Gotta Hand it to ABC Spring Educational Conference

BassiNest™ Swivel Sleeper

“High Five”, by Editorial Director David Gaunt, counts down his personal observations, tips, and praise reports about the children’s business. In this column, David awards his one-hand salute to participants at last May’s ABC Spring Educational Conference & Trade Show ABC/SEC.

Earning my high five and a pat on the back are Social Media 101 panelists, HALO Innovations, Lolli Living, Keekaroo and the teams of ABC and Brixy.

Blogs: The Medium is the Confusion

Attending a panel discussion presented about how retailers can better work with bloggers and social media outlets, I remembered Marshall McLuhan’s famous quote from my college days: “The medium is the message.” He meant something about the medium influencing, and thus becoming part of, how the message is perceived. It kinda confused me then, just as I realized after the Q&A session that there is a lot of confusion about the ever-changing online media called “social.” Some retailers remained puzzled as to why anyone would be interested in what moms say about their families. One reason they should care is because many of these messages are influencing buying decisions and helping to build brands.

Part of the problem is that pretty much anyone can play in this field, but not everyone’s messages earn recognition and loyal followers. It remains the responsibility of the retailers and brands to investigate whom they choose to partner with and then develop a relationship with the writers to find out how they can best present their message to the bloggers’ Internet audience, which they have built through their own skills at building loyal followers. Find out the bloggers’ preferences and sample policies, read their sites, ask them about any fees, as that can vary widely. The medium may be newer, but just as in all other types of media, the best results stem from earned relationships, reliability, professionalism, and getting to really know your audience.

High five to these social media professionals at ABC/SEC for helping me to realize that I can never stop learning new ways to use a social medium to communicate the messages that are my work: Cindy Meltzer, Jamie Grayson, Charlene DeLoach and Jill Krause

HALO is a Hero


I congratulate the HALO Innovations marketing duo, Erica Butler and Tricia Knigge, for both HALO’s event sponsorship presence and presentation of its BassiNest™ Swivel Sleeper at ABC/SEC. HALO signs were everywhere and the early buzz about the HALO SleepNest was viral.

Publicist Alise Kreditor helped develop an effective campaign, including an exclusive preview for the press in a beautiful bedroom suite with an excellent press package. I also salute Vice President of Sales Karen Casson whose passion for all things HALO always shines. You will be hearing a lot more praise for the HALO BassiNest™ leading up to the next round of trade events.

Lolli Living: A Different Brand with a Familiar Face

Lolli Living

Poppy Seed Collection
During this event, I realized that I just expect to see the same faces with the same brands, especially when they’ve become synonymous with the brand for many years. The truth is, the children’s business is a small world, but people do tend to move around. So, I was pleasantly surprised to see one of my fellow “long-timers,” VP Sales & Marketing Maura Ostergaard, representing Lolli Living, a newer brand in the U.S, but with over 50 years of experience in Australia.

Maura and VP of Design & Product Development Leila Nathan showed me the Living Textiles Baby collection of coordinated bedding, nursery décor, play mats, slumber bags and toys. The designs, color palettes and character themes were contemporary and fresh, while retaining the whimsy and fun of decorating for new families.

I Went Nuts for Keekaroo’s Peanut Changer

Peanut Changer - Available in many colors
At every event I look for a product that stops me in my tracks. At ABC/SEC it was the Keekaroo Peanut Changer, different than any other changing pad I have seen. As is often the case, my interest grew when VP of Sales Matt Peglow told me the back story of the company. In 1967, Tim Bergeron was working on a new type of therapeutic equipment, especially for children with special needs. His daughter had Down syndrome and he wanted her to be more comfortable. Several of the brand’s adjustable high chairs, seat cushions and other essentials do satisfy special needs, but also are practical and perfect for children in general.

The Peanut Changer is a large pad with a strong outer shell that is both ultra comfortable and impermeable to any fluid. It’s also made in the U.S.A. and comes in a variety of colors. Plus, since it needs no cover sheet, clean ups are a wipe away! If I had this pad when my kids were in diapers, I am sure I would have found many other uses for it.

5th Annual ABC/SEC Earns High Five!

My final but highest five praises ABC and Brixy for organizing the 5th Annual Spring Educational Conference & Trade Show at South Point Hotel, Las Vegas. Brixy presented the conference speakers with an excellent mix of both grassroots business information and expert short and long-term solutions for independent retailers. The plan was that everyone would be able to take away some tips that could be immediately implemented and adapted to their stores.

In addition, the event offered a good mix of networking and business opportunities, with the emphasis on good fun, foods and friends, old and new. The trade show is the perfect size for every buyer to shop, and retailers were enthusiastic about a good mix of products. Thanks to everyone that made this year’s event possible.

On May 20-22, 2014 the 6th Annual ABC/SEC will be held at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort, Orlando, Florida.