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.
Specialization leads to mastery, as evidenced by the designs at Wolf & Rita. The Portuguese company, founded by sisters Sonia and Claudia Rocha, was originally launched in 2013 to provide children with the finest in quality shirts. The influence of tradition cannot be overlooked: after all, the company is based in Guimarães, a UNESCO heritage site recognized for its importance to the country’s national history. The strength and perseverance of the culture are woven into the fabric of the designs.
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.
When two good friends visited Peru, more than Manchu Pichu awe struck them. Susan Pritchett and Florence Wetterwald stumbled onto entire villages of expert knitters and returned home to found Blabla Kids, a company selling all manner of knitted objects for children. The hand-knit cotton Lion Dream Ring can hang over a bed or anywhere in a kid’s room. For customers seeking dolls, point out that these knit charmers are soft and lovable for tots to teens. Knit dolls come as horses, monkeys, girls, boys, bunnies, owls and a host of other characters.
Ask any kid what their favorite time of year is, and you will likely hear “summer!” The weather is good, school is out, there are friends to see and family fun to enjoy. Summer’s dress code is mostly casual, but it doesn’t hurt to have some stylish additions for a kid’s warm weather wardrobe. Get ready to take a tour of some of the brands making the coolest summer clothing and accessories for kids, including Flik Flops, Andy & Evan, BSkinz and Koko-Nut Kids. From flashy flip-flops and fashions for little gentlemen to fair trade Batik, the possibilities are as diverse and fun as the sights you’ll see on any summer road trip.
It’s challenging enough to make it as an artist or business owner in the developed world, where resources for success are plentiful; those living in developing countries may not even realize that they have the potential to make a livable wage doing what they do, and may not know where to begin to reach a larger audience. Recognizing this fact, some companies in the U.S. have made an effort to reach out to artists around the globe, to help them become established in their craft and ensure that they’re paid fairly for their work. Kahiniwalla is one of the companies taking part in this revolution.
The search for the perfect baby shoes usually begins with the “aaaaww” factor. Are the shoes colorful? Are they soft? Do they sport characters that babies might like? Of course, parents are looking for more than cuteness in a baby shoe; many are also concerned with quality and craftsmanship, especially if the child will be wearing the shoes while learning to walk. Eco-conscious shoppers may also have questions about whether the materials used are sustainable and safe. Companies like Silk Road Bazaar are stepping up to create baby shoes that meet all these criteria.
Earth Divas supports artisans in developing countries and is dedicated to bringing to market fair trade, handmade, sustainable products that are of superior quality. Earth Divas was founded with a vision to create a business that would benefit the environment as well as the individuals who manufacture the products for sale in the United States. From the early days of selling retail via their website and shipping orders from their garage, Earth Divas has transitioned to a wholesale business and increased their focus on fair trade made products, joined the Fair Trade Federation and expanded their warehouse and fulfillment operation to match their ambition.
“Sound bites” are the news teasers of the airwaves. Lightening-speed information demands that we express ourselves in a snappy way much of the time. This new paradigm is what gives rise to slang, abbreviation (aka “text speak”) and sometimes, just plain poor English. While this may sound like the beginning of the end for our linguistic heritage, there is a ray of hope. Parents can teach their children the skills necessary to communicate succinctly and efficiently, in a style known as “talk less, say more”. Publishing house Little Snail Series encourages this type of heightened communication.
Girls remember their first one: the glamorous exterior with rich colors, the graceful winding staircase, the upper stories with fabulous sleeping rooms fit for princesses, and the model kitchen that set every cook’s heart aflutter. Yes, before you moved into your first place, your first “dream home” was your dollhouse. Dollhouses have evolved, and there are homes for every taste — from little girls to avid collectors to (yes!) boys. Rooms with a view include dollhouses from En Gry & Sif USA, Greenleaf, Teamson and brinca dada.
Kidz On Safari is a North American-based company designed to bring the African Safari experience to the Western world. Kidz On Safari realizes that very few North American children have the opportunity to go on an African safari. They want to give these children a chance to vicariously enjoy such an adventure, and interact with their favorite animals in the comfort and safety of their own home. Their casual eco-friendly clothing, plush toys, educational DVDs and music CDs provide an immersive global experience that opens children’s eyes to the diverse wildlife and experience of an African safari.
Retailers may still be making final buying decisions for the 2012 fall and holiday season. Top off the season with one of the biggest trends: hats, hats, hats! From traditional pom-pom caps to fantastical ski masks, the perfect hat should go with any coat, dressy or play, but have enough detail to set it apart from everyday stocking caps. Our picks all have unique elements, plus are warm enough for little ears while also being adorable enough to make parents skip the local drugstore 2-for-1 sale and head to your store: Ambler, 2HKnits, Virginia Dunn and Patouche.