Archive: Partners

February 23, 2011

Family Game Night: Back to the Classics

Now that my son’s in third grade – well past the baby stage – my husband and I recently decided to test out a family game night. We’ve been playing games as a family for years, but we’ve never had a dedicated game night. And now that our son’s at an age where his skills and abilities demand more challenging games, the games are a lot more fun for us!

I’m finding the things that are big hits around our house are the classics: those games that everyone remembers playing as a kid. Each one of these games is great not only for together time, but for learning. Plus, they’re just good, cheap family entertainment!

  • Dominoes is making a big comeback in our house. It’s the perfect complement to times-table exercises for a gradeschool-aged child.
  • Although it can run a little long sometimes, Monopoly is a great way to teach your child about money, especially if you let him or her play the banker.
  • Charades is all about silly fun, but it’s also proven to develop children’s creativity and communication skills.

Our favorite new game, BananaGrams, has only been around since 2006 but feels like a classic already. Essentially, it’s like a freeform version of Scrabble without the board or the points. The banana-shaped bag of tiles is perfect for bringing along with you, and it’s great for reinforcing those spelling lessons!

January 4, 2011

An A-List Interview: Eden Yaskil

Manny & Simon co-founder and designer, Eden Yaskil.

Manny & Simon designs embrace a smart sophistication and a youthful soul that are reflective of co-founder Eden Yaskil. I thought I was unique for starting a baby business before I was a parent, but Eden resets that standard. I admire her willingness to take a risk with a vision that goes beyond her personal life stage. In fact, I learned through this interview Eden and I have a lot in common, including being self-acknowledged “daddy’s girls” and people who consider the lovely city of Amsterdam among our top destinations.

Ali Wing: What is your motto?
Eden Yaskil:
Follow your dreams.

AW: What inspires you?
EY:
The whole issue around the safety of childrens products in past few years really inspired me to develop a line of safe, eco-friendly, simple, clean designed, made in the USA products. I was tired of all of these plastic toys that became so disposable. I came across some old wooden toys in my grandparents house which really made me think how can we bring back heirloom wooden toys to the modern day child.

AW: What color are you loving right now?
EY:
Orange

AW: What are you currently reading?
EY:
Chelsea Handler’s Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang. I’m not one who likes to sit and read books. I need to always be busy doing something, but this book is AMAZING! I watch Chelsea Handler’s TV show, “Chelsea Lately”, every night before I go to bed. She is always smiling and loves to make people laugh. I love it!

AW: Whats your favorite city/location/destination?
EY:
New York – I love wondering through the downtown neighborhoods and stumbling upon random great stores.
Austin, TX – I’m currently living in Dallas, and I love to escape down to Austin for the weekend and check out their shops and great music! I love the laid back attitude the city has, which reminds me of San Diego where I grew up.
Amsterdam – I LOVE this city. I studied interior design and architecture in high school and college and fell in love with the architecture of this great city. It has the cutest shops and restaurants, and I am a sucker for Dutch design.

AW: Who is your favorite composer, or what is your favorite music genre?
EY:
My current favorite composer I’m listening to right now is Eric Hutchinson. His music is great background music when I’m working or just relaxing at home.

And please complete the following:

…make(s) me laugh.
My dad. The best times I have with him are when we are in the Manny & Simon factory developing new concepts and just constantly making each other laugh.

My parents’ proudest moment in parenting was…
Learning the creative mind I had from a very, very young age.

December 8, 2010

An A-List Interview: Jenny Argie and Andrew Thornton

You know how people always like to talk about balance? I believe one of the most important steps in attempting to achieve a work-life balance is to figure out how to integrate the two. And this week’s A-List interview is with two people who give work-life integration a whole new meaning: Jenny Argie and Andrew Thornton, husband and wife, parents of three and cofounders of Argington Modern Children’s Furniture. We love their designs – and the two of them clearly make a great team!

Ali Wing: What is your motto?
Jenny Argie:
Design Follows Nature, and Natural By Design.

