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Friday, February 28, 2014

Feature Friday: Boobdesign Maternity & Nursing Wear

If you're pregnant or a nursing mom, you know how challenging it can be to find clothes that are comfortable, bump/ nursing- friendly, and fashionable. Until you have to contend with the fashion accessory that is a baby bump or try to find tops that accommodate breast feeding, you probably take for granted looking in your closet and grabbing the first thing you see. As long as it goes with your outfit, you're good to go. Not so much once you become pregnant or have a little one to feed. Suddenly unless it's stretchy, has a neckline you can pull down or is easy to pull up, your wardrobe selection becomes somewhat more limited. 
Today's featured business is Boobdesign, a Swedish design company offering fashionable maternity and nursing wear. I'm always looking to support ladies in business, especially when they offer a quality product that is made from environmentally friendly material and offers a solution to the challenges motherhood can present. I learned about the company when I interviewed Beth Fairchild from Steveston Village Maternity (check out that post here); her store carries the line and told me how impressed she- and her customers- are with the products. The founder of Boobdesign, Mia Seipel, started the company after witnessing her sister nursing her nephew on a cold windy day in her native Sweden, having to expose her waist to the elements to feed her baby. A common challenge with breast feeding is the logistics involved; we have to be organized to do it in public! If you're hoping to be or are pregnant or a nursing mama looking for options that are fashionable and accommodate the unique needs this presents to our wardrobes, Boobdesign is a great brand to check out!

And now for some more about Boob from founder Mia...

1.    What kind of products and/ or services do you offer?
At Boobdesign we make smart clothes and other products for every stage of maternity. For pregnancy as well as nursing. As Boob is a company that exists because babies are born it is natural for us to make our products with care for the future and the planet we live on. That is why we always strive to find the most environmentally friendly materials and keep our production in factories that care both about the environment and the workers.

2.    What is the price point?
Middle price with loads of added value in terms of function, quality, and sustainability.
3.    How long have you been operating and how did you start?
      The idea behind Boob was born on a cold, windy day in autumn 1999. I watched my sister Lotta nurse her newborn son in a park in Stockholm, waist bare to the icy northern wind. Based on my sister’s needs, I recognised that a mother, like any other superhero, needs pro gear. The solution was Boob nursing wear – a Swedish patented innovation that allows mothers to nurse comfortably and at the same time stay stylish.

4.    How did you decide what to do?
I have never made a proper career plan. It is more that one thing has led to the other. For me curiosity has been an important trigger for where I have ended up.  Boob was and is an ongoing exciting journey and my role in the company has changed a lot over the years. I started off doing basically everything. Then I was CEO and designer for 10 years and today I work as a creative director with a focus on the product and overall brand image.
5.    What is your favourite part of what you do? What is the biggest challenge?
I really enjoy working with the big picture and I think it is also where I have my strength. I have been fortunate to meet and work with great people that are all much better at the details than I am. The biggest challenge today is how to reach out with our sustainability work.

6.    Any advice to other ladies/ moms looking to start their own business?
Make a business plan and sort our your biggest possibilities and threats. In that way you might be able to see the obstacles a bit in advance. Be aware of fixed costs in the beginning. Maybe a fancy office is not the most important to start with.

The full collection is available to buy at www.boobdesign.com. For all resellers in Canada visit the store locator http://www.boobdesign.com/content/store-locator.aspx

 All photos & logo courtesy of Boobdesogn. 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Modern Family Expo Overview Part 2

This past Sunday I attended the Modern Family Expo, an event focused on promoting healthy and eco- friendly options for families. The organizers did a great job coordinating a variety of vendors offering natural and health- conscious products and services; the businesses ranged from local, small scale operations to national and international companies. In order to give the amazing businesses and individuals I met the attention they deserve, I have broken up my coverage of the event into two posts. You can view my first post highlighting the event sponsors here

The entry to the vendor and speaker areas & the $10,000 worth of swag up for gabs.

I did my best to meet as many of the vendors as possible. Those I spoke to I have organized below, so you can come back and go through them as you have time. These amazing businesses- many of them founded and based right here in Metro Vancouver- are worth supporting, and I hope you will check them out. For the complete list of vendors from the Modern Family Expo, click here

Health & Wellness
From Tummy to Mummy
As a Certified Birth Doula and Placenta Encapsulation Specialist, Kate Minder helps families transition into life with a newborn. If you're unsure about the idea of placenta encapsulation, the health benefits may change your mind. Kate is a lovely lady who I'm proud to have featured (click here to view). If you're considering your options for a natural birth experience, From Tummy to Mummy can help you achieve your goal.

