S U R F T H E M U LT I - C H A N N E L R E TA I L WAV E
VOLUME 98 NUMBER 8
PAT R I C E P E R I N E LOW E O N T H E M E A N I N G O F M E M O R I E S
GEAR UP FOR 2015
SEPTEMBER 201 4 $10.00
The New Nerds
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Six Pair Gift Box Sets
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See us at the ABC Kids Expo September 7th-10th
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Noelle Heffernan Publisher Audrey Goodson Kingo Editor in Chief Nancy Campbell Trevett McCandliss Creative Directors
EDITORIAL Lyndsay McGregor Senior Editor Social Media Editor Tara Anne Dalbow Fashion Editor Samantha Sciarrotta Assistant Editor
ADVERTISING Caroline Diaco Group Publisher
Florence Fancy ruffle bodysuit, Orli romper, Fanny Belette cardigan, Livie & Luca shoes, Little Giraffe socks.
Jennifer Craig Special Accounts Manager
PRODUCTION Tim Jones Deputy Art Director Production Manager Mike Hoff Webmaster
16 Channel Surfing As the “omni” approach takes over the retail scene, experts reveal how to manage multiple sales platforms.
28 Total Nerds From plaid rompers to prim dresses, brush up on next spring’s scholarly style for babies and tots.
24 Memory Maker CEO Patrice Perine Lowe shares the tragic yet touching inspiration for her multi-million dollar gift company, Child to Cherish. 38 Gear Check We break down the best baby gadgets and gizmos hitting shelves next year in our second annual Ultimate Gear Guide.
6 Editor’s Note 8 Talking Points 10 Hot Properties 12 Fresh Finds 18 In the Bag 20 On Trend 44 Behind the Seams 52 The Pulse
On cover: Frenchie Mini Couture bow tie bodysuit, Kapital K plaid coverall, Molo jeans, Baby Essentials printed socks. Photography by Trevett McCandliss. Styling by Tara Anne Dalbow. Hair and makeup by Rita Madison.
CONTACT INFO Sales/Editorial Offices 36 Cooper Square, 4th floor New York, NY 10003 Tel: (646) 278-1550 Fax: (646) 278-1553 firstname.lastname@example.org editorialrequests@ 9threads.com Circulation Office Joel Shupp 26202 Detroit Road, #300 Westlake, OH 44145 Tel: (440) 871-1300 email@example.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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SOUTH Hollee Hannon 972.768.5547 firstname.lastname@example.org
SOUTHEAST Joyce Nillson 704.541.5443 email@example.com
WEST Stephenie Becker 213-896-0024 firstname.lastname@example.org
MIDWEST Lisa Tompkins 614-370-5472 email@example.com
NORTHEAST Brad Haslam 801-658-0400 firstname.lastname@example.org
NEW ENGLAND David Alterwitz 781-407-0001 email@example.com
UK Brad Haslam 801-658-0400 firstname.lastname@example.org
Delightful and unique fashion for girls
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TWO TINY PAIRS of bronze shoes have graced my mother’s dresser for three decades. While other objects—candles, jewelry, picture frames—have come and gone, the shoes have never been replaced. That’s because they are actual pairs my sister and I wore as toddlers, preserved in bronze for the ages (or at least a generation or two). “I like them,” my mom tells me, “because they remind me of the pitter-patter of your little feet, when you would walk into our room and wake us up in the morning.” I started pondering the power of keepsakes after chatting with Patrice Perine Lowe, the founder and CEO of Child to Cherish. The remarkable story behind her multi-million dollar gift company is not only a lesson in entrepreneurial success, it’s also a moving example of why mementos can be so powerful. Lowe, who tragically lost both of her parents as a teenager, spent the next decade taking care of her four younger brothers. Grieving the loss of their parents, Lowe’s siblings found themselves “searching for memories instead of creating them, as young children should do,” she recalls. That’s why Lowe was so excited to find her siblings’ handprints still etched into the cement at her childhood home. Even though the new owner let her try to remove the prints, it was impossible to do without cracking the cement. It was a bittersweet moment for Lowe, since it also served as the inspiration for her first product: a plaster handprint kit in a tin. Thanks to her creation, moms and dads can now carry the classic keepsake from home to home. While it’s a memento that many kids craft in kindergarten, Lowe was savvy enough to realize that many parents would appreciate the opportunity to create the plaster prints at an earlier age. Almost 30 years later, the company’s many customers (and imitators!) prove that she was absolutely correct. Maybe, as in Lowe’s case, it takes the absence of mementos to recognize their importance. I think my mother would agree.
More than Just Stuff You can never have too many possessions that preserve irreplaceable memories.
My youngest sister, Ashley, died four days after she was born of Trisomy 13, a chromosomal condition that can now be detected early in pregnancy. Some years around Ashley’s birthday, my mother pulls out the only keepsakes she has—a lock of hair, ink footprints and a letter from the nurse who took care of my sister for the four days she lived. Maybe that’s also why my mother has overcompensated with me and my sister: In addition to the bronze shoes, there are misshapen pieces of pottery we crafted in pre-school still decorating the house, as well as an abundance of family photos crowding every shelf. Every year in December we received ornaments engraved with our names, as well as a special set of pajamas on Christmas Eve. And, my mother confesses, she still has the red dresses my sister and I wore for our first holiday photo together (matching, of course). If the children’s industry is any indication, my mom isn’t the only one stockpiling her kids’ keepsakes. As Lowe points out, retailers large and small are expanding their gift offerings. What used to be a market limited to silver spoons and Christening gowns has grown to include everything from personalized piggy banks to thoughtfully packaged layette sets. After all, clothing and accessories can often be a fad-driven, low-cost purchase—easily donated or tossed out from one season to the next. Meaningful mementos, however, will never be disposable. They are inexorably tied to memories, which, as Lowe and my mom can tell you, are priceless.
AUDREY GOODSON KINGO
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Points Fair Play As the market for ethically-produced products continues to grow, more and more kids’ brands are joining the movement.
Lali Kids joins a growing list of ethically-made brands.
BEGINNING IN THE ’60s, dipping in the ’80s and regaining traction from the early ’90s and onward, the fair trade movement has grown into producing more than just coffee and cocoa. Ethically-produced clothing made with fair trade-certified cotton has risen to prominence in the last decade, and it’s not just a niche market anymore, says Michelle Karol, sales manager for NY NOW’s handmade global design section. “While it previously seemed as though smaller-scale retailers and museum shops were most conscious about seeking out and purchasing ethicallyproduced products, there seems to be a shift,” she points out. “Some of the larger retailers are highlighting fair trade products or including the story behind their products, as well.” The criteria is simple: For a product to be considered ethicallyproduced, the workers who crafted it must be paid fair wages and operate out of a safe, closely-monitored working environment. Officially, fair trade clothing items must be certified by one of the 19 Fairtrade International labeling organizations, which enforce fair wage and safe work environment standards. Additionally, fair trade farmers receive a development stipend for projects like building and opening schools, on top of their regular wages. Now, more and more children’s brands are adapting their policies to match the movement’s, and with at least $1 billion in U.S. fair trade retail sales in each of the last three years, it’s easy to see why. Gillian Osrin, founder of Style with Heart, an online shop that offers a collection of fair trade, ethically-produced and eco-friendly clothing, says that fair trade fervor has been steadily increasing for the last 20 years. “I believe that a site like Style with Heart couldn’t have existed 20 years ago,” she offers. “There wouldn’t have been enough brands to showcase or people interested in them.” Her selection covers the entire age spectrum, from babies to adults, and she says her site is popular with a diverse group of shoppers. “Often, it’s mothers who choose organic clothing and food for their babies, it’s surfers who appreciate nature and eco-friendly fabrics and it’s teenagers who are fed up with looking like everyone else and wearing things once,” she declares. “Often, it’s you and me who care about the world in which we live. We don’t want to destroy it for future generations.” Crediting organizations like the International Labor Organization, the World Fair Trade Foundation, Oeko-Tex and Ecocert with promoting human rights and environmentally-friendly practices, Osrin notes that Style with Heart receives two applications a week to join the site, as a growing number of brands “have decided that they want to produce things differently and better for both people and the planet.” In fact, the site is home to over 50 kids’ brands alone. Boys’ and girls’ brand Tag New York is one of those collections. Launched by Nicole Williams Glass in Spring ’14, the brand is working with three different Bolivian artisan groups to create its Fall ’14 collection. “As a consumer, it’s nice to know that you’re making a purchase and helping people,” Glass states. “People seem to really appreciate that, and they are willing to pay the extra money knowing that it’s not coming from a factory.” Kinnari Patel, owner of newly-launched girls’ brand Lali Kids, agrees. “Our clothes are all hand-printed and hand-blocked. There’s so much more soul to it,” she reveals. “It’s not a run-of-the-mill item. You’re getting a piece of art that’s not only unique and special, but has also benefitted the people who made it.”—Samantha Sciarrotta
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The Lately Lily universe expands into plush.
