs’ Petit Pehr line to answer the call of modern moms everywhere, creating classically simple home accessories sure to fly off your shelf.

Don’t shoot the messengers, but it’s time to start thinking about back to school displays. And no display will be complete without the perfect accessory for the all-important first day outfit. And then there’s school picture day. And holidays. Well, you get the picture. And that picture gets prettier with the Republic of Pigtails, a collection of handmade hair accessories that go beyond the glass beads and into a fashionable fairytale. Rika Gunawan dedicated Republic of Pigtails to her daughter and their edgy friends who love to look fabulous.

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