Leap! Therapy for Kids
Leap!'s goal is to give children the confidence and skills they need to be successful and offers comprehensive therapy services for kids from infancy through the teen years. Programs include physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech language therapy, and dietician services. Individual and group programs available. 

With the help of Dietician Kristen Yarker, parents can teach their children to try new foods without hassle and turn picky eaters into "food confident kids". If you're trying to get your child(ren) to be better eaters, Kristen can help; 5% of each in- home session is donated to Breakfast for Learning, a non- profit organization that helps make healthy options available to kids in school food programs.

Free from preservatives, added sugar, and artificial flavours, Vega One supplements are available in shake powder and bar form. A source of a variety of nutrients including protein, probiotics, omega-3s, and antioxidants, this is a great option for those seeking allergy- friendly health options. Gluten free, dairy free, and soy free.

A local franchise offering pre and postnatal fitness for ladies with kids. All franchisees/ instructors are Certified Fitness Instructors and/ or Personal Trainers with additional certification in pre and postnatal fitness instruction. 

Specializing in paediatric occupational therapy, Sleep Dreams addresses concerns such as sleep, feeding, and cognitive/ motor development. Operated by a team of Registered Occupational Therapists, the company evaluates sleep concerns and the effect on behaviour to help families achieve a better night's sleep. Because staff are registered occupational therapists many extended health care plans cover the cost of consultation.

Based in France, Boiron offers homeopathic alternatives to traditional medicine. With products for the whole family including cold/ cough/ flu medicine for infants, children, and adults, Boiron products are great if you're looking for a natural choice. (I have used their teething drops and mentioned them in my post about teething here).

In support of mothers providing the nutritional benefits of breast milk to their babies, Medela makes products such as breast pumps and bottles for nursing women. In addition, the company offers support and information to help make breast feeding and breast milk feeding as simple as possible. 

Fun For Kids

Founded by local moms when one of their daughters was diagnosed with celiac disease and had to wear gloves to participate in crafts, Giggles Fun Dough is an allergy friendly play dough. Free from a variety of allergens including gluten and soy (to view the whole list, click here) and containing no artificial dyes or perfumes, this is a natural alternative to the mass- produced variety. Added bonus: you're supporting local mompreneurs when you buy it!

Another great local business with an inspiring story. When Joey Simon delivered her baby boy at 26 weeks, she and her husband were warned he may suffer from developmental issues due to his premature birth. In an effort to help her son, Joey and her husband, both artists, encouraged their son to develop a love for art. When other parents started asking Joey if she would offer classes, 4 Cats was born! With locations throughout Canada, the US, Australia, and Mexico, 4 Cats offers classes and camps to help children learn about all aspects of art.

In Good Company 

A co- op of several local small businesses and artisans, In Good Company is essentially several stores within a store. Co- op members share the cost of operation and staffing responsibilities allowing them valuable retail space and work- life balance hard to find with traditional jobs. Products include local, handmade items, clothing, and choices for kids and babies. Check out two of the current co-op members,YaYa Baby and Boske Kids. I love this concept and hope to see more operations like this in the future.

Crocodile Baby
Locally owned and operated, Crocodile Baby strives to "be the local store for everybody". The company offers quality products with a focus on natural and sustainable options and seeks to differentiate itself through excellent customer service and attention to detail. Crocodile Baby offers free furniture delivery for large items such as cribs, and has $5 flat rate shipping for residents in the Lower Mainland.

Pure Anada 
Free from chemicals such as parabens and phalates, Pure Anada offers natural makeup artist quality cosmetic and skincare products. With everything from mascara and mineral makeup to vegan makeup brushes, Pure Anada has everything to stock your makeup bag with natural beauty.

With products such as organic cotton bedding, Pottery Barn Kids is recognizing the shift in demand for products made from sustainable and natural sources. While it isn't a small- scale local operation, a large company such as Pottery Barn has the ability to have a big impact through it's buying power. When consumers purchase products such as the organic cotton baby bedding, they send a strong message to the company and their suppliers that these options are becoming more in- demand. Having trouble perfecting your nursery vision? Pottery Barn Kids offers complimentary design services to help you make your baby's room eco- friendly and beautiful. 