Teva teams up with BBC International for Spring ’15. OUTDOOR SHOE POWERHOUSE Teva, a division of Deckers Outdoor Corporation, recently joined forces with prominent foot-
AFTER MAKING HER debut on a line of T-shirts in 2012, world traveler Lately Lily has made her way from apparel and activity kits to books and apps, all with her trusty notebook and best friend Zeborah in tow. Now, thanks to a partnership with MerryMakers, Inc., Lily will take shape as a doll. Lately Lily Director of Operations Jason Wheeler says the company met with MerryMakers, Inc., at last year’s Licensing Expo, when it was in the process of working on its first three books based on the character. “When we discovered they specialized in creating amazing dolls based on favorite children’s book characters, it seemed like a natural next step and partnership,” he remembers. The doll comes complete with Lily’s signature fire-red locks and bright yellow hair bow. “This is our first plush product, so we knew we had to get it right,” Wheeler adds. “Absolutely every detail was considered.” Retailing for $40, the doll will be available beginning Holiday 2014 at select specialty stores. For more information, contact Jason Wheeler at email@example.com. —Samantha Sciarrotta
Super Power Disney fêtes its latest film with a bevy of products. MUCH LIKE ITS cast of super-human characters, Disney remains a brand with muscle. Need proof? Just look at the array of licensing deals lined up to coincide with the release of Big Hero 6, an animated com-
wear sourcing agent BBC International, which will design, develop, source and sell Teva’s children’s line for Spring ’15. “We are very excited about the opportunity to partner with this exceptionally iconic brand,” says Bob Campbell, founder and chairman at BBC International. He adds: “Teva’s fun and youthful product assortment fits perfectly into BBC’s branded portfolio,” which includes other kids’ collections like Ralph Lauren, Sam Edelman and Born. Retailing from $15 to $50, Teva’s Spring ’15 offering includes the brand’s signature sport sandal silhouette, as well as closed-toe and thong styles, set to bright pinks, vibrant tribal patterns and muted blues, greens and grays. E-mail Margot Lazar at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
edy produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios and inspired by the Marvel Comics team of the same name. The movie hits theaters in November, so look for loads of merchandise in Fall ’14 featuring the film’s characters: robotics prodigy Hiro Hamada, his brother Tadashi and lovable bot Baymax. “The action-packed story and unique cast of characters were a great source of inspiration as we developed the robust product line,” says Josh Silverman, executive vice president of global licensing at Disney Consumer Products. For toys, Bandai will offer an array of items, from 11” action figures and plush keychains to adjustable masks. Covering the full slate of characters, the collection will be available at mass retailers. As for softlines, look for T-shirts, hoodies, sleepwear, and other apparel by Freeze and Mad Engine and boys’ underwear by Handcraft. Bedding by Franco and backpacks by GDC will also hit shelves for fall. The apparel will range in size from 4 to 20 for boys and girls, and all items will retail for $7.99 to $39.99. “Fans will have the opportunity to channel their inner hero with interactive action figures, role-play toys and apparel offerings that tap into sharp color schemes and stylized design trends,” continues Silverman. E-mail Mindy Puente at email@example.com.
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For Italian newcomer Bubino, it’s the little things that count. Domestically sourced wools and cottons are hand washed before cutting and stitching to avoid shrinkage, while delicate details like mother-ofpearl buttons, handmade brooches and grosgrain ribbon top off its range of clothing and accessories for boys and girls. Available in sizes 3 months to 10 years, wholesale prices range from $31 to $150. Check out www. bubino.com.
Local production and a commitment to traditional techniques take spotlight.
Based in San Jose, CA, Ellie Funday works with marginalized women in India to embroider delicate patterns on its line of blankets and swaddles. Free from harmful pesticides and chemicals and wholesaling from $22 to $39, the GOTScertified organic cotton muslin offering includes four-layer blankets and double weave swaddles. Blankets are available in four patterns each for boys and girls, while swaddles come in six colors. Visit www.elliefunday. com.
Aden + Anais has inked a deal with Stokke to introduce a line of cotton muslin bedding for the Norwegian furniture brand’s convertible crib, Sleepi. Hitting stores in October, the collaboration offers three of Aden + Anais’ iconic star-filled prints (Twinkle, Lovely, Night Sky) in both mini (18” by 26”) and crib (29” by 49”) sizes that fit the oval-shaped crib as it grows with infants from newborn to 3 years. Wholesale prices range from $15 to $17.50. Check out www.adenandanais.com.
Designer Dionne Ting combined her love for fashion with inspiration from her daughter to create My Moon. The line launched with baby blankets in 2013 and has since expanded to include rompers, dresses, leggings and tops in sizes 6 months to 6 years. Everything is handmade in small volumes using organic and sustainable fabrics printed with non-toxic water-based inks at a familyowned and operated factory in downtown San Francisco. Wholesale prices range from $24 to $48. Go to www. mymoonsf.com.
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Traditional styling meets the softest threads in French label Sol de Mayo’s latest collection of cashmere and cotton clothing— its second to hit stores stateside. Girls get crewnecks, cardigans and dresses in a mostly gray palette peppered with pink and golden yellow. Meanwhile, round-neck pullovers and vests in gray, blue and key lime lend a sophisticated look to little gents’ ensembles. Some unisex sweaters are available, too, and each cashmere piece is handmade by traditional artisans at a family-owned factory in Kathmandu, Nepal. Wholesaling from $40 to $112, sizes range from 2 to 12 years. Visit www.sol-mayo.com.
With years of architecture and design experience and a strong commitment to local production, Cristina López-Lago and Maria Llerena united their efforts to bow Motoreta, a small-scale brand of kids’ clothes made in workshops in the south of Spain. Wholesaling from $22.59 to $76.45, the brand’s sophomore collection comprises structured coats, knit sweaters, slim leg pants and a sprinkling of geometric prints for a sophisticated spin on fall dressing. Sizes range from 2-3 to 10-11 years. Check out www.motoreta.es.
Austrian brand Hilda Henri makes its U.S. debut in Fall ’14 with a collection of clothing and accessories for boys and girls in sizes 1 to 12 years. Inspired by Russian folklore and Czech fairytales, the line includes dresses, skirts, trousers and knitwear made from milled loden, a traditional Alpine felted fabric produced from boiled wool, ensuring each piece is lightweight, durable, water repellent and breathable. Wholesale prices range from $25 to $102. Check out www.hildahenri.com.
Nicole Williams Glass founded her infant and toddler clothing line Tag New York with the intention of giving back to the talented artisans she met overseas during her previous career in highend product development and design. That’s why her socially responsible brand only works with fair trade organizations and small-scale manufacturers around the world. Moving into its second season, the line has expanded beyond printed tunics and pants to bow a unisex line of rompers, hats and mittens made from baby alpaca and pima cotton in sizes 6 months to 3 years. Wholesale prices range from $18 to $60. Go to www.tagnewyork.com.
