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Why Bears Make Good Traveling Companions

20140611_152634I never planned to take a business trip to Vermont with a stuffed panda bear. The bear is my oldest daughter’s friend which she uses when she needs comfort. She offered him to me because I had just explained to her that I was going on an important trip. She understood that I was going to meet someone for the first time, ask if his company could make the wooden taxis and planes for my playmat, and that I really hoped the answer would be yes!  Sensing that this was a situation where comfort might be required, she offered me her companion explaining he was very good at helping her when she felt worried. A truly priceless and precious gift.

Armed with my daughter’s faith and support, I set off to drive to Middlebury, Vermont, taking pictures along the way to show her I was taking good care of her bear.  My destination in Vermont was Maple Landmark wooden toy company. They are a family owned business and on the day I visited, there were three generations of the founder’s family working at the same time.  They stand for quality and durability and sustainable business practices. You can read more about their practices and values here  and watch some great videos of products being made.   Extensive tours of the shop floor are given twice daily every weekday, children are welcome.  I learned a phenomenal amount, amazed at the time and effort that goes into producing a seemingly simple wooden toy.

I’m pleased to announce the outcome of that meeting was positive and Maple Landmark will be producing the wooden vehicles (two planes and a taxi) for the new airport playmat.  The artwork is finished, checking prototypes comes next, and then we can move into production. I think that panda bear brought me luck and will have to come along on any future trips!

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The FTC and Cashmere Goats

20140723_170302If someone would have told me five years ago that one day I would be excited to go to a seminar on Federal Trade Commission labeling regulations, I wouldn’t have believed it for a second. Yet this past Tuesday and Wednesday found me happy to head over to the Javits Center in New York to the TexWorld trade show to meet with fabric suppliers, cut and sew contractors and attend seminars with thrilling and exhilarating titles like, “Textiles and the Federal Trade Commission.”  There FTC rules governing textile labeling and advertising were covered in great detail along with esoteric facts such as, “not all wool from cashmere goats can be labeled cashmere,” were covered by attorney Robert Frisby. There was no further explanation on the cashmere goats ruling which thankfully does not apply to my products.

I stopped by the booth of a non-profit organization in Mauritius named Craft Aid and met the very devoted founder and Managing Director Gabriel Kamudu.  Craft Aid is dedicated to the welfare of disabled and provides paid employment and training in order to integrate disabled workers into the mainstream workforce. Craft Aid is a World Fair Trade Organization member and does beautiful work sewing organic cotton fabrics into clothes for men, women, and children.  I hope to partner with them on future products.  You can learn more about Craft Aid at

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The Power of Creative Play

Hayley saving the dayMy oldest daughter is five years old and I’ve found it to be my favorite age yet.  Five is unselfconsciously singing out loud while skipping down the sidewalk. Five is full of questions that I can’t answer. Best of all, five is full of imagination. I love to watch her play when she is wrapped up in a world of her own creation, though I wish it didn’t always have to result in a mess! Continue Reading →

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