Wednesday, March 28, 2012

This little piggy...

Little piggy toes everywhere!  I promise you, you will not go cold!

Through no fault of your own, and a few little harmless kicky-kicks (some might even call it developmental) will you have to endure a Popsicle-like cold existence. Those of you who love those little piggies (and the babies attached to them), gone are the days of turning the stroller around and, in vain, tracing your steps to find a lost sock. Hey, you can still cup those toes in your hand to warm them up if you want to, a little nibble and giggle as well, but it'll be just for fun and the pure love of those perfect pudgy piggy toes. 

This is my way of saying that today's project bootie prototype went well today, and another little bootie reveal. They're soft, snugly, special aaaannnnnd they don't fall off!!

I pulled out my needle, thread, pencil, muslin and fabric and sewed and measured, measured and sewed. It's just what I had in mind (functionally) and I'm oh-so happy with it. Now it's off to the factory to get gorgeous looking!

Monday, March 26, 2012

eletelephony says it all

eletelephony, by laura e. richards
Once there was an elephant, 
Who tried to use the telephant—
No! No! I mean an elephone
Who tried to use the telephone—
(Dear me! I am not certain quite
That even now I've got it right.)
Howe'er it was, he got his trunk
Entangled in the telephunk;
The more he tried to get it free, 
The lounder buzzed the telephee—
(I fear I'd better drop the song
Of elephop and telephong!)

Quickie status update…
That poem says it all about my week last week. The good news is that I think I was able to sort out the most important parts, and the rest, I just can't worry about. It just is. I'm finding that honing little skill is coming in reeaaally handy as I move forward with the business. It doesn't come so naturally to this little planning, (not so) closeted control freak. But, if I don't, I can get caught up (as I did last week), locked down in place with no gain for me or the business. Much like my rule as a mom: if it doesn't send belle&beanzer to the ER, a bump or scrap wont phase me.

I received the last of my prototypes for the line. YAHOO!! I'm VERY happy with them and just need to fit them. So far, mostly just tweaking, a tad bit of rethinking. 

Good stuff coming up…
color/print/art mood boards!!! I'm soo-so-sooo (SOO!) excited about the direction I'm taking with this. It's all about intention & inspiration behind the direction, which speaks to the integrity of the business, and that makes me way, way, WAY happy. SPOILER: Inspirational new beginnings. 

website!! what the what? That's right! No spoiler here, just wait and see :) 

today's moment…
was in the car with my children this morning. the sunlight was pouring through the windows, and their blonde hair looked nearly white. they were singing, and making up a dance in their seats to the song, and their laughter filled the car. all I could think was, I am SO lucky to be here for this moment. 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Loose yourself in a good story

I've questioned it, doubted it, and been flabbergasted by it. But, my allergies don't lie.

Spring. Has. Sprung. 

So, we brought out the deck furniture we wasted our time putting away, and we've been enjoying spring "summer-like" evenings outside together.

Ava surprised me and brought out the Eeboo Tell Me A Story cards. If you haven't seen them yet, they are beautifully illustrated story cards. Pictures only, no text. Each person picks a card and tells a piece, the next piece, of the story that is inspired by the card. It's different every time, and is SUCH an opportunity to really hear your children, and get a peek into those amazing little minds. 

Ours went something like this…
(yes, I picked the first card. It was a small witch in a bottle.)

once upon a time there was a witch, and she was HUGE. I mean, like, really, really big. Waaay bigger than everyone in her village. while this little witch did have a big kind heart, she also had a very bad temper. when she was mad, she stomped her feet, she plugged her big ears when she didn't want to listen, and shouted louder than anyone. and, when she stomped, the village rumbled, and when she shouted the homes shook. the villagers were upset, so they told the queen. and the queen said, "sweet little witch, you are a kind and good witch. but, your temper is destroying our village. if you do not stop, i will have no choice but to shrink you no bigger than my thumb" the little witch new she should not stomp and shout, but once again she became angry, and she did. the village streets cracked, the villager's homes shook and some fell, and again and three more times! and the queen told her,"sweet little witch, you are a kind and good witch. but when you loose your temper it destroys our village, and because you cannot stop, i must shrink you no bigger than my thumb," and with that, the queen cast a magic spell and poof! There sat a now tiny little witch. Into a bottle she went for safe keeping, and time to think...

