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H A L L O F FA M E A N D E A R N I E W I N N E R S R E V E A L E D !

VOLUME 98 NUMBER 10 • NOV/DEC 201 4 $10.00

ON THE BALL: BÉBÉ AU LAIT’S CLAIRE AND RONNIE EKELUND

INFANTS’, GIRLS’ & BOYS’ WEAR REVIEW

NEW GROOVE Spring’s festival fashion

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Chenille Knit Stripe Blanket shipping SPRING 2015

Congratulations to our Nordstrom partners for their induction into the Earnshaw’s Hall of Fame.

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NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2014 Noelle Heffernan Publisher Audrey Goodson Kingo Editor in Chief

FEATURES 16 Goal Oriented Founders Ronnie and Claire Ekelund divulge the details of Bébé au Lait’s surprising start and steady growth.

EDITORIAL Lyndsay McGregor Senior Editor Social Media Editor

28 Gold Standard

Tara Anne Dalbow Fashion Editor

This year’s Hall of Fame winners—Nancy Markert, Amy Hoffman and the Nordstrom Baby Acessories and Gear Team—have a knack for knowing what’s next.

30 Drumroll Please... You voted. Now find out which brands retailers rewarded with a 2014 Earnie Award nod!

FASHION 18 Glow Festival-inspired fashion takes center stage for Spring ’15. 4 Editor’s Note 6 Talking Points 10 Hot Properties 12 Fresh Finds 14 On Trend 42 Behind the Seams 48 The Pulse

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Nancy Campbell Trevett McCandliss Creative Directors

On cover and left: Petit by Sofie Schnoor T-shirt worn under Kiddo sweater and skirt, Minnetonka moccasins, Tutu du Monde necklace, stylist’s own headband. Photography by Trevett McCandliss. Styling by Tara Anne Dalbow. Hair and makeup by Briana Mirzo.

Lauren Fusilier Assistant Editor

ADVERTISING Caroline Diaco Group Publisher Jennifer Craig Special Accounts Manager

PRODUCTION Tim Jones Deputy Art Director Production Manager Mike Hoff Webmaster

CONTACT INFO Sales/Editorial Offices 36 Cooper Square, 4th floor New York, NY 10003 Tel: (646) 278-1550 Fax: (646) 278-1553 advertising@9threads.com editorialrequests@ 9threads.com Circulation Office Joel Shupp 26202 Detroit Road, #300 Westlake, OH 44145 Tel: (440) 871-1300 circulation@9threads.com CORPORATE 9Threads 26202 Detroit Road, #300 Westlake, OH 44145 Tel: (440) 871-1300 Xen Zapis, Chairman Lee Zapis, President Rich Bongorno, CFO Debbie Grim, Controller

EARNSHAW’S INFANTS, GIRLS AND BOYS WEAR REVIEW ISSN 0161-2786 (USPS-320-090) The business and fashion magazine of the childrenswear industry is published 10x a year by Symphony Publishing NY, LLC, 36 Cooper Square, 4th Floor, New York, NY 10003. The publishers of this magazine do not assume responsibility for statements made by their advertisers in business competition. Periodicals postage is paid in New York, N.Y. and additional mailing offices. Subscription price for one year: U.S. $48; Rates outside U.S. available upon request. Single price copy, $5. Copyright 2011 by Symphony Publishing NY, LLC. Postmaster: Send address changes to Earnshaw’s Infants, Girls and Boys Wear Review, P.O. Box 8548, Lowell, MA 01853-8548. Publisher is not responsible for unsolicited manuscripts or photos. Any photographs, artwork, manuscripts, editorial samples or merchandise sent for editorial consideration are sent at the sole risk of the sender. Symphony Publishing NY, LLC will assume no responsibility for loss or damage. No portion of this issue may be reproduced without the written permission of the publisher. Printed in USA.

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We adore our retailers. Thank you for your support! WINNER: Best Baby Gear

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editor’s note FROM A CHRISTMAS Carol to It’s a Wonderful Life, we’re often reminded that the holidays are a time to take stock of our many blessings in life, from family and friends to food and shelter. Perhaps that’s because it’s also a time when our losses feel more acute, when we can’t help but miss the loved ones who are no longer with us. I’m sure it’s especially true for parents who have lost a child—a tragedy that’s all too common in the U.S., says First Candle CEO Chris Blake. “The U.S. infant mortality rates rank an embarrassing 43rd in the world, behind countries like Slovakia and Cuba,” he said at our Earnie Awards ceremony on Oct. 20, imploring the retailers and manufacturers present to help First Candle in its efforts to help save babies’ lives—an effort that’s working. As a key partner in the national Back to Sleep campaign, the organization has been credited with helping to save more than 25,000 babies’ lives during the past decade alone, amounting to a drop of nearly 60 percent in the U.S. SIDS rate. But there’s still more work to be done. “Each and every day, 13 babies will be lost to SIDS and other sudden, unexpected infant deaths; more than 70 new parents will have listened sadly to their stillborn baby’s silence; and countless lives will be lost to miscarriage and other causes of infant death,” Blake points out. That’s where you can help. As members of the children’s product and apparel industries, we’re in the perfect position to educate parents on the importance of a variety of factors that help reduce stillbirth and SIDS, from proper prenatal care to safe sleep environments—and especially the latter. One quick fix you can make today: Make sure all of the cribs, bassinets and play yards displayed in your store and on your website are safe for baby. That means no pillows, toys, blankets or bumpers. Sure, it may look cute to deck out your store’s cribs with adorable knickknacks, but it’s sending the wrong message to your shoppers. As a new parent, it’s already hard enough to cut through the clutter of advice, but you can help make it easier by sending a consistent message: A bare crib is always best. And, follow the footsteps of

Ideal Present This holiday season, give thanks by giving back to an organization that helps keep your littlest customers safe.

Toys“R”Us, which added safe sleep information to its website. Other ways to help? Take a cue from companies like Regal Lager and Delta Children, who are partnering with First Candle to implement safe sleep campaigns. Thanks to a grant from Delta Children, pregnant moms on military bases around the country will receive cribs, diapers and lifesaving safe sleep messages. And with help from Regal Lager, safe sleep workshops will be developed and made available to day care providers, where babies are at an unusually high risk for SIDS. Right now, First Candle is looking for funds for its Safe Sleep in Hospitals campaign, which would ensure new moms and dads are fully educated on the importance of safe sleep before heading home. And while parents are certainly a key demographic when it comes to imparting the importance of safe sleep, there’s still an array of other caretakers who may need an update, from teen sitters and siblings to grandparents. As Blake notes, “When it comes to safe sleep practices, consistency of care from parent to caregiver is critical. It only takes one time for a baby to be placed on its stomach or in an unsafe sleep environment for the unthinkable to happen.” In other words, support for caretaker education programs would provide a huge boost for overall safe sleep awareness. Here at Earnshaw’s, we are proud to partner with First Candle this year to help spread the message—by encouraging our industry friends to join in, and by keeping an eye on the images in our magazine. Bare cribs are best when it comes to our photography, too. If you would like to learn more about First Candle’s crucial mission, please visit www.firstcandle.org. After all, what better way to celebrate the holidays than to help save the lives that are at the very heart of everything we do?

AUDREY GOODSON KINGO

audrey.kingo@9threads.com

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Talking

Points Special Delivery

Trunk shows aren’t just for bridal gowns anymore, as more kids’ retailers rely on them to boost business.

Little ladies were treated to a Matilda Jane Clothing trunk show at local coffee spot Java Mama in Fort Wayne, IN.

WHAT USED TO be synonymous with prospective brides gathering to find the perfect gown is gaining more and more traction in the children’s industry. Manufacturers and retailers alike are collaborating to host trunk shows, where brands present a selection of clothing, shoes and accessories—usually items that retailers may not be able to fit into their regular inventory due to size or aesthetic constraints. “It works great for everybody,” says Lois Letzt, owner and founder of girls’ brand Les Tout Petits. “It’s great exposure for the brand, it brings people into the store and it gives the consumer something they might not be able to purchase otherwise.” For example, a store in Los Angeles might carry different styles from a store in New York City or Chicago. But trunk shows, Letzt explains, give the retailer a chance to present a more expansive selection. “Everyone gets to see a greater breadth of the merchandise,” she continues. The shows also give brands the opportunity to receive face-toface feedback from shoppers, which can be invaluable, says Allison Flatjord, chief marketing officer of Matilda Jane Clothing, a line for girls and women that sells directly to customers exclusively through trunk shows. “Trunk shows allow us to connect one-on-one with our customer, not only to share our collections, but also to hear what our customer has to say about the clothing,” she points out. Eliza Sutnick, owner and designer of hand-stenciled clothing line Ali & Joe, agrees. “I’m very connected to my product, so I love seeing how it’ll fit on various body types, and I like seeing the reactions on people’s faces as we design a fun, funky piece for a camper or a unique custom item for an outfit.” And that kind of feedback works in the retailers’ favor as well, says Susan Silverstein, children’s buyer for Marcia’s Attic in New Jersey. “Sometimes, the vendors might think that we have issues with fit or color, but when they can hear it directly from the customer, they can identify it and fix it,” Silverstein reveals. Benefits for the retailer extend beyond just store-vendor relations, though. Silverstein points out that trunk shows create in-store excitement, while Marcia’s Attic Owner Trang Lio reports that brands often bring store-exclusive merchandise to shows. Lio also suggests incorporating fun extras like balloons, décor and candy to make an event out of it. Kids are more eager to come and, as an added bonus, their excitement makes mom more likely to make a purchase. Planning shows around certain events, like spring and winter holidays or the start of camp season, gives them an extra flair, Silverstein adds. But while Marcia’s Attic is able to put on and handle several trunk shows each year, Silverstein points out that they do require extra staffing and a lot of work. “I’m not sure how feasible it is for a lot of stores who operate with one or two salespeople,” she offers. Smaller specialty stores with a solid staff, says Letzt, are probably best suited for the task. “They are the ones who benefit the most. They can do more of the fun kind of stuff and offer something special.” Sutnick shared the sentiment, adding that boutiques see more success because they have more freedom to put on special events, and because they often “gravitate” towards social media. Many stores are able to “get a frenzy going” by simply tweeting or posting on Instagram about a show. “For boutiques, it garners a buzz and creates an environment for kids to socialize and for parents to meet up and shop together,” she continues. “It’s a really cool way to build an event for your store.” —Samantha Sciarrotta

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Talking

Points New in Town

Contemporary kids’ show Playground skips into Las Vegas during February’s edition of Magic Marketplace.