AW: What inspires you? Read more…

November 19, 2010

An A-List Interview: Amit Khurana, Banu Khurana & Obsidian Graham

What’s not to love about the light-hearted fun you see in every 3 Sprouts product? From whimsical characters to their bold use of color and unexpected twists, 3 Sprouts can always inspire a smile. Read on to find out some of the things that inspire 3 Sprouts co-founders Amit Khurana, Banu Khurana, and Obsidian Graham. You won’t be surprised to learn that big fun and a happy soul are major influences.

Ali Wing: What is your motto?
All:
Sustainability and simplicity.  It is important for us to design products for the next generation, keeping their current and future well being in mind.

AW: What inspires you?
Amit Khurana:
We are inspired by children’s drawings.  The use of color unabashedly.  There’s happiness in every stroke. 

AW: What color are you loving right now?
Obsidian Graham: We love the color “Corn Yellow”. 
 
AW: What are you currently reading?
Banu Khurana:
Splat the Cat by Rob Scotton.
 
AW: What is your favorite city/location/destination?
OG:
My family villa in Treasure Beach, Jamaica.  It’s a string of sleepy fishing villages off the beaten track.
 
AW: Who is your favorite composer, or what is your favorite music genre?
OG:
Broken Social Scene, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Buika, Nina Simone.
 
AW: What was your most favorite baby gift?
BK:
Hand knit cardigans given to me by my mother-in-law for both my children.
 
AW: What is your proudest parenting moment?
BK:
When my 4-year-old daughter plays “Big Sister” and looks out for her little brother. 
 
AW: What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?
AK:
Starting up a business from seed level and to be able to watch our customers truly embrace these products.
 
And please complete the following:
 
…make(s) me laugh.
AK:
Watching my niece and nephew singing and dancing with full enthusiasm to Bollywood hits!

November 3, 2010

An A-List Interview: J Schatz

A baby bird - one of Schatz's inspirations from nature.

This week, we’re getting a glimpse into the world of Jim Schatz and the inspiration behind his company’s beautiful nightlights and banks. It turns out that Jim and I share our favorite destination spot in Maui, a place I love so much my husband and I got married there. (And we love humpback whale season, too!) Now I will forever look at my son’s blue Egg Lamp with a connection to Maui and the beautiful, calming blue waters that just may have been part of Jim’s inspiration.

A beautiful ocean sunset.

Ali Wing: What is your motto?
Jim Schatz:
Create moments of wonder everyday.  This is what you will find on our studio wall “We are here as a team to create moments of wonder through the creative and innovative use of the materials at hand.”
 
AW: What inspires you?
JS:
Laughter, my partner Tom & our dachshund Emma, family & friends, birds — especially the chickadees, ocean sunsets, nature hikes, light-dappled trees, flowers — especially woodland and tropical, chipmunks, free association, most WFMU dj’s, whales, and riding bike down my road in the morning as the sun burns off the night fog rising from the meadow.
 
AW: What color are you loving right now?
JS:
Cobalt blue, a color that is brilliantly reflected in the creek at my home each evening right before darkness descends.  The dark tidepool blue we use on our products has the same richness and intensity.
 
AW: What are you currently reading?
JS:
Herman Melville’s The Confidence-Man, Thoreau’s Walden, Mark Twain’s Mississippi Writings and David Allen Sibley’s Guide to Trees.
 
AW: What is your favorite city/location/destination?
JS:
Maui, hands-down.  March is the perfect time to visit because it is the height of the humpback whale’s yearly return.  You can sit on the beach and watch the mom’s with their newborns — simply breathtaking and incredible.

The artist and his partner, Tom.

 AW: Who is your favorite composer, or what is your favorite music genre? 
JS:
Phillip Glass.  His composition for the album Uakti done with the Brazilian group of the same name is transcendent.
 
AW: What is your most favorite baby gift to give?
JS:
Of course it is the Star Egg Nightlight.  When my nephew Ben was a baby I was developing the nightlight so he was one of the first babies to grow up with it.  It quickly became a comforting part of his nightly bedtime routine.  First it was story time and then it was time to turn on the stars and go to sleep.
 
AW:  What is your fondest childhood memory?
JS:
1975, a farm in North Dakota.  It is summer and the hot sun is making the penny hot against the railroad track.  You put your ear to the track and listen hard because you know it will be coming soon.  And then you hear the low rumble and rattle of the Burlington Northern as it nears.  You start running fast in the field alongside the track as the train nears pumping your arm in the air as the conductor blows his horn loudly before coming through the intersection and flattening your penny. And after you search in the dirt by the track to find your newly flattened penny, planning to return later to repeat again and again.
 
