Friday, January 30, 2009

Huge Liquidation Sale... CPSIA

Hey all! I'm starting my huge liquidation sale today. It sort of depresses me but it doesn't look like anything will be done before February 10th, so I might as well start selling off stuff now.

Everything I have will be thrown up online in the coming days. The savings on certain items (only certain items) will be 50% or more -- even on my popular Take-Me-Too blankets.

I reserve the right, if there are changes to the CPSIA, to pull these prices... so if you see something you like at a price you like, buy it quickly before I change my mind ;).


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

CPSIA Blog In -- What it means to you!

I've spoken a couple of times about the CPSIA and its effects on my business... but I wanted to take a few minutes and talk about how the CPSIA affects everyone. Not just me, not just you, but virtually anyone who lives in the United States. Take a second and become informed -- write your representatives and tell them you are worried about the impacts. Without Americans standing up and demanding change nothing will happen and you *will* be affected.

So, what is it?

The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) was approved by Congress and signed into law in September of 2008. It states that, on February 10th, all children's items sold (all items intended for children under 12 years of age) must meet "acceptable" levels of lead -- 600 ppm. In August, that number will drop to 300 ppm. As it is retroactive, it applies to everything that HAS been made and everything that will be made.

Ok, but I don't make anything for children... so I'm not affected, right? Well... no... Let's take a second and see who IS affected by this legislation:

Do you purchase handmade items?

If you purchase handmade items, or items created by a small-scale manufacturer, you will see your options completely disappear come the 10th. Why? As the testing for lead is placed solely on the shoulders of the manufacturer (regardless of whether a supplier has already tested for lead), the costs for small-scale businesses will be astronomical. No handmade artisan can afford the testing (which runs $75 per component of the final product). As they cannot afford to test, as the law dictates, they will be forced to shut their doors. You will no longer be able to find handmade items on Etsy, Ebay, Art Fire or in your local craft fairs for children unless they are in direct violation of the law, which carries severe penalties.

Do you visit libraries?

It's not just handmade that's being affected -- as the law covers *anything* that's made for children it includes books. Libraries loan children's books, so they are liable for the mandatory testing as well. No library would be able to afford the cost of testing every book in their children's library so they will be faced with tough choices. They can either ban children from the library, test all children's books or thoroughly eliminate their children's section. As libraries will not be able to afford the testing the most logical consequence is that you'll see children's sections disappear.

Perhaps your child will appreciate War and Peace instead of the Berenstein Bears.

Do you shop in second-hand stores?

Do you, out of choice or necessity, visit the Salvation Army, Goodwill, or one of the countless other second-hand stores for your shopping needs? If so, you might just be affected. Second-hand stores, while under no strict obligation to test, still must be sure that the items they're selling for children are free of lead. They are just as liable as the original manufacturer if they sell something lead-tainted -- including vintage children's clothing.

Again, like the libraries, second-hand stores are faced with few good options. They can stop accepting donations of children's items, they can test or they accept the possibility that they could be fined hundreds of thousands of dollars. In the words of the CPSC's former spokeswoman, they don't have to test... but they have to be sure the stuff they're selling is free of lead. Many second-hand stores will stop carrying children's items to avoid facing this kind of liability.

Do you support charities like Project Linus (a charity that accepts handmade blankets to give to sick children in hospitals)?

As the CPSIA applies to all things traded, loaned, sold or given away, logic would dictate that as it affect libraries, it will, too, affect charities. Perhaps we can all give some great made-in-China blankets to sick children instead of lovingly-handmade quilts.


In the end, the CPSIA affects you if: you've ever borrowed a children's book from a library, ever visited a children's story time hour at the library, plan on borrowing a children's book from the library, bought anything from a second-hand store, will buy anything from a second-hand store, appreciate handmade items, purchase organic (since many makers of organic items are handmade, small businesses), care about the economy (this will shut the doors of thousands of small businesses) or, essentially, live in the United States and are a parent/aunt/godparent/grandparent/etc of a child.

Please, please take the time to demand Congress and the CPSC amend the law. Ending lead in children's products is GREAT, but the law is poorly written and overly broad. It casts too wide of a net to catch the fish (essentially, cheaply made crap from overseas) and will destroy businesses where many of the owners are work-at-home mothers.