…that little witch did not like being in a bottle, so she wrote a long letter and threw it out into the ocean for someone to read and come find her. it floated along until a tiny leprechaun found it. he was small like her, and had never been big. he thought she sounded sad, decided to come find her and be her friend…

…along the way, the leprechaun came across a great big castle. he did not see anyone in the windows our outside. but, he was tired from his long trip and needed a nap and some food. so, he decided to visit the castle to see if anyone was home and would give him some food and a bed to nap…

…when he was almost to the castle, he met a magic fairy, but she was really a princess and didn't know it. They made friends, and decided to go to the castle together. It turned out that the castle was HERS and she was the long, lost princess fairy of the kingdom! Everyone was so happy to have her home. They decided to throw her a big party. The princess and the leprechaun wanted to go find the witch and invite her to the party too…

…they found the sweet little witch, and she had been thinking about it and decided she was happier when she used all her bigness: heart and body, and she was very excited for the party. So, the princess fairy cast a magic spell and the witch was big again. She was big enough to carry everyone in the village to the party in her hands.
Everyone danced and had a lot of fun. 

Then End.

When is the last time you totally made up a story?
What is your favorite childhood story?
What's the best story your child has shared with you?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Show me what you got!

Sorry I'm so late with this post. It's been a whirl wind leading up to and coming off of attending the shows this weekend in NYC. I'm talking about the ENK Childrens Club and Playtime New York shows.

My goal: see where my brand fit, and check out brands/booths that impressed us and why
My dream team: Kim Salter of Design Thoughts: a crazy talented interior designer and author of the popular Design Thoughts blog, Dominika Fanning: smart, fashion savvy, visual merchandiser, and me: well, you know me. 

Leading up to the show, I'd planned a fun girls day filled with inspiration with my dream team.
Surprise! my son got an ear infection in both ears and one drum perforated.
Surprise! Dream Team mbr Dominika couldn't make it bc both of her babies had a stomach flu. Surprise! an unexpected meeting to gain valuable feed back that I had to prep for

I think a lot of you are going to relate to this. HOW am I going to get this all done?

There were some ugly moments…
Andrew: (gently, & kindly) rubbed my shoulders, almost 1am and I was still preparing
Me: (growling like a rabid dog) don't touch me! 
side note: was I INSANE?? baaaad behavior on my part!

There were some perfect moments…
Emails filled with words of encouragement and rock solid belief in me, the brand and what it stands for from all my beautiful friends. 

There were real moments…
Jonah crying on my lap while I applied eye liner, rubbed his back, kissed his cheek and played "pretend we're kittens" with Ava, while going over my mental notes. 

In the end, what needed to get done, got done. I crammed, I let go of a few things, and I did what was most important to get done, first. 

The shows were GREAT! Kim pointed out as she was looking over the sea of booths, colors and textures, "Look at these dreams! Every single one of them made it there. These are all real dreams come true. Some will make it, some wont." Her comment really hit me. 

We hit ENK Childrens Club first. Overall impression is that show is about business. People were there to shop, and the booths were there to sell. Was it just me? I could feel it in the air, and the reactions we got to us looking. Some were really excited to talk to a fellow new brand. Some, eehhh, not so much.

First pic is from one of our favorite booths we visited. Luna Leggings
Jennie Hearing was about the nicest person you want to meet, AND I loved her leggings. Really fun, unexpected, playful but hip & sophisticated color combos! That is not an easy balance to strike. To top it off, in our estimation, her booth was perfect. The first thing you saw was a clear shot to a creative, artful, carefully curated selection of her leggings, ie, she successfully showcased her pieces. That was flanked with very emotionally appealing pictures that just exuded fun and cool! The other prints and sizes were nealty hung to one side, not over crowded at all. We thought this booth not only had it's product right, but had it's visual approach right. Great colors, great display, very cool woman. I'm totally buying some for Ava. She will LOVE!

