The Biz

What country comes to mind when you hear the term “manufacturing hub”? China? Vietnam? Indonesia? There’s a long list of potential countries from which manufacturers and buyers can choose to source products. The real question is which country is best – or, more to the point, which country is best for you? In this bulletin, you’ll learn about five of the region’s growing manufacturing hubs and the different opportunities and challenges presented by each.

Nobody can deny the sway that sports hold over our culture. From the multi-million dollar extravaganza of the Super Bowl to the buzzing excitement of the hometown baseball game, sporting events and teams are the focus of an impressive amount of our time, money and devotion. Baby Fanatic is a Virginia-based company that offers a full line of adorable, comfy team-themed baby clothing and other gear for infants. You name the team, and Baby Fanatic probably has pacifier, bib, or bottle with its emblem or colors, helping any baby to look super-stylish when mom and dad take them to the big game.

Stuffed toys occupy a special place in kids’ hearts as the adored creature they take to bed, the special pal they hang with during the day or the loved fuzzy they turn to for cheer. The third generation of the Mary Meyer company, in business for over eighty years, makes stuffed wonders that incorporate important safety features with creative designs and top quality materials, explaining why toys from here are best sellers. The new Camouflage line offers a whimsical, washable lobster in pink or green camo as well as the Bestever Baby Mat that comes in both pink and green featuring a big bear hug.

J. Austin Ryan Designs
IMAGINE GreenWear

Parenting young children is often all about the small details. Something as simple as a malfunctioning part on a toy or a sticky stroller wheel can lead to a string of irritating events that can cast a shadow over the day. On the flip side, small enhancements that bring more convenience and ease to daily life can transform a family’s routine for the better. Happy Kidz is a company that offers a small but highly useful range of products designed to do the latter. Some their standout offerings include the Doona Car Seat, The Kid-Sit and the Twoo, The Clam-P, and Scotchi educational games.

From their earliest days, girls naturally cleave to dolls. Tiny tots get hold of that first, soft doll who often becomes a natural bestie, there at night as a soothing bedtime companion and around during the day to snuggle with or just be at a little one’s side. Grown up girls cherish special dolls given to them long ago by a parent, adored granny, aunt or friend and often keep them forever. We’ve gathered a tea-party worthy group of special dolls that will delight young ladies of different ages and stages from Bonikka, Pennymeade, Arianna and My Friend Huggles.

An exciting adventure story with neatly woven-in sociological themes is bound to get kids’ hearts racing and their imaginations engaged while winning enthusiastic nods from parents. Lottie’s Run is the story of a girl whose dad is captain of England’s football team. She gets kidnapped and is forced to hide in the dark, scary woods. Lottie, a good student and very able athlete, relates the dramatic story of her pursuit and how she ultimately manages to escape. Readers learn the value of using imagination and considering different options as they enjoy the intriguing story.

Caletha Crawford
Andy & Evan

European toymakers have long been ahead of the curve when it comes to blocks and other building sets. They tend to prefer wood to plastic for both aesthetic and environmental reasons, and their sets are often extensive, detailed, and realistic. Janod is a French company that’s been the recipient of multiple international toy awards. They offer superior quality wooden building sets designed to inspire children to have fun while expanding their skills. Simple, class building blocks are available in various colors, sizes, shapes, and patterns. In more advanced sets, kids can create their own cars, trucks and other vehicles, as well as buildings.

A simple, yet meaningful message written on a napkin and placed in the lunchbox can help a child get through those tough days at school. Canadian mom Margerete Volpe happily got on board with the lunch box note habit, but the practice had a down side. While her daughter loved the notes, Margarete did not love the waste made from throwing away so many napkins every week. As an environmentally conscious person, Margarete was hit with inspiration: Why not make reusable cloth message napkins? And that’s how PICKmeUP Napkins was born.

Channel the wanderlust of summer with The Sweet Potatoe, a modern organic children’s clothing brand inspired by travel and cities that embody culture and history. Create everyday wee wardrobe staples for curious little explorers with a brand that launched last year and grew from a farmer’s market stop to a boutique favorite. Lazers will never go out of style and The Sweet Potatoe knows it. They’ve even centered parts of their 2015 collections around them. The Lazer-T is a soft, comfortable all-season piece that can be layered under a sweater during chilly summer evenings, or paired with a skirt or short for hot summer days.

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