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BUYERS EAGER TO see something new on the trade show circuit in Las Vegas may soon have their wish granted— Advanstar Global, whose show roster already includes Project, WWDMagic, FN Platform and ENK Children’s Club, will debut Playground during the February edition of Magic Marketplace. “Contemporary kids brands have been asking us for some time to develop a juried event for them,” explains Christopher Griffin, president of WWDMagic. “The timing is right and we look forward to building a show that meets the needs of this community.” Located off the grand lobby at the Las Vegas Convention Center and stretching over 8,000 square feet, Playground will take place Feb. 17-19, 2015. With a carefully curated collection of kids’ clothes, Kelly Helfman, sales director for WWDMagic, is confident the show will become a hotbed for emerging talent. “The No. 1 thing a retailer looks for is newness, and we want to showcase some fresh faces,” says Helfman. “There are a lot of brands that are huge in social media but may not be out there with the stores or haven’t made the leap to trade shows yet—and I’m excited to see a lot of them are applying to show at Playground.” To enhance that edgy image, the show floor will feature white walls, white carpet and black-and-white signage. “Even if we post a photo of a brand we’re promoting to Instagram, we will change the photo to black and white to fit our vision,” Helfman says. And rather than selling traditional 10’ by 10’ booths, Playground is offering brands the opportunity to purchase

square footage and create custom sized booths. Splendid, Ella Moss, Appaman and Sweet Peanut are just a handful of brands already on board, and Helfman reports a huge response from retailers in the Midwest and on the West Coast, anticipating attendance from buyers spanning major boutiques to specialty chains. “This show is really going to benefit from the crossover traffic from the rest of the Magic Marketplace shows,” she adds. This isn’t Magic’s first foray into childrenswear: Most retailers will remember Magic Kids—which debuted with a bang in 1997, but in recent years merged with Magic’s junior offering—not to mention the well-established ENK Children’s Club in New York City. “Obviously we’re not in competition with ourselves,” quips Helfman, when asked why Advanstar doesn’t just create a West Coast version of Children’s Club, or re-launch Magic Kids. “We’re ready for a fresh start in Vegas and something new. This show is contemporary, and we want to make it clear that it’s for the better brands.” She notes one big reason why Magic Kids petered out was that it was overshadowed by the juniors’ show, and it was mostly for big-box brands. “It was also a different day and age before the market crashed and that business was really booming,” she offers. That’s why Playground is a juried show—and plans to stay that way. “Brands submit an application online and our team will decide if it’s a fit,” Helfman explains. “We need to stay selective and true to what the show is about. We’re never going to become one of those shows that just lets it all in.” —Lyndsay McGregor

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Photo: Laura Aldridge

SPRING 2015

New York 212 947-4040 mariav@biscottiinc.com • New England 781 407-0718 markaykids@verizon.net • Atlanta 404 524-8897 janet@janethunterhawkins.com • Mid-Atlantic 609 254-6342 nhc304@comcast.net • Los Angeles 213 622-9879 rebershoff@sbcglobal.net • Chicago 312 397-0399 elitekids@prodigy.net • Dallas 214 631-2217 btoweryassoc@aol.com

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HOT PROPERTIES

Fast Fashion

Parigi races into spring with a Ferrari kids’ collection. MARCO SROUR, PRESIDENT of the Parigi Group, is an admitted Ferrari addict—his office is covered wall-to-wall with the luxury

This Little Piggy Komar bows a pajama collection featuring Peppa Pig.

AS ONE OF the most popular programs for the preschool set, British television import Peppa Pig has become one of the most sought-after properties for toddlers. And Komar decided to capitalize: The company is bringing the character’s first sleepwear collection to the United States. “We are thrilled with the Peppa Pig property and the positive values and messages it presents to preschoolers,” says Komar Kids President Randy D. Severs. “We also took into consideration that Peppa Pig is one of the biggest licensed properties on the market with cross category placement in most major retailers.” Available at major, specialty and e-commerce retailers now, the collection includes two-piece sets, gowns, robes, blanket sleepers and coat sets for girls, as well as sets for boys that will debut in 2015. Retailing for $12.99 to $28, the pajamas range in size from 2T to 5T. E-mail Alexandra Karcev at alexandra. karcev@komarbrands.com for further information. —S.S.

car manufacturer’s memorabilia—so a partnership between the two is fitting. “I’ve always had my eye on them, but we never had the opportunity to request U.S. licensing,” he recalls. “About a year ago, they were ready.” So, for Spring ’15, the two companies are producing a boys’ collection for infants to size 20, ranging from banded sweats and board shorts to colorblocked polos and graphic tees, all set to a color palette of deep navys, bright yellows, classic whites and, yes, Ferrari red. And, of course, all come complete with the car’s logo. Retailing for $36 for knit tops to $150 for jackets, Parigi is seeking distribution at specialty shops and department stores like Macy’s, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom and Lord & Taylor. For more information, contact Sion Betesh at sion@parigigroup.com. —Samantha Sciarrotta

Iconic Inspiration Weeplay debuts a Marilyn Monroe collection.

AMERICA’S FAVORITE BLONDE is more than a bombshell—she’s an inspiration. Weeplay, which manufactures kids’ apparel for the likes of Hello Kitty and Woolrich, seized the opportunity to work with Authentic Brands Group on a girls’ line featuring silver screen icon Marilyn Monroe. The collection, which kicked off in Fall ’14, includes knit tees and fashion tops in sizes 7 to 16, but look for ensemble sets and a layette line in Spring ’15. “It’s a very unique property for kids, so we had to make it playful, and not very serious or have any sexual connotation,” says Weeplay Brands Manager Nora Maleh. The age-appropriate images selected reflect Marilyn’s sense of fun and free-spiritedness, while bright colors and an emphasis on novelty keep the line feeling young and modern, Maleh adds. So far, Andy Warhol–inspired tops have been a favorite with retailers. Wholesale prices range from $8 to $20. For more information, contact Nora Maleh at (212) 562-2022 or nmaleh@weeplaykids. com. —Lauren Fusilier

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RESH FINDS

Wild Thing

Headed by a new team, 7-yearold Zoocchini is re-launching its range of hooded towels and bath mitts in Spring ’15 and introducing organic underwear and training pants, too. Now the brand’s cast of colorful characters appears on boxers for boys, cami and panty sets for girls and training pants (which include an extra layer to protect against accidents) for both genders in sizes 2T/3T to 5/6 years. Meanwhile, hooded towels feature fun extras like ears, paws and tails. Everything is BPA-, lead-, and phthalates-free and wholesale prices range from $5 to $17. Go to www.zoocchini.com.

Spring shapes up with comfy clothes and bright designs.

It’s Personal

Valentina takes back-to-school labeling to another level with its line of customizable espadrilles for girls. Focused on fostering creativity and individual expression, each pair can be personalized with a girl’s monogram, her favorite motif or an empowering message. Wholesaling for $16 per pair (plus $6 to customize) and available in sizes 11 to 6 Youth, the company can offer stores their own original collection with designs to suit their customers, like an anchor in Nantucket or a fleur-de-lis in New Orleans. Go to www.valentinashoes.com.

Good Travels

Get Active

Known for its colorful clothing and commitment to responsible manufacturing, Brooklyn, NY-based Masala Baby launches activewear for Spring ’15. Inspired by global wellness and healthy living, the collection is split into three lines: Street Play for boys, and Jiva and Namaste for girls. Each performancefitted piece is made from organic cotton and features added stretch and flat lock seams so kids will be comfy no matter the activity. Sizes range from 3 months to 12 years. Wholesale prices range from $19 to $29. Visit www.masalababy.com.

Penny Scallan Design’s line of functional products landed on U.S. shores earlier this year and the Australian brand is ramping up its retail presence next spring. Spanning backpacks and sleepover bags to wheelie cases and wallets, the collection comprises crisp, bold designs teamed with durable, hardwearing materials like cotton canvas and extra fine polyester. Each piece is free from BPA and phthalates, and lunchboxes and snack compartments feature thermal lining to keep food hot or cold. Suitable for little travelers of all ages, wholesale prices range from $3.60 to $31.75. Check out www. pennyscallan.com.

