Well, the road to PumpEase Organic has been a bumpy one to say the least. From figuring out what an organic PumpEase should actually look like to sourcing fabric, then having said fabric delayed by fires and volcanic ash (no joke!) to a flooded photo studio, you might have thought we'd give up! However, if you know me, you understand that I rarely step down from a challenge (read: I'm incredibly stubborn) and actually experience great pleasure from overcoming adversity. Remember the old adage, "Nothing worth having is ever easy". And just like childbirth, I've forgotten all (or most) of the pain and am now gushing over my "new baby"!
It was actually Madeleine Shaw of LunaPads that first put the bug in our ear about producing an organic version of PumpEase. Honestly, I wasn't that jazzed about the idea at first. For starters, I knew printing organically on a knit was a long shot. And we are all about the fashion here at Snugabell, right?
And then Madeleine mentioned it to me again - expressing how well-received she thought an organic PumpEase would be by moms. I agreed the "green" trend was very prevalent in our industry and was likely going to continue. I voiced my concerns about the prints and we discussed the options. I considered producing organically dyed solids - picturing a soft green and a lavender (green and purple being my favourite colours, so no surprise there). We also discussed doing "natural" or unbleached cotton, but I was worried it would look "dirty" next to our white hook & eye. Something just wasn't sitting right in my gut (and I REALLY listen to my gut!).
But I continued to move forward... I worked with my wonderful fabric supplier, ordering several strike-offs before the custom-milled organic knit was perfect. Our final pick had a wonderful weight and hand - so incredibly soft! And then we sampled it, and something happened...
I had this incredible vision of an unbleached organic cotton PumpEase - the beauty being the simplicity of it all. And in the next moment, I remembered what my design teacher always told me, "KISS - Keep It Simple Somehow" - aaaah, affirmation. It saw it and it was beeee-autiful!
In the meantime, we were also designing the new packaging with the help of Sally of Whitespace Design. All of our current boxes are recyclable, but after consulting with our packaging manufacturer, they helped us choose a stock for the box that was more eco-friendly.
Things moved along swimmingly for awhile until it was time to schedule the photo shoot and I got stuck again - really stuck! I wasn't sure how we could communicate "organic" while maintaining our signature cheeky marketing style!? Then one sunny afternoon, I was driving home from my fabric supplier, (I do all my best thinking when I'm driving) not even consciously thinking about the look for the shoot and it came to me - Mother Nature. The model would depict MOTHER NATURE! I was STOKED! As soon as I got home, I went online and two hours later I had the whole look finalized. It just goes to show that you can't force inspiration! :-)
Everything pretty much fell into place from there (even despite the delays). I got to play stylist and source the model's ensemble - borrowing an incredible corset from Melanie Talkington of Lace Embrace (we went to design school together) and enlisting my talented friend Dawn to help me make the headpiece. Add a ballet skirt and white leggings and we were set!
The day of the marketing shoot was incredible! As always, Claire Reid was behind the lens and thanks to my husband Mike's suggestion, Talysia Ayala was in front - she depicted "the look" so perfectly that the images barely needed editing!
A couple of weeks later, we did our product shoot at the beach, which was equally fabulous as you can see from the image above. OK, I'm gushing again now... you better go check out PumpEase Organic and tell us what you think before I become "that parent" and pull ALL the pics out of my wallet.
Tags: organic, 'hands-free pumping bra', 'organic nursing bra'
So you know we're all about the fashion here at Snugabell, right? Our goal is to help new moms refind their mojo - to help them feel pretty when they are often healing and hormonal, haven't showered "lately" (let alone done their hair and make-up) and are sleep-deprived. If you've had a baby recently, or not (my youngest was three in January and I still remember what it was like), I'm sure you'll relate.
Even though it is all about the fashion, it isn't ALL about the fashion! Yes, that's right - the bold colours and prints of PumpEase are better for your baby too! According to Dr William Sears...
"The best way you as a parent can stimulate baby's vision is using black and white stripes or light and dark contrasting colors. So what about those nice soft pastels that used to be so popular in baby toys and nurseries? While these may look pretty to you, they do nothing visually for your baby. Research has proven that black and white contrasts register powerfully on baby's retina and send the strongest visual signals to baby's brain. Stronger signals mean more brain growth and faster visual development. Surround a baby with soft pastel colors, and you might as well be blindfolding him. Surround your baby with black and white or light and dark pictures, and watch your baby's eyes light up.
While baby's vision may be one of the least developed senses at birth, visual input during the early months may have the most profound effect on baby's developing nervous system. What exactly does this mean? Why is visual stimulation so important for a baby? How can you as a parent or caregiver best stimulate your newborn's visual senses?
