For months I have been trying to come up with a blog. Why? Because I am writer, a communicator, and I am fascinated with this online world. I know bloggers and I think “I can do that”. But then I don’t. I get stuck. Why? Truthfully, I don’t want to share the ins and outs of my day with the world. At least not on a regular basis. I’m not private, necessarily. Or at least I never thought of myself that way. But I am also not at the height of my game. I have regular screaming matches with my teenager. We struggle with $4 at the gas pump (along with everyone else). I drive a carpool. Seriously – who cares? I don’t want to have a blog of complaints – who would read it? I can’t imagine writing it.
So the advice is, write about that which you have passion. It could have been worded differently. But you get the idea. And what I love I have always known and considered but then thought – really? Aren’t there enough people out there doing that? Loving kid stuff? And there are. But not the way I do. And lots of time, not the same stuff. Why? Cause I have seen it all! Well, at least a lot. Let me tell you about myself.
I started a children’s product website BEFORE etoys ever launched. I had been invited to attend a Gift Show for retail buyers in LA and walking those many aisles that day 14+ years ago was a life changer. I was hooked. Never had I seen so much great stuff! What store carried it? Where could it be bought? It’s not like I live in the boonies and didn’t have retail. In my adult past alone, I had lived in New York, London, and San Francisco. I had shopped! Newport Beach, where I lived then and now, was/is the mecca of retail haven for many – I had seen stuff before! But this was different. Some items were brand new! No stores had even had the opportunity to purchase them before. It was truly thrilling – but how to make it my world? And then it came to me (things like that often do – let me tell you – if I had some financial backing and an assistant, I could rule the world!) – not a children’s product catalog (too expensive to produce) but an online children’s product catalog. Believe it or not – this was a groundbreaking idea back then. When I tried to explain it to people, there was plenty of concern as to whether or not anyone would ever put their credit card information online. Think about that for a moment. I do not consider myself old but when I think about the magnitude with which things have changed within my adult life, I am awed… Okay – enough awe, I digress (which is why I love a blog – I can digress or do anything else I want! It is mine!) So a year plus and a business plan later, I launched my site, duckduckgoose.com. I sold some really cute stuff. I met with investors. But I was a little too early – most investors didn’t quite get it.
So I decided to learn a little more about the children’s toy and gift industry through some other retailer eyes and I became a sales rep for what ultimately became 40+ lines of specialty products. During my eight year tenure as a rep, I worked and walked many trade shows from New York to Pomona. I saw lines come and go. (Was just thinking about one of my old favorites – the knotty dolls – earlier this week – I wonder if they are still around? ) I saw unique lines develop only to be copied and mass-produced by the big guys. I saw terrible lines that had to have some sort of financial backing which left me with a whole different kind of wonder. And I developed an eye for the it thing. The thing that was not out in every store. The thing that had enough merit to warrant just being in existence (it is amazing how many things don’t pass this test!). The thing that could be sold at a price that made sense for what it was. And the thing that would pass both the child and the parent test – it would make sense in both worlds.
One of my customers recognized that I had developed this eye and brought me on as her children’s bookstore buyer for all non-book items. A dream job for me if ever there was one. My husband said that I went to work happy and came home happy. I was in my element! As circumstances changed, I became the buyer of children’s books, as well. I learned the book industry a crazy fast pace (thanks to the brilliant help of many a great rep!) and began to develop the eye within all things published as well. The book that had a great message – one that readers hadn’t encounter 8 bazillion times before. The illustrator who used unique media and colors to create pages that one wants to climb inside. The read aloud that a parent enjoys as much as the child. The book whose author truly crafts each beautiful sentence. Heaven.
But then the economy did it’s thing, and money dried up, and stores closed. And I moved on. I ran my own small business bringing book fairs to local schools for a while. It allowed me to pursue catalogs and continue to receive ARCs (advanced reader copies of books – which I really tried to read!). But it didn’t work $ wise.
So while I am continuing to piece together my next big project, I know that my passion is kid stuff – kid products, kid books, kid projects, kid events. I am excited to have a home to make note of the stuff I love. If you know of products, or manufacture your own, I am happy to take a peek. For now, let’s get started.