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Touted as the next big trend in retail, the “omni” approach is everywhere. But what does it really mean for store owners? BY SAMANTHA SCIARROTTA
HEN TALKING RETAIL strategies, the term “omni-channel” has become almost unavoidable. Retailers and analysts can’t say enough about the approach and how it’s a must in a digital world. But what does it actually entail to be an omni-channel retailer today? Does the term actually mean anything? Yes, says Bob Negen, founder of WhizBang Training!, a retail consulting firm—despite its recent buzzword status that may have clouded its meaning. “Online, offline. Brick-and-mortar, click-and-mortar,” Negen describes. “It’s not just about having a physical location anymore. You’re using all of the available technological and social media tools out there to build your business.” MB&G Consulting founder and OmniChannelRetailing.com blogger Bill Davis says the movement started to gain traction when the phrase
“multi-channel retailing” rose to prominence in the early ’00s. Now, companies are retooling their entire retail organizations. “It’s a multiyear effort for multi-million dollar retailers,” he points out. Should you not be a multi-million dollar company, though, don’t give up: Davis says it’s still entirely possible to capitalize on today’s technology to interact with customers across an array of platforms. But, where to start? It’s all about multiple sales channels, says Davis, who has more than 15 years of experience in the multi-channel retailing realm. An e-commerce site is a good first step, but making your site mobile- and tablet-ready and providing ease of access between devices are all important, too. In fact, experts like James Green, CEO of digital advertising agency Magnetic, say the mobile shopping movement shouldn’t be overlooked. Green points to a simple 2014 Facebook statistic: In Q1 of this year, 59 percent of the site’s revenue came from mobile use and only 41 percent from desktop. “Retailers need to look at that,” Green instructs. “We spend so much time on our digital devices.” Need some help fine-tuning your business to fit a multi-platform world? Here’s how to make the most of the omni-channel movement.
KEEP IT CONSISTENT Since consumers flow from smartphone to PC to tablet on a daily basis, it’s imperative that your store’s identity remains similar across platforms. “Consumers now don’t just engage a retailer,” Davis reveals. “They do research online before they get to the store, and they might do some research in the store on their mobile devices. Traditional retailers today are struggling to provide that seamless experience.” Which is why store owners like Pamela DiCapo of children’s boutique Lauren Alexandra in Kansas City, MO, are investing time—and money— into crafting a coherent, effective, multi-platform presentation. After working with the same e-commerce site for just about a decade, DiCapo took it down two years ago and just re-launched it this year. “I wanted to make sure the site suited the store. It’s hard to find somebody who can match your aesthetic when you’re a creative store,” says DiCapo, who interviewed 10 candidates before settling on a web designer who could capture the look and feel of her physical store online. Now, she says, the site reflects her shop’s ethereal interior, which features elegant >46
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IN THE BAG
Forget the granola and other hippie-dippie stereotypes—this eco-friendly mom is out to prove that organic doesn’t have to mean boring and beige. From bright green bibs to cool blue diaper bags, today’s all-natural products offer vibrant options that are safe for baby and stylish for mom. No wonder the market for earth-friendly kids’ apparel and accessories continues to sprout more brands. (It’s now a $5 billion business, according to The NPD Group.) Even the gear arena is going greener, with a growing number of companies offering plastic alternatives, like silicone, and all-natural skincare lines. This eco-chic mom may love the great outdoors, but her look is fit for any urban jungle. —Audrey Goodson Kingo
Mama Earth 2 1
1. Babyganics diaper rash cream and eczema care cream 2. Silikids silicone bib 3. Babysoy organic cotton and soybean fiber blanket 4. Under the Nile organic plush toys 5. Petunia Pickle Bottom organic cotton canvas diaper satchel 6. Go Gently Baby organic cotton romper.
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PHOTOGRAPHY BY RUS ANSON
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P E T U N I A .CO M
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Snapper Rock kaftan Millions of Colors T-shirt
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Bonnie Baby T-shirt
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Miss Behave Girls tank top
Jonathan Adler socks
It may be tough to convince little ones to consume their daily recommended servings of fruit, but with this spring’s sweet selections it won’t be difficult to get them to wear it. The tropical trend cropping up in adult fashion is realized in the children’s market with fruit-filled patterns reminiscent of a Carmen Miranda costume. The season’s tutti frutti styles are ripe for the picking, with punchy colors, juicy embellishments and easy, breezy silhouettes. Look to tassels, pom-poms and festooned fruit details to transport the styles from saccharine to super cool. When life gives you lemons—watermelons, pineapples or bananas— wear them! —Tara Anne Dalbow
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OnTrend Caramel au Sucre dress
Skip Hop backpack
Western Chief rain boots
The world is home to over 900,000 species of insects—and children’s designers are gleaning inspiration from all of them. From snails and centipedes to butterflies and bumblebees, bugs are creeping their way onto kids’ apparel and accessories next spring. The motif first took flight on Alexander McQueen’s Spring ’13 golden bee and honeycomb print, and like moths to a flame, designers at Lanvin and Valentino followed suit with dragonfly embellishments and butterfly prints respectively. As for childrenswear, patterns range from graphic to hand-drawn and are offered in an array of bright and earth-toned hues. Whether the critters are marching along the sleeves of sportswear or giving formal wear fresh wings, they’re sure to create a buzz in the children’s market. —T.A.D.
JoJo Maman Bébé bee-print footie
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Memory Maker To make up for the childhood moments she never had a chance to savor, Patrice Perine Lowe began crafting keepsakes for others. Now, after building her business into a multi-million dollar company along with the help of her husband and sons, the Child to Cherish CEO is creating many treasured memories of her own. BY AUDREY GOODSON KINGO
CEO Patrice Perine Lowe and her husband Gordon (center) helped build Child to Cherish with the help of their sons (from left to right) Cody, Taylor and Tucker.
IT WAS A long road that took Patrice Perine Lowe back to her childhood home, where she and her siblings had left little handprints in cement in the backyard. The home’s new owner kindly allowed her to try and break the cement into pieces to take with her, but in the end it was impossible to do without breaking the prints, Lowe recalls. And though the moment inspired the idea that launched her children’s gift company, Child to Cherish, it was a bittersweet experience for Lowe, who had very few mementos from her childhood,
interrupted by tragedy. The sixth of 10 children, Lowe was a teenager living in Whittier, CA, when her mother went to the hospital for a routine procedure and died from a mistake made in surgery. At the same time, her father was diagnosed with throat cancer and lost the ability to speak. But the recent high school graduate, who dreamed of being an interior designer, had no time to grieve. “My older brothers and sisters were newly married and starting a life of their own, so as a teenager, I found myself caring
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for my sick father and my four little brothers, who I still feel as though are my children,” she recalls. Instead of heading off to college, Lowe took a job as a cocktail waitress to help support her family. Her father passed away not long after, and she realized that she and her siblings were “searching for memories instead of creating them, as young children should do.” So, as an adult she set out to create memories for others. Peering down What’s your favorite way at those cracked handprints in 1987, to spend a free afternoon? she realized there were very few ways Lying on the beach and doing for parents to mark their children’s nothing! milestones—ways that could easily travel from home to home, at least. What’s the biggest lesson What if parents could create a small you’ve learned from your plaster handprint at home? Thus, kids? That every person is the handprint kit in a tin was born. unique. I have three amazLowe created a prototype from a tin she painted and brought it to her first meeting with Diane Walker, a Nordstrom buyer for the southern California region. A mother of three at the time, Lowe brought her sons with her—one in the stroller and two holding on to it. “I didn’t tell her
ing sons and each is totally different. They each react differently to situations, and I’ve come to understand that they are right in their own way. But I also learned that from having seven brothers! What’s your favorite movie? The Breakfast Club. What superpower would you love to have? Healing. What three things could you never live without? My family, the ocean and entertaining—which means hosting my annual Christmas party.