Take care everyone!

My husband is defective, can I return him? and other musings...

Some musings from the desk...

*I'm finally over the "big sick" !! Yay :)... What started way back on the 18th has finally reached its conclusion and everyone in the Made By Moms' household is finally better. Goodness, that took forever!

*Something happens to me in September -- I stop exercising... I'm not sure why, it could be the busy nature of the following three months (all three of our birthdays, our anniversary, my parents' anniversary, and three major holidays), or it could be the cold... but I stop running. Well, I started running this week and I feel AMAZING! I ran a personal best in the 5k -- 28 minutes -- and went 2.25 miles today in 20 minutes (before I stopped to go and lift weights). Holy cow, I forgot how good this feels!!!

*I'm running my first "official" 5 k at 9 am on Valentine's day. Wish me luck! I have a goal of making it in 25 minutes... I have my finger's crossed.

*My husband is, indeed, defective. I've wondered about it for years now but this morning I got official confirmation. I think a part of his brain is missing somewhere (he probably forgot it) because he is *so* oblivious. What did he do this time?

Well... we'll start by explaining that he's an eye doctor -- that's how we met (I know, sweet right? lol). I wanted to get a pair of prescription sunglasses and the frame rep gave me a great price on a pair of Brinkley sunglasses so I decided to get polarized lenses. To make a long story short, the lab who did my polarization screwed it up and it makes me nauseous. I need my husband to take the glasses back with him to work so the optician can send them back to the lab to fix their mistake.

Sounds easy, right?

Not with my husband. I repeatedly remind him, only to find the sunglass case left on the kitchen counter each morning. I even put the sunglass case next to his keys, but it's been two full weeks and he hasn't brought them in. Last night I got the ingenious idea to actually stick his wallet INSIDE the sunglass case (it was sticking out slightly) and put his keys underneath the case.

What does my defective husband do? He takes the wallet OUT of the sunglass case, closes it, removes his keys from underneath and LEAVES IT ON THE COUNTER. Seriously, he's defective.

*We're getting closer and closer to February 10th, when I'll have to close my doors. It's making me a bit sad, but I'm getting frustrated at the attitude on the Etsy boards. What started out as a "let's band together and help each other out" has become a finger-pointing, venomous diatribe where people are starting to call others out for closing their doors/staying open.

Look, that type of attitude will get us nowhere. We need to support one another and stop labeling. Calm down, everyone.

If you're not familiar with the CPSIA, I'm going to be doing a piece on it later where I answer the most frequently asked questions to the best of my ability.

*My son is becoming a big boy. He started his second week of preschool and hasn't cried ONCE this week!! It's amazing to see the changes in him in just a few days. Plus, he's made me three necklaces in three days... so my jewelry collection is expanding at an unheard-of rate ;) I'll post some pictures of my beautiful creations tomorrow -- he's a budding designer :). I truly, truly love the preschool I found for him. It's five days a week, three hours a day -- that's perfect for my son's temperment. He couldn't deal with the day on, day off routine of most part-time preschools, so I'm pleased. His teachers are wonderful and they have a child-to-teacher ratio of 7-to-1, which is world's better than those daycares-disguised-as-preschools with a 15-to-1 ratio. Can you imagine having to take care of 15 three-year-olds? Holy cow, one is enough... 15 is a free-for-all. Plus, it's a Montessori and I love how he's learning by doing... he's having fun, refining his gross motor skills and learning to add by the simple process of playing with blocks. I *heart* Montessori :).

Anyway, not only is he going to preschool, but he's finally pooping on the potty! Oh my, you wouldn't know the struggle we've had over that. He's three years old and has been going number 1 on the potty for around4 months, but the number 2 has remained elusive. I've ignored him going poop in his underwear for 4 months (when I ditched all the daytime diapers)... it's so nice not to have to clean up poopy pants for once. *sigh*

Well, that's about it from my desk... my son has had enough of entertaining himself, so now it's time for his nap. I look forward to talking with everyone again, soon :)


Monday, January 26, 2009

Yay, our interview is on the air!

