May 23rd, 2010 • Comments: 0 • by Wendy • Inside SnugabellResources

PumpEase and Dr Sears

tired new momSo 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, Dr Searsvisual 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."

Galaxie BlackSnowy LeopardSo 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
     supply/production.

3.  This is the ultimate in multi-tasking (and we, as women, were made to multi-task
     right?)

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'

{"Baby and mom" by Kaeru Sand is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0}

{Photo credit: Dr. Sears Wellness Institute}

April 24th, 2010 • Comments: 0 • by Wendy • Dragons' Den

Snugabell Travels the Road to the Dragons' Den - Part II

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 Toronto, Ontario, Canadawasn'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 myTwitter status 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!

Stay tuned...

 

Tags: 'Dragons Den', CBC, Toronto, audition

April 16th, 2010 • Comments: 0 • by Wendy • ResourcesWHO Code

A Summary of the WHO Code (including WHERE, WHAT, WHEN and HOW)


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A Summary of the WHO Code
(International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes)
World Health Organization (WHO)
Geneva, Switzerland, 1981, 1986, 1994, 1996, 2001

Para leer este artículo en español, haga clic aquí por favor.

Have you heard of “The Code”, aka “The WHO Code” aka “The International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes”?  If the answer to that question is “yes”, do you know what the WHO Code says?  Could you explain it to someone?

Many people, even mothers, even breastfeeding mothers, cannot, so here is our explanation of the code.  Psst!  This is really important, so pass it on!

The WHO Code includes the below 14 important provisions (let’s see how many infractions we can find in our daily travels shall we?).  Why are there so many infractions?  Well, because in North America, The WHO Code is voluntary – and thus it has no teeth.  Some countries, such as Iran, have adopted The Code as law and now infant formula is available ONLY by prescription and comes in a can with a generic label.  I sure would like to see that day in both Canada and the US I tell ya!

Oh, and one more thing… did you know that the USA was the ONLY country out of 189 that voted “NO” to adopt The Code in 1981?  SHAME.ON.YOU!  Let’s kick those formula company dudes OUT of the government’s bed NOW.

Here we go…baby bottle

1. No advertising of products under the scope of the Code to the public.

Products “under the scope of the code” include breastmilk substitutes, including infant formula; other milk products, food and beverages, including bottle-fed complimentary foods, when marketed or otherwise represented to be suitable, with or without modification, for use as a partial or total replacement of breastmilk; feeding bottles and teats.  So basically, infant formula, follow-up formula, bottles and nipples.  Nope, I’ve never seen these types of products advertised publicly ANYwhere (eye roll).

2. No free samples to mothers.

How many new moms (including yours truly) have been given free samples at the hospital, in their doctor’s office, at a “baby/pregnancy” fair, even through the Welcome Wagon?  According to a recent CDC study, nearly 2/3 of first-time mothers received a free sample of infant formula in the mail.  The formula companies will market directly to moms, against The Code, every.chance.they.get.

3. No promotion of products in health care facilities, including the distribution of free or low-cost supplies.

Have you seen pads of note paper or posters “sponsored” by a formula company at your doctor’s office or hospital?  How about the infamous formula company diaper bags given out at so many US hospitals? (read about it at Ban the Bags).  In fact, studies show that formula marketing bags shorten exclusive breastfeeding duration, even when the formula samples are removed from the bags.  To quote Dr. Alison Stuebe, the woman behind Ban the Bags, “No for-profit company gives anything away for “free”.  Formula companies give these bags to mothers as a marketing tool and their goal is to have the hospitals actually hand the bags to the moms because that implies that the hospital is endorsing a particular brand of formula.  If this wasn’t going to sell more of a particular brand of formula, it would be against the interest of the shareholders of these companies to let women have these bags.”

