Gifted with a good year
By Lisa Casinger and Tanya K. Merritte -- Kids Today, 1/1/2008 12:00:00 AM
Though 2007 was challenging, vendors said it was a good year and all are hopeful for 2008.
Danielle Signorelli, media & communications director for Rashti & Rashti, said while “macroeconomic conditions made 2007 a more challenging year, we are pleased with the results; our business remains steady.”
Bask Home, owned by mother-daughter team Beth Gulas and Kim Levin had a “huge success” this year, due to the launch of its exclusive fabric designs, Levin said.
Trisha Woodson, owner of Baby Fanatic, said she doubled her sales in 2007, and Paul Roche, senior vice president of sales with Aurora World, said his company experienced a 9% increase in total business.
Each company's success stems from myriad factors — exclusive fabrics, expanded lines, increased distribution, varied price points — but Signorelli summed it up best when she said “babies continue to be born and always need clothing and gifts.”
Bread and butter products also contribute to a company's success. For Rashti & Rashti, makers of apparel, accessories, blankets, plush and keepsake items, that category is blankets.
“Blankets are useful and have a great perceived value, so the fact that we can offer a luxury blanket at a value-driven price has allowed us to steadily grow our blanket business,” Signorelli said.
Bask Home's bread and butter is its gift items (blankets, hooded towel and washcloth sets, burps and bibs). The company debuted crib bedding this year and also makes bathrobes, beach/pool cover-ups and diaper/wipes cases.
Car sunshades and embroidered baby body suits are Baby Fanatic's key products. “They're great impulse items and add-on shower gifts,” Woodson said.
The company manufactures officially licensed collegiate baby and children's products, including the top 40 NCAA schools. Products include newborn gifts, safety and feeding products, room decor items and hardwood rocking chairs.
Aurora World, well known for its plush and gift items, has achieved success with several key products. The bean-filled plush lines, Flopsies and Mini-Flopsies do well, but the big winner is the pet carriers. Since the carriers debuted four years ago, they have become a $20 million business.
Gift trends can be hard to pinpoint since it's such a broad category, but our vendors shared a few ideas. Signorelli notes the growing movement toward green products, although price points still remain on the high side. She also touts bold colors, more sophisticated geometric patterns, animal prints and posh styling.
Levin is seeing an increased interest (and more sales) in Bask's bathrobes, which she attributes to the launch of their crib bedding.
“People like to coordinate the nursery with the bathroom and our products are perfect for a complete look,” she said. “Our designs and colors have bridged the more modern look with the traditional.”
Since Baby Fanatic deals with college-themed products, trends aren't really a driving factor, though Woodson does incorporate elements like polka dots and stripes into her designs. She also says personalization is still incredibly important.
For 2008, Rashti & Rashti will continue providing its basic programs as it works to increase its distribution of Taggies in the high-end and specialty markets and introduce more products exclusively for those markets.
Bask continues to expand its exclusive fabrics and product offerings, which has not only enabled the company to reduce its price points but also widen its distribution channels. Levin says they're poised for a successful 2008.
Woodson has added more traditional baby products such as bibs, newborn hats and sippy cups to the Baby Fanatic line in response to customer demand. She also has adapted some product for distribution in grocery chains, which has proved successful.
Roche is optimistic for 2008 and says that with the 180 new items Aurora has developed, the company anticipates 20% growth this year.
Fortunately, these vendors weren't negatively affected by the plethora of recalls in 2007. Most agree that the silver lining in the recall cloud is that it's raised the bar on safety across the board and made manufacturers, retailers and consumers more aware of the issues. These manufacturers also submit their lines not only to the federal safety standards but also a barrage of independent testing on their own.
For manufacturers with U.S.-made product, like Bask, the recalls have actually had a positive impact as consumers turn away from imports.
These companies exhibit at the following shows: Rashti & Rashti — ENK Children's Club, New York, ABC Kids Expo and it has a permanent New York showroom; Bask Home — ENK Children's Club, New York, ABC Kids Expo, New York International Gift Fair, and a variety of boutique and trunk shows across the country; Baby Fanatic — Atlanta gift market, Dallas gift market, ABC Kids Expo, CAMEX (Campus Market Expo) and Sports Licensing Show; and Aurora — all major trade shows including Toy Fair, Atlanta and Dallas. It also has 12 showrooms across the country.