I needed to bring my sons with me in fear of being rejected,” Lowe recalls. “I don’t know if she felt sorry for me— which I didn’t want her to do—or if she really liked it. Thankfully, she really liked it.” It was quite the scoop—one that was instrumental to the brand’s early success. When the fledgling company made its next move—setting up shop at a trade show in Dallas—some buyers and reps told Lowe she wouldn’t succeed with just one product. But, as she points out, “having Nordstrom under my belt really helped because if Nordstrom looks at something, then other stores will, too.” The retail giant was the company’s first customer, she adds, and the brand’s handprint kits are still on the merchant’s shelves today. “I still have a really good relationship with Nordstrom, and I’m
really proud of that.” Soon, Lowe heeded the advice of others and began adding more products to the line, including the handprint Christmas ornament and the
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wildly popular Block to Grow On, a ceramic block that allows parents to mark baby’s first milestones. Now, the Child to Cherish collection boasts 150 products and is carried in more than 8,000 stores in the U.S. and Canada alone. But with success came challenges, including a wave of companies selling and marketing lookalikes of Lowe’s bestselling items. Though she doesn’t condone it, she understands the temptation, as the keepsake market continues to grow, even during turbulent times. After all, she knows just how important special gifts can be—and not just from the lessons of her challenging childhood, but also from her first entrepreneurial endeavor, as a gift wrapper. Lowe had noticed how the Marshalls in her hometown was always packed during the holidays, so she petitioned the city to put up a giftwrapping booth tucked right under the store’s awning. “My husband Gordon built this awesome little house, and I just basically lived there with three kids from morning until night the three weeks before Christmas,” Lowe remembers. “He made little bunks for the boys, and I had a TV back there, and I just gift-wrapped and they watched TV. And I made $20,000 in three weeks. That’s a lot of money when you’re a cocktail waitress!” The booth’s success can probably be chalked up to Lowe’s attention to detail: Every gift was wrapped with ribbons and small ornaments, and seams were verboten. It’s why gift-wrapping is always her top suggestion to retailers looking to stand out from the competition, and also why she’s meticulous with the packaging for Child to Cherish. A gift, after all, should be special. But Lowe’s not only helping foster memories for other families— she’s also making many of her own, now that her husband and three sons work for the company. Her husband Gordon handles all the product importing, quality control and product specifications. Her oldest son, Tucker, does all of the computer designing and systems invoicing. Her second son, Taylor, is the company controller and large account compliance director and oversees the company’s computer systems and Internet development. And her third son, Cody, is in charge of inside sales, account development and customer service. “They’re a huge part of the business,” Lowe shares. “They’ve lived and breathed it from the beginning, from living in that little gift-wrapping booth to bagging plaster. They’ve done it all with me, right by my side. Sometimes it’s weird being a mom and a boss and a wife and a friend, but I wouldn’t change it. Even though I walk into work sometimes, and my boys ask, ‘Mom, did you bring toast?’” What was the biggest challenge in the beginning? In the first seven or eight years, the difficult part was trying to come up with new ideas, bring them to market and get them out there before others could copy the idea and flood the market. Being a small manufacturer is very, very difficult because you’re competing with people who have the relationships and resources to move products very quickly. If someone has the money to market and advertise one of your good ideas, they can succeed. That has been one of the biggest roadblocks for Child to Cherish, because our products are all unique, and we know when someone is copying us—but they’re experienced, and they’ve got money. Unfortunately, it sometimes takes a lawsuit to compete. We actually went to court once, to get the trade dress rights for our Block to Grow On, which we developed in 1998 and has probably earned us the most recognition. It’s essentially a baby book on a bank. >49
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_GLASSES DAMAGED IN LINE FOR NEIL GAIMAN’S AUTOGRAPH AT LAST YEAR’S COMIC-CON
_IMAGINES HIS MOTHER’S WORDS IN SPEECH BUBBLES
Little Me collared bodysuit worn under Ba Ba Bling B a b y g r a p h i c Ts h i r t , Ta d p o l e a n d Lily suspenders, Kapital K shorts, stylist's own shoes and glasses.
_HIS FIRST WORDS WERE “POW” AND “SHAZAM”
_ONLY READS SUPERMAN FROM 1986 OR LATER; REFUSES TO REMOVE PACKAGING FROM EARLIER COLLECTOR’S EDITIONS 28
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GEEK OUT WITH SPRING’S ARRAY OF SUSPENDERS, BOW TIES AND PRIM-AND-PROPER DRESSES FOR THE TINIEST OF TOTS.
_PHOTOGRAPHY BY TREVETT MCCANDLISS _STYLING BY TARA ANNE DALBOW _HAIR AND MAKEUP BY RITA MADISON
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_HAS CALCULATED THE ISOMETRIC STRUCTURE OF HIS BABY FORMULA
B l u P o n y Vi n t a g e button-down bodysuit, Stinky McGee bow tie, Little Giraffe jeans, Baby Essentials printed socks.
_WEARS LIGHTNING BOW TIE IN MEMORY OF PET MOUSE LOST DURING UNFORTUNATE SUPERCONDUCTOR EXPERIMENT
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R u u m k n i t h a t , O r l i s t r i p e d Tshirt and sweatpants worn under KicKee Pants zip-up sweatshirt, m o d e l ’s o w n s h o e s .
_WHILE EVERYONE ELSE IS BUSY LEARNING THEIR ABCS HE IS LEARNING HIS HTMLS
_WON A HACAKTHON WEARING A HOODIE LIKE HIS IDOL, MARK ZUCKERBERG
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_PREFERS TO SOLVE QUADRATIC EQUATIONS USING ABACUS
_BEDTIME DOES NOT COMPUTE
B l u P o n y Vi n t a g e d r e s s worn over Kissy Kissy coverall, Stinky McGee neck tie, Retro Range wooden a b a c u s , m o d e l ’s o w n s h o e s a n d b o w.
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KicKee Pants printed collared shirt worn over Molo polo shirt, F r e n c h i e M i n i C o u t u r e s h o r t s , s t y l i s t ’s o w n h a t a n d b u g t o y s .
_IN HIS CASE, MAN’S BEST FRIEND HAS SIX LEGS
_DISCOVERED A NEW GENUS OF THE COMMON GROUND BLACK BEETLE ON SUMMER VACATION
CAN’T STOP BUGGING HIS SISTER
_NOT AVERSE TO EATING HIS SPECIMENS
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_PITIES HER PEERS WHO CAN’T SEEM TO GET PAST THEIR 10 WORD VOCABULARY
_WISELY USES THE WORD “ERUCTATE” FOR BURPING AND REFERS TO HER PARENTS AS “PROGENITORS“
_WEARS POLKA DOTS IN MEMORY OF LAST YEAR’S DREADED “POKA DOT” ELIMINATION
F r a n k i e & Av a p o l k a d o t blouse, Zaikamoya dress, Land of Nod wooden b l o c k s , m o d e l ’s o w n s h o e s .
CHERISHES HER GOLD CUP MORE THAN HER SILVER SPOON
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_NEVER LEAVES HOME WITHOUT LUCKY HEADPHONES AFTER WINNING LAST MONTH’S 11-HOUR HALO MATCH
_BOXES OF EMPTY CHEERIOS SURROUND HIS GAME CHAIR
Ba Ba Bling Baby g r a p h i c T- s h i r t , L i t t l e M e s w e a t p a n t s , m o d e l ’s o w n s h o e s , s t y l i s t ’s o w n headphones.
_LUCKILY, CAN KEEP PLAYING STRAIGHT THROUGH HIS "BATHROOM BREAKS"
_PREFERS THE SIMPLICITY OF CLASSIC ATARI
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Z a i k a m o y a T- s h i r t , M o l o s t a r p r i n t l e g g i n g s , R a g t a l e s s t u f f e d b u n n y r a b b i t t o y.
_NAMED STUFFED BUNNY DAVID BLAINE IN HONOR OF HER IDOL
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_HOPES TO HAVE HER FIRST BIRTHDAY PARTY AT THE LOCAL BARNES & NOBLE
_PREFERS THE EXISTENTIAL ANGST OF NIETZSCHE'S LATER WORK
_READ WAR & PEACE DURING NAP TIME
Kissy Kissy cardigan, Fanny Belette dress and crochet slippers, Little Giraffe socks, Frenchie Mini Couture glasses.