In fact, according to a recently-released Canadian study from the Toronto Department of Public Health, “Of 1,500 first-time mothers surveyed, 39 per cent were given formula at hospital discharge.   As a result, many of these women stopped breastfeeding sooner than those women who weren’t given formula.  Women who didn’t receive the free samples were 3.5 times more likely to be breastfeeding exclusively after 2 weeks.”

“The impact of promoting formula as they leave the hospital gives off mixed messages to new mothers”, says Linda Young, director of maternal newborn and child health at Toronto East General Hospital.  “They give it to the women ‘just in case’,” she said.  “But the real message is that you will probably fail... and one bottle leads to another.”

Listen ladies, by accepting this “formula company swag”, you are lining the formula companies’ pockets AND more importantly sabotaging yourself. Just.Don’t.Do.It.

4. No company representatives to advise mothers.infant formula

Last summer, I participated as a vendor in a baby fair.  Our table was located about ½-way around the perimeter of the venue.  To the immediate right of the entrance door (like that wasn’t planned) was a formula company’s table.  They were giving out FULL CANS OF FORMULA!  Every person who came by our table had the bag that they were given upon entry to the fair with a can of formula sticking out the top.   I took off my badge and went by their table, posing as a consumer.  I asked about the cans of formula.   Boy were they friendly! They told me that all I had to do was to sign-up for their “program” and I would get the kit which included the can of formula (I can’t remember what they called it – something obnoxious though, like “breastfeeding support kit”, because what I do remember is cringing to myself).  Signing-up for the program included handing over my email addy (of course).  Yup, that’s right! Get the mom-to-be on your mailing list so you can inundate her with emails right after she has her baby, when she is sleep-deprived, vulnerable and in a hormone-induced, emotional state.  And make sure she has a big can of your formula in the cupboard so that when the going gets tough around 4-5 weeks and she is wavering with the whole breastfeeding gig, it is there at the ready to taunt her!  These companies undermine women’s confidence by making them think they won’t be able to breastfeed and then guess what? That notion manifests and they cave.  Don’t listen to anyone that tells you, “One bottle of formula won’t hurt your baby.”, (even if it is your own mother).  Perhaps it won’t hurt your baby, but it will hurt the breastfeeding relationship you have with your baby and it will hurt your supply.  Trust me, it happened to me, “way back when” before I knew any better.

Today, I know to ask whether a consumer baby fair complies with The Code BEFORE I sign any contracts to participate as a vendor.  Not.Going.There.Ever.Again.

5. No gifts or personal samples to health care workers.

Please see #3.  This practice is rampant.  You can find extensive and truly interesting information about it here, here and here (and that was just a quick Google search).  It is high time health care workers AND HOSPITALS told the formula companies to go away, no thank you to your freebies and don’t come back. EVER!

“There has always been controversy about hospitals receiving free formula.  It is why Toronto East General Hospital – the only Baby Friendly hospital in the city and among about two dozen in (Canada) – cancelled its contract in 2005”, said Linda Young, director of Maternal Newborn and Child Health.

“When the formula companies put together a contract, they list all the things that they give – the formula, the nipples, and the bottles, and it comes up to a big number,” Young said, adding there is sometimes a signing bonus of anywhere between $130,000 and $150,000 which hospitals can use for other programs and services.

The only other GTA hospital that Young knows of that is buying formula instead of getting it free is Lakeridge in Oshawa.  “Any kind of money is hard to give up for a hospital,” she said.

6. No words or pictures idealizing artificial feeding, including pictures of infants, on the labels of the products.

OK, so “most” of the formula companies have switched to little duckies, bunnies or hearts on their labels in lieu of baby images, however, there are still many infractions.  For example, Enfamil’s Enfagrow Premium Next Step Lipil has an image of a baby and a toddler on the label and is marketed towards 9-24 month olds.   Of course aside from images, the infant formula labels are chock-full of skewed half-truths, scientific-sounding jargon and warm & fuzziness that the formula companies are hoping will be (mis)interpreted as idealizing artificial feeding.  Believe you me, they spend plenty of time and money writing the copy “just so” to convince parents to buy.