Tasty Treats
With 10 lbs of nutrient- rich ingredients such as protein, fruits, and vegetables in every 1 lb muffin, U- Be- Livin- Smart proves that natural and healthy can be delicious. Allergy- friendly, the muffins contain no flour, oil, or added sugar and are free from additives and preservatives. Available at large chain stores such as Save On Foods, Pricesmart, Urbanfare, and Whole Foods.

Tea Sparrow 

A monthly tea membership, Tea Sparrow deals directly with tea sommeliers, blenders, and farmers to bring quality unique teas to their members. Each month members receive a tea box containing 4 teas (with enough tea to make approx. 35 cups) with information and instructions for the specific varieties.  If a member likes one enough, Tea Sparrow will put them directly in touch with the blender to purchase more. Another great local gem I am happy to have discovered!

A brand spanking new business started by a local lady, Diya's Delights makes natural and delicious fruit and nut snacks. Another great option for those with allergies and sensitivities, Diya's products are gluten free, contain no added sugar or preservatives, and are vegan friendly. Coming soon to a store near you.

The Cocoa Nuts 
Using organic and fair trade ingredients, The Cocoa Nuts provide gourmet hand- crafted chocolates for special events. A Vancouver- based company, these ladies create decadent goodies while ensuring their ingredients are ethically sourced. Another local business I am proud to have featured (click here).

If you're looking for something a little different, how about freeze- dried fruit as a snack? Each bag contains 2 servings of fruit from non GMO sources. Another option for vegans, this snack is also OU Kosher certified an is free from peanuts/ tree nuts, gluten, soy, and dairy. Available at a variety of retailers.

Hidden Garden

Another healthy, natural, and allergy- friendly snack option, Hidden Garden cookies are vegetables in disguise. If you're not a fan of vegetables, these cookies will help you meet your daily recommended amount with half a serving of vegetables in each cookie. Free from gluten, nuts, preservatives, and containing no artificial colours and flavours. 

Non- Profit
Baby Go Round

Started by a group of local moms, Baby Go Round collects used items for babies and children between the ages of 0- 4 years and distributes them to families in need. I am proud to have featured Baby Go Round (you can view the post here) and think this organization is an example of what makes Vancouver amazing: the people who live here. For a list of items Baby Go Round collects click here.

I really enjoyed meeting these vendors and love how many amazing local businesses we have here in Metro Vancouver, large and small. I hope you will check some or all of them out and remember that supporting local makes for a happy and healthy local economy. <3

Image Sources: 
Photos by Katherine Petrunia

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Spring Break Travel Ideas

In a few weeks it will be Spring Break (already?! When did that happen???) and if you're hoping to get out of town there's still time to book a getaway far away or close to home. Since everyone likes a little something different and has different budgets to work with, I got some family- friendly suggestions from Gary of Gary Gallant Travel for Spring Break 2014. Whether you're looking for familiar or want to try something a little different, I hope these ideas help you enjoy Spring Break 2014! A big thank you to Gary for contributing the following post.

Spring Break Travel Ideas It’s Time For Some Sun! 
It will soon be here.  And, there are the annual questions, “What to do … and, where to go”?  It is an exciting time of year because Spring Break marks our passage into Spring and Summer… lots to look forward to! Whether you're looking for a cruise or resort vacation to somewhere far away or maybe just  a mini trip south of the border, there are lots of great family- friendly travel options.

Take your family on a cruise vacation.  
Cruising is gaining popularity and is an excellent option for a family group to enjoy a break away together.  There are many cruise lines to choose from, and they all have excellent children’s programs for all ages including teens.  Cruise ships are very safe environments and provide satisfaction for each member of the family, young and old alike.
So what to look for?  If it has a high service level, the adults are going to be pampered as well as the kids.  Definitely check on what the kids programs are, and what the ages are in each group.  If you have teenagers, find out what is offered for them.

Popular Family Cruise Destinations in the Spring
The Mexican Riviera, Caribbean, Hawaii, and the South Pacific are all big hits for Spring cruise travel.  Some good considerations for cruises catering to families are: Disney Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, Celebrity Cruises, Oceania Cruises, and even Holland America Line.  If you are looking for a more “all-inclusive” upscale experience for everyone, then consider: Azamara Club CruisesOceania Cruises, Cunard Line, Crystal Cruises, Silversea Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruise Line, and Seabourn Cruise Line.