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2015 ULTIMATE GEAR GUIDE
◊GEAR CHECK For new and expectant parents, setting foot in the baby gear aisle for the first time can be a mind-boggling moment. From tech-savvy strollers and breast-like bottles to more obscure items like wipes warmers and sleep positioners, the selection is endless—and confusing. That’s your cue to step in and save the day. But where to begin? Well, fear not, help is at hand. We did the legwork to bring you our second annual Ultimate Gear Guide, jam-packed with the most innovative products and designs set to shake up the gear world in 2015. To help your customers prepare for their extra-special delivery, look no further than the following gizmos and gadgets. By Lyndsay McGregor
Wrap Star Vermont-based Poe Wovens will add eco-friendly fibers to its line of U.S.-made wraps and slings in Spring ’15. The new sustainable blends include Repreve (made from recycled plastic bottles) and Tencel (wood pulp), two fabrics renowned for being soft, yet durable. The socially responsible brand, which debuted in April of 2014, weaves its products at family-owned textile mills in North Carolina and on antique wooden looms in New England, while expert seamstresses finish each wrap locally in Vermont. Available in a mélange of colors and prints, the CPSC-compliant carriers are designed for newborns and infants up to 35 lbs. Wholesale prices range from $25 to $150. www.poewovens.com
Carry Out Scandinavian company Líllébaby introduces a line of wrap conversion carriers exclusively for independent retailers as part of its new CarryOn collection of toddler styles. Made in small quantities from hand-woven fabrics, the ergonomic carrier features a roomy torso with a wider seat and padded support for the child’s legs and a tall torso that reaches higher on his back, as well as lumbar support for the wearer. Added features include a large zipped pouch for storing necessities and adjustable straps that ensure a snug fit and offer front and back wearing options. The CarryOn collection wholesales from $70 to $175. www.lillebaby.com
Two’s Company Following the success of their dupioni silk sling collaboration in 2014, Sakura Bloom and Brooklyn-based textile artist and fashion designer Shabd Simon-Alexander have once again teamed up on a collection of linen slings launching at retail in Spring ’15. Made in the U.S.A. from soft Irish linen and hand-dyed in
Brooklyn, each one-of-a-kind sling is naturally antibacterial and suitable for all climates, not to mention reversible and designed to fit all body shapes. Wholesaling for $120, the adjustable slings come in a galaxy of cosmos-inspired prints and can fit newborns and infants up to 35 lbs. www.sakurabloom.com
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Apparel | Accessories | Shoes | Gifts Décor | Maternity | Juvenile Products
Every Style for Every Season Children’s World is not only open during all Atlanta Apparel Markets, but Gift & Home Furnishings Markets too! Make sure to mark your calendar so you’re always ready for every season and every style.
Future Dates October Atlanta Apparel October 16 – 20, 2014 The Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market® January 6 – 13, 2015 January Atlanta Apparel January 29 – Febuary 2, 2015
MARK YOUR CALENDAR TODAY!
AmericasMart.com/ChildrensWorld | 800.ATL.MART | ©2014 AMC, Inc.
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2015 ULTIMATE GEAR GUIDE
GRAB BAG Under Cover If your customers are searching for a bag that doesn’t scream diapers, look no further than Petunia Pickle Bottom’s Hideaway Hobo. After a successful launch in Fall ’14, the brand is refreshing the collection for Spring ’15 with an array of new colors and eye-catching prints. Wholesaling for $89.50, the contemporary silhouette discreetly totes baby’s essentials within its smartly designed interior of wall and bottle pockets, easily accessible thanks to an expandable top opening and a magnetic-snap tab closure in place of fussy zippers or Velcro. www.petunia.com
Life Saver Despite providing all the functionality of a standard diaper bag, including six exterior and five interior pockets for maximum functionality, Twelve Little’s Companion Satchel (wholesale price $108) features a no-frills design that appeals to moms and dads alike. Its lightweight, water-resistant quilted nylon fabric with leather trim is easy to clean, while underneath is a zipper pocket for on-the-go storage of dirty diapers or clothes. After making its debut last April, the brand will ramp up its retail presence in 2015. www.twelvelittle.com
Easy Does It A.D. Sutton combines practical functionality with a fashion-forward solution next spring when it bows its new 3-Piece Deluxe Diaper Tote featuring Fisher-Price’s FastFinder pocket system. Staying organized is a breeze with eight pockets, including an insulated bottle holder and special compartments for pacifiers, wipes and diapers, all marked with woven flags so parents can quickly find what they need, when they need it. Retailing for $69.99, each bag comes with a coordinating changing pad and a zippered pouch for keys and cash. www. adsutton.com
SLEEP AID On the Move If your store is in a crowded city, chances are your customer base is pressed for space. That’s why Arm’s Reach has introduced the Clover Cambria, a solid wood paneled bassinet with built-in leg extensions and caster wheels for easy movement around the home. Not to mention, the ample storage basket underneath the well-ventilated mesh sleeping nest is conveniently concealed by a long skirt (City dwellers love hidden storage.), while an anchor plate attachment system ensures greater security when the bassinet is in bedside sleeper mode. Retailing from $229.99 to $249.99, the bassinet comes in four styles. www.armsreach.com Snuggle Up Looking to freshen up your blanket selection? Meet Meyco, a 55-year-old German company that’s bringing its blankets to U.S. shores for the first time. The 100 percent cotton coverlets are Oeko-Tex certified, which means they’ve been tested down to the very last strand of thread for over 100 harmful substances, using strict European certification standards. Retailing from $80 to $120, the blankets come in a range of super chic prints. One standout option is the Duo: two blankets joined together by a Velcro closure for chilly months or separated into a single ply for warmer nights. www.meyco.nl
Sleep Soother As any parent will tell you, pacifiers can soothe a fussy baby. Introducing one too early, however, can interfere with breastfeeding. That’s why Dutch brand Difrax, which makes its stateside debut in 2015, came up with its “newborn” pacifier. Designed for premature babies from 30 weeks and for infants ages 0 to 2 months, the classic style features a round nipple that resembles the breast, so it feels more like mommy, while the orthodontic style stimulates the development of jaw and mouth muscles. Wholesaling for $3 for a duo-pack, the binkies come in a kaleidoscope of colors and prints. www.difraxusa.com
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OUR BUSINESS . . . YOUR BUSINESS
First Candle is a leading national nonprofit dedicated to safe pregnancies and the survival of babies through the first years of life. With programs of research, education and advocacy we are working to eliminate Stillbirth, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and other Sudden Unexpected Infant Deaths (SUID). Your help is needed to ensure the success of these important programs and services! > Support our Charity Gala event in New York City on October 22. > Participate in our Safe Sleep Media Stars Campaign. > Partner with us and we will tailor a campaign to help your company meet its marketing and philanthropic goals. Together, we can reach our goal of a future where every baby survives and thrives! For more information on how YOU can help, call 443-640-1049 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
CELEBRATING 26 YEARS HELPING BABIES SURVIVE & THRIVE
Wednesday, October 22, 2014 Guastavino’s 409 East 59th Street, New York City
Urging everyone who takes or uses photos of sleeping babies (or products intended for sleeping babies) to follow First Candle’s Safe Sleep Image Guidelines.
Funded by our friends at All Baby & Child, Inc.
