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June 28, 2011

Packing the Perfect Summer Diaper Bag

Skip Hop Versa diaper bagSummer is officially here, which means it’s time to get out and have some fun! So what should you pack for summertime adventures? Here are some tips for packing smart and traveling light.

Of course it all starts with a great bag, preferably one that includes a changing pad. (If you’re still looking for the perfect diaper bag, our Diaper Bag Gear Guide gives you lots of great thoughts on what to look for.)

There are a few key items that you should never leave home without, but you also don’t want to go overboard and pack too much. Here are my top picks for a manageable set of essentials:

•    First things first: Invest in a diaper bag you love that also fits your needs. One of our favorites at the moment: the Skip Hop Versa, which expands to be 20% larger!

•    Muslin swaddles are super lightweight for summer and serve a multitude of purposes.

•    Sunscreen wipes make application super easy and foolproof.

•    A protects your baby’s scalp, eyes and ears.

•    Binkies are an essential for soothing and pacifier clips keep them from getting lost.

•    Stash a travel-friendly portion of Babyganics Baby Wipes in this terrifically portable swipe case.

•    Don’t forget hand and face wipes for quick cleanup.

•    A fashionable onesie takes up almost no room and is perfect if you need a quick change.

•    Pack a snack to go in a smart feeding set.

•    And of course, don’t leave home without diapers and some Knot-It bags to stash the dirty ones!

What are some of your summer diaper bag must-haves? Share below!

June 13, 2011

Music Crush: James Blunt

James Blunt - Some Kind of Trouble

For me, one of the best things about the weather getting warmer is being able to get outdoors and exercise. Almost every year, I end up falling in love with a new band or album that I listen to while I run, and it ends up becoming my spring theme. This year is no exception, and this spring will go down in my personal history as The Spring of James Blunt.

“Slide over here let your hand feel the way…” If you haven’t checked him out, give him a try. We may pass each other on the Battery Park running trail humming the same tune!

What songs or bands have you been crushing on lately? Share below!

May 27, 2011

Puppies and Babies: Meet Charlie Brown

Charlie BrownAfter much discussion about the value of getting a pet for our only child — and much hesitation, given our busy, urban lifestyle — our threesome is now a foursome.

Last week we took the plunge and added a new family member: a 3-month-old, 3 lb., 3 oz. Havanese we have affectionately named Charlie Brown after his chocolate brown spots.

Whew! It will come as no surprise to anyone who has one, but puppies are a lot of work. I’m reminded how important it is to evolution that puppies (like babies) are so cute! And, like babies, teething puppies need things to chew on.

 

We’ve had a lot of giggle customers over the years buy our cute, plush, chew-friendly toys and teethers for dogs. It’s not something I ever really got. But boy, do I now! Even though Charlie Brown’s a dog, I’d prefer to give him healthy and natural chew toys, and when they’re cute it helps reduce the feeling of added clutter.

So far, my favorite baby products turned chew toys are the 100% natural rubber Natrusutten Teether and the Whoozit, which Charlie loves as much as every child who’s made the friendly and colorful toy a best seller.

At giggle, we like to sell products that have been tested, and I’m happy to report that Charlie Brown has put both toys through rigorous wear-and-tear testing!

 

 

 

 

May 18, 2011

An A-List Interview: Sophie Demenge & Michael Ryan

Michael & Sophie

Oeuf has long been one of our favorite collections at giggle, with designs that are simple, tasteful and functional. In fact, we’re debuting their Perch bunk bed as the Grand Prize in our first-ever Share Your Story Contest! And their all-white Robin Crib (a giggle exclusive!) is a perfect example of what we love about them. This week’s A-List interview takes you behind the scenes with Oeuf’s founders, Michael and Sophie. True to their designs, they have a “less is more” approach to life that is near and dear to my heart.

Ali Wing: What is your motto?

Sophie Demenge: Be true and in the moment.

Michael Ryan: Quality in everything you do.

AW: What are you currently reading?

SD: Alice Ferney’s Grace et Denuement, an inspiring and very moving true story of a young librarian who reads books to gypsy kids.