7. Information to health workers should be scientific and factual.

The information coming out of the formula companies “looks all scientific and factual” but their claims are taken out of context, skewed and again, worded “just so” by their high-powered marketing departments to brainwash you into thinking their products are “as good” as breastmilk.

8. All information on artificial feeding, including the labels, should explain the benefits of breastfeeding and all costs and hazards associated with artificial feeding.

So I haven’t read an infant formula can for a while now, however, I do know that most formula companies include the disclaimer, in very small print, stating “breastmilk is best for your baby”.  But do they detail the costs and hazards associated with artificial feeding?  Hmmmm?

9. Unsuitable products such as sweetened condensed milk should not be promoted for babies.

OK, I’m at a loss on this one.  Are there people out there that give sweetened condensed milk to their babies?  So I Googled “sweetened condensed milk for babies” and got just 4 results, mostly blogs talking about “way back when” when our mothers or grandmothers did just that, or forums asking if they can do it now.  I guess it is safe to say that if there are people asking if they can do it now, then there are others that haven’t bothered to ask.

I do know that in 3rd world countries, where they often enjoy a strong breastfeeding culture, after the formula companies have given out enough free samples so that the new mother’s milk has dried-up, she, who can’t afford to buy more formula, may substitute (sweetened) condensed milk or other milk products to feed her starving baby.  She may also mix the formula with a higher ratio of water to make it last longer.  Oh and that would be mostly unsanitary water.  This practice by the formula companies has killed millions of babies. Yes. MILLIONS.25 cents

10. All products should be of a high quality and take account of the climatic and storage conditions of the country where they are used.

High quality? Riiiiight.  You know that $20-30 can of formula that you’ve seen on store shelves?   Well the contents are worth about a quarter.  Yes, that’s right.  Twenty.Five.Cents.[1]  The rest of the money is spent on marketing.  But wait! There is a CODE prohibiting the marketing of breastmilk substitutes.  How can formula companies be spending millions, perhaps billions on marketing when this is against The WHO Code?

Not to mention the 57 product recalls of artificial foods from 1982 to 2007 – that’s over 9 MILLION units.  Ahem… breastmilk is NEVER recalled.

11. Promote and support exclusive breastfeeding for six months as a global public health recommendation with continued breastfeeding for up to two years of age or beyond.

I think a good first step is to prohibit the marketing of formula to under 6 month old infants.  Just take it off the market.  Period.  For the 5% of woman that can’t physically breastfeed[2], they can get it by prescription.  Then let’s watch our breastfeeding initiation rates and the rates at 6 months postpartum rise meteorically.

The Best for Babes FoundationAs for the promotion and support, it is mind-boggling and heart-breaking to hear the countless stories from moms - the misinformation, the contradictions depending on who was working the ward that night, the lack of training in medical school and it goes on and on.  We are working on it though!  Organizations like Best for Babes, for example, are working tirelessly “to help moms beat the “Booby Traps” – the cultural & institutional barriers that prevent moms from achieving their personal breastfeeding goals.  To inspire, prepare & empower™ moms.  To give breastfeeding a makeover and give moms the solutions they need to make it work!”

12. Foster appropriate complementary feeding from the age of six months recognizing that any food or drink given before nutritionally required may interfere with breastfeeding.

It’s really quite simple: babies don’t need ANYTHING but breastmilk for the first 6 months of life.  From 6 months onward, it is recommended that you continue to breastfeed while providing nutritious complimentary foods for up to two years or beyond.

13. Complementary foods are not to be marketed in ways to undermine exclusive and sustained breastfeeding.

Just as infant formula is marketed to undermine exclusive and sustained breastfeeding, so are complementary foods.  Being aware is half the battle. Educate yourself and spread the word!

14. Financial assistance from the infant feeding industry may interfere with professionals’ unequivocal support for breastfeeding.