AW: What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?
JS:
Becoming an artist.  Being able to wake up each day and create work that is appreciated and loved by my contemporaries is fantastic.  It is life affirming, challenging and never dull. 
 
And please complete the following:
 
…make(s) me laugh.
Sparkles and Stubs, my woodland chipmunk friends…make me laugh.

 

October 6, 2010

An A-List Interview: Grace Welch

Grace Welch, inventor of the Patemm changing pad

Grace Welch has got to be one busy woman. She’s the founder of a company, Patemm, which makes round changing pads that we absolutely adore. (The fact that they’re round works perfectly with a squirming baby who doesn’t always acknowledge the proper position on a rectangular pad, so hats off to Grace for pulling off the simple but oh-so-smart innovation on a classic!) And, as if being the founder of a company weren’t enough, she’s also a mother of four – and as the mom of just one child, that’s simply a “wow” for me.

Ali Wing: What is your motto? 
Grace Welch: My motto in life and everything I do is:  Keep it simple.  I try to distill this within myself, my family, and in life in general.  (Life is too complicated as it is).
 
AW: What inspires you? 
GW: My family — My husband Marty and our 4 children:  Patrick, 10, Emma, 7, Jack, 4, Lucie, 2. 
 
AW: What color are you loving right now?
GW:
I’m really loving all shades of blue particular dark blue.  I’m a fan of dark blue denim and I wear jeans everyday and I love how this basic wardrobe essential can be dressed up or down and goes with just about everything!
 
AW: What are you currently reading?
GW: I’m currently reading old issues of Real Simple Magazine.  I love how this magazine showcases smart, good-to-know information and solutions to make life easier. As a wife, mom to 4 kids, and running a business, I am always looking for ways to make my life run more smoothly:  a simple, quick new recipe to try, a new use for an old item, a new product or idea that solves a problem, etc.

AW: What is your favorite city/location/destination?
GW: New York, New York, USA!  I love everything about Manhattan — the people, the energy, the landmarks, the restaurants, etc.  There is something for everyone in this town.
 
AW: Who is your favorite composer, or what is your favorite music genre?
GW: My favorite composer is Vivaldi. I love all types of music but I have to admit I love music from the 70′s (Bee Gees, Barry White, Donna Summer, etc.).

One of two exclusive Patemm pads designed by Welch for giggle.

AW: What was your most favorite baby gift? 
GW: I loved carrying all of my babies in the Baby Bjorn. I was so sad the day I had to retire this essential baby item… it meant they were growing up!
And, the patemm pad, of course!  When my son Jack was in diapers we had several pads around the house, and he would always love to choose which pad he wanted his diaper changed on.  My daughter Lucie is now doing the same exact thing. Whenever we leave the house, she runs and chooses which pad I should throw in my bag!

AW: What do you consider to be your greatest achievement? 
GW: Being a mother to 4 healthy, happy, amazing kids!
 
AW: Who are your heroes? 
GW: My parents — Alfeo and Aida Rodriguez.

AW: And please complete the following: ….make(s) me laugh.
GW: …My son Jack. Thank goodness he has my husband’s sense of humor!

September 22, 2010

An A-List Interview: DeNai Jones

Traveling with two active boys means you have to pack every last little bauble. That was the inspiration behind the new Wistful Weekender shown on the bottom left which debuts this Fall. The “Rambling Rose” fabric trim that adorns the bag was inspired by the rustic metal gate in Hong Kong and the simple form of succulents found all over Costa Rica.

Famous for distinctive designs and their original “boxy” backpack diaper bag, Petunia Pickle Bottom has become a powerhouse brand in the juvenile products market, evolving beyond diaper bags to gift sets, carriers and more. This week we’re talking to the company’s founder, DeNai Jones, to find out what inspires her, and her interview provides a glimpse into how she integrates parenting, business and marriage — an apt inspiration for her successful fusion of fashion and function.

(On a personal note, Costa Rica is quickly becoming a “must see” destination” for me and my family as I marvel at the number of awe-inspiring designers we work with who list it among their favorite destinations.)

