Friday, June 27, 2008

Inspirational thought

Wrinkles should merely indicate where smiles have been.-Mark Twain

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Quick Breakfast Treat

You might have noticed I'm a huge fan of the Barefoot Contessa. I love the simplicity of her delicious recipes. Here's another yummy creation of Ina Garten's, a Sunrise Smoothie.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

New wovens now available!

We've added three new wovens, Roller Coaster, Star Paisley and Oxford Stripe to the website this week. Be one of the first to customize your little one's wardrobe with these fabulous new prints!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Connections: Blue Sky Papers

Our featured Connection today is Courtney Bartik of Blue Sky Papers. A mutual dear friend of ours introduced us after listening to us talk to her about similar local manufacturing and small business marketing issues. I am very grateful to have friends such as Courtney to discuss all the start up challenges that we entrepreneurs face.

Here's what Courtney has to share with us about her personalized keepsake business.

1. Describe your product/service?
Blue Sky Papers is a company that hand-makes, high-quality keepsake books and guest books. We sell themed kits, where everything needed is included, such as baby shower keepsake books, baby memory books, legacy books and wedding guest books. We also provide custom services.

2. Why did you create it?
My flagship keepsake book, and the reason to be, is the baby shower keepsake book. I created this gift for a dear friend for her baby shower. I wanted something original, that would set the day apart from all others and would be meaningful. And the baby shower keepsake was born!

3. Why do you produce locally (made in the USA)?
I do this because I believe in the US. I try to live by my values and I am proud to make product here in the US. I would not be proud selling out to China what I could do here - have local people and businesses support each other. Keep in mind that this decision is tough because in the novelty market, where the majority of the manufacturers make overseas, the competition is fierce. It is a decision I face on a regular basis, but it is the one that is closest to my heart.

4. What are you most proud of?
I am proud of my accomplishments in such a short period of time. I am proud of my contribution in creating joy and meaning in the lives of others. I have a page on my web dedicated to the stories people have shared where my products have touched them. The great testimonials of how my product heightened their special day LITERALLY make my day. THIS is why I do what I do.

5. What is your big thought (next bit step) for your company?
Oh, my! There are so many directions I could take my company. I am really focused on Internet business right now - it is almost the only way I can stay in business - selling direct to the customer. I can't wait to get back to product creation! I have a bunch of ideas up my sleeve. I am going to try to license some of them to other large companies with distribution channels as I feel that mine is limited. And with all the knock-offs, I can't afford to put out an original idea without the sales channels to push the product.

Thanks for sharing with us Courtney!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Kind Words from Simple

Many thanks to Simple for their review of Hand Picked Pumpkin posted below.

"hand picked pumpkin was great to work with. I love how you get to design your own clothes. They have fantastic designs and colors to chose from. So modern and funky! I love earth tones and bright colores together. I love all one piece outfits with snaps at the I wanted to try out the Long Sleeve Lap Playsuit and I chose Chocolate Brown (my favorite) for the knit part of the body, and the cuffs and neck part are outlined chocolate stripe. Just simply adorable. The fabric is so soft and cuddly. I have not seen a company that does this. Where you pick the design, style, fabric, and colors of your whole outfit. So you will always get what you want.
BUY IT: Long Sleeve Lap Playsuit for $58. They have MANY other fantastic clothing items that you will just love. Go start creating our outfit today."

Friday, June 20, 2008

Inspirational thought

You can't be brave if you've only had wonderful things happen to you.
- Mary Tyler Moore

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Babyplays: Netflix for toys

A friend recently passed along a link to Babyplays and I thought it was worth posting. It appears this site works similar to Netflix. You select a plan that works for you and your child, use the toys as long as you like and then exchange them for the next grouping. As "toy management" sometimes feels like a full job duty around our house I thought this plan had some real value.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Many thanks to Handmade Boutique

Many thanks to Handmade Boutique for featuring Hand Picked Pumpkin on their lovely site.

The Handmade Boutique prides its self on directing their users to the best handmade items available on the web. They hand-pick every designer featured to ensure quality.