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Gift That Grows

Rainbow Bright

Australian brand Hootkid makes its U.S. debut in Spring ’15 with a collection for girls sizes 0-3 months to 8 years that’s brimming with bright colors and bold patterns. Dubbed “everyday costumes” by Founder Caroline Marvelli, frills and tulle abound. Standout pieces include a purple dress with a sequin star-printed overlay and a rainbow-striped shift. Designed to be as functional as they are fun, every garment is machine washable. Wholesale prices range from $4 for hair clips to $26 for dresses. Check out www.hootkid.com.

Looking to spruce up your gift selection? Meet Australia-based Tiny Bitz and its collection of gift-ready “growing kits.” Each threepiece set includes different sized one-pieces designed to serve baby through a year of growth spurts. So, a baby born in winter gets a long-sleeved one-piece in size 0-3 months, a short-sleeved version in 3-6 months for when temperatures start to climb and a long-sleeved one in size 6-12 months. A reverse option is available for summer babies. Elsewhere in the collection, two-piece playwear sets range in size from 3-6 months to 2 years. Wholesale prices range from $18.50 to $35. Visit www.tinybitz.com.

Road Trip Ready

Sustainably sourced and ethically made, Agatha Cub debuted in the fall with a collection of clothing and accessories for boys and girls, and the Brooklyn, NY-based brand continues its mission to redefine organic in Spring ’15. Inspired by the idea of a West Coast road trip, digitally manipulated prints lend street cred to shorts, sweatshirts, tees and buttondowns in a muted palette of apricot, teal, salmon and aqua that calls to mind a California sunset. The gender-neutral pieces range in size from 2 to 9 years and wholesale prices range from $16 to $39. Go to www. agathacub.com.

International Appeal

Since launching as a line of reusable tote bags on Etsy in 2010, Paisley Magic has grown to include home décor and childrenswear and is entering the wholesale market next spring. Founder and FIT alum Janki Desai pays tribute to her home country of India with a line of dresses for girls in sizes newborn to 4 years, influenced by the colorful city of Jaipur. Wholesaling from $15 to $65, classic silhouettes come in a rich array of jewel tones and quirky prints and feature special details like gathered pleats, puffed sleeves and picot trim. Check out www.paisleymagic.com. 2 0 1 4 N O V E M B E R / D E C E M B E R • E A R N S H AW S . C O M 1 3

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Q& A

Goal Oriented Step by step, Bébé au Lait founders Claire and Ronnie Ekelund built their line of stylish nursing covers into a range of sophisticated products for mom and baby—all inspired by a surprising source: soccer. BY AUDREY GOODSON KINGO

AS A FORMER professional soccer player, Ronnie Ekelund, along with his wife Claire, know a little something about the importance of staying nimble. What the two never would have predicted when traveling around Europe for Ronnie’s career, however, is just how well those lessons would serve them years later—as the founders of Bébé au Lait, one of the fastest-growing companies in the children’s industry. Today, their ever-expanding line of stylish infant essentials is carried in 6,500 stores across the globe, from mom-and-pop specialty stores to

Target and BuyBuy Baby. But success didn’t come without some revisions to the couple’s original game plan. Take the brand’s name, for example. Inspired by their first product, a stylish nursing cover, the Ekelunds cleverly dubbed the company Hooter Hiders. Though the tongue-in-cheek moniker perfectly conveyed the purpose of the product, it wasn’t long before they realized that the name, funny as it was, would make it more difficult to land major retailers like Nordstrom. So they switched to Bébé au Lait, in honor of the time they spent in the south of France while Ronnie played for Toulouse FC. Ronnie’s soccer career didn’t just inspire the name for the nursing covers—it also helped propel the idea for the product itself. Claire, the company’s senior vice president of marketing and product development, crafted her own nursing cover so she could still breastfeed their daughter while watching Ronnie’s games. “Claire was not a fan of leaving >44

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T H E B U S I N E S S O F FA S H I O N

Contemporary fashion for men

Influence. Luxury and designer brands

Elevation. Contemporary fashion for women

Destination. Branded apparel for men and young men

Culture. Boutique-ready fashion and accessories

Art. Women’s and junior’s fashion

Spark. The global showcase for branded footwear

Statement. Fast Fashion Footwear

Energy.

Adventure.

Contemporary fashion for children

Fashion’s global supply chain

Network.

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Kate Mack blouse, Hudson shortall, Fashion Angels flower crown, Jacques & Sienna bracelets, Dr. Martens boots; Kiddo tank top, Je suis en CP! pants, Kensie Girl sandals, Tutu du Monde feather collar, Rolf Bleu bangles.

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S P R I N G ’ S F E ST I VA L - I N S P I R E D FA S H I O N G E T S T O P B I L L I N G . P H O T O G R A P H Y BY T R E V E T T M C C A N D L I S S

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S T Y L I N G BY TA R A A N N E D A L B OW

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Em-bé romper, stylist’s own headband. Opposite page: Ralph Lauren cargo jacket, Andy & Evan T-shirt, Vince jeans, Puma socks, Fashion Angels insta ink tattoo, model’s own shoes.

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Egg by Susan Lazar dress worn as top, Hudson jeans, Jacques & Sienna bracelets, stylist’s shoes. Opposite page: Lemon Loves Lime ruffled tank top worn under Neve/Hawk dress, Durango cowgirl boots; Malibu Sugar bra cami worn under Kate Mack blouse, Lennon + Wolfe pants, Western Chief rainboots, stylist’s hat.

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Ella Moss blouse, Persnickety pants. Opposite page: Emma Levine dress worn over Egg by Susan Lazar dress, Neve/ Hawk hooded vest, Josmo sandals, Tutu du Monde feather headband.

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Love Daisy tank top worn over Malibu Sugar bra cami, Petit by Sofie Schnoor leggings, model’s own shoes; Sooper Girl T-shirt, Paper Crowns suspender-skirt, Josmo sandals, Tutu du Monde feather headband; Frankie & Sue dress worn as shirt, Tutu du Monde harem pants, Minnetonka moccasins. Opposite Page: Andy & Evan button-down worn over Lennon + Wolfe T-shirt, Ralph Lauren pants, stylist’s necklaces. Hair and makeup: Briana Mirzo 26

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E AR N I E AWA R DS H A L L O F F A M E 2 0 14

Gold Standard

Honesty, foresight and determination are just a few of the characteristics this year’s Hall of Fame recipients have in common. Every year, Earnshaw’s honors remarkable childrenswear professionals who have made an indelible mark on the industry, and we are proud to present this year’s inspiring inductees.

THE NORDSTROM BABY ACCESSORIES AND GEAR TEAM

Left to right: Nordstrom Kidswear Planning Manager Marissa Urbanas, Multi-Channel Buy Planner Mikela Neff and Multi-Channel Buyer Elin Bregy.

FOR NORDSTROM BABY Accessories and Gear Buyer Elin Bregy, the key to being a good retailer is all about being a good shopper. “I just like to see what’s out there and see what everyone else is doing,” she confesses. “I welcome all competition. I love it.” Aside from perusing her personal favorites, Bregy and her team can also be spotted trekking every aisle, “no matter what,” at the industry’s biggest trade shows. “It’s kind of a tireless mission for us to go out and find that product we think is going to work great for our customers,” she continues. It’s a mission that many industry insiders would agree the team has accomplished by carefully curating a collection of unique, design-driven merchandise that lives up to the Nordstrom reputation for style and quality. Or, as Jeff Glick, division president for Little Me, Offspring and Flapdoodles puts it, Nordstrom shoppers know they will always find the best new baby gifts and gear. “I think Elin and her team are well regarded because they do a great job of editing for the Nordstrom customer,” he says. “They are always looking to serve up the newest trends while also making sure the basic necessities are still covered in the assortment—all this while keeping the mix focused and easily shoppable.” Keeping the mix easily shoppable is a top priority for Bregy, especially since the Nordstrom baby department stocks such a wide array >47

NANCY MARKERT AND AMY HOFFMAN

Left to right: Nancy Markert and Amy Hoffman

DESPITE THE APPEARANCE of their showroom, filled with all manner of tutus and ruffles, Nancy Markert and Amy Hoffman aren’t all about the fluff—they are straight talkers who built their business by fearlessly guiding the brands they represent through the ups and downs of the children’s fashion industry. Dividing their time between a warm and welcoming New York City-based showroom and the road, where they make routine trips to check in on retailers and manufacturers alike, the two represent 16 of the children’s industry’s most sought-after brands, from footwear staples like Old Soles and Bloch to fashion labels like Daily Threads and U Go Girl. “We love what we do,” says Markert, “After all, it is who we are.” Twin sisters, the two were introduced to the textile industry at a young age—their father had them guessing the weight of fabrics for his tableware and gift company as soon as they could speak. “We’ve been instrumental in growing just about every brand we’ve been involved with,” adds Markert, who struck off on her own as a sub-rep for Selandia Designs, a giftware company that sold both Disney and Barney licensed products, after working her way up through the executive training program and eventually becoming a buyer at Bloomingdale’s. Hoffman soon followed, leaving her >47

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Congratulations Earnshaw’s Hall of Fame Recipient NORDSTROM Baby Accessories & Gear Team We are honored to be your partner.

