September 2009 | Vol. VIII - No. 9
ABC Kids Preview: Stories Worth Sharing
Low-Investment Gloves and Runway-Ready Babies
Exhibitors of the annual ABC Kids Expo have plenty of motivating stories to share about products inspired by safety, fashion or daily demands in baby care — especially given all the mompreneurs who are a part of this huge, and hugely competitive, market! TDmonthly Magazine recently reviewed more than 100 “What’s Your Story?” entries from various juvenile products manufacturers and selected the following 10 vendors for this special preview before the show.
Booth numbers are included, so you can take note of exhibitors you wish to visit. Be sure to check back in TDmonthly’s October issue for our extensive video coverage of the Expo.
Baby Zabu by WAGAMAMA BABY, Yuki Mese (booth 3024)
When I moved to the States from Japan at age 7, my late-obaachan (grandmother) told me to use my multi-cultural circumstance to serve as a bridge between my homeland and the United States. This idea has guided me through many situations in my life. So after my first child was born, I wanted to make something for her that would be a reflection of her Japanese-American heritage. In looking at my own baby pictures, I noticed that as an infant and toddler, I was always sitting or laying on a zabuton (a traditional Japanese floor cushion). So I got the idea of crafting a more modern and functional version of the Japanese zabuton.
The original Baby Zabu was for my daughter. But pretty soon after, I began receiving requests from friends and strangers alike! I never imagined that the bridge my obaachan spoke of so long ago would be in the form of a floor cushion! But every time we receive an order, I’m hoping that she would’ve been proud!
WarmEase ZipperBack Gloves by ZIPPERBACK GLOVES, Kathy Partak (booth 1612)
Dave and I had this idea years ago and actually took action in January 2008. Nineteen months later, we are getting ready for our first trade show, and our product will be on store shelves in months. Dave is full-time, active-duty military, and when we started this venture, I had a full-time sales career.
We have not paid a penny for prototyping, samples or manufacturing. The only money we've spent has been for legal fees with writing and filing out patent application. How did I do this? I don't know the technical answer, but I can tell you what I think it is: I asked.
I called U.S. manufacturers of snow gloves and talked to them about my idea. I originally wanted to license the idea with the provision that I would introduce it to the marketplace as mom-invented, and then they could run with it. The couple of companies I was able to dialog with saw that our idea was good, sound and needed. They liked the hole in the children's market we were filling, and they liked my initiative to pick up the phone and cold call. The company that is now our manufacturer and distributor paid for six rounds of prototyping, 35 pair of sample gloves, and the polish on the design for the hang tag. We worked on a general look and their graphics department made it look spiffy and professional. From there, they provided us with an additional 50 hang tags for when we needed to replace a torn one. They also provided 75 pair of retail-ready gloves that they deferred billing on until October 14, 2009.
It is possible to get the help you need when your idea is a good one, and you ask.
Pork Chops Baby Thigh-Highs by PORK CHOP KIDS, Meaghan Resenhoeft (booth 1627)
The idea for Pork Chop KidsTM was developed after having my first daughter. As she began to grow, I discovered many fabulous products to help make child rearing easier. However, a reoccurring issue presented itself which no company had addressed. After a year of discussions with parents, research on manufacturers and the open market, it became clear there was an opportunity to fill a genuine need in the marketplace … a baby thigh-high.
Baby, we’ve got you covered from your chops to your toes! What could be cuter than your little one's thighs? Pork Chops hug your baby's chops and provide warmth, style and functionality. You can put them on, but they can't take them off! The unique design keeps baby warm, provides padding for those crawling days, and diaper changes are a cinch ... no struggling with tights. The stylish colors and fun patterns make even the most understated baby runway-ready!
Pukies Apparel by PUKIES, Kate Andrejack Holmes (booth 2012)
The inspiration for Pukies™ came to Samantha Asay, mother of two, while shopping with girlfriends. Persuaded to try on a ridiculously expensive dress, she noticed it was the same color as her daughter’s green pea baby food. Right then it hit her — why are there no children’s lines designed to disguise the mess kids create?
Samantha set out on a quest to find a sustainable fabric that hides the fact that kids wear what they eat! And, she did! Pukies merge fashion and function. The colors and patterns are adorable, yet they ease the “reality” of parenting with the use of Soy Genius™ fabric — a special blend of soy fiber and organic cotton. Incredibly soft and comfortable, Soy Genius makes Pukies durable, antimicrobial, and provides high UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor).
Samantha and her business partner, Mark Granchai, are graphic designers by trade, so Pukies have a look like no other.
Kiddie Kangaroo by LAM PRODUCTS INC., Joya Machabee (booth 412)
Once upon a time, there was a prince named Luke who loved to travel everywhere with his royal parents. Luke wanted his toys, bottle, snacks and sippy cups while traveling, but having no place to store them, he would cry when he dropped his royal stuff. Necessity is the mother of invention, and so Queen Mother invented Kiddie Kangaroo, a soft pocket carseat accessory wherein he could “stash his stuff.” Mom was happy, as she no longer took her eyes of the road while driving to try to restore his stuff to him! Luke was happy and loved his independence.