Hand Picked Pumpkin prides itself on the quality of their custom couture line of baby clothing and is elated when attention is drawn to that platform.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Inspirational thought

Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive. -Harold Whitman

Thursday, June 12, 2008

When mom doesn't have time to bake from scratch

Yesterday was my older son's 9th Birthday! I've treated Brandon to many a homemade airplane-designed cake in the past. (He's been obsessed with aircraft since at age two).
Anyhoo...this mama is multi-tasking to the maximum these days so this year we went simple, very simple. No fancy design and basically added butter.
Thought I'd pass along my favorite cake mix for those times when mom doesn't have time to bake from scratch: Cherrybrook Kitchen.
All of Cherrybrook's products are made free of dairy, egg or nuts. We have a nut allergy in the house but honestly, the taste of these cakes is so much better than all the other name brands on the market that we continue to use Cherrybrook more for flavor than anything else!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Living Heathly & Green: Shaklee

I'm going to start this post just by saying, Shaklee is AWESOME!!

The first cleaning product I purchased was GET CLEAN Scour Off. I picked it up because my little guy has a bad habit of picking up his older brother's Sharpees and drawing on furniture. I had heard Scour Off could take off Sharpee. I've tried many, many products, none of which have worked so I was a bit skeptical. But Scour Off worked! And surprisingly for a green product, smells lovely!

My mother-in-law who just came in for a visit brought a bag of GET CLEAN Dish Wash Automatic Concentrate. One again, awesome! I'm especially intrigued by the very little scoop of detergent required.

Here's a link to a green checklist I found on Shaklee's site which I thought was worth passing along. 4 Simple Ways to get Clean.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Connections: CADDi

Today our featured Connection is about someone I very recently met. Barbara Hranilovich plopped down next to me at the recent Ladies Who Launch LIVE event (which I spoke about a few weeks ago) here in Chicago. It is because of Barbara's motivating words on that day that I signed up for LWL incubator intensive (which leads into a whole new topic and series of posts). Here's what Barbara has to share with us about her beverage CADDI.

1. Describe your product/service?
The CADDi is a personal beverage carrier. It fits most standard tapered cups for hot or cold beverages. It's a convenience accessory, letting people carry beverages with a single finger.
This leaves hands free for the phone, keys, door handles, suitcases, strollers and umbrellas. Swinging a beverage is a lot more relaxing than maintaining that familiar crooked-writs pose.

2. Why did you create it?
I woke up with the idea. I thought it was either really dumb or really smart. A survey gave me the confidence to pursue it. For some time I've wanted to take a mass-production idea from concept to the street and it's been a great and fascinating learning experience. Since I'm a make-one-sell-one artist, I've looked for something that could bring in another stream of income that can continue whether I'm at the drawing board or not.

3. Why do you produce locally (made in the USA)?
Unfortunately, I don't. My contact is in Atlanta, but the product is made in China. I have pursued manufacture here, but have not even managed to get people to call back. I've had a couple of false starts, but no follow-through. I decided that if I can get the item to take off I may have more credibility and the ability to get the CADDis made here. My wish is to have organic ones made in Michigan some day.

4. What are you most proud of?
I'm proud that I've stuck with it. I have a short attention span and this has required several years of development and early marketing and more patience than I thought I had. I've also faced a lot of unknowns and it hasn't killed me yet.

5. What is your big thought (next bit step) for your company?
Simply - sales. It's a very unfamiliar and uncomfortable arena for me. Sales may seem simple, but to me it's VERY big. I'm trying to introduce a whole new concept, so there's the chicken-egg thing. People won't buy them if they don't know what they are. They won't know what they are till people use them. For many reasons I'm concluding my current market is marketing and events...sports, trade shows, conferences, concerts etc. This was where I started a couple of years ago, but it took be awhile to come back around to that as a focus market.

Thanks for sharing Barbara! And thanks for inventing a product to help those of us who frequently have coffee plus much more in hand.