Next up, we both, like, fell over ourselves in love with poeme&poesie. Every single garment was a piece of art. Talk about special details! Words cannot express, so here are some pics...
Her booth, and the little overalls I fell in love with. Can't you just see a cute belly filling those out?!

Do you see this adorable little dude riding a horse on this bootie?!

me holding up a gown by poeme&poesie. I love the classic gray with the special decorative button placket!
Another fun stop was at Laughing Out Loud. The line is developed out of Peru, so you know where I'm going with how these pieces felt, right? The fabrics were out of this world soft. The styles were cute, sophisticated, and we really wished they came in our size. She also did a wonderful job with her booth. It wasn't too overdone. The clothes spoke for themselves. I really think that say a lot. All the mood in the world gets you only so far.
Laughing Out Loud
Two other fun stops were Feather Baby and Tane Organics
We didn't get to stop and chat with Feather Baby. But, I've long been an admirer. Beautiful prints, soft and touches of special details. They really bring out and compliment that soft, sweet baby feeling! I would have posted a pic from their site, but that isn't an option, and I'm going to respect that. But, the link is clickable, above. Do check them out!

I discovered Tane Organics last year. She is friendly professional and creative. Her line was LOVELY! I would have bet my entire line we snapped some pics. But, I cannot find a one. So, I pulled this one off her site. How cute?!
Tane Organics

Next up, we headed to Soho to check out Playtime. Playtime is like a feast of the eyes. It's a children's art installation, really. Booths arranged amidst artful displays, and each booth adding to that. These pieces, and these lines, spoke more to the art of the garment design. Also, color-wise, there was a distinct overall color story: stone neutrals with pops of jewel toned and/or primary brights. Whereas at ENK my impression was that there was more overall variety of color that spoke to the brand.

me checking out some really creative children's artwork
the floor, art and design winding and weaving

knitted display. sorry a little blurry!
beautiful brights!
loved this mobile installation, the shadows literally danced on the walls

At the end of the day, what are two designing girls to do in soho?? Umm, yeah?! We went to Antique Garage, had a glass of Champagne, recapped the day, reminisced about the past and dreamed about the future!

It doesn't matter what filter I put on this pic. I just don't look cute in it.
So, let's look at Kim, instead! Look how beautiful she is!!

Friday, March 9, 2012

All the moments add up

Happy Friday! It's a super, BIG, fun weekend ahead! My little dream team and I are attending the Playtime show and the ENK show. We're walking the floor to check out space, layout and to get inspired. Then, we're out for drinks to discuss and brainstorm! I'm so excited to have a day with these two wonderful women. They have been rock solid in their belief in me, and what the brand stands for. They are crazy talented, and I have a feeling I'm going to want to move into my booth space by the time we're done designing it! Check out Monday's post for a full update. 

As I close the week, and look towards the upcoming weekend. I've been taking note of all those little moments that have added up to what was really a wonderful week. Because when you look back, do you really remember be stuck in traffic, out of eggs, or mail you forgot to send? Probably not, and if you are, start a new mental record! Perception is everything!

Jonah: (Holding up an Olivia pig and handing me Llama) mama, will you pway wif me?
Me: sure!
Jonah: (pig to llama) hi, I'm owibdia. You my friend?
Me: hi, I'm llama! Yes, I'm you're friend.
Jonah: I wuv you (pig kisses & hugs llama) come wif me, wets pway!
Me: (melting)


Ava: But, I want to take care of Daddy too! Me and Jonah both want to!!
(after being told she was spending the night at her grandparents when Andrew got out of surgery)


Walking into the market, a little cutie barely walking come careening down the aisle at me, laughing. A few minutes later, still laughing, I saw him nuzzling his mom as well. His mom now laughing too. Buckling my seat belt I faintly heard the now familiar laughter, and looked out my window to see this happy little guy in his stroller laughing, babbling and pointing. I was now laughing too, again. THAT was joy. I'm honored to have witnessed it. And proof positive you can literally share your joy!