Popular Family Resort Destinations
If you would rather have a resort vacation Mexico, Cuba, the Caribbean Islands, and Dominican Republic are popular family- friendly destinations.  The best option is to choose an “all-inclusive” resort, so you will know exactly what it's going to cost you; meals, beverages, accommodations, and some entertainment will be covered in your fee.  In addition, all inclusives generally have activities at an added cost, but you can have a great time with the basic package.  For an “Everything Included” vacation, look at resorts like Beaches Resorts where absolutely everything comes in your booking package.
Again, check out the specific kids programs being offered.  Are there kid’s pools and kid specific activities?  How many restaurants are there?  What are the extras offered for an additional feet?  Make sure there will be something for everyone to enjoy and feel satisfied.  The children and youth should be able to get as much value out of the vacation as the adults.

Destinations Closer to Home 
Travelling out of BC and the surrounding areas, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Florida are popular family choices.  Attractions such as Disneyland and Walt Disney World are a must at some point with most families.
If you are looking for more snow and ice, then of course that is a different story!
The best advice is to consult your Cruise & Resort Professional who can help you sort through the choices to create a vacation perfect for the whole family!
More cruise & resort destinations to come in future articles.  Til then, keep cruisin’!
– Gary Gallant

We are excited to feature a series on Cruise Holidays.  Our travel expert, Gary Gallant will be sharing some exciting Cruise & Travel Destinations with you over the coming weeks.  Gary is a Cruise & Travel Professional with Expedia CruiseShipCenters, and has been in the industry for 14 years.  His passions are people and travel.  See below for his contact and social media info.

To have Gary help you with your vacation plans, contact him at:
Direct Phone: 604-830-2272

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Modern Family Expo Overview Part 1

This past Sunday I attended the Modern Family Expo and all I have to say is WOW! I had a great time meeting the organizers, sponsors, and vendors and was really impressed with the variety of businesses, with so many of them based right here in Metro Vancouver. Do I need to remind you again how big I am on supporting local???

The event was held at the Pinnacle Hotel on the Pier in North Vancouver. A beautiful venue overlooking the water. The only complaint I observed about the venue was that the elevators presented a bit of a bottle neck for strollers, as the event was held on the second floor. And really, if the only complaint is that the turnout challenged the elevator capacity, I think you've got a pretty successful event on your hands!

The Sponsor Area

Speaking with the sponsors and vendors, I was told how impressed they were with the organization, layout, and flow of the set- up. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves, and based on the attendance I witnessed, were not deterred by the snowy weather outside (for those outside Vancouver, you need to know this is a pretty rare occurrence for us!). To help the amazing individuals and businesses I met get the attention they deserve, I'm going to break the event coverage up over two posts; one focusing on the sponsors and one focused on the vendors I spoke with. If you're looking for an event that supports local, eco- friendly businesses, the Modern Family Expo is definitely worth checking out. If you missed this one, I hope you get a chance to go next time!

 The entry to the main event including vendors, workshops, and feature speakers

The Sponsors
Bullfrog Power powered the Expo with clean, pollution free electricity. Using wind and low- impact hydro power sources from Canadian renewable energy facilities- of which at least 50% is from local sources- Bullfrog Power's generators matched the power used by the Expo by putting 100% green electricity on the grid. This renewable energy provider offers power for home and business across Canada (you can see which businesses are Bullfrog powered here). If you are looking for alternatives to traditional energy sources, make sure you check out this amazing company.

With four locations in BC, Whole Foods is gaining ground in the local market. Offering natural and organic foods with a commitment to sustainable agriculture and maintaining strict industry quality standards, this California- based company is shifting the products consumers have available to them. In addition to offering quality, natural products, the company gives back to the countries where their products hail from. The Whole Planet Foundation is a private, nonprofit that microfinances institutions to support the self- employed workers in Asia, Africa, the Americas, and Middle East. Through loan programs, training, and providing financial support, the Whole Foods Foundation seeks to give back to those who live in the countries where their products are sourced; 100% of proceeds donated go to the Foundation's efforts, with Whole Foods paying all administrative costs out of it's own pocket. A company with a conscience? That's the kind of business I'm happy to support.