We all know that the formula companies are in bed with the government.  How else have such initiatives such as the 2004 “Babies Were Born to be Breastfed” public service ad campaign, launched by the US Department of Health and Human Services and the Ad Council, been kiboshed at the last minute by formula company lobbyists?  Yes, that’s right, they made them water-down the ads to the point that they were mostly ineffective, then turned around and doubled their marketing budget to $50 million. And breastfeeding rates went down again.

It is a sad state of affairs when profit and political gain are placed at an exponentially higher level of importance than the health of our own children.

Think about it.  Talk about it.  Do something about it.  Today.

Snugabell Mom & Baby Gear is PROUD to be a WHO Code compliant company and vows to never knowingly do business with any company that does not comply.  We are also dedicated to raising awareness of The Code and to educating others about its provisions.

If you weren't aware of the provisions of the WHO Code, will you now be watching for infractions?  Will you report them?  Please share!

[1]Testimony presented in infant formula antitrust litigation in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida, Tallahassee, June 2, 1992.

Some corroborating evidence about the cost of producing infant formula appears in an unpublished USDA study conducted by the Research Triangle Institute in Apr. 1992 (Josephine Mauskopf and Nancy Dean, “WIC Program Rebates: An Economic Analysis,” Final Report. Contract, # 53-3198-0-033, Task 6.1. Center for Economic Research) in which the cost of producing a can of infant formula was estimated on the basis of the ingredients that went into it. However, USDA officials expressed concerns about the validity of these cost estimates because of methodological limitations, including the unavailability of firsthand data on the procedure for manufacturing infant formula.

[2]Neifert et al. 1990. The influence of breast surgery, breast appearance, and pregnancy-induced breast changes on lactation sufficiency as measured by infant weight gain. Birth 17(1): 31-38

{"Baby Bottle Paraphernalia" by Shevon Desai is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0}

{"AI WEIWEI 艾未未 : BABY FORMULA 卑鄙处方" by choo chin nian is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0}

{"235/365 Pocket Change" by Joe is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0}

March 30th, 2010 • Comments: 0 • by Wendy • Dragons' Den

Snugabell Travels the Road to the Dragons' Den


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It was a little less than two years ago that I quit my job of almost 21 years at a large telecommunications company to accept a position in the BCIT Entrepreneurial Skills Training (BEST) program - a government sponsored self-employment program.  The program consisted of 10 weeks of classroom training and another 38 weeks of support from a business advisor, to whom we had to submit monthly reports, and a little bit of monetary support via Employment Insurance.

The program was one of the best things I've done for personal and professional development in recent years, but the PEOPLE are what I remember and value the most!  There were 17 of us "budding entrepreneurs" accepted into the program and I'm still in contact with more than 10 of them while three have become good friends whom I see or talk to on a regular basis.  We also keep in touch with our business advisor who joins us for coffee from time to time.

It was during the BEST program that I was reintroduced to the show Dragons' Den on CBC (I had heard of it, but had never seen it).  We watched a few episodes as part of our classroom training.  I was intrigued.

Dragon's DenDragons' Den originated in Japan and versions of it have emerged in Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Israel, The Netherlands, Finland, in the Middle East and of course our own here in Canada. More information can be found on Wikipedia.  There is also a similar show in the US by the name of Shark Tank in which Robert Herjavec and Kevin O'Leary also appear.  (I watched this show once, but didn't like it nearly as much).

This is how it works in a nutshell... you pitch your business to five self-made millionaires/billionaires in the hopes that they will invest in your company in exchange for a stake in it.  The catch is, you have to leave with at least as much money as you asked for.  Therefore, if you over-value your business, they will have to take a larger stake to give you the money that you're asking for.  Capisce?