Mom went on to develop a new Kiddie Kangaroo, a universal-fit seat protector with soft, adjustable pockets for Luke to use on a bicycle child carrier, jogging stroller, travel stroller, youth car seat and even a sit-and-stand stroller when his princess sister arrived. And they lived happily ever after!
Stonz Booties by STONZ WEAR INC., Lisa Will (booth 5132)
My favourite quote: “There is no such thing as bad weather; only inappropriate clothing.”
As an active mom from Canada’s often chilly West Coast, I found finding warm footwear for my young son near impossible. With my 5-month-old in a backpack, I resorted to wrapping scarves around his legs to keep him warm because nothing stayed on his feet. I met up with another mom with a boot that looked like a fleece-lined chalk bag, made by hand for her child six years earlier. I knew instantly these booties could fill a need in the market. We created samples and attended our first tradeshow in 2004. (now sole ownership)
Setting up a local production facility (Vancouver, BC) to produce our booties, leading a growing team of great people, and expanding Stonz’s product line has made 2008/09 an amazing year for us. I wouldn’t trade my journey of Energy Trader to starting my own business for anything!
Tooth Tissues by MY DENTIST’S CHOICE LLC, Drs. Grace Lo and Jonathan Korn (booth 1931)
We are parents who also happen to be dentists. Tooth Tissues™ was inspired when our daughter would fall asleep while being given a bottle. We found ourselves wiping her teeth with our T-shirts in the middle of the night when we were just too tired to find a washcloth.
As parents, we discovered how difficult it was to comply with recommendations that we were giving to other new parents. According to the American Dental Association, baby teeth and gums should be wiped after every feeding. The statistics are clear: decay in baby teeth is on the rise. There is a need for education to stop this preventable infectious disease. We developed a product that we would confidently use on our own children. Special care was taken to use only premium natural ingredients. Tooth Tissues™ are the best disposable dental wipes on the market.
Binxy by MOTHER’S CUBBARD, Michelle Lamar (booth 1718)
My Company, Mother's Cubbard, was born out of necessity in July 2008. My daughter was born with a slight overbite and she was a thumb sucker. Our pediatrician warned that thumb sucking would only add to the overbite problem and that, ultimately, a thumb is harder to remove from a child than a pacifier. In trying different types of pacifiers the same problem was prevalent: a baby cannot manipulate today's pacifier independently.
What I came up with is a pacifier that baby CAN manipulate independently, and it's fun! Our product, Binxy, is unique in that it maximizes a 3-month-old’s natural ability to grasp while helping to develop motor skills including hand-eye coordination and finger dexterity. Our mom-invented, patent-pending product is made in the USA using materials approved by the FDA, so parents can rest assured Binxy is safe to give to baby.
Corner Art Pieces by CORNER ART, Connie Dayton (booth 1423)
Corner Art began at a girl's home in South Africa. Our mission was to help these girls create a craft that could be sold at market to tourists. We came up with a unique decorative item for children’s rooms. We had no idea at the time that this new idea would become Corner Art, the business. But these critters never made it to market. The girls were so proud of their creations they wanted to keep them for their own room. When we left South Africa, it was with the commitment to create a business that would help support these children that forever changed our lives.
Since there was nothing like it on the market, we began designing “corner art” pieces that could be marketed in the United States. We developed four jungle characters with the commitment that 5 percent of profits would be donated to the South African girls home. We now have three additional categories, each with 5 percent of profits donated to designated charities.
organicKidz stainless Steel Baby Bottles by ORGANICKIDZ, distributed by PRICE PRODUCTS, Jane Walter (booth 2220)
In the midst of the BPA crisis with plastics and a fear of going back to breakable glass baby bottles, we created the world’s first stainless steel baby bottles. My children had unknowingly been subject to the toxins in plastic, and I feel guilty about it every day. I wanted to provide children with the safest baby bottles possible, and thus, organicKidz™ was born!
Our award-winning bottles are free of the BPA, PVC and phthalates that can leach from plastic, and won’t shatter like glass bottles. They’re easy to hold, hard to damage, lightweight, recyclable and dishwasher safe. organicKidz™ Baby Bottles are naturally bacteria resistant and convert to sippy cups, too! Our bottles come in 4-, 7- and 9-oz. sizes in a variety of cool designs. The 9-oz. bottles are the first-ever vacuum-insulated baby bottles and they keep liquids hot or cold for 5 to 6 hours.
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Writer's Bio: Julie L. Jones has written articles for both newspapers and magazines. Before joining the staff of TDmonthly Magazine, she worked as a communications writer and provided editorial support for a market research company. Read more articles by this author
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