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BEST ACCESSORIES:

BEST FOOTWEAR:

HOW DO YOU make a beloved bow brand with a 35-year history and 11 Earnies to its name even better? Introduce a patentpending technology that makes moms’ lives easier, of course. That’s exactly what happened in Spring ’14, when Wee Ones launched its WeeStay No Slip Clip, made from a silicone-like material and now featured on every one of the brand’s pinch clip styles. The new technology finally helps bows stay firmly in the hair of even the most active toddler, say owners Gina and Miles Faust. Couple that with the company’s reputation for high-caliber products, and it’s no wonder Wee Ones netted its 12th Earnie. “I think we have developed a reputation for delivering quality in design and construction,” notes Miles. “It’s the recognition of that consistency over such a long period of time that sets us apart.” Founded by Barbara Agatstein in 1978 and purchased by the Fausts in 2010, Wee Ones is now seeing that recognition pass from generation to generation, says Gina. “We’re in a position now where we have moms who wore Wee Ones as children buying the bows for their own daughters,” she observes. And it’s due to a constantly evolving selection of styles and patterns like chevron, Greek key and quatrefoil, which Miles cites as the brand’s top sellers in 2014. The company also experimented with new textures—burlap, lace and crochet—for fall. And for Spring ’15, the Fausts plan to venture into totally new territory: an expansion into boys’ headwear, as well as a line of reversible sunhats for both boys and girls. —Samantha Sciarrotta

FOR PEDIPED, IT’S all about building a bond with consumers—and retailers—says Founder Angela Edgeworth. When they ask, she listens. “Some accounts wanted more school shoes,” she recalls. “We have a good selection, but it could have been better, so we created a back-to-school offering that was more robust and able to meet their needs.” And that, she continues, is why Pediped has earned both consumers’ and retailers’ trust. “We’ve continued to focus on the healthy development of children’s feet and high quality, comfortable, stylish footwear.” Keeping that emphasis on quality while adding an ever-growing number of on-trend offerings, says Edgeworth, is what won the 9-year-old brand yet another Earnie this year, after previously winning awards for Best Company for Good and Best Community Outreach, as well as a Best Footwear nod in 2011. Creating a broader selection of athletic shoes as well as a “more interesting” array of colors and materials—including a foray into corduroy and gender-neutral hues—were some of the brand’s biggest changes this year. “People are kind of getting away from the traditional pink and blue,” Edgeworth reveals. “There’s more of an overlap in girls’ and boys’ styles.” But no matter the style, Pediped’s shoes are crafted explicitly for children, using kid-specific technology like the brand’s Flex Fit System, and that’s why customers keep coming back for more, Edgeworth points out. “We’re not an adult shoe company that brings down styles to fit kids,” she continues. “We’ve developed a lot of trust with the consumer in that regard, and we’re very fortunate that when a child starts with shoes in the baby line, they generally continue to wear them as they get older.” —S.S.

Pediped

Wee Ones

BEST MADE IN THE U.S.A. BRAND:

Tadpole and Lily

CAPTURING ITS SECOND straight Earnie for Best Made in the U.S.A. Brand, Tadpole and Lily doesn’t shy away from embracing its homegrown principles. “Made in the U.S.A. is part of our marketing campaign,” notes co-owner Alex Krasnoff, who launched the brand with Clair Robinson in 2010. “Every piece of our accessory line has a Made in the U.S.A. graphic on it.” And despite the smaller profit margin that comes with domestic manufacturing, Krasnoff says the boys’, girls’ and men’s accessories brand won’t travel overseas for production. “Quality and supporting our economy are why we choose to manufacture in the U.S.,” she explains. “Our factory is like an extension of our family.” And so are the collection’s consumers, retailers and sales reps, Krasnoff points out. When customers call the brand, they always speak to her or Robinson.

“We really care about our stamp in the country, and being made in America is just one piece of the pie. Every customer is our best customer, and we care about our retailers,” she offers, noting that the brand is always quick to help with merchandising and social media support. As for this year’s win, Krasnoff credits the addition of the Spencer suspender to the brand’s lineup, offered in patterns like chevron that match the tie and bow tie fabrics. It’s constant roster additions like the Spencer, which is quickly approaching the Westin bowtie as the brand’s top seller, Krasnoff adds, that keep the awards rolling in. She and Robinson hope to see similar results with the Spring ’15 expansion of the girls’ line, which includes partnering with LA-based Little Petite Designs to create tassel jewelry. —S.S. 2014 NOVEMBER/DECEMBER • EARNSHAWS.COM 31

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BEST LICENSED APPAREL & ACCESSORIES:

Junk Food Clothing Co.

FORGET FRUITS AND vegetables—all the cool kids want Junk Food. Junk Food Clothing Co., that is. And, according to company President Jennifer Somer, they also want junk food on their Junk Food: The soaring success of the brand’s tees featuring edible delights like donuts and ice cream was just one reason why retailers couldn’t resist treating the com-

pany to an Earnie Award in the Best Licensed Apparel & Accessories category this year. “One of the things that really sets us apart from the competition is our creative talent. We create a lot of our own art that becomes some of our bestselling graphics,” Somer says. But aside from the brand’s irresistible inhouse styles, retailers also rely on the company year after year for its unique take on a huge array of classic properties—more than 800, astoundingly—including the NFL, Disney, DC Comics and Warner Brothers. The company’s latest agreement, to recreate the iconic street art of Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring, has been a hit with retailers looking for ahead-of-the-curve boys’ apparel for Spring ’15, Somer says. And it’s not just retailers and customers who look to the company to create innovative products, she points out. “We’re the only company out there that a lot of the bigger entertainment companies such as Warner Brothers allow to create our own art [for their properties], and that’s really because they have such respect for the creative team at Junk Food and trust in what we do.” —A.G.K.

BEST INFANTS’ COLLECTION:

Kissy Kissy

KISSY KISSY JUST snagged the Earnie Award for Best Infants’ Collection for the fifth time, and Founder and Owner Roxana Castillo says it has everything to do with retailers. She takes their suggestions about the collection to heart, because they’re coming directly from the consumer. What’s more important, she adds, is their loyalty to the brand, which has hewed to the same classic sensibilities over the course of its 17 years in business. “We know our stores love that we’ve maintained the signature Kissy Kissy look and hallmark Peruvian pima cotton softness year after year,” she continues. “By sticking with what we do best, we help them cultivate loyal customers.” The brand’s most fruitful venture in 2014 was the launch of its first beyond baby line, a sleepwear collection spanning 12-18 months to size 6. “We listen to our stores, and they had been asking us to do this for a long time,” Castillo reveals. In 2015, look for an expansion of the pajamas line—Castillo notes the fall launch “was just a little preview”—featuring some popular prints from the baby collection, as well as a few extras that Castillo says will stay under wraps for now. Kissy Kissy’s characteristic quality, though, will stay intact. “Moms rave about our quality,” Castillo proclaims. “They tell us they can feel the difference our cotton provides. That means a lot when they’re selecting clothes for their new little ones.” —S.S.

BEST TOYS:

Kids Preferred, LLC

“THIS SOUNDS SO simple,” confides Laura Perks, vice president of marketing at Kids Preferred, LLC, as to why the company snagged the very first Earnie Award in the Best Toys category, “but we make cute stuff! Cute sells… and sometimes that’s all you need.” Perks is right. Cute certainly sells in the children’s industry, but undoubtedly Kids Preferred also wowed retailers this year with a huge variety of developmental toys and gifts, as well as an impressive roster of licensed goods, including four new offerings in 2014: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer developmental activity toys and singing light-up plush toys, Little Me plush toys, Splat the Cat books and Carter’s plush toys. All, Perks reports, were a “resounding success.” Not to mention, “In 2013 we were very fortunate to acquire the delightful Bunnies by the Bay, affording us expansion into luxurious children’s apparel combined with the highest quality plush toys and accessories in the industry,” she continues. It all adds up to a blockbuster year for a company that’s been conquering the kids’ market since its launch in 2002 with generic plush baby toys. Now, Kids Preferred creates products for 20 licensed properties, from Harley-Davidson to Goodnight Moon. “We are thrilled to be recognized by industry experts for our innovative, educational and beloved toys for kids of all ages,” Perks adds. —Lauren Fusilier

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We are honored to accept our Earnie award for Best Sleepwear! On behalf of the entire KicKee Pants team, thank you for your support! Super Soft clothing for infantS, toddlerS and now

big kids

(up to Size 10)!