I'm so excited, I can barely concentrate (it's either the excitement, the throbbing headache or the fact that I still am not 100%)!!

The interview with Carrie from Natural Moms' Talk Radio Show is up on her website.

Please, please read and listen -- I hope I did everyone justice. I was starting to come down with my cold when she called (and I was away from my notes), so please don't be too brutal :).

Here it is!

Enjoy! :)


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

I have a bad case of the sick...

Yay... I have officially come down with a bad case of the sick -- right when my son gets to go to Montessori for the first week.


I just wanted to let everyone know that I was interviewed for the radio show last night over the phone and Carrie said it should be up on Monday. I'll provide the link so everyone can listen in. Until then, I bid you adieu until I feel better.

Take care all


Sunday, January 18, 2009

Check out our new bib!

We're running a huge CPSIA special on an item in our store -- one of our new, Messy Baby bibs. It's 100% organic, made from Harmony Art fabric and flannel, and it's being offered for the low, low price of $642.00. You read that right -- how can I offer this stuff for such an inexpensive price, well, let's just say it's an unbelievable deal I'm crazy to offer!

So get yours now, it's sure to fly out of my Etsy store!

Check it out here!

We are on a TALK RADIO SHOW !!! Listen in, please!!

Hey everyone, exciting news! We are going to be featured on an internet talk radio show -- Natural Moms' Talk Radio -- on Monday afternoon at 2 pm. Please take the time to listen in -- go here to to find out how. Carrie, the host, is based in Atlanta and we'll be doing the show via phone.

A little about the show: it's a show targeted towards moms looking to green their environment and simply mother the more natural way (homeschooling, cooking healthier meals, etc). It's hosted by Carrie who is a recently-divorced work-at-home mother of four living in Atlanta. She has a blog and website for the Natural Moms Talk Radio show, so you should definitely go and check them out.

She graciously bumped us up to Monday, as our topic is crucially important, even though she usually has a 12 week lead time. Hopefully, through this effort, we will be able to provoke a lot of ordinary moms and consumers into action. The more attention we attract, the better it will be for us in the end.

Anyway, if you're an artisan, small business or grandma who is impact by this, please leave a comment about how it will affect you... I might just bring it up on air! Take care and have a great day


Friday, January 16, 2009

The video that made my day!

This is a great video that showcases how absurd the supporters of the CPSIA truly, truly are. It's great when people try to get out of answering a question they KNOW is going to make them look bad. This is a seven minute interview with Julie Vallese about the CPSIA's impact on second-hand stores.

First, she talks about how "mommy blogs" are among the reasons there are a lot of "misinformation" out there (those darned mommy blogs!). Then, when she's asked (directly) about what second-hand stores will have to do, she dances around to avoid answering the question. The interviewer finally nails her when she asks what Julie thinks she should do if she were the owner of a second-hand store.

For those who don't want to watch... she said that second-hand stores don't have to test but have to be sure that the products they're selling are free of lead. How to do that? Oh... well... um.... you could call the manufacturer and ask them (yeah, because Mattel knew there was lead in their toys!)... um.... you could... look at it and make an informed decision (direct quote... I'm still trying to figure out if there is a way to look at an item and tell if there is less than 600 ppm of lead in said item)... or they could.... TEST!


Great job, there, Julie! So... basically you've just clearly stated that the "misinformation" that's floating around is actually.... correct!!! The only way a second-hand store could possibly be "sure" that there isn't any lead in their items is to TEST, while it's not required it IS implied as they face the same consequences as large-scale manufacturers who do not test for lead.

Thanks for the laugh, dear, you made my day!!!


Thursday, January 15, 2009

We were featured!

Check out My Charmed Life for a feature on the CPSIA and how it will impact businesses like ours! Please comment and drum up support for changes. Thanks to Sara for featuring us and doing a great job on promoting awareness!

Made my day ! :)


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

I'm not giving up,but...

There's a loaded "but" ...

I'm not shutting down until the bitter end (if nothing gets changed), but I am no longer making new items as I'm not sure I'll be able to sell, trade or donate the finished items. At least I can sell the fabric on Ebay -- the finished products, not so much.

