The rise in allergies has had a dramatic impact on the landscape of families and fun time. Gone are the days when classroom cupcakes were the norm and children painted with whatever was handy. Glob founder Ashley Phelps understands sensitivities. As an artist, she suffered through skin irritation from paints, but just bore the trouble as part of her trade. However, life was about to get better: a friend who was developing a house paint from plants inspired her to investigate new, safe ways to color her world. She started Glob, and has been helping families with her non-toxic, environmentally-positive products ever since.
The 111th annual American International Toy Fair® is running from February 16-19, 2014 (Sunday-Wednesday) at New York’s Javits Convention Center. Retailers, inventors, businesses of all sizes, distributors, manufacturers, and anyone with anything to do with the children’s toy market will descend on one of the biggest shows ever. After its 2013 record-smashing show, attendees can expect the best in products and the serious consideration of global companies. A peek at exhibitors reveals that Smart Games and Toys, Ubooly, Shure Products, and Super Impulse will all make an appearance.
Kids have their own way of looking at their environment, in large part due to their imaginations. For example, in the child’s mind, the terror of the monster in the closet might have been a cute character from a comic book when the lights were on — but now it has changed into a grim ghoul. Families have been challenged by children’s fears, and more than one parent has spent the night sitting up next to an anxious child’s bed. But now parents have a new champion: Vicki Sewell, author and creator of The Magnificent Sprinkles. Sewell just experienced a strong showing at the AmericasMart in Atlanta, where her plush critters and storybook garnered serious attention.
“The response was amazing!” And that about sums it up for the The Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market. Companies that exhibited at the January 2014 market were unanimous in declaring that it was a hit. With more than seven million square feet of space for exhibitors, AmericasMart Atlanta can afford bragging rights. Its new app launched to rave reviews, scoring in the top ten business apps, according to iTunes. In January alone, new buyer rates went up double digits, indicating an increasing wave of interest. Companies that made their mark at the event include Livie & Cole, Fizoos, Night Buddies and FoneFace.
NY Now -
New York City, New York (2/1/14 - 2/6/14)
NY Now, formerly the New York International Gift Fair, is almost here again! The huge trade show – one of the largest of its kind in the world – is slated to run from February 1-6 at the Jacob Javitz Center in New York City, and will include some of the most successful home and lifestyle businesses in the industry, as well as those making their way to the top. Among the impressive line-up of exhibitors are some promising up-and-coming children’s product sellers, including BeanPatch & Co., Lava Lunch, Free Like Birdie, and Luca & Company
Swedish company Little Jalo has its eye on developing the finest in children’s products. Started by industry veteran Marie Sammeli, Little Jalo brings the best of kids fashion into line with the finest in materials and design. But Little Jalo’s Euro-style is not only popular on the continent. “We have had a very good consumer response,” Sammeli explains. The mother of four has a strong vision for the company’s products — beautiful, earth-friendly, sustainable creations — and knows how to meld it with the durability and quality that parents need.
What does it take to make that indecisive customer happy? Offer a comprehensive children’s collection that spans ages, genders and tastes. Honey Bunny brand products are a vast collection of affordable baby accessories that make grabbing and gifting super simple. They are all unique but complementary enough to mix and match. For the baby basics, Honey Bunny features rich flannel receiving blankets and contoured crib sheets. Thermal blankets littered with cute characters like giraffes, crocodiles and koalas will also be a hit.
Artsy types wanting to make money from their creative talents can now jumpstart their ventures with Kickstarter. Getting public funding for mass production allows creators to realize their dreams while allowing retailers to line their shelves with new products. As spring arrives, offer your earthy types the UltraCompact baby carrier from Bitybean. Help families talk directly to kids through their toys with Toymail Co. The designer of the newest plush pocket pals at Poketti is a kid herself, raising money for her animal toy line. MinkeeBlue has taken the weight off women’s shoulders by offering one bag for every situation.
Fair Trade is basically the practice of paying “fair” or “appropriate” prices for products developed in other countries. It focuses on honoring the work of the laborers. It is not simply a way of doing business — it’s a conscious choice made to reflect business and personal values. Fair Trade is not about a handout: Fair Trade products are high-quality merchandise created with attention to detail. If these goods sound like the kinds of products you would like to provide your customers, then WeAreDAR, Aloetree Kids, 1 of a Kind (Pebble) and Almirah are excellent choices.
“We have seen our products literally liberate kiddos of all ages,” said David Stebbins of Kickboard USA, which brings families the Micro Scooters developed by Swiss inventor Wim Ouboter. As a distributor of all great things wheeled, Michigan-based Kickboard USA has moved from success to success with its team of scooter-lovers. Micro scooters are unique among wheeled transportation devices. Not only do the scooters and bikes sport a modern edge, but they are designed with safety in mind. “Our unique ‘lean to steer’ technology is not only what makes our 3-wheelers safe, it’s what makes them fun, providing a feeling of surfing the sidewalk,” explained Stebbins.
It’s little wonder how HABA has been able to grow over the years: the company brings only the finest in furniture, games, and toys to children all over the world. Since all of its own toys that are developed in Germany are created from beech and maple, the company demands that only the finest in sustainable products ever grace its shelves. This is where great toys like Götz dolls, Lilliputiens plush toys, and Spielstabil play sets as come in. The company also distributes popular Danish toys from Moover, which creates heirloom-quality pieces that engage children and help them learn while having fun.
Today’s viral marketing makes it easier for a product to take off and gain popularity seemingly overnight. Of course, some of these products end up being a flash in the pan, but others stand the test of time and become well-loved classics. To get there, it usually means having a combination of a high-quality, innovative product, smart marketing, and excellent customer service. The following companies are innovators with possibly the next “must-haves”: HICKIES, Buddha Board, EarZings and 4moms.