How a newborn's eyes detect light.
At birth, a baby's retina is not fully developed. The retina is the back layer of the eye that detects light. An adult retina can distinguish many different shades of light and color, but a newborn retina can only detect large contrasts between light and dark, or black and white. So while an adult can appreciate various shades of pastel colors on the wall of baby's nursery, a newborn may only see them as one shade all blurred together. Why is this important?
How visual stimulation makes baby's brain develop.
At birth, the nerve cells in baby's brain are disorganized and not well connected. While baby grows, the brain receives input from all five senses. This input causes nerve cells to multiply and form a multitude of connections with other nerve cells. This is why visual stimulation is so crucial. For example, if a baby is kept blindfolded the visual center in his brain would never develop, the optic nerve would shrivel up, and baby would never develop vision. On the other hand, if you provide continuous visual input into baby's eyes, the retina thrives, the optic nerve grows, and the visual part of baby's brain thrives and develops by leaps and bounds."
So if you're planning on pumping on one side and nursing on the other (yes you can do this with your PumpEase!), choose Snowy Leopard or Galaxie Black to best stimulate baby's vision. And if you've never considered pumping on one side and nursing on the other, you might want to. Here's why...
1. When you nurse your baby, your body releases the hormone oxytocin which causes
your milk to "let down". So while you're suckling your baby on one breast, your other
breast will often leak (usually into a nursing pad that you throw away or wash).
Although it varies, some moms leak a LOT of milk. Regardless, I'm sure you'll agree
that any milk saved is a good thing!
2. The more frequently both breasts are emptied the better it is for your milk
3. This is the ultimate in multi-tasking (and we, as women, were made to multi-task
So there you have it - look HAWT, stimulate your baby's vision to promote brain development and make more milk - ALL with PumpEase!
I have to add that I find it über interesting that if you were to blindfold your baby from birth the optic nerve would shrivel up and your baby would actually end up blind. I know that newborn babies don't see much more than shadows and I know that black and white patterns are good for baby's vision, but had no idea the extent of the consequences if baby's vision wasn't stimulated fully. How about you? Tell us about it below.
Tags: 'baby brain growth', 'visual stimulation', 'PumpEase prints'
I don't understand why companies do it. They have a great product, build a great brand following and then they change something. From the consumer's standpoint, it is usually a change for the worse; for the manufacturer, however, it almost always means higher profits. All that work of building their reputation and brand and they throw it all out the window. I.don't.get.it.
Take for example Old Navy infant and toddler socks. You know the ones I'm talking about? The triple-roll socks that have rubberized writing on the soles stating the size (so handy when you have two little ones that are close in age). The ones that were/are $1.75/pair or six pairs for $10.00 (it's been a while since I've bought them, so I may be a bit off on the price). Well a few years back when my now five year old was a baby, we bought them by the bucket-full. Every colour under the sun and two each of the neutrals. And then my younger daughter wore them and then I passed them on to my sister and her daughter wore them. And they are STILL in good condition! I think I've thrown out maybe two or three pairs after 5-1/2 years and three kids!
They were all cotton with a bit of spandex. They faded a bit over time and even shrunk a teensy bit (such is the nature of cotton), but they LASTED and LASTED and LASTED. I recommended them to everyone I met that had kids.
Then I bought a couple of new pairs for the girls last fall as we were having family pictures done and we were all wearing black. I needed new inky black socks.
So I went to our local mall and bought two pairs - one for each of my daughters. They felt a bit silkier than before but looked the same. I noticed that they were now made with 81% cotton/17% polyester/2% spandex. Hmmm...
Six months later, I threw both pairs in the garbage because they had LARGE gaping holes on the balls of the feet - not even on the heel. I was choked! SIX MONTHS! I guess they added the polyester to prevent the fading or the minimal shrinking or perhaps because polyester is cheaper? Or maybe because they didn't have enough repeat customers due to the fact that their old socks lasted too long... ???
I will never buy them again. Ever.
I'm on a roll with the socks, so I will continue. I bought a couple of pairs of Calvin Klein ladies' black dress socks for myself eons ago (honestly, they're older than my kids). They are just now starting to wear thin, no holes yet, just wearing thin. Did I mention that I've had these socks for years? I think it is going on ten years. Seriously.