Baby can show school spirit with this cotton pillow, $35.95, and comforter, $89.95, from Baby Fanatic. The pillow can be monogrammed for a personal touch, (804) 644-4707.
Clairebella's Henry Moses basket and matching blanket feature a chambray blue and tan seersucker plaid print for a classic look. The bumpers can be removed for washing, $190, (770) 751-0921.
Zoobies are a combination of a plush animal, pillow and blanket, all in one package. The pets are available in several animal forms and retail between $30 and $35, (801) 802-0507.
Bask Home's two-sided robes, $68-72, have soft velour on one side and terry cloth on the other. Available in sizes small (12-24 months), medium (2-4T) and large (4-6), (310) 440-2657.
The Slumber Bear from Prince Lionheart has a sound box that plays intrauterine recordings to soothe baby. The plush bear also comes with a silkie blanket, $26.99, (805) 922-2250.
The Baby Bloom bib by Booyah Baby features a mod design of flowers and dots on 100% cotton, $22, (818) 995-7339.
These vintage-style gift bucket sets from Two Elizabeths include a changing pad, reversible bib, burp cloth and hand-painted distressed hanger, all packaged in a coordinating and reusable enamelware pail, $96, (702) 219-0956.
The Nautica blanket from Crown CraftsInfants Products is made of cotton cable knit for a traditional look that is always in style. Also available in light blue, navy and yellow, (562) 295-1999.
|Company, location, contact information L=Low, M=Medium, H=High||Products and price ranges|
|Lake Barrington, Ill., 847-756-4085|
|High quality rompers in sizes 6-12 months in 10 styles including astronaut and firefighter.|
|Pico Rivera, Calif., 888-287-6722|
|Aurora World is a leading manufacturer and supplier of affordable, high quality toys and gifts. Low prices, high quality and extreme variety are hallmarks of Aurora's success. The company sells its products via a wide variety of retailers including major zoos (a fast growing market), department stores such as Mervyns and Neiman Marcus, high-end toy stores such as Learning Express, top gift chains such as Hallmark, Claire's and Cracker Barrel, as well as hospital gift shops, fine florists, candy stores and gift/stationery stores worldwide.|
|New York, 212-686-4666|
|Crib bedding and room decor including bedding sets, blankets, sheets, mobiles, diaper stackers, receiving blankets and more.|
|Aurora, Colo., 800-491-7908|
|Baby Candy offers designer and customized baby and toddler t-shirts in a variety of styles, personalization options and candy colors. The Candy collection and Customized Candy lines showcase fresh and clean candy-themed designs. New in 2008 will be Sugar Free, our 100% organic line. All items are made to order, uniquely wrapped like fancy candy and sealed with a “nutrition” label. The innovative hard-candy packaging allows Baby Candy shirts to be gifted with ease. The creative wrapping has been a selling point with our retailers, offering in-store merchandising opportunities.|
|Ventura, Calif., 800-965-9909|
|Baby Emporio's line includes Soothy velour blankets and minis, Kinderkozy sleeper with matching blankets, shopping cart covers and teether dolls.|
|Richmond, Va., 804-644-4707|
|Line includes 100% cotton one-piece baby bodysuits, mascot sunshades and collegiate-themed comforters and pillows that can be monogrammed with baby's name and birth date.|
|Cedarhurst, N.Y., 516-374-3201|
|Upscale company devoted to manufacturing and distributing boutique-style baby accessories for the buyer who wants quality and luxury at reasonable price points. Products all hand-made in the United States.|
|Northridge, Calif., 800-899-8689|
|Crib bedding and room decor including bedding sets, blankets, receiving blankets, sheets, diaper stackers, mobiles, lamps and more.|
|Los Angeles, 310-440-2657|
|Bask Home distinguishes its products with trend setting designs and quality and offers designs that range from modern to more traditional. The company debuted crib bedding in 2007 to add to its product mix.|
|Bebe au Lait||M|
|Los Gatos, Calif., 866-940-2323|
|Bebe au Lait and Hooter Hiders nursing covers are the original nursing cover for breastfeeding moms. They are lightweight, breathable and single layered for cool comfort during nursing.|
|Sherman Oaks, Calif., 818-995-7339|
|Booyah Baby mainly sell stroller liners as well as other baby accessories such as diapers, wipes cases and burp cloths.|
|Alpharetta, Ga., 770-751-0921|