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2015 ULTIMATE GEAR
Baby Chair As your littlest customers enter that awkward stage between holding up their heads and sitting up unassisted, the Mega Seat presents a supportive middle ground. Made in the U.S.A. from easy-to-clean polyurethane foam, the patented floor seat is over two inches higher than the Bumbo or Prince Lionheart’s BebePod, offering extra neck and back support, while additional features include wider leg areas, swoops on the side for the infant’s arms and a built-in safety belt. Weighing in at just 3.7 lbs., it’s easy to travel with and when combined with the dishwasher-safe Mega Tray (sold separately) it’s a must for mealtimes. Available in red, lime green, blue and pink, the Mega Seat wholesales for $27. www.themegaseat.com
Hot ‘N Cold Beloved by Jessica Alba and Sarah Jessica Parker, Zoli introduces its latest snack time solution: This & That modular containers, which allow parents to pack both hot and cold food items for on-the-go meals. The California-based company is dedicated to creating environmentally friendly products that make parents’ lives easier while growing a greener future for their children, and these stackable food containers are no exception. Made of stainless steel and wholesaling for $20, the double-wall vacuum-insulated caddies come in a rainbow of colorful shades and will keep food hot or cold for hours. www.zolibaby.com
Less Mess Let’s face it: Kids are messy. And they’re at their messiest when they’re meeting solid food for the first time. Now Spuni has stepped in to save the day with the world’s first latching spoon. Manufactured in Germany and designed in Brooklyn, its patented ridge design triggers a baby’s natural latching instinct, easing the transition into solids for babies and their caregivers, while the soft tip is gentle on sensitive gums. A set of two wholesales for $8 and each Spuni is made from 100 percent medical grade materials and is BPA-, BPS-, phthalate- and PVC-free, as well as non-toxic, hypoallergenic and dishwasher safe. www.spuni.com
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ON THE MOVE Get Around If your nature-loving customers like hitting the trails with tot in tow, they’ll love the latest stroller from Stokke. The award-winning Norwegian manufacturer has redesigned the Scoot—an urban compact stroller—to welcome the first all-terrain model, now named Trailz, to its family of buggies. Built for action, the Trailz (retail price $1,300) offers superior maneuverability and large air-filled tires with advanced suspension for navigating bumpy landscapes and sidewalks alike. And the large waterproof shopping basket underneath is perfect for stowing essentials so parent and child can enjoy the great outdoors carefree. www.stokke.com Cover Up Made in New York City from 100 percent pima cotton, Me Beau Bebe is a multifunctional blanket that not only eases the stress of nursing in public by offering maximum coverage but also the need to carry multiple items. Thanks to its patented breakaway design, it can be used as a burp cloth, a changing blanket, a baby blanket and a stroller cover, too. And its discrete mesh window, which allows moms to nurse with modesty while maintaining eye contact with their babies, also offers ventilation when used over a stroller during naptime. www.mebeaubebe.com
Full maternity & nursing collection
For details of your local rep contact email@example.com
Keep ‘Em Busy You know your customers have their work cut out for them on long trips with young children, so why not give them a helping hand? Meet Snuggwugg, an infant-to-toddler pillow with a flex pocket filled with fun-to-feel crinkly material into which parents can insert flash cards, toys or smartphones to help keep toddlers entertained. Featuring a minky slipcover that’s removable for easy washing, the pillow (retail $39.95) can also be used to stop squirmy babies during diaper changes and is free from BPA, foam and phthalates. www.snuggwugg.com
Visit us at ABC Kids Expo Las Vegas Booth #6927 Sept 7-10th
ction up to 6 year
Baby & kids colle
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BEHIND THE SEAMS APPAREL
British brand Joules aims to bring a breath of fresh air to kids’ styles stateside.
OM JOULE HAD been selling the same ol’, same ol’ neutral-colored clothing at outdoor and equestrian events in the British countryside for a few years when he realized that the drab colors didn’t quite fit his family or friends. He wanted clothing that reflected the colorful lives of the people that surrounded him. “He felt that practical didn’t have to mean brown and green,” says International Brand Manager Tasha Skupinski of the eponymous brand Joule launched in 1989. “Rather, he thought country folk were much better suited by bright colors and fun patterns.” Now, 25 years later, the very colorful Joules is carried in almost every major department store in Britain, as well as a myriad of specialty boutiques. And it’s working its way across the pond with a full range of men’s, women’s, children’s, baby clothes and accessories. But it’s Little Joule, the brand’s children’s line, that’s particularly resonating with retailers, thanks in part to its hand-drawn patterns, bright colors and preppy details. “Customers in the U.S. love the Britishness of the brand and our strong heritage in the countryside,” says Skupinski. The line first launched in the United States back in 2007, and today Little Joule can be found in select Neiman Marcus and Von Maur stores as well as specialty boutiques and online shops, with sizes ranging from 3 to 12 years and retail prices ranging from approximately $9 for socks to $100 for jackets. As its customer base has grown, so has the collection. The brand is rolling out a resort line for the first time next year, specially designed with the seaside in mind. The collection’s bikinis, swim trunks and hooded toweling robes all feature Joule’s signature patterns, designed in-house and exclusive to the collection. “You can really tell a Joules print when you see one,”
Skupinski notes. Highlights include a bright floral for girls and an ocean print for boys. Little Joule’s main kids’ collection will get a spring update as well. Traditional ruffles and delicate foulards are mixed with dipdyed skirts and spot-printed bomber jackets. Hare-camo prints and rugged denim textures give rugby stripes and classic sporty shapes a new feel. The mix of classic British styles with modern details makes the line super wearable—not only in the countryside but on city streets as well. “The focus is on the details this season,” adds Skupinski, pointing to the chambray detail on the boys’ polos and the floral corsages and tassels on the girls’ tops and dresses. “Embellishments have definitely made their way down from women’s wear and have landed all over children’s clothes,” says Skupinski. No detail is spared, she continues—nor a chance missed to give each piece something unique. —Tara Anne Dalbow
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Ready for Rio
Portuguese brand Wolf & Rita finds inspiration in the sights and sounds of Brazil.
WHEN I SAY summer, you say? “Brazil!” says Sonia Rocha, the designer behind Portuguese children’s brand Wolf & Rita, when discussing the inspiration for her Spring/ Summer ’15 collection. “The collection comes right out of the sights, smells and sounds of Brazil,” Rocha explains. Featuring feather and animal prints and a deluge of bright colors, the collection is aptly titled The Kids from Ipanema, a nod to the popular Brazilian song, “The Girl from Ipanema.” “We were hearing the song all the time in the studio, and it just seemed to embody the collection perfectly,” she adds. Rocha and her sister Claudia started Wolf & Rita in 2013 after watching their father create specialized shirts for more than 30 years. The sisters borrowed their father’s tried-and-true techniques and high-quality cotton fabrics and created a children’s line.
“We wanted to create shirts for children that parents would want for themselves,” adds Rocha. Coupled with the sisters’ commitment to manufacturing in Portugal, the simple yet sophisticated designs made a big splash in the market. The brand won the Rising Star award at Bubble London last year and is ready to show how bright a star it really is with its spring line, Rocha says, adding, “We’re hoping to make a big leap with this collection.” Mission accomplished: One look at the brand’s brightly colored feather print, and buyers will be instantly transported to the beaches of Rio de Janeiro. “This season it’s all about colors, bold and bright for summertime,” says Rocha of upcoming children’s trends. Accordingly, orange, red and a bold blue can be found throughout the line. Despite the on-trend colors and patterns, the shapes remain classic and sophisticated, in keeping with the brand’s savoir faire sensibilities. The collection, offered in sizes 1 through 10, wholesales for $15 to $47. Wolf & Rita will also introduce its first knit line in Spring ’15. The jersey, like the cotton fabrics, will be locally sourced and made in Portugal. “It’s not only a proof of quality. It’s also a means of supporting our local community,” says Rocha of her passion for keeping the manufacturing close to home. —T.A.D.
Come see what’s new! ABC Kids - Booth 6719 October Children’s Club NYC Phone (510) 324-8811 • Fax (510) 324-8828 firstname.lastname@example.org • www.angeldear.biz 2 0 1 4 A P R I L / M AY • E A R N S H AW S . C O M 4 5
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continued from page 16 furniture and a carefully curated clothing selection. What’s more, the site is just as functional on a mobile platform—and also maintains DiCapo’s desired aesthetic. Her customers are able to shop, view their digital shopping carts and find, manage and create baby registries just as they would from behind a laptop. “It’s not just about getting a website up online,” she adds.
“It’s very hard to compete in today’s environment if you’re only thinking about your store and not about the online and social media components.”