MR: Romain Gary’s The Life Before Us. Read more…

May 6, 2011

Share Your Story: Here’s mine!

Happy Mother’s Day to all our giggle moms! Mother’s Day is a holiday that’s near and dear to our hearts. So in celebration of parents everywhere, we’re asking you to tell us your favorite Mother’s Day or Father’s Day memories as part of our Share Your Story Contest. To kick things off, I wanted to share my own favorite memory:

One of my favorite Mother’s Day memories was a “gift” to my mother-in-law. My husband and I had just found out we were pregnant so we framed our first sonogram photo and wrapped it up as part of a “stacked trio” of gifts. After opening the other two small items, my mother-in-law finally got to the “real” present. She unwrapped the frame and after a minute of confused contemplation, asked with a puzzled look, “why are you giving me a sonogram picture of Ali?” (the name on the sonogram is of the mother). My father-in-law had figured it out and with a few gentle nudges, my mother-in-law looked up at us as a gigantic smile crossed her face and tears in her eyes. And 9 years later, she hasn’t stopped smiling.

May 3, 2011

Leveling The Playing Field: Taxes For All, Or Taxes For None

Business Tax

As an entrepreneur and businesswoman, I find myself in the unusual position of advocating for taxes. I’m thrilled over the past few weeks to have seen mainstream news finally talking about the inequity of our current sales tax structure on businesses that have brick-and-mortar stores in addition to e-stores.

Contrary to what feels like a “pro tax” position, and as I said in on Fox Business last week, I’m actually indifferent to whether we solve this tax inequity by adding taxes for online-only businesses, or taking them away from offline businesses — though I doubt, given our current economic climate, that the latter is likely. The bottom line is that I simply want an even playing field.

Today, a retailer can sell products in a state without charging taxes, as long as they don’t have “nexus” in that state. Nexus is typically established by a physical presence, the most common of which is a store or a warehouse. Therefore, retailers that have stores in states are forced to charge online customers in those states a sales tax on their purchases.

Not only does this create an unfair advantage of 8-10 percent for online-only businesses, it means consumers have to pay a premium to their local merchants. That also means customers could lose local businesses who can’t compete with the 10-percent price penalty.

We love our online business. But we also love investing in our local communities and offering in-person, neighborhood services like personal shoppers, car seat certifications, gift-wrapping and giggle story time. Our ability to continue to do both — like every other one of your favorite stores that also offers you a website — depends upon our ability to compete in a fair tax structure.

Taxes for all or none, I’ll vote either way. But closing this loophole is on my A-List, and should be on yours.

April 26, 2011

Celebrate Earth Month, giggle style!

Single-handedly saving the planet is a tall order for any busy mom. But luckily what’s good for the earth is good for your baby, too—whether it’s protecting their future or making sure their home environment is pure and healthy. In celebration of Earth Month, here are some easy ways to go green without going overboard.

Bambino Mio Nappy Set
The Diaper Dilemma. Whether to use cloth diapers or disposable is a hotly debated topic: Disposable diapers pollute, while cloth diapers use a lot of water resources. But now there’s a compromise: cloth diaper covers with disposable inserts that work like a sanitary napkin, minimizing what gets thrown away every day. The most responsible versions even make biodegradable inserts.

 

Muu Crib

 

Buy Domestic. With fuel prices dramatically on the rise, more and more consumers are buying local in reaction to the increased cost of importing. Economics and politics aside, buying a crib that doesn’t have to be shipped around the globe helps preserve energy and is a great way to go green.

 

giggle Beter Basics Cleaning Products

Cleaning Supplies. Make sure your “sensitive” cleaning products are nontoxic, for your baby’s health, and biodegradable, for the planet’s health.

 

 

 

Wooden Toy Blocks

Recycling. Hand-me-downs are back! Join the new wave of eco-minded moms who realize that clothes that are outgrown in less than three months can be shared and shared again. I don’t recommend reusing any products with health or safety considerations, such as cribs, mattresses, bedding, or car seats. But there are still plenty of other ways to cut down on the amount of “stuff” going into the landfills. Toys, books, and “gear” items are great places to conserve. Borrow, reuse, and pass them on when you’re done! One great place to donate through is Baby Buggy, which I’m proud to serve on the board of!