Back to the classroom...  so the Dragons' Den audition tour came through town and our business advisors and instructors encouraged us to apply.  I considered it... briefly... and promptly chickened out. ;-)

Fast forward to the Fall of 2009.  I generally don't watch TV, but I am now ADDICTED to Dragons' Den on CBC, Wednesday nights at 8 pm.  My husband is too.  I now feel like I'm ready to apply but according to the website, "Applications are currently closed. If Dragons' Den returns for another season, applications will open in spring, 2010. Please subscribe to the newsletter for audition announcements."  What do they mean "if"?  I start visiting the website regularly only to see the same message over and over.

Now it is, I believe, February 2010.  Mike and I are in our usual spots on the couch snuggling on a Wednesday night when "the Den" breaks for commercial and they announce the audition tour!  I immediately go online and sign-up for an email alert that will advise me of the date(s) for Vancouver.

The dates are set within a few weeks - I can audition on March 13th or March 27th.  I ask my friend Donna to model for me.  She says yes (YAY!) but can only do the 27th (I am relieved that I can procrastinate until then).  You may remember Donna from our How to Take an Overbust Measurement video.  Donna had her baby just a few days after that video was shot - a little girl named Serenity who is now almost six months old!  Honestly, it feels just like yesterday that we shot that!

It is now a few weeks before my audition.  My "BEST" gal pals Pauline Siu of flora and fauna and Kathy Day of Earthly Presence and I decide that a "dry run" is in order.  Kathy recruits Ethical Bean's owner Lloyd Bernhardt to participate as well (thanks Kathy!).  We scramble to find a time that works with everyone's schedule.  Another date set - whew!  Finally the day arrives and I head over to EB at an ungodly hour with my homemade banana cake (it was the least I could do).  Let me say once again - THANK YOU ALL for participating.  The feedback that I received was invaluable.  Really.  Oh and if you haven't tried a Chai Tea Latte from Ethical Bean.  Oh my GAWD you haven't lived yet! (and I'm a Starbuck's Toffee Nut Latte die-hard).  But I digress...

Up to this point, I hadn't allowed myself to TRULY think about the audition or the possibility of me ACTUALLY going to Toronto (if I was chosen to go to tape) and thus I was pretty non-chalant about this whole "Dragons' Den thing".  But when I got to the EB boardroom last Wednesday morning, I got nervous!  I realized after the fact, that I was nervous for a couple of reasons.  First, I wasn't prepared enough.  And second, it was now REAL.  Probably the biggest thing that I took away from those couple of hours, aside from all the great advice and feedback that I received, was that in order to get through this audition, I had to prepare, prepare, prepare and then prepare some more!

I know my product inside and out, I know my numbers inside and out.  But when I get frazzled (yes I DO get frazzled sometimes), I forget everything. And then some!

So true to form (I'm a master procrastinator), there I was on Friday night - AFTER movie night with my daughter - re-writing my pitch, timing my pitch, editing my pitch and practicing my pitch while folding the laundry (so that I had clean clothes to wear to the audition).  I was feeling pretty good about it when I turned in around midnight and quickly hoped to myself that I didn't dream about the audition ALL.NIGHT.LONG.

Mission accomplished - no dreams about Dragons. :-)  I got up early and decided to see how much of the pitch I had retained overnight.  It must have sunk-in overnight as I felt pretty confident and decided to jump in the shower (where I practiced my pitch some more).  Then Donna arrived and I ran it by her, Mike, Antonia and Michaela.  Oh no!  Feeling a bit nervous again.  Well, no time for that - off we went to hook-up with Leslie Cairns - founder of the Buggy Bag - who was also auditioning.

We had previously discussed going down early - around 8 am - to beat the line-up.  Then we heard from someone that auditioned last year who said not to bother going down early as they scout the line-up and pull people randomly (my girlfriend that works in film had told me they might do it this way, so it sounded legit).  So we showed up right at 11 am...  aaaaaaand there were already 37 people ahead of us.  Yup, first come, first served.  They told us to put our name up on the board and allow 15 minutes per person.  Quick calculation...... that's 9+ hours.  GROAN!

I texted Mike to let him know that I may be a little later than I had originally thought.  And I updated all my friends and family on Facebook and Twitter.

