posted by Mary Gerlach, associate editor
Last month, my fellow Baby & Kids editors and I attended the Chicago Market gift show. As I mentioned earlier, it’s important for juvenile retailers to attend gift shows in order to discover products they otherwise would not have seen. Wendy Carver of Yikes Twins told me that during the last Atlanta show she has better response in her new location in a gift building than she had within the juvenile apparel floor. Likewise, Trisha Schultz, marketing director for the Chicago Market, related to me that juvenile vendors are seeking out gift shows to introduce themselves and their products to an entirely new market.
Below, the Baby & Kids team shares its children’s finds and out-of-market surprises. First up, Associate Editor Ashley Trent:
MyPerennial’s line of children’s clothing and accessories, such as these darling headbands, features interchangeable snap-on felt pieces in various shapes and colors. Owner Jen Hopwood, a former elementary school teacher, sketches all her designs by hand. She also makes fun felt products for moms, including brooches, bags, hats and scarves.
The bright, modern packaging of Better Life’s line of cleaning supplies caught my eye right away. These all-purpose cleaners — developed by a chemist and an eco-friendly maven, both of whom fathers — are ideal for busy parents. The company even has a no-hassle nursery cleaner called 2am Miracle that deodorizes and cleans any surface that has seen a nasty mess.
Mary Gerlach’s finds:
The one-of-a-kind swatches from Angelina Studio reeled me in, but I absolutely loved this charming pink cupcake painting. Angelina displayed it in a vertical arrangement with three other coordinating canvases. I love the bright colors and the brushstrokes. Great for a child’s room, kitchen, breakfast nook or any cheery spot in the house.
Minga Fair Trade Imports brings an impressive assortment of products for most markets to the United States while fulfilling its mission improve local economies with nations of the southern hemisphere and create fair trade relationships with retailers. There’s a lot to take in at the company’s booth, but my favorite items were the knitted pocket sweaters for fall. Minga carries several fall/winter sweaters for both boys and girls.
Barbara Wucjik’s finds:
My find of the show was Squeak Me Shoes. I think the shoes, which have the squeaker in each heel, are inspired because the noise lets you know approximately where the child is, short of putting a bell on him or her. It probably also lets you know if there's too much quiet. The shoes come in lots of cute styles and great colors for both boys and girls. And they have recently introduced a group of licensed collegiate shoes for the youngest fans.
Stephanie Hunsberger's finds:
My magazine experience has mainly been in the gourmet industry so far, and when there is industry cross-over, I can't help but get a little excited.
When I was at the International Home + Housewares Show in Chicago this past spring, I noticed that a lot of companies were introducing products related to kids in the kitchen. It seemed that spending time with your kids in the kitchen was the newest budget-friendly way to bond with your children. This sentiment was carried through at the Living & Giving show at the Merchandise Mart, where
I spotted the newest tot-size chef hats and aprons from Mariasch Studios (represented by the Haefling Group). The hats and aprons are 100-percent cotton and can be customized with images and phrases, such as "Mommy's little helper."
For a more colorful approach, Manual Woodworkers & Weavers offers both trendy retro half-aprons for children and whimsical designs with phrases such as "Chef In Training" and "Queen of the Kitchen in Training."
Other non-kitchen related items that stood out to me were from Ozark Mountain Kids. The chairs and footstools from Ozark Mountain Kids are plush and overstuffed, covered with a soft chenille, and perfect for curling up in with a favorite picture book or in front of that movie you can't stop watching (mine was Wizard of Oz). I know they're not new items, but they certainly made me want to be 5 years old again!