Monday, June 9, 2008

New fall/winter limited edition line in design phase

I'm in the process of designing a new limited edition ready-made girls line for fall. The line will feature our best sellers including the flare pant, long sleeve lap tee, reversible hoodie, shirt dress and crew playsuit.
I just love our newer fabric Carnival Bloom so I'll be using that print in several of the designs. Carnival Bloom is one of those fabrics that makes you smile. I also love it because it compliments so many of our woven offerings including: daisy cocoa, daisy pink, tiny check cocoa, dumb dot brown, and cherry good old stripe just to name a few!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Inspirational Thought

If you would have a happy family life, remember two things: in matters of principle, stand like a rock. In matters of taste, swim with the current. - Thomas Jefferson

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Chocolate Chip Scones

What is better than bakery, warm and fresh from the oven in the morning? We love these Chocolate Chip Scones from the December 2000 issue of Bon Appetit.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Connections: Custom Made for Kids

I've met so many wonderful people on this new entrepreneurial adventure. The other day I started thinking I should talk more about their products and the people behind the brands; so I've started a Tuesday post titled, Connections. Connections will feature the founder(s) of companies who have lent support, inspiration, ideas, friendship - I'm sure you get the point!.

I met the founders of our first featured company, Custom Made For Kids last fall. Sarah and Sarah (who also live just outside Chicago) called to chat about my experience with the Boom Boom Room. We met for coffee and have been emailing about business since. I asked Sarah and Sarah of Custom Made For Kids to share a bit about their incredible adventure!

1. Describe your product/service?

"The First Adventures of Incredible You" is one of the most highly personalized children's books on the market today. Customers are able to "build" a one-of-a kind book at the Custom Made For Kids website ( by inserting over 20 personal facts about a child and the people and places that are most important to that child. From tasting a favorite food to cheering on a beloved sports team to visiting a special vacation spot or park, this rhyme-based book celebrates the first adventures of every young child that "stars" in it. By personalizing these experiences, "The First Adventures of Incredible You" highlights the connection between children and the people and places that are special to them in their young lives.

There is also a dedication page in the full-color, hardcover book where you may provide a personal message so that the child will always remember that this thoughtful gift came from you. The delightful illustrations are cleverly executed so that the book is perfect for any child -- no matter what their sex, race or family structure. "The First Adventures of Incredible You" makes a memorable keepsake that both children and parents alike will cherish for a lifetime.

2. Why did you create it?

We really enjoyed receiving personalized gifts as mothers of young children and we recognized a hole in the personalized book market that we thought we could fill. We noticed that there were very few high quality, hardcover personalized books on the market, and those that did exist only had the child's name and birth date available for insertion in the book. We wanted to bring the personalized book business to the next level and offer a book that had 20+ details available for inclusion and really make the child feel that the book was written especially for them (without costing a fortune at $32.95)!

3. Why do you produce locally (made in the usa)?

We wanted to work very closely with our printer to be sure that our customers received the highest quality book possible. We were able to view and approve all of the color and page quality in person before any printing was done. The comments we have received from customers and press on the high quality paper and eye-popping colors in this book have made it all worth while!

4. What are you most proud of?

We love hearing from our customers about the reactions their children have when they receive our books. They can't believe it when they hear their names as well as their friends' and family members' names repeated through out the book. We are also very proud of being chosen by Pottery Barn Kids to be carried in their online catalog. That pretty much gave us affirmation that we had an excellent product on our hands and that all of our hard work was paying off!

5. What is your big thought (next bit step) for your company?

People are already asking us (after only offering the book since August of 2007) when our next book is coming out. So, we plan to develop some additional personalized books and we hope to add some complimentary products to go with our books. We are also just trying to enjoy this exciting ride as well!

Thanks for sharing Sarah and Sarah!

Custom Made For Kids is offering Hand Picked Pumpkin readers 15% of their purchases thru June 30, 2008. To redeem this special offer use code hpp15.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Our June Pumpkin of the Month

Here's Shelby, our newest pumpkin of the month! Her mom Miranda added this note:

"I really appreciate the uniqueness of Hand Picked Pumpkin clothing (even the limited edition ready-made line). I also love the variety of colors and patterns...especially for my girl. It's refreshing to put in traditional "boy" colors with feminine accents."

Congratulations Shelby and Miranda on receiving a $50 hpp gift certificate!