January 14th, 2014 • Comments: 0 • by Wendy • Inside SnugabellWarm & Fuzzy

2013 Snugabell Highlights

As we look forward to what 2014 has in store for us, we want to reflect on and appreciate the highlights of 2013. The Snugabellas had a busy year full of growth, learning moments, and a lot of fun. 

1. We started the year on a high note with the news that PumpEase was a finalist for a 2013 About.com Reader's Choice Award for Favourite Breastfeeding Product. While we didn't win top prize, it was an honour to be nominated (that phrase is a cliché because it's true!).

2. Early 2013 saw Snugabell bring our US Wholesale business back in house. There have been a few bumps in the road but the decision to bring our US Retail Partners back under our wing has felt right from Day One. We value the opportunity to connect with our retailers on a more personal level, and love that we can once again provide customer service and order assistance on a wholesale level. 

3. We were excited to introduce PumpEase to Babies R Us in the Spring.

4. The Snugabell product family expanded by two this year with the debut of our PumpEase Wet Bags and Through A Child's Eyes Keepsake Colouring Book

5. In July the Snugabellas left their worries (and kids and partners!) behind for three fun-filled days in Seattle. We filled our bellies with delicious food, walked all over the city (including a fascinating tour of the underground) and saw Paul McCartney at Safeco Field! It was a wonderful, relaxing weekend that really reinforced the friendships we have "outside the office."

6. We spent the summer and autumn months polling YOU, our wonderful Facebook and Twitter followers, for input on what our new print should look like and what it should be named. We had so much fun interacting with all of you and considering your suggestions. The end result of our creative collaboration was, of course, our cheeky new print: TaTa Turquoise! The process was so much fun that we hope to repeat it in the (not so distant!) future. (Maybe it will become an annual thing? Stay tuned to find out!)

7. We were honoured to be featured by Elacta European Lactation Consultants Alliance.  It was exciting to spread the PumpEase love to another continent (and in another language!).

8. After the hustle and bustle of our Thanksgiving/Black Friday/Cyber Monday sale, we paid tribute to the late Dr John Kennell by donating a portion of our sales to La Leche League Canada as part of our Giving Tuesday Canada initiative. We're already brainstorming how we can participate in Giving Tuesday Canada again this year!

9. We said a fond farewell to the old and welcomed the new... branding, that is. We've been slowly rolling out our new look and are happy to say that the Snugabell re-brand is almost complete! If you're a retailer, please feel free to contact us for updated images and logos to use.

10. Our Express Mail subscription program continued to grow with over 200 FREE breastmilk storage guidelines fridge magnets mailed to new subscribers!

It's so nice to mull over the previous year and move forward with a sure step and a head full of ideas! We're excited to welcome 2014 and can't wait to share our successes and adventures with you. We are so grateful for you, our vibrant community of mamas and mamas-to-be, for lending your voice and your support to the beauty of breastfeeding. If you haven't already, join us on Facebook or Twitter; we'd love to say hello! 

March 28th, 2013 • Comments: 0 • by Hillary • GeneralInside Snugabell

Going Green

We care about the environment here at Snugabell. We want to make sure our babies and their babies (and so on and so forth) inherit a healthy planet from us. We have been making changes to ensure that Snugabell is as environmentally friendly as possible.

Instead of printing a paper receipt to include with our products (a paper receipt that, let's be honest, is most likely immediately a forest of towering treesthrown into the trashcan or recycling bin), we email our receipts to our customers. It's a simple but effective way to reduce waste on every single sale we make.

When we do need to print something, we have recently made the decision to start using tree-free sugarcane paper. Paper made from sugarcane uses waste that would otherwise be land-filled; is cleaner to produce than traditional paper; and biodegrades more quickly. Being aware of whether or not something really needs to be printed and then printing on sugarcane paper (double-sided of course!) are steps we're taking to help protect our trees.

We also cut any white space off of paper that is headed for our blue boxes and create our own scratch pads from these trimmings. You'd be surprised at how much usable paper is diverted, at least for a while from our blue boxes. This of course, in turn, reduces the number of scratch pads we're purchasing from our office supplies vendor.

Here at Snugabell headquarters, we take our mission to be green seriously. We use only washable mugs and cutlery and have a recycling station set up to ensure that we are throwing out as little waste as possible. It takes a little more time and effort than using disposable kitchenware and throwing everything out but we feel it's our responsibility to be as "green" as possible.

What changes have you made to be kinder to the earth?

{Photo credit: Hillary Westover}

February 25th, 2013 • Comments: 0 • by Wendy • Inside SnugabellParenting

The Highs and Lows of a Disneyland Vacation

I was about 10 years old when my family first went to Disneyland and I remember it being a huge deal. I wanted to give that same sense of excitement to my girls, to make their first time at Disneyland really special. Mike and I devised a plan: we told the girls I was going on a business trip and they were just dropping me off at the airport (nothing out of the ordinary). Then, at the last minute, sitting in the airport, we broke the news. We were going to Disneyland!