MAKE IT EFFICIENT At the same time, DiCapo acknowledges that aesthetics were far from the most important part of the finished product. The site had to have above-and-beyond functionality, too, and, DiCapo reveals, it does, as her first-ever online baby registry is set to launch within a few months. “Now that friends and relatives can see registries online, I think we’re definitely going to see a soar in sales.” As a matter of fact, improving site performance, as well as performance across platforms, is crucial to mastering the omni-channel approach— and thankfully, an array of tech firms have developed solutions to do just that. Take retail behemoth Topshop, for example, which recently selected platform provider Qubit to improve its e-commerce site in terms of optimization, personalization and mobile readiness. (The provider is also utilized by retailers like AlexAndAlexa.com, and, formerly,
ChildrenSalon.) The technology allows Topshop to identify a customer’s prior purchases, display real-time product availability information and identify customer segments, allowing the retailer to analyze age, geographic and gender demographics. Employing a similar strategy, The Children’s Place uses data analysis software to track site visit and purchase frequency, order history and even a customer’s browsing style, allowing the retailer to determine the best way to market itself to that particular consumer, and others like her. As a result, the chain has undergone an almost 4,000 percent growth in e-commerce sales since 2003, from $5.1 million to $215 million in 2012. Giggle has also invested in providing a seamless multi-channel experience in recent years. The popular children’s retailer re-launched its online store in 2012 with Demandware, another e-commerce industry leader, improving on its well-known Best Baby Registry, among other elements. The registry also received a kick with the launch of Giggle’s app, which allows expecting moms to scan products in-store or online, as well as manage, update and shop from the registry. And Founder and CEO Ali Wing says the company will also shift from a traditional POS system to a cloud-based system by September of this year, enabling employees to
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Recognizing the beauty of simple...
ring up all sales on iPads. The main benefit, Wing notes, is the ability to maintain and access a virtual record for every customer from any Giggle location, making for a seamless customer experience. Though services like Qubit and Demandware are geared towards larger businesses that rake in a large number of unique monthly online visitors, there are several options out there for smaller retailers. Starting at around $15 a month, resources like Shopify, Magento, Spree Commerce and Bigcommerce are all viable alternatives for small businesses looking to improve the efficiency of their e-commerce and mobile commerce efforts. INFORMATION IS EVERYTHING With specific product information and competitive pricing available almost anywhere a customer is willing to look, it’s more important than ever to give your customers those details before they have the chance to ask or even look elsewhere. If you provide guidance right from the start and every step of the way, customers will be more likely to stay and less likely to stray. “I think that brands, retailers and manufacturers have so many different touchpoints for engaging customers,” says Eli Gurock, Magic Beans co-founder. “If you’re not aware of the various avenues to connect with customers, you’re already behind the ball. It’s very hard to compete in today’s environment if you’re only thinking about your store and not about the online and social media components.” Which is why Magic Beans offers blog posts, buying guides, social media posts and other ways to communicate with the consumer, in addition to a well-trained staff. “A lot of stores just keep that knowledge hidden,” he continues. “We take that type of experience and amplify it in a much more public way through various channels to establish ourselves as a resource for parents.” Giggle offers shoppers its Best Baby Registry, gear guides, a pregnancy tracker and a pregnancy library. And the store offers “dynamic” content for all of its online product listings, which encourages customers to shop with Giggle as opposed to buying straight from the brand, Wing points out. For example, if a customer is searching for a car seat, Giggle’s website explains why the store carries that specific seat, and why it might be a good fit for that particular customer. The more efficient the experience, the better, says Wing. “When consumers have a problem, a need, a desire, they want to pick a solution,” she adds. “They want to shop and interact whenever they want without having to think too much. The more barriers you create, the less omni-channel and relevant you are today.” And in-store engagement, Gurock notes, is just as important. As customers rely more and more on online research, their first impulse is often to consult their smartphones while shopping in-store, to learn more about the products they intend to purchase. But well-trained, friendly employees can help prevent customers from whipping out their phone, Gurock notes. “Staff knowledge is everything,” he reports. “Pricing is not the issue. The issue is: Are we speaking to our customers in a way that is helpful to them? If we aren’t educated on the products ourselves, the customers might as well just buy them online.” MARKETING IS A MUST As part of today’s online retail experience, though, customers want more than just a standard website with plain product listings and flat photos. Crafting an attractive, easy-to-read site is step one, but the tools you use to promote it are just as vital. “Usually, what I recommend is that [store
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owners] use e-commerce as a way to enhance the customer’s experience, rather than taking it over. It becomes an extension of the business,” he states. Most people, he says, tend to toss up a product photo and price on their websites and leave it at that. “That doesn’t enhance the experience of the website at all,” he suggests. “We recommend a picture, a video and a really nicely-written product description that makes it come alive. That e-commerce piece tells the story of the store as much as the products.” Thus, other store-specific incentives like in-store pickup and events, as well as programs like loyalty lists, e-mail marketing and resources like Giggle’s pregnancy tracker and Magic Beans’ buying guides, are just as integral to a successful omni-channel approach as an e-commerce site, Davis says. For example, Shih-Fen Hu, owner of online store Carousel, stays active on social media and with her e-mail loyalty list, as well as working with as many bloggers as possible and setting up annual pop-up shops. As a relatively new business (Her first season was Fall ’13.), she needed to get her brand name on the market, and fast. “Promoting and marketing [are my biggest challenges],” she says. “I do everything I can. We’re active on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram. The pop-up shops are another way to promote. I advertise as much as I can.” One crucial way to see a big boost in traffic both on the web and in the store? Add a little oomph to your e-mail marketing campaigns, Negen suggests. “Build your list. Get people to opt in,” he advises, with a caveat: “Once they give you permission to market to them, honor that by adding value. Don’t try to push and pitch products. Try to make the fashion come alive. Make the e-mail fun.” As he puts it, “Every time you send them something cool and fun, it’s a deposit,” but when you’re asking for money, or trying to force a product on the consumer, it’s a withdrawal. “You
want to build up deposits until you can make a withdrawal,” he explains. LOOK AHEAD What the future of omni-channel retail looks like remains to be seen, but Negen says it will likely be bright for business owners who embrace the advances the digital world offers. “The technology keeps getting easier and easier and more and more intuitive,” he claims. “If we were to have this conversation a year or two from now, we’d be talking about some amazing device that allows you to do something that didn’t exist today.” But, Negen cautions, make sure you have the resources before diving in, and don’t get involved with e-commerce just for the money or as a way to catch up with the competition. “Neither are strategic reasons to do it. Always ask yourself, ‘Can my resources be used better? What about my website? E-mail? Social media? The in-store experience?’” he adds. And that caution, continues Davis, is key, especially when it comes to trying to compete with heavy hitters like Zulily and Amazon. “You’re not going to out-e-commerce those guys,” he advises. “Smaller retailers are better off leveraging their existing outlets.” That being said, Green encourages retailers to get involved as quickly and effectively as they can, calling today’s consumers “completely intolerant” of businesses who aren’t omni-channel. If a shopper places something in a cart on a company’s website while using a laptop, that should transfer over to a mobile device without hassle. “I understand how hard that can be, but consumers don’t care,” Green says. “They want it all to work, because they’re used to getting it all to work. When it works, nobody notices, but when it doesn’t, everybody hates you. It’s kind of thankless, but it’s necessary.” •
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Q& A continued from page 27 What happened with the case? A few big companies had created their own Block to Grow On. We challenged them in court and we won the suit, and the jury awarded us $3.2 million. But—and this is a big but—it cost us $1.2 million to fight it, and the judge brought the award down to $600,000. How frustrating. So in the end, fending off copycats cost you money. It was really disturbing, and even the jury couldn’t believe what happened. But the good thing about it was we protected ourselves. Now nobody can make a block bank with milestones on it. Luckily that year we happened to have huge orders from Pottery Barn, and every nickel of those sales went toward the lawsuit. If I hadn’t had that business, we could have gone under. But now that we’ve created a name for ourselves and we’ve fought that battle, people are much more reluctant to copy us. So it was worth the money, I’ll put it that way. Yet I bet you still have imitators. Yes I do. One of the products I created right after the handprint kit was the handprint ornament. You’ve probably seen that everywhere, but that’s something I created. It’s really frustrating when you’re doing trade shows and a retailer says, “Oh, no, I already have that.” I’ve never been the type of person to say, “Well, wait a minute, I’m the one who created it.” I don’t ever want to put a customer on the spot like that. I don’t want them feeling uncomfortable. Now I just try to make things better, instead of sitting around while someone copies me. For example, I came up with a few different versions of the handprint ornament, including one with glitter, called Snowprints, and it’s taken off three times as much as the original Handprint. I have a wealth of things in my head we’re trying to get patented. That’s where my brain goes. It’s constantly trying to think of new ideas. Do you think that’s helped you remain competitive? Absolutely. It’s been a struggle to stay in business in this climate, and the only thing that has helped is offering something unique. I built Child to Cherish into a big multi-million dollar business, but it’s been long and tedious. And thankfully, the keepsake market has really grown over the years, and continues to grow. A lot of department stores are focusing on keepsakes right now. There really weren’t a lot of keepsakes on the market before Child to Cherish, with the exception of Bibles, silver spoons and baby books. And keepsakes aren’t something you just throw away. Everything we sell has a memory attached to it, and I think that’s why we’ve stayed strong. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned over the years? I’ve learned that simpler is better. I’m proud to work with Pottery Barn Kids. Their look is such a great look, because it’s so simple. I’ve been doing business with them for 12 years, and they have really taught me a lot. I often work with them to hash out new ideas, and they’re not just going to throw some bunny on a block or a piggy bank. Sometimes I will bring them artwork that I think is amazing, and they will look at it and say, “Take that off and tone down this.” And it works. Your audience is much smaller when you do too
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Q& A much with too many characters. They’ve taught me to really perfect things. It definitely seems to be working for you! We’re doing really well, but we just need this economy to turn around. It seemed like in 2008 we hit a roadblock, and businesses had to totally recreate themselves. You had to start thinking completely differently—coming up with new products, lowering the price, offering specials.