 

Safer Paints. Look for paints that have low or no VOCs (volatile organic compounds). This type of paint minimizes emissions, which not only ensures better breathing for your baby but is gentler to our ozone. Great news: Most major paint lines today offer a wide color palette in no- and low-VOC paints.

 

 

 

Life Factory Glass Bottles

Glass Baby Bottles. Not sure about BPA issues? Confused by all the conversations about plastics? Opt out of the debate (and meanwhile, lessen the demand for plastics) by going with glass bottles for milk and formula.

 

 

 

 

April 21, 2011

giggle unveils the Bugaboo Donkey!

giggle unveils the Bugaboo Donkey

Thanks to all of our friends – and Bugaboo Donkey enthusiasts – for joining giggle Soho for our March 31st unveiling! Good times were had by all. (You can catch what you missed by checking out our Facebook page, where we’ll be uploading videos to share some of the evening’s highlights.)

And with all the news coverage on the Donkey about whether it’s an over-the-top or just right solution for the person looking for a premium, family option, I figured I should share why we at giggle are excited about the Donkey debut (and no, not dissimilar to most, it’s not because we love the name).

First, the Donkey is Bugaboo’s much-anticipated (and long awaited) two-kid solution. And in very Bugaboo style, it’s packed with innovation. The first stroller to ever “flex” between one and two kids as a single to a side-by-side double only when you need it, hats off to Bugaboo for continuing to change the stroller category.

Kelly Rutherford, Ali Wing

And while it’s clearly not for everyone given its premium price point, let me remind folks why Bugaboo has been able to reinvent (more than once) the US stroller market and continued to lead the premium stroller category for almost a decade now. Without a doubt they make stylish strollers. But it’s their best-of-class maneuverability and life-time quality that ensure their popularity well beyond their fashion.

 

So kudos to smart innovation, and for shaking the market up again Bugaboo. And for those of you that decide to wait for a single-to-two-child-solution at an easier-on-the-wallet price point, remember to thank Bugaboo a few years from now for making the market build a new mouse trap.

March 30, 2011

An A-List Interview: Aemout Dijkstra-Hellinga

This week, we’re excited to help launch a brand new stroller from Bugaboo: the widely anticipated Bugaboo Donkey. And this week’s A-List interview lets you meet the man behind this fabulous new double stroller, Aemout Dijkstra-Hellinga.

Aemout’s commitment to functional design, inherent sense of minimalism, and fascination with “street life” all match my personal passion. I can’t help but wonder what we might come up with if we could hit the streets of a foreign city together. Another thing we share is a love of walking in nature; I hope next time Aemout is in NYC, he’s up for a hike in the Catskills Mountains!

Ali Wing: What is your motto?
Aemout Dijkstra-Hellinga: Don’t do anything today that will harm tomorrow.

AW: What inspires you?
AD: Everyday life. People on the street. My own children. And of course products that are smart, exciting and no-nonsense.

AW: Who is your hero?
AD: My childhood hero was Thomas Muster, a very persistent and hard working tennis player. Nowadays, I don’t have a true hero but I admire people for their ideas or accomplishments, people like Eckart Wintzen (management guru), Yvon Chouinard (founder of Patagonia), Salvador Dalí (famous Spanish painter) or Max Barenbrug (co-founder of Bugaboo)

AW: What are you currently reading?
AD: Currently I’m reading some books about leadership and team building to gain more knowledge for my new role as creative design director at Bugaboo. For pleasure, I just finished a book about the history of Logic and this week I’ll start with a book from the Japanese writer Haruki Murakami, called “Kafka on the shore”.

AW: What’s your favorite city/location/destination?
AD: I love to cycle or walk in nature. Only 15 minutes away from my house is a beautiful area where we often go for hikes and enjoy one of the biggest nature area in the Netherlands. I also really like the relaxed atmosphere and nice weather in Los Angeles, when visiting our American office.