Our cover story was so well-rehearsed (I had so much luggage with me because I had extra samples to ship; Grandma came to the airport so Daddy could take her to a nearby plant nursery after dropping me off; I had to show their passports to that man because they have to keep track of who is at the airport) that it took a minute or two to properly sink in. Michaela (my youngest) had cried the whole way there because she doesn't like it when I go away and now here we were, minutes away from going on our first big family vacation. I was so happy that we had managed to pull off such an elaborate surprise. I felt like the best mom in the world!

Radiator Springs in Cars LandThe last time I went to Disneyland was with my parents, and my older sister and her family. My dad was already pretty ill (he passed away in 2007) so the memories are bittersweet. This trip gave us the opportunity to create some new Disney memories with my mom. The girls loved sharing the trip with their grandma and it was nice to have another adult around as another set of eyes and an extra pair of hands!

My favourite part of the trip was Cars Land because the main attraction - Radiator Springs Racers - is set up like a slot car race. My dad used to race slot cars and I know he would have loved the 50's feel. We finally managed to get a Fastpass on our last day but when we showed up for the ride, it was shut down. I was so disappointed. We went for dinner and then decided to try our luck one last time. We were happy to find that the ride had re-opened while we had been gone and we were able to enjoy a "race." It was nice to feel that closeness to my dad while enjoying the ride with my girls.

The low point of our trip came in Tomorrowland. My youngest was tired and cranky; the long days and excitement had taken their toll on her and we'd been dealing with tantrums and whining all afternoon. The long days had affected me as well; finally I snapped and spanked her bottom. I felt like the worse mom in the world. Now, I can count on one hand the number of times I've spanked my kids; it's just not something that Mike or I use to parent. I instantly felt like I'd turned from *good* mommy into *bad* mommy in that one moment of exhaustion and frustration. I felt incredibly guilty for losing my temper.Group shot with Mickey! Days later, when we were back home, I sat down with Michaela to talk about what had happened. I was surprised when she said that she didn't remember me spanking her! In her mind it was like it had never happened but there I was, punishing myself by reliving the moment over and over in my mind. It also drove home just how exhausted she truly was.

In retrospect, the four-day pass may have been a bit much to push into five days but we (meaning me) wanted to get the most out of our time. I was so excited to share all of my past Disney experiences with my girls that I found myself pushing us from one attraction to the next (it's difficult not to get caught up in the excitement!). If there's one thing I learned from our trip it's that you don't have to see everything, especially since the girls would have had no idea what they were missing.

If I could back and do things differently, I would have stayed for at least a week - having a few relaxing days to just hang out at the hotel pool or go shopping would have provided some much needed rejuvenation and could have prevented the meltdowns. Our days were long (on average we were gone from the hotel for twelve-hour stretches) and that's hard on kids (my girls were 8 and almost 6 when we went and still sleep 11 and 12 hours respectively). Another thing I would change is staying closer to the park. We booked last minute (and got a great deal!) but that meant we didn't have much choice when it came to our accommodations. Our hotel was about a 30 minute walk from the park and at the end of a long day that 30 minutes felt like 30 hours. The main thing I would do differently, though, is try to be less Type-A and just relax and enjoy the moment instead of trying to push to see everything.

Mike and the Girls

On the flip side, one of the areas where I feel we were successful was with our meal budget. Our hotel room had a fridge so we stocked up on items like yogurt, bread, cereal and fruit, and ate breakfast in our room every morning. We packed lunches and snacks so that we didn't have to stand in line at the busy park restaurants or pay their exorbitant prices. I don't know that bringing your own food into the park is encouraged but we were never stopped or told we couldn't when they checked our bags. We ate our dinners at one of the many restaurants across the street from the main entrance. It was nice to have a break from the hustle and bustle of the park and a lot of the restaurants offer free meals for kids under the age of twelve. We were able to stick to a fairly manageable food budget and we will definitely do the same on any future trips.

I'm so happy that Mike and I were able to surprise our girls and I love that we have started our own family Disney memories. I can't wait to go back in a few years!

Have you ever had a similar good mom/bad mom moment during your family vacation? Do you have any Disney tips to share?

January 31st, 2013 • Comments: 0 • by Hillary • Inside Snugabell

Meet the Snugabell Team: Hillary - Our Facebook Diva

HillaryHi! My name is Hillary (with two Ls please) and I run Snugabell's Facebook page. I met Wendy last year when she put out a call on the Facebook page for local breastfeeding mamas to model pieces from the Toni Collection. Check out the banner on Snugabell's Facebook page - I'm the mama on the far right.

My job is to post interesting, informative content on the Facebook page every day to help Snugabell connect with their customers and supporters in an online space. I love the conversations that can build out of a post and I really enjoy interacting with the Snugabell community.