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BEST SWIMWEAR:

BEST NEW BRAND:

Max & Dora “IT’S BEEN A journey outside of my box,” laughs Lisa Godown, owner and designer of American-made girls’ line Max & Dora, about her decision to take her vintage-inspired creations to market last year. And while she knew her whimsical classics like reversible charmeuse and tulle tutus and bouclé moto jackets were like nothing else offered in stores, she had no idea how well they’d catch on. That’s why she says she was “speechless” to learn she’d won this year’s Earnie for Best New Brand. “It’s a confirmation that we’re doing it right,” she adds. It’s not the only one: The brand’s first Spring ’14 collection shipped to more than 40 stores in the U.S. and orders quadrupled for fall. Next spring is shaping up to see another jump, too. “The most exciting part of that growth has been the stores that have come back. New business is new business, and we welcome it and we’re excited about it, but when I see a store come back and buy a second or third season, it blows me away,” she shares. Next spring the brand is expanding its wares to include Totally Max, a boys’ collection, and a women’s line is on the horizon, as well. “It won’t be traditional Mommy and Me, but it will probably include prints that call back to the kids’ line but done in a way that’s sophisticated enough for moms,” Godown offers. —Lyndsay McGregor

BEST SLEEPWEAR:

KicKee Pants

Kate Mack by Biscotti ASK JUST ABOUT any children’s retailer what her bestselling swimwear brand was in 2014, and she will likely answer Kate Mack by Biscotti. So it’s no surprise that retailers rewarded such a stellar sales record with an Earnie Award—adding up to a dozen overall Earnie wins for Biscotti. So what is it that’s so special about Kate Mack? According to Owner and Design Director Bernadette Reiss, it’s the brand’s “out-of-the-box” design elements that keep both customers and retailers excited. Exhibit A: “For the first time, we did a group of shimmery gold suits with sequined dots that were a huge hit,” Reiss reports. “The matching chiffon cover-up tunics were particularly popular with the tween set!” Offering swimwear for girls sizes 3 months to 16 years, Reiss notes that Kate Mack keeps its customers happy by focusing on what the end consumer truly wants. “While we are always looking to offer something new and unique by staying on top of the latest trends, we are also highly aware of the importance of maintaining the signature ‘Kate Mack look’ that sells so well,” Reiss notes. “We also work very hard to maintain high quality, dependable shipping and a sense of fun about everything that we do.” —L.F.

TO CATCH AN Earnie, you need to Catch a Tiger. At least that’s one reason why KicKee Pants CEO Erin Cloke says her company snagged its first-ever Earnie Award for its super soft sleepwear. Best known for its bamboo fiber fabrics and quirky characters—perfect for pajamas as well as everyday essentials—the brand branched into bigger sizes for the first time in Spring ’14 with its Catch a Tiger collection in sizes 5 to 10. “We had so many requests for bigger sizes that we decided to give it a try,” Cloke remembers. “It was well-received right away and now, retailers that started with the pajamas in Catch a Tiger are venturing into our separates.” Of course, the success of the new collection wouldn’t have been pos-

sible without the hard work Cloke and her husband, Nick, put into building the brand, launched in 2007, into a favorite with retailers and moms alike. “We create all of our prints, and parents like the unique designs,” Cloke notes. “Their children look cute, even though they’re dressed in something soft and comfy.” And while layette items like footies and coveralls are still top sellers, products for older kids—which Cloke’s own growing children partially inspired her to create—are flying off the shelves. And for next season, she hopes to see similar results with KicKee Pants’ reimagined gift sets, now boxed in a reusable elephant-shaped package, complete with a see-through window in the belly and soft tail, so customers can feel the fabric before they buy. —S.S.

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BEST BOYS’ COLLECTION:

Andy & Evan

SINCE ITS 2011 launch, Andy & Evan has made a name for itself by shrinking down menswear to fit the infant to 7-year-old set, outfitting boys in the most dapper of duds, like its Shirtzie, a buttondown top with a bottom snap closure. Dressy has always been the brand’s specialty, but a beefed-up casual collection, says Partner and Co-Founder Evan Hakalir, is what earned the brand its second straight Earnie. “As our audience grew, we really expanded,” he points out. “We have a more broad, diverse collection.” Now, in addition to its suits, pants and oxford shirts, Andy & Evan offers a strong selection of tees, hoodies, casual sweaters and more. But don’t think the brand has forgotten its roots. In Fall ’13, it launched the My First Andy & Evan collection—another venture Hakalir credits with boosting the company’s success. Featuring touches like front pockets and ties, the layette line provides a “reinterpretation of baby clothing.” It’s that “fresh approach,” he adds, that’s enabled the brand to keep churning out consistently cool looks for kids. True to that ethos, the brand is tackling a totally new project for Spring ’15: a girls’ collection. “The same elements that made us successful in boys’—fresher designs, hidden details—we’re applying to girls’,” he reveals. —S.S.

BEST OUTERWEAR:

Appaman

TAKING HOME ITS first Earnie Award for Best Outerwear is a validation of sorts for New York City-based Appaman. “We’ve had a growing outerwear business for some years now, and to get recognized for our hard work is exciting,” shares Lynn Husum, who founded the streetchic label with her husband, Harald, in 2003. Back then the brand focused on graphic tees for boys and girls, but today it’s anchored by its outerwear—and Husum is confident that the line’s coats will continue to reign supreme next year. “We have a new designer and he has a great outerwear background so we expect to bring the category to bigger heights with more variation in style in Fall ’15,” she notes. That’s something Appaman’s fans will be eager to see. Coming off of its best year in sales to date, Husum suggests the brand’s popularity is due to its commitment to creating classic, quality clothing that’s consistently on trend. “It stands the test of time and remains a favorite for kids and parents alike,” she reveals, adding that the brand did a big reorder business across the board in 2014. The girls’ Puffy coat in Disco, with its iridescent holographic pattern, was “a real crowd pleaser.” “We’ll have to assume if we’re getting reorders from buyers that the consumers are pleased.”—L.M.

Congratulations!

Baby Accessories & Gear Team on your induction into

Earnshaw’s Hall of Fame

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BEST HOSIERY:

BabyLegs LET’S FACE IT: Tights can turn the already difficult task of diaper changing or potty training into a frustrating feat. That’s why consumers flocked to BabyLegs when it launched its line of legwarmers in 2005. Nine years and four Earnie Awards later, the brand continues to resonate with its simple and stylish solutions for keeping kids’ legs and arms cozy while offering parents peace of mind. “BabyLegs is a functional, problem-solving item that offers protection from hard floors, bug bites, the sun and the cold,” states Isaac E. Ash, president and CEO of United Legwear, the parent company of BabyLegs. This year the brand expanded its lineup with BabyScoot, a new style with thick terry cushioning on the knee to protect little crawlers, and collaborated with the likes of hip kids’ company Appaman and New York City-based boutique Piccolini. Ash says fans of the brand’s organic cotton styles for newborns will be happy to hear that come Spring ’16, all legwarmers will be organic. “Our mission statement is ‘Protect What You Love,’ and we constantly demonstrate this purpose with new product innovations that safeguard babies’ skin,” he adds. —L.M.

“IT” ITEM OF THE YEAR:

Chewbeads

WHEN CHEWBEADS FOUNDER and Owner Lisa Greenwald came up with the idea for the brand’s line of non-toxic teething jewelry and accessories, she knew she was on to a winner. Now, five years and three Earnie Awards later, it’s clear that buyers—and shoppers—agree. “We are so proud of what we’ve done to grow the brand and the loyalty we’ve garnered amongst our retailers and our customers,” Greenwald gushes, noting that babies love the bright baubles as much as moms do. With sales on the up (Greenwald reports that this year’s numbers have topped last year’s.) and an ever-growing retailer base (over 1,500 stores and counting), the company decided to outsource storage, packing and shipping. Now, the brand can focus its efforts on what it does best: innovative product development. “Not only did we free up time for helping our retail customers, but we decreased our ship time from two weeks to about one to two days,” she reveals. New styles introduced this year include Christopher, a rainbowbeaded necklace requested by buyers, and Essex, the brand’s take on tribal jewelry. “We listen to the buyers who are face-to-face with customers every day,” Greenwald notes. —L.M.

Full maternity & nursing

collection

Winner of Best International Brand 2014

www.jojomamanbebe.co.uk/trade For details of your local rep contact wholesale@jojomamanbebe.co.uk

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Baby & kids collection up to 6 years

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BEST GIRLS’ COLLECTION:

Lemon Loves Lime HEAD-TO-TOE BLACK MIGHT be the official uniform of fashion industry insiders, but it’s one color you will never see in a Lemon Loves Lime collection, says Founder and Designer Joy Cha. “I see that a lot of moms want to dress their kids like adults, and that’s fine, but colors are so great on kids—and kids love colors.” And there’s a veritable rainbow of them throughout her wonderfully whimsical clothing, which has wooed buyers, consumers and little ladies alike since it launched in 2007. Nonetheless, Cha and her husband and business partner, Bill Banti, are overjoyed to take home the nod for Best Girls’ Collection for the first time. Known for its intricate appliqués, rich hues and ruffles, the 7-year-old Peruvianmade label likes to eschew trends in favor of fairytales and florals, and 2014 was no different. “Unicorns and mermaids are a must every season,” notes Cha, adding that this year’s top sellers included the Princess Bridgette tee, complete with crochet and embroidery appliqués, and the Merry-Go-Round skirt, perfect for twirling. “My customers love when they can see my creativity,” says Cha, “I don’t regurgitate my styles. I keep my collections fresh and new, and I go with my instinct.” —L.M.