As we discussed new biz seed money
Andrew: Personally I see this as a much better investment of our money.


Ava rolling in the grass, frolicking around as she giggles and displays the "beeauteeeful" white flowers (weeds) growing in our yard like Vanna White. All the while she's chirping, happily:
it's spring, it's spring! It's so much fun bc it's spring!!


Andrew making me laugh so hard coffee dribbled out of my mouth and almost out of my nose.


Geese proudly, if a bit arrogantly, but certainly with conviction of sense of self, crossing the road while 5 VIPs in cars (myself included) are forced to wait, take a moment and watch. We all  look at each other as we pass, waving, laughing and smiling.


Jonah: Is that mine?? Is that my big one? Actually, I want a big one.
little head can be seen over the edge of the counter, as he excitedly bobs up and down on his toes trying to see into the bowls of yogurt Andrew can't fill fast enough


Beautiful, surprise, 70 degree, sunny walk with Andrew, holding hands and everything.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Social Media Storm

Just a quick post today, mostly bc I don't want this to turn into a rant. (read: me freaking out on my blog) 

I'm immerse in figuring out all things social media. I like it, I'm intrigued by it, I'd like to talk about it and brainstorm, buuuuut I'm a wee bit fuzzy on implementing it.

So, I'm home today with Andrew who is recovering from shoulder surgery. The kids have been with the grandparents for almost a full day, and honestly I've been enjoying the quiet time to read through everything I've been bookmarking for later, and attempting to really go through it and try it. It's dense to me. I'm not only learning how to do things, I'm learning the language as well. I'm just an simple artist and designer I guess. Never had the need or use for any of this, and now I'm slugging my way through it. sob. 

...aaaaand scene. I promise I'll quit with the drama. 

Just now I was reading up on pinterest. I ADORE it. Like crazy love. Deep. Crazy. Love. Borderline obsessive-weirdo love. My friend Kim of Design Thoughts first told me about it a good year ago. It had me at hello. Here's what is funny to me, I have friends who don't get it. I don't get that. It's visual bookmarking. If you ever kept a binder of print outs, a box of picture clippings, a pinboard of ideas, a travel folder, a mood board, or bookmarked a zillion websites...then you WILL love pinterest. However you see it best, you create a pinboard (or binder, or file cabinet, or folder...whatever makes the most sense for you as a container for the images), and then you add images that link back to their source (unless you upload off your iphone or computer). You add descriptions. You share. The applications for personal and professional use are endless. I have the iphone app. I've used it when getting my hair cut/colored. I've used it around the holidays. I've used it at the grocery store. I've used it visiting clients. All on my phone, on the go, easily accessible. I totally get all that. Here's what I don't get: how to link this all up properly?

I've over pinning to facebook bc my pinterest is linked to my facebook (both personal and biz page), and twitter. Twitter is linked up to my facebook page. So, if I pin one thing, it pins it immediately to: FB personal, FB biz, twitter... Then twitter does the same thing. If I remove the FB function from Pinterest, then followers can't access my FB page. Meanwhile, I cant get pinterest to link to my FB biz page, it will only link to my personal page. What's a girl to do?

This is just a microcosm of the larger social media storm I'm in. SEO is looming over me like a great big ripening thunderstorm. 

So, yeah, I'm sighing. I'm swearing (a bit). I'm learning

In other news, I made two updates to previous posts.
1) giving credit where credit is due: THANK YOU, Lisa Larson Kelley for inspiring My New Boat.
2) adding another suggestion to Diary of a Family Vacation: good, bad and ugly. UPDATE: Decide what a vacation means to you and do it.

As for the rest of business, I'm waiting to hear from factories, waiting to get samples in the mail, and headed to some tradeshows this weekend with my amazing creative dream team, to start brainstorming for belle&beanzer's first show this fall. More to come on that!