I guess you could say I'm in a holding pattern until the CPSIA is amended. I have contacted WFTV and WESH to see if I could drum up interest, we'll see. Mel Martinez sent me back a nice canned form letter, while Bill Nelson and Tom Feeney decided not to answer at all.

I will say this: if it hasn't been amended by February 3rd, I will be having a massive, massive sale. Below fabric cost kind of sale.


One more thing before I go to bed...

We're now less than a month away from the CPSIA... more and more, people are starting to figure out how it will impact them. Just a few things I've been reading:

*This will affect everything given away and all hand-me-downs. You want your grandma to knit you a sweater? Tough luck.

*This will affect thrift stores. While they won't be held responsible for testing, if one of their items is contaminated with lead they are responsible for that. That means all Salvation Army and Goodwill stores take their lives in their hands when dealing with children's items.

*This will affect libraries, as their books need to be tested or destroyed.

*This will affect craft fairs as no one can sell anything that hasn't been tested for lead for children under the age of 12... In state, out of state, out of country, it doesn't matter.

*This will affect the environment. Think about it... I have five boxes of items sitting in my home right now that I cannot give away, sell or trade. I can't give them to the Goodwill, I can't give them as gifts, I can't trade them for other goods -- where are they going to end up? The trash. It's retroactive, so all those toys you see on the shelves? Come February 10th, if they haven't been tested, they'll be pulled and destroyed. Yay for filling landfills with toys that are more than likely safe!

Above all, this will affect you. Not only will you be unable to purchase handmade items (thus supporting individual crafters and artisans), prices will rise as the cost of testing is factored in. Even mid-sized companies will be driven out of business by the cost of compliance. Don't think it's that bad? Let's analyze a bib:

1 test for fabric (front) = $75
1 test for fabric (back) = $75
1 test for snap closure = $75
1 test for thread = $75

Total per style of bib: $300.


1 test for fabric x 4 fabrics on the front = $300
1 test for fabric (back) = $75
1 test for fabric label = $75
1 test for ribbon tag = $75
1 test for thread = $75

Total per Take-Me-Too blanket style: $600

Let's analyze that a little closer...

*One blanket costs $15, meaning that I'd have to sell 40 blankets in one style just to break even with the cost of compliance. Not counting materials cost, not counting labor, 40 blankets simply to recoup the cost of testing. If I change one thing, I will have to get that new blanket tested as well. Honestly, I don't think I've made 40 blankets in one style... ever.

*One bib costs $7, translating into 43 bibs to break even. Of one fabric style. If I throw in fabric costs, you're looking at more like 55 bibs to break even. That's if I don't want to actually be compensated for my time.

It *might* work if I was set on carrying one style of blanket and one style of bib (and just sold those for years)... but that's not why people chose handmade. They don't want the same thing everyone else has (if they did, they'd buy Gerber!!!), they want funky, unique, different.

Ah well... someone cheer me up... I'm starting to get depressed!!!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

**Bangs head into wall ** Great, my Senator hates handmade....

Ok, folks, the deadline for the CPSIA is drawing closer and I'm not sure if I should be expanding advertising online right now. I'm really starting to wonder if the feds care about small businesses (well, I already knew they didn't... as small business owners get screwed often on taxation issues).

I wrote my senators and congressman (woman), not really expecting a response... and certainly not expecting the response I actually received. Here it is:

""Thank you for contacting me regarding the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). I appreciate hearing from you and would like to respond to your concerns.

On November 1, 2007, Representative Bobby Rush (D-IL) introduced the CPSC Reform Act (H.R. 4040). Besides increasing funding for the CPSC, this bill strengthens civil penalties for violations of the Consumer Product Safety Act, outlaws children's products containing lead, and makes it illegal for retailers to sell recalled products. Additionally, H.R. 4040 requires the commission to enforce whistleblower protections for employees of manufacturers, importers and CPSC workers. This measure was passed by the House of Representatives on December 19, 2007, without opposition. On July 31, 2008, the Senate passed H.R. 4040 with my full support by a vote 89 to 3. On August 14, 2008, the President signed this bill into law.