Ali Wing: What is your motto?
DeNai Jones:
Be in the moment. Raising my boys and making our home fun-loving is my utmost task, but when I’m in the office I have to turn it on full force, make the most of my time.  Learning to harness your mind and really enjoy the moment is a discipline I am always practicing.

AW: What inspires you?
DJ: I’m inspired by so many things, but mostly I would say travel and all things vintage. Things from yesteryear really speak to me and the attention to detail is never lost on me. I scour flea markets and find inspiration in every little nook and cranny.  Travel really sparks my creative juices. We just got back from Costa Rica and the cultural experiences have already influenced color and texture in my latest designs.

AW: What color are you loving right now?
DJ: Yellows, as well as neutrals with a bit of neon.

AW: What are you currently reading?
DJ: I just finished Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen while on vacation. The fact that I had some alone time to pick up a book during naptime was pure bliss.

AW: What is your favorite city/location/destination?
DJ:
I definitely have more than one. If I am with family, Costa Rica is my destination of choice. It’s the ideal location to just “check out” and enjoy the culture and sunshine. It’s really family-friendly and my boys love to explore the land and sea. If I am with my husband, I will usually always opt to head to New York or Palm Springs. I love NYC for the electric charge of the busy streets, the museums, shopping and top-notch eateries. Palm Springs is where we go to sort of spoil ourselves with a stay at a tucked away oasis. These of course don’t happen all that often, which makes them all the more special.

AW: Who is your favorite composer, or what is your favorite music genre?
DJ: I’m not tied to one genre of music but it’s a big part of our life for sure.  I love everything from bluegrass to eclectic and we’re big fans of KCRW.  It really depends on my mood also. If I need to calm the mood with my boys, I’ll put on classical, but later that night we might bust out our laser machine and some “big drums” as my 4 year old calls it and have a full-blown dance party with our kids in our living room.

The incredible detail of vintage items always inspires DeNai’s design. The culture, color and life of a recent trip to Costa Rica served as inspiration for a bright pattern that will be released next Spring.

AW: What was your most favorite baby gift?
DJ: There were so many wonderful gifts, but it’s a hand-made one that has probably meant the most. My friend made an album with an envelope on each page. In each envelope was a card with a number on it starting with 1 and going to 18. The cards represented the age of our son through the years. Guests at my baby shower were asked to write a note to our unborn child that would pertain to that age or stage in life. Our son is now 4 and we really look forward to opening his 5th card on his birthday this year. Those handwritten notes from people that love us, and loved him before he was born, are really special mementos.

AW: What is your proudest parenting moment?
DJ: Hearing “I love you mommy” with a big squeeze, out of the blue.  One of these little morsels of love can instantly wash away a tough day with the kids.

AW: What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?
DJ: My boys Sutton and Milller — they are my greatest achievements. Second, enjoying owning a business with my husband Braden and best friend Korie.  The fact that we are still having fun and raising our families at the same time says a lot about the fabric of our friendship and commitment. We just celebrated 10 years of Petunia and that is something I’m also very proud of.

And please complete the following:

….make(s) me laugh.
     
DJ: My 2 and 4-year-old’s comments. I can share a few gems with you:

“Dad, the rollie pollie is going to take a nap in the microwave”
“Miller’s fingers look like noodles, I am going to eat them”
“She has a clip in her hair, like the chip bag clip”

August 27, 2010

An A-List Interview: Emily Meyer

Emily Meyer, founder of Tea Collection clothing for kids

The Tea Collection’s tagline is “Little Citizens of the World” – and that fits for more than one reason. Their children’s clothing embraces a global aesthetic, and the company’s founder, Emily Meyer, is one of the biggest “little citizens of the world” I know. Her genuine love of world cultures shines through with every new season. Given my mixed-culture background, the way she rejoices in the world’s differences is something I both personally relate to and really respect.

Ali Wing: What is your motto?
Emily Meyer: “Travel is the best education. Just go there.”  “Seeing is believing.” and “The universe is in charge.”

AW: What inspires you?
EM: The mix of colors, patterns, textures and materials of interior design.
 
AW: What color are you loving right now?
EM: A palette of ocean blue, lime green and charcoal, with a subtle accent of pale taupe metallic is really rocking my world right now.