So seeing that they were starting to wear thin, I decided to go the The Bay (where I had bought them) and buy more. Of course, they didn't have exactly the same ones ten years later, but I bought what I thought were comparable socks. Two pairs each of two different styles - footies and anklets. Calvin Klein. After two months, they had holes in them. All eight of the socks had holes in them. And not on the heel or where the balls of your feet sit either. The holes were in random spots around the ankle where the knitting machine did the full-fashioning (shaping) to make the sock "bend" to go around your ankle. Random holes on my new socks. My background in the apparel industry tells me they are simply poor quality and/or they no longer do product testing and/or they have lowered their quality control standards. A lot.
Every time I'm folding laundry and start pairing-up the socks and see the HOLES, I get annoyed. AND then I see my 10 year old socks in the pile that are still in one piece!
What the heck is with the crappy socks???
Needless to say, I am choked. Again. And I need some answers! Where oh where can I buy decent socks? I just spent a good 10 minutes searching online for "cotton socks" and nothing really comes up!?! Update: I think I found the answer to my dreams (literally): Sock Dreams! Check them out!
But WHY do companies do this? As a business owner, I understand the desire to increase your bottom line, but are you not shooting yourself in the foot (pun most definitely intended) if your product becomes sub-standard and you lose customers?
I remember about a year ago, we received a bad batch of production from our factory. It was either 600 pieces and we sent back 400 or 800 pieces and we sent back 600. Yes it cost us twice as much in quality control to check every PumpEase two times. Yes it delayed our orders. Yes it was frustrating!!! However there was no question in my mind that they all get sent back to the factory. I couldn't even fathom sending out a sub-standard product and "hoping for the best". No way. Not even an option.
In my mind, my product, my company and my reputation are all very intricately woven together. If my company starts producing shoddy goods, that reflects on me personally. It's just not going to happen. I give you my word. And I am super-duper proud of the high quality that is reflected in our products. :-)
So, tell us... have you ever experienced a particular brand's quality decreasing over time? What did you do about it - just accept it or switch brands? Do you expect, as I do, consistency in quality when you are loyal to a particular brand? Please leave your thoughts below.
Tags: 'quality control', socks, 'sock holes', 'calvin klein'
It was just last week that I was on the Dragons' Den Facebook Page reading comments from other entrepreneurs who had already "got the call". It had been 3-1/2 weeks since my audition, but I had heard nothing. The producers had just finished the forty-city, Canada-wide audition tour the previous Saturday so I kept telling myself that they wouldn't be calling until they got back to their offices and started short-listing. That's what I kept telling myself. I also told myself that if I hadn't heard from CBC within the two weeks "post audition tour", that I wasn't going to. I was preparing myself for the disappointment, not to be negative or anything, just trying not to have any expectations.
And then literally FIVE minutes before heading into a meeting on Wednesday morning, my business line rang downstairs in my office. I high-tailed it down there, although not exactly sure why as it wasn't yet 9:30 and that is generally when I start my day. I also don't usually answer calls that say "blocked" on my call display, but I answered this call. And it wasn't like I was even THINKING about it being Dragons' Den. Come to think of it, since my audition, I haven't been rushing to the phone every time it rings hoping the call display reads "CBC". Honestly, we've been so busy with the new product launch, that I keep forgetting about the whole scenario (until someone asks me about it of course). But there she was on the other end of the phone - the producer that I pitched to on that day 3-1/2 weeks ago in downtown Vancouver. I actually recognized her voice as she has a raspy, Bonnie Tyler thang goin' on.
OMG! I'm going to Toronto! Holy crap! She gave me a few dates to choose from and told me to get back to her ASAP as they fill-up fast and I "don't want to get stuck with the last day as the Dragons are grumpy by then." OK then... not going there! She also sent along a 10-page "Contestant Guide" with tips and tricks, what to expect, what you can and cannot do, etc. Interesting reading...
What did I do next? Update my Facebook and Twitter statuses of course (lol). "Wendy is goin' to Toronto. woot woot!" it said on Facebook. The ensuing comments were hilarious I must say. And so supportive once I'd fessed up. Thank you all again for being so wonderful!
After my meeting I called Mike at work to tell him. I don't call him at work often as I have to call his team leader and ask to speak to him. Previous calls of this nature have occured when my water broke (with both my daughters) or when Antonia recently was injured at school - you get the picture. He said, "What's up?" So I told him and he answered, "I knew you'd get on." (Thanks hon). Then I emailed all my friends that are not on Facebook (or not on it often) to share the good news as well.
That evening I sat down and searched for flights. I was pretty envious of my friends to the south as I scoured different dates on our whole TWO airlines that fly to Toronto right now. NOT.MUCH.TO.CHOOSE.FROM. However, by the end of the evening, I had decided that May 13th was the date (Lucky 13 right?). So I emailed Molly (the producer) before I went to bed so that she would have the information first thing in the morning Toronto time.