Monday, March 5, 2012

My new boat

My friend Lisa Larson Kelley sent me a link to a wonderful blog post by Danielle LaPorte.
In it, Danielle LaPorte describes this wonderful little story that inspired her post today:

"…a mythic band of magic-loving Irish folk. Feeling the call for newness, they would forge out to settle on a new island. Necessarily, they would make the journey by ship. When they arrived to their next land they would unpack — and then promptly burn their boats.
No desire to go back. Focused forward. New journey, new way of getting there, new results."
I immediately admired the bold confidence. But, truth is, I didn't get it completely. I read on…OOOH, I'm the boat. I got myself here doing what I'm used to, what I'm good at and it's comforting to continue on that way. But, does that also hold you back from a bright future that requires you to be more daring? To endure the discomfort of friction when you grow? To push through the ceiling that's hitting your head and putting pain in your neck?
At the end, there is an invitation to share "what boat do you need to burn?"
Funny, I was just sharing recently that my fear has gotten me far in life. I've doubted myself, so I've worked hard. There are many tools, like that, I've picked along the way that have gotten me where I wanted to go. 
But, about 2 years ago, it was like I'd forgotten how to paddle that boat any longer. I looked around and everything just looked strange and off to me. Was I the ONLY one who could see this wasn't right? That it wasn't working? 
In retrospect, the day that I looked around the streets in NYC and called my husband, I was lighting the match and burning that boat without realizing it. You can read more about this moment here: "5 people want to know"
It took me another year to fully grasp that, and get used to it. I wavered, waffled, went in and out of degrees of comfort, anxiety, excitement and depression over DOING IT. I compared myself to other brands, other entrepreneurs, friends, family, and small business owners. I freelanced and put off moving forward with confidence. I took what I felt I could get, instead of seeking what I wanted. I questioned everything I did, and desperately looked around me for outside validation and support. I tried to pull out my old tools…tried to paddle a new boat with old oars (yes, I'm going to beat this metaphor to death!!). 
It actually wasn't until rather recently that the entirety of the course of events really hit me. I've been paddling along side my gorgeous new boat for some time now. My way forward is through me. I'm going to ask myself the questions, and supply the answers from now on. belle&beanzer is from ME to YOU. It's exposing and vulnerable and entirely refreshing and exhilarating. The more I do it, the more I love it. 
So, for now, I'm climbed aboard and I'm floating happily in my new boat. Having just realized it, I'm in my honeymoon phase at the moment. I feel suntanned and strong, and the water is perfect! :) 

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Diary of a family vacation: good, bad and ugly

~~UPDATE 3/7~~
I realized I forgot to add a very important suggestion below. I don't know how I forgot it. I think this is why my blog posts take me so long, I don't want to forget anything!! See bottom for addition to what I've learned on our family vacation: Decide what "vacation" means to you and make room for it

This little family went on vacation

this little family had fun

this little girl liked swimming

this little boy did not

and this little family was slee-eee-eepy on the way home

So, you're a entrepreneur? A small business owner? You're a parent? It's your first trip away (from your business)? Flying? With the entire family and keeping your biz on track? Here's what I learned…

Set some reasonable goals
Decide what absolutely has to be done before you leave, and do it. It was a huge relief knowing things were are wrapped up as they could be before I left. My mind and energy were free for relaxing and having fun. 

It's all quick and convient, unless it's not
You've probably seen my vacation post, It looked Summer but it Was Not. My one post. My goal was at least 2-3 quick posts. In my head that was easy. Jonah would nap, Ava would have quiet time and I'd get a quick blog post done in 20 minutes. But, it just didn't work out that way.  That one post took longer (an entire Jonah nap), encountered unbelievable technical difficulties, and was a catalyst family bickering and irritability. Two things I'm realizing when you're balancing building a new biz and family: 1) you've got to roll with it a bit, 2) and check your priorities. I was on vacation. Vacation. With my family. My Family. All the rest is going to survive, and it did, despite the hiccups. 