A great resource for families living in Vancouver, GTA, and Calgary, yoyomama offers information on eco- friendly activities including events, travel, local services, and at- home ideas. Through it's website, email newsletter, social media and mobile app (OnTheGoKids) yoyomama helps busy families conveniently find great events and services in their area. As an award- winning company, they are  careful to only promote those events, services, and ideas that have been a hit with their own families. As an added bonus, the company offers exclusive promotions and discounts from it's advertising partners to it's email subscribers (a great way to have fun and save!). A fantastic local resource founded by a Mom- what more could you ask for?

Founded by husband and wife team Laurie & Todd, YogaPod has been in business on the North Shore for 13 years. Through deepening yoga practices, the couple seek to help their visitors experience life more fully. Whether helping heal ailments or simply helping visitors experience a more fulfilled life, Yogapod offers a variety of options. They also offer Om Mama prenatal yoga suitable for all levels of experience and progression of pregnancy. You can check out YogaPod's Schedule & Rates and book online. Another great local business I'm so happy to have connected with!

Located in West Vancouver, Mulgrave School seeks to inspire excellence in education and life in it's students through it's Four Strands approach. Through a balanced focus on academics, arts, athletics, and citizenship, the vision of Mulgrave School is to encourage it's students to be "lifelong learners" who always strive to do their best and to make a difference by serving the communities they live in. The school provides it's students with the education and skills to confidently thrive in our "culturally diverse and interdependent world"; by teaching the upcoming generations to be valuable contributors as citizens of the world. The school's mantra really impressed me; I hope I can share these values with my own family. 

Did you know it costs an approx. $10,452 annually to use and maintain an average family car? As a government operated organization through Translink, TravelSmart has the goal to encourage commuters and families to drive less. Whether through the use of public transit or alternative travel options such as cycling, ride matches and ride shares, carpools, and trip planning, the organization is challenging individuals to take one less car trip per week. TravelSmart has information and tools tailored for life & home, business, and schools. There's also a great Transit App available for smart phones to help you plan your daily commute (don't have a smartphone? just dial 33333 + the bus stop # to get current info on your bus route). Even if using public transit isn't an efficient option in the area you live, TravelSmart has a variety of options to help encourage you to drive less. A great way to save some money and lessen our carbon footprint. 

Using quality materials that are recycled and recyclable, sustainably produced, and local (whenever possible), Greener Print Solutions  has a goal of being Vancouver's one- stop shop for green printing solutions. As a triple bottom line company, everything they offer is eco- friendly and produced using efficient technologies  creating minimal waste (learn more by clicking here). In addition to their quality standards and eco- friendly initiatives, the company is able to offer their products at competitive prices. Offering items from business cards to trade show promotional materials and everything in between, Greener Print Solutions seems to have an answer for everything. If you're looking for an eco- friendly way to supply your business or special event, I hope you'll check this local company out.

A much used an appreciated part of the event was the Used Vancouver lounge (I used it twice!). Equipped with a change table and seating area for nursing mothers, the lounge provided an area for visitors to attend to their little ones without having to leave the event. A free local classified service, Used Vancouver offers listings for children's and household items,  job listings, community notices, and services, among others. If you've been looking for an alternative to Craigslist, check out this great site.

Modern Mama is all about "getting moms out of the house", regardless of the age of your kid(s) and is focused on helping women find some valuable 'me' time. With locations throughout BC, Alberta, and Ontario, the organization hosts events tailored to moms who need to get out of the house, but may have a kid (or a few) in tow. For only $35 for your first year ($25per year for subsequent years), you can become a member and have access to a variety of events and partner discounts. Click here for membership information. With plans to open several new locations in 2014, Modern Mama has opportunities for new Community Directors; an opportunity to work from home and connect with other ladies/ moms in your area. A great organization with a great purpose- I hope you check them out!

Vancouver based Par- T- Perfect has been in business for over 20 years and has over 75,000 birthdays and 10,000 corporate events under their belt. The company offers franchise opportunities with locations throughout Canada and the US. Whether you're planning a fundraiser, festival, birthday or holiday party, or corporate event, the company has something to make it a memorable experience. With packages that include inflatables (ie bouncy castles!), face painting, crafts, and balloon twisting, Par- T- Perfect has options to fit a variety of budgets. If you're looking for something to make your next occasion unique, check out this great local business!

Part 2 of the event coverage with vendor information will be up later this week. Make sure you come back to see some of the amazing businesses that were at the Expo. I've organized them with links below if you'd like to get a jump start. 

Family Events & Services

Fun For Kids

Health & Wellness


Tasty Treats
Hidden Garden

Photos by Katherine Petrunia