We found some seats and tried to digest the fact that we may be spending the next nine hours in this room.  I tried to practice my pitch some more, but it was pretty noisy in there with more than 50 people, plus they were playing last season's episodes of the Den.  So we started chatting with people to pass the time.  I met the owners of Pee-pee Teepee.  I was familiar with their product but didn't know that they had diversified to include other products like shoes, blankets and clothing.  So awesome!  We'll see them in Vegas this year at the ABC Show.  And Jamie from S2S Nation (his website isn't quite live yet) - cool, limited-edition, custom-designed, bamboo and organic cotton t-shirts.

A couple of hours in, they were only at #11, so we decided to refuel.  I had been craving sushi for a couple refueling at Starbucks (L-R: Donna, myself & Leslie)of weeks so we headed across the street to a Japanese restaurant.  I eyed the Starbucks on the opposite corner for my "dessert".  After stuffing ourselves with yummy sushi and then grabbing a Chai Tea Latte (not nearly as good as EB though), I was totally recharged and feeling über confident for the first time since arriving!

When we got back to the room, the board was a mess - there seemed to no longer be any semblence of order with names crossed off randomly all over the place.  So Donna went up to the fellow holding the "official list" and asked him where we were at.  Donna came back and I asked her what the verdict was.  She said, "I'm not telling you."  I said, "We're next?"  She said, "Pretty much!"  I was ready!  Woot!

The next thing I knew, we were in the next room pitching!  I started my shpiel when about 1/2-way through they interrupted us to say, "Show us how it works."  So we jumped to the demo portion of the pitch and they started firing questions at me, all of which I answered. :-)  Then they took a picture of Donna with the PumpEase on and asked if they could take two samples back to Toronto with them.  And then they told us we did a great job and we were done!

After we left the room, Donna said, "You are SO going to Toronto." and promptly offered to be my model there as well.  I was so focused on my pitch that apparently I missed a bunch of stuff - whispering, body language, eye contact.  But I'm not counting my chickens just yet...

We walked back into the waiting room and everyone asked how we did.  I said it was awesome (because it was) and I tell ya, if it hadn't been 4:00 already, I would have dragged both Donna and Leslie off to the bar for a double!  We were definitely on a "high"!  As it was, had to get home to Mike and the girls for dins.  However, we did head out that night to a local pub with a bunch of friends including Angie, whose hubby was playing in the band.  I had a coupla Caesars, danced a coupla songs, caught-up with a coupla friends and had a great night!  Cheers Dragons!  I'll catch-up with you in T.O.!

Are you a fan of Dragons' Den?  Do you have a favourite pitch?  Please share it with us below...

March 16th, 2010 • Comments: 0 • by Wendy • Customer ServiceInside SnugabellMedia & Marketing

PumpEase Wins PTPA Award "Because Parents Know Best"


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Parent Tested, Parent Approved Seal of Approval!We are excited and honoured to announce that earlier this month the PumpEase hands-free pumping bra was named a winner of the Parent Tested, Parent Approved (PTPA) Seal of Approval!

After our last attempt at being recognized for our product, you may think we were a glutton for punishment, wouldn't you?  Well, I dusted off my pants, dried my tears and did some extensive research on the other programs out there before I got back on my horse.  And I am pleased to share with you that, after doing said research and narrowing my choices down, I found myself chatting with the people at PTPA Media (before I submitted my product), and my faith in these "awards programs" was somewhat reinstated.  At least enough to give it another go.

During my "pre-submission" chat with PTPA Media, they were completely up-front about ALL the fees involved to be evaluated by their product testers as well as the licensing of the Seal of Approval if you indeed are named a winner.  Everything we discussed was also clearly outlined on their website on an easy-to-find page.

Let's be blunt here.  These awardsPumpEase converts any pump to hands-free! programs are a business, plain and simple.  They are out to make a profit just like the rest of us.  Having said that, there are businesses out there that provide a good product/service/customer care and then there are others that.. well.. don't.  Guess which one I am going to choose to deal with?