I became interested in the world of breastfeeding (and pregnancy, birthing, mothering, etc) after the birth of my son in 2011. I had very set ideas about what my life with a child would look like; I'm happy to report that my life looks nothing like what I thought it would/should. I went back to my corporate job when my son was six months old but found the strength to walk away six months later when the stressful environment, long hours, and horrendous commute were making me miserable. I don't regret leaving at all. I am currently a work-at-home mom (WAHM) who is studying to become a DONA-certified birth doula. I spend my days chasing after a spirited toddler and my nights in front of a laptop. My life has never been so busy - or so full -and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Come say hi to me on the Facebook page; I'd love to chat with you!


March 6th, 2012 • Comments: 0 • by Wendy • Inside Snugabell

Meet the Snugabell Team: Wendy

By now you've pretty well gotten to know the Snugabell Team, with the exception of Head Mama in Charge Wendy herself. Take a closer look at Wendy with today's Q&A, which includes the Snugabell backstory, some insight into the woman herself, and something about jumping out of an airplane!

So how’d it all begin?  When I was pregnant with my first daughter, a good friend of mine asked me if I was going to pump. I asked her why I would need to (we get a full year of maternity leave here in Canada). She said that she pumped so that her husband could take the occasional feeding, which gave her a bit of flexibility as well as her husband, bonding time with the baby. I talked it over with my husband Mike and he agreed it would be a good idea.

And then? When I started pumping, I quickly became frustrated with the fact that you could do *nothing* other than sit and hold the flanges on your breasts. Aside from the postpartum Carpal Tunnel Syndrome which left my hands completely numb with pins and needles after just a few minutes of holding the flanges, I was bored silly and instead of relaxing (and helping my milk to flow) I sat there thinking about all the housework and work-work (Snugabell is my second business) that needed to be done. It wasn't long before I was Googling "hand-free pumping" and "pump hands-free" as I figured there *must* be something available to hold your pump for you. There were a few products, none of which I was willing to part with my hard-earned money for, and all of which were ugly.  

With my background in the apparel industry, I knew I could do better and so I mocked-up the first PumpEase from some scraps in my studio. A few people caught wind of my invention and encouraged me to take it to market. The fact that PumpEase would be available in pretty prints was a no-brainer for me - I didn't even consider anything else.  Function, quality and making it pretty were all equally important to the design process.

What's the best part of your job?  Helping moms enhance their breastfeeding relationships with their babies. Nothing gets me going more than a mom telling us that our products made the difference between quitting breastfeeding and persevering. It literally brings tears to my eyes that we have that much reach. I never imagined that happening…or how amazing it would feel.

What's the most challenging job you ever had?  The most challenging job that I've ever had is being a parent -- hands down. I'm an overachiever and tend to do most things that I undertake well. If I don't do something well, I hire someone that does. Unfortunately this doesn't apply to being a mom so I find myself struggling with this on a daily basis.

Tell us about your family.  I have two beautiful girls, Antonia (7) and Michaela (5) as well as my wonderfully supportive husband, Mike.

The Bell Family

What does breastfeeding mean to you?  When I see a mom breastfeeding, all is good in the world. When I see a mom formula feeding, I wonder what tripped her up - what misinformation did she receive, why weren't people there to support her? I feel sad. And I feel sad because I know what it is like to be on that side. I was a misinformed mom myself (and I consider myself to be fairly intelligent, so I understand how easily it can happen). I breastfed both of my daughters for about seven months each. With Antonia, I quit.  I kept delaying that quit date (which in hindsight, should have been a sign that I didn't really want to quit). I had it in my head that I "wanted my body back" as we were getting married. With Michaela, I thought she weaned herself - years later, armed with the knowledge from starting this business, I realized it was just a nursing strike. I would have killed for the resources then, that are available now (KellyMom, Best for Babes, Motherwear’s Breastfeeding Blog, and the list goes on). I often tell my husband that I wish we could have another baby so that I could put to good use all of the new knowledge that I have. Having said that, starting Snugabell did inspire my sister Denise to exclusively breastfeed and for much longer with her second baby than she did with her first.

What the hardest part about being a parent (that shouldn’t be)?  Always feeling like I'm failing.

What's the best thing to do on a day off?  Anything with the fam - snuggle on the couch and watch a movie, go for a hike, explore our city...

Where do you see Snugabell in five years?  I see us in a bigger office, with a few more employees, in 500+ stores with a couple of major chains in there. I also see us getting more involved in the social side of breastfeeding promotion and support.

If not Snugabell, what?  My other passion in life - not nearly as compelling - is jewellery. I'd love to take a silversmithing course and start designing!

What’s something readers might not know about you?  I love things that scare the crap out of me: bungee jumping, rollercoasters, motorcycles… Jumping out of an airplane is next on the list!

{Photo credit: Claire Reid Photography}