AW: What are you currently reading?
EM: Design blogs galore on my Google Reader iphone app.

AW: What is your favorite city/location/destination?
EM:
Right now, my new [old] home in Palo Alto, CA.  

AW: Who is your favorite composer, or what is your favorite music genre?
EM: I’m lovin’ disco & soul music right now (Chaka Kahn, Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross), and singing at the top of my lungs in the car!!

AW: What is your favorite dessert?
EM: Ice cream, always.  

The designer with her young son.

AW: What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?
EM:
Having an incredible family – being happy and content with my life, right now, just as it is.  

AW: Who are your heroes?
EM:
My husband and my mother.

And please complete the following:

The purest sensation of the joys in life…
 …make(s) me laugh.

August 12, 2010

An A-List Interview: Serena & Lily

Sentimental photo of Serena's grandparents.

Meet the founders of Serena & Lily: Serena Dugan, a textile designer and artist, and Lily Kanter, a former baby boutique owner and savvy businesswoman. The two joined forces with a shared vision of reinventing the children’s market, and now they’ve brought their talents to the “grown-up” market, as well. This design duo is known for their sophisticated textiles that incorporate dynamic color and pattern combinations, as well as for their room décor and gifts.

Ali Wing: What is your motto?
Serena Dugan: Do what you love.
Lily Kanter: It’s good to have goals!

Inspirational art.

AW: What inspires you?
SD: True originality.
LK: Good friends and kind people.

AW: What color are you loving right now?
SD:
A lipstick-ey shade of magenta.
LK: Sunshine yellow.

AW: What are you currently reading?
SD:
Love & Limits by Elizabeth Crary (required reading for my 2-year-old!)
LK: Half the Sky

AW: What’s your favorite city/location/destination?
SD: It’s a tie right now between Jodphur, India and Marrakech Morocco
LK: Zanzibar, Africa.

India, one of their fave locales.

AW: Who is your favorite composer, or what is your favorite music genre?
SD: Van Morrison would be my go-to favorite.
LK: 60′s/70s – Elvis Costello, James Taylor, and Carole King.

AW: What is your favorite baby gift you received?
SD: My gifts that were handmade or hand-embellished. So special and thoroughly one of a kind!
LK: A hand knit sweater.

AW: What is the baby product you can’t/couldn’t live without?
SD: Honest answer: the Papasan swing. giggle-friendly answer: Sophie the Giraffe — beloved by both children.
LK: My glider.

And please complete the following:

Serena Mitnick Miller art

…make(s) me laugh.
SD: My son Fisher (age 2)…a nonstop riot.
LK: Some of the things my kids will say!

My proudest moment in parenting was…
SD:  When Remy (our 4-month-old girl) finally came home and things were dicey with our 2-year-old. Then, after a couple days Remy cried and Fisher brought Remy a pacifier and his lovey. Very proud moment!
LK: My 2-year-old would not stop kicking the seat on the airplane and I was holding his legs as best as I could and finally the man jumped up and scolded him. “You are not going to kick my seat all the way back to Oakland!” My 2-year-old’s response was “Stupid man!” I think it was the first thing that ever came out of his mouth other than Mommy or Daddy….Oh dear, I’m a fabulous parent.

July 22, 2010

giggle Better Basics Clean

Like any proud parent, I just had to take this opportunity to brag a little bit about our new line of all-natural cleaning products: giggle Better Basics Clean.

These products go beyond being gentle enough for your baby; they’re made from natural, plant-based ingredients – the kind you can understand when you read the label. They’re safe, healthy, nontoxic, and biodegradable, which is not only good for your baby, but for everyone else in your family (not to mention the planet!).

Moms will especially love our laundry detergent, since clothing and bedding is one thing your baby is always in contact with. It’s also a way to keep any organic fabrics you invest in chemical free. But it doesn’t stop there: the line also includes gentle and effective dish soap, surface wipes, all-purpose cleaner, and more.

Of course, this expansion of our giggle Better Basics line was a no-brainer for inclusion on my A-List, because giggle Better Basics is made up of those great everyday products that we believe in enough for them to wear the giggle name. They already have my stamp of approval, which means they’re also a perfect candidate for the A-List!