However, I'll admit that I was nonetheless expecting the worst (still licking my wounds I suppose), but was pleasantly surprised with the level of customer service that I received from PTPA Media.  Every email, every phonecall, every voicemail and every letter that I was promised, I received.  There were no surprises, no delays and no misunderstandings.  Everything that I paid for, that was CLEARLY explained to me, I received.  This makes Wendy a happy girl!  (I love happy endings!) :-)

As you may already know, I am a huge proponent of extraordinary customer service.  Not just good, not just excellent, extraordinary.  And if you've ever had the occasion to deal with me on a customer service issue, then you already know that I won't stop until you are happy.  Really happy.  I want to make you say, "Wow!".  Aside from the obvious reasons that customer service is so important to us, I believe that this, along with web 2.0 practices (I'll quote Peter Shankman here) transparency, brevity, top-of-mind and relevancy, FLATTENS THE PLAYING FIELD for smaller companies like ours to compete with the "big guys".  This is the beauty of doing business in today's world.  And I love it!

But let's get back to the award!  We received some great feedback (both positive and not so much), all of which is super useful for us going forward with new product development and current product improvements.  I will now share some of the accolades with you... *blushing*

"This product more than met my expectations. At first, when wearing the hands free pumping support, I was very stiff and slow in my movements as I was unsure how supportive the product would be in holding my breast pump. In a short period of time, I realized that the breast pump was secure and I was able to move normally without worrying about my breast pump falling off.  I inserted batteries in my breast pump so as to not be restricted by the cord length and then attempted various activities. I was able to clean my house, prepare meals, surf the internet, type emails, read books, knit, and interact and play with my 2-1/2 year old and 6 month old, all while pumping. In addition, I pumped with the PumpEase hands-free pumping support while nursing on the other side. With all these activities undertaken while wearing the support, the breast pump was held securely. At no time did it feel like the breast pump felt loose or in danger of falling off. The hands free pumping support held the breast pump on my breast with evenly distributed pressure in such a way that was more consistent and secure than holding the breast pump by hand, resulting in an increased amount of milk being expressed."

"The quality met my requirements. The product appeared very well made and was very easy to care for. It cleaned up very well and dried quickly. I wore the product for lengthy periods on its own and with the breast pump in order to see if it would begin to sag or stretch out. After lengthy and day to day use, the support maintained it's shape, and comfort without stretching out or becoming loose."

"The hands free pumping support is very comfortable to wear. It is supportive enough to hold the breast pump in place securely, while not feeling restrictive. There were no parts of the support that scratched, poked, pulled or pinched the skin. I wore the support both alone and over my nursing bra. The product was just as effective either way."

"I received the "Tuxedo" style which is black with white trim. It is very appealing and classy looking. For others that enjoy more colour, there are other prints available which are just as fashionable."

I could include more, but don't want to bore you.

And here is some of the constructive criticism...

"There were a lot of latches on the front of the bra to close it. Too many for my liking."

"I didn't really care about the style and colour because no one sees it but me."

"Taking the equipment out and apart was a little challenging and sometimes my milk would leak onto the bra as I was taking the equipment off."

"I found it took extra time to set up to pump rather then just pumping like I normally do, it took me some time to get comfortable."

"I think the product is over priced. I think that $30-ish would be fair. I think that the competitors are over-priced as well."

At this point, I'd like to thank all the product evaluators for their thorough and honest opinions.  As I've said many times before, we LOVE feedback because that is one of the many ways that we can make things better for YOU, our customer!  And isn't that what it's all about?

So keep your eyes peeled for further announcements about PumpEase as this marketing campaign unfolds.  If you have any feedback about PumpEase, please leave it in the comments below.  Bring it on!

And for the record, I have STILL yet to hear from iParenting Media. I guess they're not calling me back huh?