“Build your business like a pyramid. The foundation of it should be strong, built of lots of small stores, while large companies should be at the top.”
How did you cope? First, we lowered our minimum order amount. If we had stood strong and said, “No, it’s a $500 minimum,” nobody would be buying from us anymore. We also had to lay off a few people and we had to change our pricing structure—we had to work with China to get better pricing. We downsized our building and went into one that was a little more cost effective. We just streamlined everyone and everything. We also brought most of our sales in house because some reps seemed to get a little lackadaisical when there wasn’t much going on, especially because they had to spend their own money on gas to go out there and get sales. That has really helped.
It was a challenging time for everyone— particularly small retailers. At the trade shows, I felt really bad for many of the mom-and-pop stores, because they were struggling. I would give them extra time to pay, and I would work with all of the owners just to try to help get products in their doors. And I would take things back if they didn’t sell, because I didn’t want them stuck with anything of mine they didn’t want. And that helped, because you get loyalty that way. People called us back and said, “Thank you for doing that. I’m back on my feet. Here’s an order.”
Do you believe most retailers are back on their feet? The stores that are left are getting back on their feet, yes. But we probably lost about 25 percent of our customers—mostly the mom-and-pop stores. And people are still scared. They’re afraid to get stuck with anything. What advice would you give to those retailers? You have to have good customer service. And here I am going back to gift wrapping! Put purchases in a beautiful box with a ribbon on it. Make
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the store somewhere they would want to go instead of going online. That’s the only thing that specialty stores can do differently than big box stores. That’s it. The only thing they can do is keep their prices competitive and add that little extra touch. And offer personalization. We get the most reorders from stores that allow the customer to personalize their purchase. They take our piggy banks and have one of their sales people put a name on it in a paint pen. Also, you have to have a big display of our product. Put a big cute display right out in front of your store, and offer personalization and gift wrapping. Customers will come back every time. Is that specialty market a big part of your business? It means everything to me. I would say it’s about 70 percent of our business. It’s extremely valuable. In fact, the best advice I ever received came from an extremely wealthy retired businessman named Bob Fulton, who said, “I want you to respect all the small stores and build your business through them. You should build your business like a pyramid. The foundation of it should be strong, built of lots of small stores, while large companies should be the top. Then, if you lose one of those large accounts, it’s no problem because you have a strong foundation. But if those large companies are your foundation and you lose one, you will topple. You will go out of business.” And I’ve learned that and he was absolutely right. He sounds like the Child to Cherish guardian angel. He was. I actually met him in my gift-wrapping booth. One day he had gone to the mall and bought gifts for his wife, including a $25,000 diamond necklace. I asked him to wait for me to wrap it, but he said, “No, I’ll come back later. I trust you.” That’s how he got to know me. He liked the fact that I was starting a new business, and he liked to sit with me in the mornings and offer advice. Another time he was sitting in my office when I was placing the purchase order for the handprint kits at our factory here in the states. He tried to talk me into ordering 50,000 pieces instead of 5,000, because the cost was much lower on 50,000 pieces. I said, “Bob, stop, I can’t afford a $50,000 order.” He came back about an hour later with a $50,000 check. I paid him back with interest within the first year. He really was my guardian angel when it came to business. Sadly, he passed away a few years ago. You work with your husband and three sons. How do you keep from killing each other? They all started working with me in 2000, and the first few years were tough. It was overwhelming. One of my sons had just graduated with a business degree and he definitely had his mind set on how business should work. Of course, when you’re 22, your parents don’t know anything. So there was a lot of butting heads. Today, he looks at me and says, “Mom, I can’t believe how naïve I was. Experience is everything. It’s not just going to school.” I used to tell him, “You have to treat buyers with respect,” because a lot of times he would get frustrated. He would say, “They want this, and they want that. How do we do it all? I told him, “You just do it. You make it happen.” He didn’t understand that. But now, he’s amazing and they all are. It’s a lot easier now. So we’re all still alive, and I’m still married. [Laughs.] •
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What the cool kids love… The biggest name in men’s fashion belongs to the littlest fashionista.
W Skip Hop
hen a friend showed Collette Wixom some of the most stylish kids on social media, she noticed that they were all wearing Gucci belts and Ferragamo shoes. Although they looked adorable, she knew her boys wouldn’t be wearing such pricey threads anytime soon. So she set out to “hack” their style. Taking cues from the likes of Pharrell Williams, Ryan Gosling and a whole slew of male models, she began dressing her 4-year-old son, Ryker, in look-alike outfits using pieces from budget friendly-brands. Only a few short months later, Ryker, known as Mini Style Hacker to over 150,000 Instagram followers, now represents a stamp of approval in the men’s fashion industry. “It’s like now you’ve made it in the men’s fashion world if you’ve been hacked by Mini Style Hacker!” says Wixom. Esquire and The Huffington Post seem to agree—both publications featured the little style star’s adaptations of menswear trends for the preschool set on their respective sites. But for Ryker, it’s less about fashion and more about fun. What may look like an ordinary photo shoot is actually an imaginary battle scene where the armor just happens to be stylish duds from the likes of Gap and Zara. He holsters light sabers in his pant pockets and uses suspenders as slingshots when posing. When he isn’t fighting off the bad guys in front of the camera, Ryker is usually helping his mom with his little brother or challenging his father to a joust. With dreams of becoming a knight when he grows up, we just hope that he doesn’t abandon his super stylish side gig anytime soon. —Tara Anne Dalbow
5 2 E A R N S H AW S . C O M • S E P T E M B E R 2 0 1 4
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aBc Kids expo September 7-10 Las Vegas Convention Center, booth 6427
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THE ABC KIDS EXPO CHILDREN’S CLUB Las Vegas Sep.7–10
New York City Oct.19–21
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Geek Chic | Surf the Multi-Channel Retail Wave | Patrice Perine Lowe on the Meaning of Memories | Gear Up for 2015 - Earnshaws Magazine: Inf...
Published on Sep 3, 2014
Geek Chic | Surf the Multi-Channel Retail Wave | Patrice Perine Lowe on the Meaning of Memories | Gear Up for 2015 - Earnshaws Magazine: Inf...