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BEST DENIM:

Levi’s

THERE’S A LOT to be said for having a heritage that stretches back to 1853. Few denim brands can claim the kind of true blue American roots that cut through the indigo clutter to connect with today’s consumers in the way that Levi’s does. In a category packed with some pretty impressive brands, longevity, durability and consistency are what make this eight-time Earnie Award winner stand out from the crowd, says Sam Haddad, principle at Haddad Brands, children’s licensee for Levi’s. In fact, when Haddad Brands launched Levi’s first kids’ line in 2004, the company went to great lengths to ensure the sized-down styles stayed true to the label’s pedigree, with authentic details like buttons and rivets. “Levi’s was probably most parents’ first jean, and they want it to be their kids’ first jean, too,” he says. This year the brand introduced a knit denim collection, which Haddad explains, “looks like a jean, feels like a sweat pant.” The stretchy styles were a hit at retail. It’s that dedication to innovation that cements the brand’s reputation year after year. From ripped styles to acid washes, Levi’s continues to inject modern cool into its iconic jeans, making one of the world’s oldest brands the most relevant. —L.M.

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BEST INTERNATIONAL BRAND:

JoJo Maman Bébé A SECOND STRAIGHT Earnie win for Best International Brand is “the start of something big” in the United States for JoJo Maman Bébé, says Founder and Owner Laura Tenison, and she’s not kidding. Founded in 1993, the maternity and children’s brand is currently available in over 500 boutiques throughout North America. “Our American customers love JoJo for our European feel, combining quirky British prints with French nautical style,” Tenison points out, adding that retailers also appreciate the brand’s extensive range, including over 800 kids’ and 200 maternity styles. Even so, Tenison hopes for a bigger share of the U.S. market in 2015—and with the brand’s first American distribution center opening in New Jersey for Fall ’15, that will become even easier, helping with quicker replenishment and better prices. Accompanying the move will be a bolder marketing effort, since, as Tennison notes, “The world’s eyes have turned towards British mother and baby designers over the past year, and JoJo is proud to be a brand which appeals to all, from royalty to ‘the girl next door.’” —S.S.

BEST DRESSWEAR:

Isobella & Chloe

IF SUCCESS IS sweet, then it makes sense that girls’ brand Isobella & Chloe would continue to dominate the Dresswear category. After all, one of the brand’s bestselling dresses in 2014 was a taupe linen confection with ivory embroidery, appropriately dubbed Crème Brûlée. But Isobella & Chloe President of Operations Emily Fong credits the brand’s big win this year—its third in a row in the category—to more than just stellar styles. “We have always strived to have excellent customer service,” she says of the company, which launched in 2007. “After refining the system over the years, we have a streamlined communications system in place with our retailers, so that they have timely deliveries and are regularly updated on specials and changes to our line.” Better communication also means the brand is better equipped to incorporate feedback. Take, for example, the Crème Brûlée: Isobella & Chloe launched the style in Spring ’14, but decided to re-run the group in Spring ’15, along with the popular Vicki line, after multiple requests from retailers. And, Fong continues, “Those two styles inspired our Vintage Collection, which is our hit for Spring ’15.” As she sums it up, “When we design, we make sure we include overall quality and finishing touches that appeal to retailers, parents and young girls.” —A.G.K.

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BEST GIFTS:

Aden + Anais THE UBIQUITY OF muslin swaddles on the market makes it hard to imagine a time when the breathable fabric wasn’t a go-to nursery staple for moms across America, but just eight years ago, the blankets were almost unheard of outside of Australia—and along came Aden + Anais. Founded by CEO and Aussie native Raegan Moya-Jones in 2006, the brand has become synonymous with soft, long-lasting swaddle blankets in a wide range of contemporary designs. Although the blankets certainly serve as the backbone of the brand, it’s the company’s increasingly diverse range of products that catapulted it into first place in the competitive Best Gifts category. “Muslin swaddles are the foundation of the brand, but we now have everything from nursery collections and skin and laundry care, to an electronic sleep system—and we’re constantly releasing new products,” Moya-Jones notes. For 2014, add to that list bestselling collaborations with Zutano and non-profit AIDS organization (RED). And, MoyaJones, points out, “This year we introduced our 100-percent Merino wool muslin collection. It’s the first time that Merino wool has been combined with a muslin weave, and the result is a truly luxurious product which has been very popular with our boutique stores.”—A.G.K.

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BEST BABY GEAR:

Skip Hop

HOW DO YOU turn one great product into a wide-ranging line of items and an Earnie Award in the inaugural Best Baby Gear category? For Skip Hop Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer Ellen Diamant, it’s simple: “We believe that the best products please kids while appealing to a parent’s sense of style. We design our products to help out parents, then add ‘just enough kid style’ to turn them into family favorites.” Case in point: Skip Hop’s new rainwear collection, which made a big splash with retailers this year. The raincoats and umbrellas, which sport critters from the company’s popular Zoo collection, “have been flying out the door,” Diamant reports. (In 2011, the brand’s Zoo lunch boxes snagged an Earnie Award for “It” Item of the Year.) Since the company’s launch in 2003 with its perennial bestseller, the Duo diaper bag, Diamant and her husband, Michael, have applied their style-driven philosophy to a wide range of kids’ necessities, from toys to feeding products to bath and bedding accessories. “We trust moms’ intuition and want them to trust themselves,” Diamant notes. “So we make products that help them feel more confident.” —A.G.K

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BEST TWEEN COLLECTION:

Splendid by SEM Kids Design LLC FOR 12 YEARS, adults and kids alike have been earning their fashion stripes in Splendid’s comfy, cool designs. But the Californiabased brand really ramped up its kids’ collection in January of 2014, when it linked up with SEM Kids Design LLC, a division of Mamiye Brothers, to begin manufacturing its super-soft duds. “Mamiye Brothers is a leader in manufacturing and designing children’s clothing so it was the perfect next step and partnership,” says Lackey Bevis, director of sales for SEM. By sticking to the core basics and stripes that are the backbone of the brand while introducing an array of new fabrications and prints, Splendid struck a chord with retailers looking to please the tricky tween demographic—earning its very first Earnie Award. “Splendid is known for stripes, but new prints have really been successful for us this past year,” Bevis points out. “We also expanded our bottoms assortment from our basic leggings to adding more fashion leggings, skirts and pants.” —A.G.K.

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BEST SHOWROOM:

Thread Showroom TEN BRANDS, EIGHT years, three Earnie Awards and one fearless leader: all attributes that describe this year’s best showroom winner. When retailers go in search of sure-to-sell-through children’s apparel and accessories, they almost always end up at New York City-based Thread Showroom. Founded in 2006 by Terra Fazio, the warm and welcoming showroom is home to some of the most sought-after brands in the industry, from Spanish label Mayoral to this year’s Best Accessories winner, Wee Ones. “Our mission at the Thread Showroom is to have fun building relationships with our retailers and manufacturers. The Earnie Award is a great compliment to our philosophy,” says Fazio. This year, the showroom’s success culminated in the opening of a second location in Los Angeles at Kids on 6 in the California Market Center. But despite its physical expansion, Fazio credits the showroom’s popularity to its exclusive collection of brands. “We prefer focusing on fewer brands, thus giving each brand more attention. In order for us to take on a new brand, we must see something special—something not currently available in the industry,” she explains. “We believe retailers and designers appreciate our balance of professionalism and personal connection.” —Tara Anne Dalbow

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A re-launched Plum Pudding serves up fresh styles for spring.

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RETA MARKS AND Kathleen Doyle reached a painful crossroads in 2010. As the dynamic duo behind the California-based Plum Pudding, they were used to being inundated with orders each season for their high quality, classic cuts for infants, toddlers, girls and tweens—and had been since the company first launched with 12 infant dresses in 1986. “We got such an overwhelming response that by the end of that first year we had a whole sales team,” Doyle remembers. It wasn’t long before the company expanded to include four additional lines: Plum, for tweens; swimwear line Banana Cabana, acquired in 1998; the infant and toddler line, Marmalade, in 2004; and Pink Ginger, a trendy juniors’ line, in 2008. But when Marks, the label’s design and creative director, was diagnosed with lymphoma and then breast cancer, the company realized it could no longer meet the demand for its duds—and made the difficult decision to put the five lines on hold. “It was a double whammy,” Doyle shares. Today, Marks is on the mend (“She’s in complete remission, her prognosis is excellent and her checkups have been clean,” Doyle happily reports.), and Plum Pudding is ready to re-stake its claim on kids’ closets around the country. In June, after a two-year hiatus, Plum Pudding resolved to re-launch, and connected with industry advisor Matt Kaden, who helped the company acquire some new investors—just three weeks before the August edition of ENK Children’s Club. In a time crunch, yet determined to showcase a fresh face to the industry, Marks and Doyle settled on a tight collection of dresses from tween line Plum in sizes 7 to 16 years, with a few styles available in sizes 4 to 6 years. Wholesaling from $24 to $34, the classic silhouettes come in an array of stripes and solids and feature a few modern touches like exposed zipper details and leather-looking black foil. Color-wise, the collection focuses on coral,

fuchsia, navy and pale green. The response, Doyle is pleased to note, has been positive. “A lot of our customers are so happy we’re back,” she says. Looking to Fall ’15, the plan is to relaunch the Plum Pudding, Marmalade and Pink Ginger lines, which Doyle hopes will put the company “back on the map like we were before we took a break.” Specifically, back at the likes of Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue and Bloomingdale’s, as well as high-end specialty stores across the country. And while today’s children’s market feels a world away from the one they exited, Doyle is confident the company can regain its footing. “We know a lot of the smaller kids’ boutiques have closed with the economy—but the orders are coming in and we’ve got some new accounts,” she shares, adding, “The backbone of our business was and continues to be the specialty stores and the mom-and-pop boutiques, and we’re very optimistic.” —Lyndsay McGregor

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BEHIND THE SEAMS GIFT

Nap Star

Amelsa Yazew is keeping an Ethopian tradition alive with her line of organic cotton blankets.