|Line consists of Moses baskets, burp sets, bibs, blankets and diaper clutches.|
|Crown Crafts Infant Products||LMH||LMH|
|Compton, Calif., 562-295-1999|
|Line includes Pillow Buddie security blankets in animal shapes and a variety of colors, Swirly plush blankets from NoJo and 100% cotton cable knit blankets from Nautica.|
|Droolerz bibs are two-ply: the first layer is our signature, 100% cotton, waffle chenille fabric, with a waterproof second layer to protect a baby's clothes and skin. Our bibs are waterproof and made specifically for absorbing drool. Bibs are packaged in a tulle bag with a card attached ready to be given as a gift, tied to the top of a gift, or added to a gift bag.|
|Green Frog Art||L|
|Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., 800-833-5024|
|Anton the bear by Green Frog Art. Our custom bear is hand made in the USA and is dressed in exquisite fabrics. Anton comes dressed in several different fabrics, each one coordinating with one of our bedding sets. Anton's feet can be monogrammed with initials or a date to personalize the gift.|
|Gustav Maxwell & Co.||MH||MH||MH|
|Oakland, Calif., 510-350-8413|
|Reversible Ultra Soft robes for toddlers and children and Ultra Soft changing pad covers in unique colors such as birch gray, pumpkin orange, cinder brown, turquoise, tea rose and more.|
|Minnetonka, Minn., 952-259-1524|
|Halo SleepSack is the original wearable blanket that carries the First Candle/SIDS Alliance gold seal. The wearable blanket replaces loose blankets in the crib, and is designed to keep the baby cozy, warm, and safe throughout the night.|
|Plano, Texas, 972-896-4272|
|Hand silkscreened apparel & accessories for baby and toddler (from birth to 6T). An original and modern take on sweet and traditional themes, ripe fruit and furry animals printed on sweatshop free and/or organic cotton onesies, burp cloths, bibs and tees using eco-friendly super soft inks.|
|Hoohobbers manufactures bibs, blankets, Moses baskets and matching diaper bags. Offers more than 30 collections, and products can be embroidered.|
|Brooklyn, N.Y., 718-389-8233|
|MiYim products are made with organic cotton and colored in a water bath with dyes from plants and minerals. They are free of chemicals and harmful substances from start to finish.|
|Asheville, N.C., 800-876-1574|
|Fun, healthy and affordable organic clothing and toys for newborns to toddlers. Offers organic bamboo outfits and organic cotton layette and velour toys such as rattles, blankie animals, finger puppets and teddy bears.|
|I'm Still Me||M||M|
|Redding, Conn., 203-426-8133|
|Designs in infant accessories include the Dadpad changing station, and the patent-pending OOPC, a combination burp cloth/bib. Also, the new 2 Big Kids line of soft toys that is made in the United States.|
|Pocket burp cloths made of cotton, flannel or fleece, some with on-trend patterns and colors. Packaged for giving.|
|Kelly B. Rightsell Designs||M||M||M|
|Greensboro, N.C., 336-274-5227|
|Kelly B. Rightsell's new porcelain dish collections are packaged in a toile carry case for easy storage. The dish sets are microwave and dishwasher safe.|
|Kimberly House Ltd||H||H|
|Brewster, N.Y., 845-277-1200|
|All-cotton bedding, layette, babywear, loungewear, terry robes and slippers, all hand-embroidered in Zimbabwe.|
|Kistner Supply Pub. Co.||H|
|Berwyn, Ill., 708-788-0574|
|“Mother Stork's Baby Book, 100th Anniversary Edition” Kistner Supply Publishing Company was created specifically to provide a baby book that would capture those once in a lifetime memories and to present them in a classic, collectible format that is still in style after 100 years. This 104-page new edition includes the original illustrations by Albertine Randall Wheelan and the words of several well-known poets including Lewis Carroll, Eugene Field and Robert Louis Stevenson.|
|Oak Brook, Ill., 800-704-8697|
|Learning Curve's award-winning Lamaze line possesses expanded play and developmental features that create a fun, learning-focused environment for moms and infants. These brightly colored, soft plush toys offer play and learning fun at mid-range price points.|
|Wrightsville Beach, N.C., 910-790-8653|