AW: Who is your favorite composer, or what is your favorite music genre?
AD: People say I have quite a strange musical interest. If you look at my music collection, you will find anything from classical music up to really hardcore house music. It all depends on the mood I’m in. I appreciate all good music, and there is a lot of it.

AW: What is the favorite baby gift you received?
AD: My own designed customized Delft Blue Bugaboo stroller. Besides that I really like the Bilibo, it’s a hollow, half ball on which a child can play.

AW: What is the baby product you can’t/couldn’t live without?
AD: You mean beside my Bugaboo Donkey? We try to minimize the amount of stuff we need for ourselves and our children. When going on biking holiday with the whole family for instance, we can almost take nothing with us. So with a little imagination and improvisation, we could do with almost anything.

And please complete the following:

…make(s) me laugh.
My daughter and son make(s) me laugh all the time.

My proudest moment in parenting was…
There are many moments I am so proud and amazed of what my daughter (2 years) and son (10 months) learn and can do: the first smile, the first time they call me daddy, the first steps, the first time they start up a game on my phone by themselves, the first time my daughter can adjust the height of the stroller handlebar. They all sound really cliché, but they are cliché for a reason.

March 21, 2011

An A-List Interview: Mimi the Sardine

We love Mimi the Sardine for their fun colorful designs, and I’m happy to tell you that founder Pia Anderson is just as much fun as her patterns, with a love of life that shines through in all her work. Her story is pretty amazing too: When her daughter Lisa was a newborn, Pia sewed a bib out of a coated cotton fabric that was a common material for tablecloths in her home country of Sweden. She sent a sample to a children’s mail order catalog and — well, the rest is history. The company is huge now, thanks to their smart designs that are both eco-friendly and super practical.

Ali Wing: What is your motto?
Pia Anderson:
Eat, Spill, Be Happy! Never never never give up! Don’t sweat the small stuff. Attitude is everything. There is always a tomorrow. It is never too late.

AW: What inspires you?
PA: Working in my garden: Since I was born and raised in Sweden, and now have lived in California for 27 years, I am still in awe that I can grow my own lemons and limes. I pet my dear bushes every day.  My two daughters, who are now in their twenties is a source of tremendous joy and inspiration.

At work we have instituted a daily 11 oclock coffee break, pastries and Peet’s coffee. We all gather around our table, talk about personal stuff –everyone gets airtime, then we go into business stuff. It is just amazing what this daily gathering does for our sense of purpose and the many good ideas that come from these daily gatherings.

AW: What color are you loving right now?
PA: My life long love of blue never seems to fade away…

AW: What are you currently reading?
PA: Julie Orringer’s The Invisible Bridge. Her skills with words and metaphors send chills of pleasure down my spine. I also just finished reading the Millennium Triology by Stieg Larsson.

AW: What is your favorite city/location/destination?
PA: My favorite local destination is Mt Tamalpais, a large recreational state park, where I hike, lead hikes and get rejuvinated. That mountain has heard me cry…laugh…everything.

AW: Who is your favorite composer, or what is your favorite music genre?
PA: Many genres are exciting to me. Lately I have been going to the Opera! Today I spent the afternoon in Golden Gate Park listening to a free concert: arias and overtures of the 6 operas that will be playing this season in the SF Opera house. Had you asked me last year, I would have said “I am really into Blue Grass.”

AW: What was your most favorite baby gift?
PA: A rocking chair for Lisa, my oldest daughter’s baby shower. For my youngest daughter Kristine’s my favorite gift was a wooden cradle, which my dad made in his wood working studio.

AW: What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?
PA: My children. Harmony in my immediate and extended family. My business.

AW: Who are your heroes?
PA: People who work to end poverty in the world, one way I believe in is extending micro loans to women.

And please complete the following:

…make(s) me laugh.

There are some people in my life who thinks my biggest asset is my sense of humor. It is not hard to make me laugh  and I like to make other people laugh.