Pack with Purpose
There are bazillions of websites dedicated to this. But, really, pack with purpose and intention. Don't pack for just in case. If you really need it and didn't pack it, you'll buy it or get resourceful. For the kids, the entertainment on the vacation, IS the vacation. We barely, and I mean BARELY played with a toy. Even the water toys sat there. All Ava wanted to do was practice swimming. For HOURS. All Jonah wanted to do was swim with me, or bury a car in the sand. We got them each one surprise toy for the airplane on the way out, and one movie on the way back. It worked perfectly. 
Jonah's surprise toy: lego helicopter. Building and playing took nearly entire flight
Poor ignored water toys. :(

The early bird knows a little secret - don't get stuck one bag of nuts
Take the early flight out and back. On the way out, we did and we were enjoying the pool by mid afternoon. On the way back, we took the late afternoon flight and we did enjoy the morning at the beach and swimming. But, our flight was rerouted, and we sat on a runway, and waited in line to get gassed up, and then flew back to the correct airport. We had nothing but a bag of nuts on us, and our airline that will remain unnamed was still charging for crappy snacks. It was a 3.5 hr detour and midnight before we got home, later before we got to bed. We all cranked out a bit the next day, and the next day. The kids are still out of sorts. Bags still need to be unpacked, laundry just getting done. Yeah, a bit sad to wake up and go, but it feels good to get home and get settled and feel ready for your next day.

Roll with it and Remember Why You're Doing It

My daughter dropped my phone in a wishing well, and my laptop just blatantly stopped working. I freaked out for a minute, and then just went with it. I looked at my family and reminded myself WHY. So, I was literally unplugged for 4 days. It was an unfortunate little mess I had to clean up when I got home, but it all worked out. My laptop is cleaned up and working better than ever, and I have a brand new phone.


Decide what "vacation" means to you and make room for it
Prepping professionally: wrapping up calls, emails, packages, etc., packing for a family, travelling, spending 24x7 time with your family, nap schedules off or non-existant, mangled bed time routines, travel hiccups, cleaning-up, unpacking, laundry, getting back to work and school...these are just a few things in-store when you're on a family vacation. In the end, it can feel a bit less like a real vacation, and you come home pretty darn tired. No wonder staycations are so popular with families! So, my suggestion? You and your partner should decide in advance what are the elements that make a vacation feel like a vacation for you. For us, we decided that having 1-2 hours in the morning to wake up (quietly), grab a cup of coffee and go for a health walk on the beach, to spend 1 full 24 hours just the two of us, and 1 dinner out, felt like a vacation to us. We did not get to do this, and we had a truly wonderful time. But, we also decided that it should be added into the vacation budget for next time. Ask the grandparents, hire the resort sitter, or look up the local babysitting services and give yourself  a gift of vacation of YOU/YOU TWO time. It doesn't make you a crap parent(s), and it's not contrary to the whole idea of vacation. Remember when your well is replenished and full, you have more to bring to your family!

My Moment
I watched our children with their grandparents and I really saw them together for the first time. In the moment, it touched my heart deeply. In the middle of the night, I woke up with a loud and clear thought, "Grandparents really get how quickly this all goes." My tension, and urgency for control relaxed tremendously. The grandparents just want to soak up every delicious minute. I understand that. Me too. 

Next up… I Hit the ground running as soon as we got home. Samples arriving and fittings happening already this week. I'm downright euphoric! Beautiful samples, excellent (and I mean EXCELLENT) construction and quality, deliciously soft fabric, ideal feedback from families, and fitting babies beautifully. Picture sharing to come soon. In fact, I'll be doing a large dedication to the 2 year prototyping journey just 1 garment went on.

Bloopers and Outtakes
Day before vacation: GIRL'S DAY
I'll admit it, I took outfit pics of myself so I could compare. I caught this little ditty after the fact in the corner of one pic. This kid totally kills me! I adore her spirit and personality!
my fashion girl
First time in flight
He looks like such a big boy in this pic
Looking at Hairplanes
aka airplanes
She's not kidding around
seriously, no pictures. respect my personal space.
Chubby Cheeks
I don't ever get tired of little cheeks

Getting Silly
me and ava being silly
My man

3 second photos
my girl

My Mojito, His milk