Upon waking the next morning I had an email from Molly stating that "the 10th and the 14th are better now". So... back to the drawing board.
According to the guide, I have to fly-in at the latest the evening before and cannot fly out the same day as my taping (in case they run out of time and have to push me to the next day). I have now decided on the 14th of May, so we will be in Toronto from the 13th to the 15th. Still have to book our flights though... I am just relieved that we have a firm date.
Later that same day, Molly called to discuss my pitch and my numbers and gave me even more great advice and ideas on how to NOT end up on the cutting room floor. She was so helpful. Fantastic!
So my next order of business is to edit my pitch according to her advice, book our flights and find a model that lives in Toronto who wants to appear on Dragons' Den.
Oh, and to decide what to wear. Can't forget that!
Tags: 'Dragons Den', CBC, Toronto, audition
I love meeting new people. My motto is "the more the merrier" at gatherings. I believe that everyone you meet in your life is "on purpose" and that there is a definite reason behind the connection - whether life-changing or somewhat less significant. It's amazing to me that I am typing this now as when I was a child, I was so painfully shy that I would hide in the back bedroom closet when people came over to visit. Even uncles and aunts that I knew put me in hiding and no amount of coaxing from my mother would convince me to show my face. The epitome of this behaviour (and one which I will NEVER live down) is when my mom's sister, Aunty Tecia, requested that I be her flowergirl. I absolutely REFUSED to pose for the pictures. You see, I didn't like the photographer (good reason right? I certainly thought so in my three-year-old stubborness). Alas, there is only ONE picture that I appear in and I am clearly bawling my eyes out. Today, I am "over it" and thoroughly enjoy meeting new people as often as possible.
So I am very happy to have met our very first "official" Snugabell Gal to whom you are about to be introduced. Rebakah came into my life via very unrelated circumstances. I had been wanting and needing an assistant for quite some time and then *poof* there she was...
Hello! My name is Rebekah and I'm Wendy's new creative assistant extraordinaire! We've been working together now for a few weeks and I have already learned so much from her. Let me give you a little background on myself...
I graduated last April from Capilano University's Illustration & Design progam (IDEA). Since then I've embarked on a new path filled with illustrating children's books and creating colourful, whimsical paintings. My business is Rebekah Joy Plett Illustration. If you would like to learn more, you can Fan me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter and/or visit my blog.
I derive a lot of my inspiration from old fairytales and nursery rhymes. On the left is one of my favourite paintings inspired by the rhyme, "Sing a Song of Sixpence".
I've also had the privilege to work with several children's book authors in the last year. BlueBeary, written by Kathleen McMillan, was my first published illustrated work and remains a pride and joy of mine.
In the Fall of 2009 I launched my first line of greeting cards called The Cavorting Hippo. They have been a delightful success and I look forward to donating 10% of the profits to the Canucks For Kids Foundation once they have all sold.
Last September I entered the Roller Derby Fresh Meat Bootcamp to begin training. I hardly knew my right foot from my left when I started but I managed to remain upright on my rollerskates and made it past all the tests and cuts. In February I was drafted onto the Faster Pussycats team (as seen to the right - that giant purple thing in the front is my butt). On April 10th we had our season opener 'bout and we won! (Not without any bumps, bruises, or elbows in the face of course). Watch for me at about 2:42 in the vid link above - I'm Xanadoozy. Roller Derby has been a real challenge in my life but it has brought a balance to it as well. The girls look tough, but they are also very sweet and kind.
In December of 2009 I became engaged to my lovely fiancé Darren (pictured here with me in Pender Harbour last summer). We are getting married in June (I've always wanted a Spring wedding) and I can't tell you how excited I am to have all our families come together to celebrate and eat cupcakes! (Not to mention a delectable brunch... Mmmm... waffles!)
I met Wendy in February and we hit it off immediately. She has a wonderful family and I love seeing her girls when I'm at work. They always greet me with a big, warm smile and an enthusiastic, "Hi!". I look forward to working with Wendy and learning even more about (someday) becoming a Mom and of course about PumpEase and running a business.
Thanks Rebekah! Soooooo... have you ever met anyone who plays Roller Derby? I hadn't until now! And not only do I think it is super cool, but Mike and the girls and I are going to check out Rebekah next time she is derby-ing closer to home. What a hoot!
Rebekah is not only talented and dynamic, but I have found in these last few weeks, that she is a hard-worker, very open-minded, patient and truly a positive person all around. We are blessed to have her as part of the Snugabell team.
Won't you all welcome her with some comment love?
Tags: illustration, 'kids books', artist, 'roller derby', 'hippo cards'