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ITTLE GABIES BEGAN as a lot of baby brands do: After a frustrated mom’s fruitless search for a particular product ignited her entrepreneurial spirit and she created it herself. The roots of this Ethiopiabased baby blanket company, however, delve a little deeper. Amelsa Yazew wanted to honor her heritage and create something that embodied her family’s traditions, so Little Gabies, which launched in Fall ’14, is her playful and youthful take on the gabi, a staple Ethiopian blanket. “Each of our blankets is a product of the ancient weaving traditions of Ethiopia that have been passed down from generation to generation,” she explains. Much like slow batch ice cream, the process behind the blankets is slow and steady to assure quality over quantity.

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“Our methods and raw materials have stood the test of time, making them a rare commodity in the mechanized world,” notes Yazew, adding, “Most of all, we are proud in preserving this beautiful culture that we call ours.” Crafted with care in Ethiopia by local artisans, raw cotton is first cleaned by hand, after which it’s spun into thread using a wooden hand drop spindle. Then comes the weaving, a complex art that takes hours to complete by placing the hand-spun threads in a loom to produce a finely knit fabric. “It takes us one day to produce a single blanket, so what you get is a one-of-a-kind gabi, each one slightly different and each one made by a person with their hands and with a great deal of time devoted,” she says. Wholesaling from $69 to $79, the double-layered organic blankets come with a bevy of borders and more than 20 sweet embroidery motifs (Think lions, ladybugs and dinosaurs.), and in sizes suitable for newborns to 5 years. In Spring ’15, Yazew plans to expand into nursing covers, sleep sacks, bibs and burp cloths. “While I dream of going to scale and increasing the number of participating communities, I am just as happy with a small share of products that speak for themselves,” she says. “My vision is to make this warm tradition a part of homes that want to provide their babies with a natural alternative to commercially made blankets.”—L.M.

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UP CLOSE WITH

CLAIRE AND RONNIE EKELUND What’s your favorite way to spend a free afternoon? Claire: Aside from spending time with the children, I might play a round of golf or read a book just for fun, because I don’t really get to do that so much anymore. A beach read would be nice. Then I would follow it up with appetizers and cocktails with family and friends. Sounds like a good day to me. Ronnie: Our girls play a lot of sports, and I enjoy when we go out as a family and play golf. And cocktails and appetizers never get old. What’s your favorite book? Claire: Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt. It really struck a chord with me. It

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was really well-written and interesting and different. Ronnie: I’m more of a movie person. My favorite movie moment has to be watching Frozen with all my girls. I remember because we must have watched it about 80 times. [Laughs.] What three things could you never live without? Claire: Aside from family, I don’t know what I would do without my iPhone. Online shopping would be a close second. And a nice big glass of cabernet at the end of the day. Ronnie: I would have to say family as well, and I can’t get going without my morning coffee. And my golf clubs.

continued from page 16 the stadium or the conversation when I was playing,” recalls Ronnie, now CEO. “So she came up with this nursing cover idea where Mom could see baby, baby could see mom and her modesty was still intact.” When the couple became inundated with requests from friends for their own versions, they realized they had stumbled onto a promising business idea. So in 2004, they found a local manufacturer in their new hometown of Los Gatos, CA (Ronnie’s career eventually brought the couple to the U.S., where he won two MLS Cups.), set up a website and began reaching out to specialty stores. “Our warehouse was in the garage,” Ronnie recalls. Claire, laughing, adds: “Quality control was sitting in front of the TV at nighttime together.” It wasn’t long before the brand became known for offering a wide range of stylish nursing covers, thanks to Claire’s unerring eye for sophisticated patterns. Accordingly, Bébé au Lait is no longer a twoperson team offering nursing covers only. With a product line that includes bibs, hooded towels, blankets, swaddles and on-the-go totes and bags—as well as a new nursing pillow that wowed bloggers and buyers alike at September’s ABC Kids Expo—it’s safe to say the couple’s fancy footwork has paid off. “On average, we’ve grown 50 percent year over year since 2004,” Ronnie declares. Here, the couple divulges the secrets to their off-the-field success. What were some of the biggest challenges when you first launched? Ronnie: Fulfilling demand. Back then, Claire picked out the fabrics, I dropped them off and picked [the nursing covers] up from our local manufacturer. Then we would take them home and pack them after quality control. The demand grew much quicker than we expected, and fulfillment became increasingly more and more difficult. We tried to

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stay with our local manufacturer as long as we could, but when the orders became larger, bigger and quicker, they simply couldn’t keep up. They weren’t scalable at all, so we headed to China and Vietnam. How would you say the industry has changed since then? Claire: When our 14-year-old was born, there were around four or five big players in the industry, and they were the ones that you always relied on for your strollers and car seats and all of those things. And then it seemed to soften up over time and more creativity came into the industry, and the consumer was willing to try out products from companies they had never heard of before and give them a chance. Why do you think parents were willing to try something new? Claire: I think people increasingly wanted to express their own creativity through how they dress their children, or through the gear they buy for their babies and for themselves. Women don’t want muumuu dresses in maternity anymore, or teddy bears and ABC’s for their baby. There was a major change in children’s design, which led to the whole industry changing. And we feel like we’re in the center of that. We inspired the idea that a nursing cover could be fashionable. And safety concerns have jumped to the forefront, too. Ronnie: There’s a lot more awareness from the end consumer, who expects a lot more from companies—and rightly so. Claire: There are more people asking questions like, ‘Is it BPA-free?’ I don’t think our parents ever asked that kind of question. Nowadays the end consumer knows what BPA-free means, as well as phthalatefree and lead-free. The end consumer is definitely savvier in that way.

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So how do you cope with parents who have such a strict standard for their purchases? Ronnie: We make products that adhere to it. Claire: We make products that we use with our own children. We stand behind them. We want them to be durable and functional yet beautiful. People are working hard for their money and there’s nothing worse than buying something and wishing you’d never spent the money. We want our end consumer to think, ‘That was a great purchase.’

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It seems like you apply that same careful eye to your branding and photography. Claire: Yes, I would say so. We’re pretty critical when it comes to everything, down to the smallest detail. Our photography is really important to us, and we actually spend a lot of time making sure we have the right elements in the photo shoot and making sure it adheres to that Bébé au Lait feeling. It’s an opportunity to show the end consumer how we see the brand. A lot of companies have introduced nursing covers in recent years. How do you stay one step ahead of the competition? Claire: We stick to what we know, and then stay on-trend by looking at what’s coming in the market and what people are looking for

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illustration Philip Giordano

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Speaking of beautiful products, how would you describe the Bébé au Lait aesthetic? Claire: It’s difficult to put into words. It’s more of a feeling. We want moms to feel beautiful when they use our products and happy to put them on their babies. Everything we create goes through our own personal test, which is: Is it functional? Is it fashionable? Is it of a high quality at a really good price?

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nowadays. And we combine that with my own design desires to make a product with integrity. I think the end consumer appreciates that and they tell their friends. We have loyal customers who build loyal customers. At the end of the day, if you’re making a product that stands the test of time and that people like to look at, then you’re fulfilling your job as a brand. How do you decide which product categories to add to the line? Ronnie: A lot of it is based on feedback and requests from our customers. We’re also parents, so we have a very good idea of what we would like to see. We always ask ourselves: Is this something we could stand behind? From there it becomes a process of determining whether it fits with our brand and whether we can make improvements to the product—make it even better. Is the specialty market an important part of your retail strategy? Ronnie: Absolutely. That’s how we started. Even though we are in big box retailers today as well, we feel that we are a very appropriate brand for specialty retailers, and they will always be a very important part of our business. As we continue to grow our offerings, we have special deals for our specialty retailers, to cater to that segment. We have both inside sales reps and outside sales reps who keep the lines of communication open, and we take any messages we get from the stores very seriously—good or bad. We will always try to do what we can to make things better for our independent retailers. Has the growth of social media changed your marketing methods? Claire: It’s definitely important to us. Before, it was all very one sided:

You would make the product, put it out and cross your fingers. Nowadays, you get more feedback. You get to find out what your end consumer is thinking and feeling. I don’t know why you wouldn’t embrace that. We like to stay engaged with our customers. We want to increase that over the years and have more of an open dialogue with them. According to CDC data, more moms are breastfeeding these days. Do you think brands like Bébé au Lait helped foster that growth? Claire: I think so. Apart from us, of course, there’s also more emphasis on education—there are a lot more initiatives out there to promote breastfeeding. It’s encouraged more in the hospital, and now you get a breast pump with your insurance. I think it’s also more widely accepted. There are a lot of celebrities taking selfies of themselves breastfeeding, so those things help, too. I would say that where our nursing covers help, from what we’ve heard from our moms, is that they normalize breastfeeding. Before, you might have left the room or you might have gone to your car or, god forbid, the restroom, to find a place to nurse your baby. Now you don’t have to. Now you can sit and stay and enjoy the conversation wherever you are, even if it’s a soccer game. Absolutely! What do you say to the folks who think moms should feel free to breastfeed, nursing cover or no? Claire: We always say you shouldn’t be embarrassed of the fact that you’re breastfeeding. That’s something to be proud of. It’s not about hiding that fact. It’s just that if you’re a little bit shy, and you don’t want to breastfeed in public, this is the alternative. This is the solution. I would definitely say that our covers have played a huge role to help normalize breastfeeding, and I’m proud of that. •

PUBLISHER’S STATEMENT 1. Publication Title: Earnshaws’s Infants, Girls and Boys Wear Review. 2. Publication No.: 0320-090. 3. Filing Date 10/15/14. 4. Issue Frequency: monthly, except for bi-monthly April/ May and Nov/Dec issues. No. of Issues Published Annually: 10. 6. Annual Subscription Price: $48. 7. Complete Mailing Address of Known Office of Publication: Earnshaws, 36 Cooper Sq. 4th floor, New York, NY 10003. 8. Complete Mailing Address of the Headquarters or General Business Office of the Publisher: Symphony Publishing NY, LLC, 26202 Detroit Rd. Ste. 300, Westlake, OH 44145. Contact person: Joel M. Shupp, (440) 871-1300. 9. Full Names and Complete Mailing Addresses of Publisher, Editor, and Managing Editor: Publisher: Noelle Heffernan, 36 Cooper Sq. 4th floor, New York, NY 10003; Editor: Audrey Goodson Kingo, 36 Cooper Sq. 4th floor, New York, NY 10003; Managing Editor: none. 10. Owner (If owned by a corporation, its name and address must be stated and also immediately thereafter the names and addresses of stockholders owning or holding 1 percent or more of total amount of stock): Symphony Publishing NY, LLC; Leon Zapis, 26202 Detroit Rd. Ste. 300, Westlake, OH 44145; Maria Wymer, 26202 Detroit Rd. Ste. 300, Westlake, OH 44145; Donna Thomas, 26202 Detroit Rd. Ste. 300, Westlake, OH 44145; Renee Seybert, 26202 Detroit Rd. Ste. 300, Westlake, OH 44145, Richard Bongorno, 26202 Detroit Rd. Ste 300, Westlake OH 44145 11. Known Bondholders, Mortgages, and Other Security Holders Owning or Holding 1 Percent or More of Total Amount of Bonds, Mortgages, or Other Securities: None. 12. (For Nonprofit Organizations - Does Not Apply) 13. Publication Name: Earnshaws’s Infants, Girls and Boys Wear Review. 14. Issue Date for Circulation Data Below: September 2014 15. Extent and Nature of Circulation. Average No. Copies Each Issue During Preceding 12 Months/ Actual No. Copies of Single Issue Published Nearest to Filing Date: a. Total No. Copies : 16,004/15,253 b. Legitimate paid and/or requested distribution: (1) Paid/ Requested Outside-County Mail Subscriptions:. 7,761/7,931 (2) Paid/Requested In-County Subscriptions:.0/0 (3) Sales through dealers and carriers, street vendors, and counter sales:.0/0 (4) Requested copies distributed by other USPS mail classes:.0/0 c. Total Paid and/or Requested Circulation: 7,761/7,931 d. Nonrequested distribution: (1). Outside county nonrequested copies:.5,874/5,627 (2) In County nonrequested copies:.0/0 (3) Nonrequested copies distributed through other USPS mail classes:0/0 (4). Nonrequested copies distributed outside the mail: 1,721/1,500 e. Total nonrequested dist ribution:. 7,600/7,127 f. Total Distribution: 15,361/15,058 g. Copies not distributed:643/195 h. Total: 16,004/15.253 i: Percent Paid and/or Requested Circulation: 51%/53% 16. This Statement of Ownership will be printed in the November/December 2014 issue of this publication.17. I certify that all information furnished on this form is true and complete. I understand that anyone who furnishes false or misleading information on this form or who omits material or information requested on the form may be subject to criminal sanctions and/or civil sanctions. Noelle Heffernan, Publisherer

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The Nordstrom Baby Accessories and Gear Team (Continued from page 28) of gifts and gear—another savvy move that can be credited to her team. Sensing the rapid growth of the high-end gear market, Bregy quickly started snapping up items like Stokke’s Flexi Bath and Béaba’s Babycook Pro, and now the bath and feeding categories are two of Nordstrom’s fastest-growing. Making the merchandise easy to browse is also why the team is extremely selective when it comes to finding the right strollers for its stores. “One of our challenges is taking a clothing floor and finding spots for gear, and then figuring out how to present it and making sure our sales staff is well trained,” Bregy notes. “There’s a lot to putting a stroller together and making a customer comfortable with taking it out, and we work so hard on getting that right.” Bregy’s love of retail dates back to her high school days, working at the café in—you guessed it—Nordstrom, in her hometown of Half Moon Bay, CA. Even after graduating from college and becoming a teacher, she spent her summers as a sales associate in the boys’ department at Nordstrom and eventually worked her way up to manager of the kids’ department in San Francisco. Many of the skills she picked up as a teacher—namely listening carefully and being patient—translated perfectly to retail. Almost 10 years ago, Bregy became assistant buyer for all of Nordstrom’s baby accessories and gear, and eight years ago was promoted to lead buyer. Yet even with 18 solid years of retail experience under her belt, Bregy admits she couldn’t do her job without the help of her tightknit team, especially Buy Planner Mikela Neff. By working closely together, as well as working one-on-one with Nordstrom’s online staff, the team ensures the satisfaction of the person who matters most at the end of the day, Bregy adds: “We have one end goal, and that’s always the customer.” —Audrey Goodson Kingo

Nancy Markert and Amy Hoffman (Continued from page 28) merchandising career at Merona Sport to help her sister build a showroom. “I was hooked,” says Hoffman of helping her sister at her first trade show. The two joined forces in 1989, and 11 years later the sisters moved into their current location at the 34 West 33rd Street showroom building, and as Hoffman puts it, went to work turning lines into brands. Curating a collection of labels under the ethos of finding “what kids really wanted to wear,” each and every one of the showroom’s 16 brands earn high marks in comfort, quality, fashion and fun, according to Markert. The sisters point toward their knack for predicting the future as a key to their success. “We can predict trends in the very, very beginning,” says Hoffman, who even boasts a namesake shoe, the Hoff, as a thank you for pushing footwear brand Old Soles to produce what came to be Spring 2015’s hottest style: a metallic, slip-on sneaker. But it isn’t just their gift for spotting trends that earned Markert and Hoffman a spot in the Earnie Award Hall of Fame—it’s also their unmatched customer service. The sisters, who are often confused for employees in their retailers’ stores or as designers in their manufacturers’ factories, have given brand repping an entirely new meaning. “We help design and develop products every season,” says Markert who also notes that they are the eyes and ears of the brands, responsible for providing feedback—good and bad. “I have such a personal relationship with all my accounts, and that’s why they keeping coming back year after year,” Hoffman adds. Of course, it’s not always easy. “It’s a 24-7 job,” says Markert, who often finds herself up at 2 a.m. placing orders on her iPad. “If it’s your passion, not just your job, you’ll reap the benefits.” —Tara Anne Dalbow

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the pulse

What the cool kids love…

For 4-year-old Alexa and 3-year-old Hayden, New York City is one giant playground.

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E HAVE DOCUMENTED almost every moment of their lives online—it’s all they know!” laughs Marissa Kraxberger, VP of creative at Ivanka Trump and mother to 4-year-old Alexa and 3-year-old Hayden. Kraxberger is the creator of LadyandPrince.com, the blog where she and her husband, fashion photographer Nathan Kraxberger, record their Brooklyn, NY-based family’s daily life. The couple started sharing snaps on Tumblr when Alexa was born, but started taking it seriously in 2012 when Marissa worked at Oscar de la Renta and began leading the brand’s George & Ruby blog. “We decided that a great way to promote the childrenswear collection was to have a social media voice behind the brand,” she explains. “Since I was overseeing creative for the brand at the time, and I was a mom, it was a great fit.” Her two tots quickly became known for their impeccable outfits and fun-filled days. “I think the most common thing we hear from readers is that they are so amazed by all that we do with the kids: traveling and local adventures around the city,” Marissa notes. From scouring the Brooklyn Flea market to checking out the city’s many museums, every moment of the stylish siblings’ lives has been captured—and they’re more than willing to smile sweetly for the camera. For their everyday adventures, Alexa favors dresses—“Beautiful ones with no buttons!” she points out—and likes to help pick out her outfits, while Hayden is happiest in long pants and T-shirts. And while a life in front of the camera clearly suits them both, this dynamic duo doesn’t plan to pose for pictures forever: Alexa wants to paint nails when she grows up and Hayden has his sights set on riding bikes. —Lyndsay McGregor

4 8 E A R N S H AW S . C O M • N O V E M B E R / D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 4

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