|Little Lambinates offers products that are coated in a soft matte finish that can be wiped clean. Gift items include car seat covers, changing pads for the nursery, children's and adult's luggage, splat mats, bibs and many other products. All items are created to insure high functionality and stylish design. The fabrics are exclusive to Little Lambinates and boast a variety of chic patterns. We also offer sateen crib bedding and accessories that are not laminated, but coordinate with all nursery accessories.|
|Mud Pie||L||L||L||L L|
|Tucker, Ga., 800-998-1633|
|EiEiO Plush character play blankets with head, feet and tail. Available in bunny, horse, lamb, cow and duck themes.|
|Austin, Texas, 512-837-7062|
|Infant and toddler gifts, accessories and apparel and costumes.|
|Jacksonville, Fla., 800-884-3856|
|Baby Melamine Collection is dishwasher safe but not for use in microwave. Three designs each. Also, baby moccasins in soft leather and bohemian styles.|
|Nature's Baby Organics||M|
|Woodland Hills, Calif., 888-902-2229|
|Nature's Baby Organics makes hair and skin care products that were created for the whole family. Products are made with 70 to 95% certified organic ingredients. Free of paraben, SLS and propylene glycol.|
|Lake Forest, Calif., 858-946-0246|
|Otopia is a new organic skin care line for pre- and post-natal women and their babies. All products are made with certified organic ingredients and guaranteed to be free of toxins and chemicals.|
|Santa Maria, Calif., 805-922-2250|
|Products include Back to Sleep Sack sleepwear in satin and velour with Therma-Flow vent; Slumber Bear with a “silkie” blanket and a sound box with intrauterine recordings; and the WashPod tub.|
|Rashti & Rashti||M||M||M||M|
|New York, 212-594-3733|
|Taggies Newborn collection by Rashti & Rashti incorporates the patented “tags” into fun layette, blanket and accessory designs. The Caterpillar theme is just one of many.|
|Rebel Ink Baby||M||M|
|St. Paul, Minn., 651-647-0655|
|Fun, durable, and trend-worthy threads for infants. Spouting sassy catch phrases, our snap suits and long-sleeve tees are 100% cotton and printed in the USA. They are available in black and white, both with contrast stitching. Recently introduced new black pacifiers, which are FDA approved.|
|Russ Berrie and Co.||M|
|Oakland, N.J., 201-337-9000|
|Product line includes a variety of plush toys including the Shining Stars program. Each Shining Stars friend comes with the opportunity to register and name your star with the International Star Registry. Each has a secret code that gives access to an online virtual community.|
|Unionville, Conn., 203-266-0701|
|Baby blankets, one-piece outfits, gowns and play sets in colorful, whimsical patterns.|
|Pierceton, Ind., 574-594-2131|
|Stephan Baby offers a range of heartwarming gifts for little ones, including layette, bedding, toys, bath and feeding accessories, photo frames and scrapbooks, holiday-themed toys and clothing, keepsake items and silver mementos.|
|The Ultimate receiving blanket is the only blanket with swaddling instructions sewn to its edge (patent pending). New gift sets are now available — SwaddleDesigns Ultimate Receiving Blanket, set of two coordinating baby burpies and Baby Lovie come in a clear gift box.|
|Burnsville, Minn., 866-873-6352|
|Contemporary Tulip and Caterpillar prints on blankets, burp cloths and washcloth bouquets in sage greens, pinks and blues. A great coordinated statement for your gift area.|
|Henderson, Nev., 702-219-0956|
|Two Elizabeths' vintage-style baby accessories offer a glimpse of the past. Enamelware buckets and wooden, decorative hangers give a classic look to baby's room. Our changing pads, bibs, burp cloths and Lap T's are all done in retro flair.|
|Valize Designs||M||M||M||M M|
|West Hollywood, Calif., 310-289-8664|
|Valize Designs offers a whimsical line of clothing, gifts and accessories for infants and toddlers. All designs are original and unique and use high-quality materials and innovative packaging.|
|Provo, Utah, 801-802-0507|
|Zoobies are patented plush animals that transform into pillows and blankets.|
's 100% Sugar onesie and toddler tee are offered in several “flavors,” such as chocolate strawberry (shown). Each is wrapped like candy and is accompanied by a nutrition label for a fun touch, $17-24, (800) 491-7908. 's Belly to Babe Pre & Post Natal stretch mark message oil is part of a line of organic skin care products designed for moms and their babies, $10-20, (858) 946-0246.'s soft rattles are made of organic cotton velour and available in lamb, bear, frog, bunny, monkey and giraffe characters, $6 (800) 876-1574
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