I am committed to providing the Consumer Produced Safety Commission with the tools and resources it needs to carry out its vital mission. As we proceed in the 111th Congress, I will be sure to keep your thoughts in mind regarding any additional legislation involving the CPSC.

Again, thank you for sharing your views with me. If you have any additional questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact me. In addition, for more information about issues and activities important to""

So, essentially, he took a full paragraph explaining the CPSIA to me and then told me to go jump off a bridge. I'm pretty sure I made it clear in my four paragraph essay that I understood the CPSIA I'm trying to figure out if he bothered to actually read my letter (like I read the CPSIA).

Ah well, if my Senator is typical of the federal government's reaction... then we're all in trouble.


**Who is slightly depressed now... I'm wondering this one thing... Am I correct to think it doesn't apply to in-state sales, only state-to-state?

Whew -- They're *done*

Ok, first, before I say anything else about my awesome organics that I'm about to showcase, I wanted to say one thing: Go Gators! It's truly a great time to be a Florida Gator -- especially with Tebow coming back next year (along with... maybe.... crosses fingers.... Harvin and Spikes?). Let's go for three out of four, boys!!! Just in case you didn't really know how much I love the Gators, here I am kissing a "bull gator" out in front of our 'new' (at least to me) football complex. Gator Nation at the top again, baby, and life couldn't be better!!!

Ok... now for those of you who aren't either a) a Gator fan or b) into college football, I am progressing well on our organic line. I've decided to name our line The Sun and Moon Collection, as the blue Harmony Art print is titled Moon and the Fields of Honey print is bright and sunny enough to pose as the sun. The only things I have left to work on are the lounge pants that will be made out of the same materials and the toy blocks. Let's take a look, shall we?

First up is our It's Sunny To Be Organic Bib (or just Sunny, if you'd like), sized in a large and closed with a pearl snap. It's made out of extremely soft and absorbant organic, beige fleece (back) and the Harmony Art Fields of Honey print on the front. It's sewn together with 100% natural, un-dyed cotton thread. With bold orange on a cheery, yellow background, this bib is sure to brighten everyone's day. I will be putting these on both Etsy and Art Fire within the next few days and they'll be priced at $12.00.

Next up is Sunny's sibling -- When Baby Loses His Diaper, There'll Be a Full Moon Organic Bib (or just Full Moon), is also sized in large (which, by the way is 8" x 12" and fits children up to toddler-hood) and closed with the same pearl snap. It's also backed with the super-soft fleece and sewn together twice for added durability (all of our bibs are). This will also be priced at $12.00 on our websites. Our bibs are prewashed with Seventh Generation natural, perfume-free detergent and tumble-dried without the use of a softener or dryer sheet.

No purchase is complete without one of our burp cloths. I had to tweak our burp cloths to eliminate the use of commercial cloth diapers but it doesn't mean these are substandard -- actually, I think they're better!! On the front side you have your choice of either our Sun or Moon motif while the back is a heavy-weight, organic flannel. Instead of a cloth diaper inside, we filled it with 100% all-natural, unbleached cotton batting and added an additional 4" strip down the center for hard-core babies. Our burp cloths are stitched three times -- we serge the inside -- for added durability. These have also been prewashed in Seventh Generation detergent. These will be priced at $14.00 each, or 2 for $25.00.

We're also offering the two fabrics in our small snuggle blanket line, which we've recently named Take-Me-Too. The front is a four-block arrangement with one block of sherpa, one block of fleece and two blocks of either the Moon flannel or Sun sateen prints. We back the blankets with a super-soft and thick organic flannel and stitch it twice with 100% natural, un-dyed cotton thread. Instead of using a traditional ribbon as a tag, we sewed together a tag out of the Harmony Art prints. They are wonderfullly soft, terrifically durable and super snuggly, and they're priced at $30.00.

Oh, don't forget our onesies!! We took the sun and moon theme one step farther by designing onesies that fit perfectly. Choose from either a crescent moon or a sun, and we'll applique it on to a onesie for you. We start with 100% organic onesies by Bella (retail $12.00), take the organic Harmony Art prints and sew them on with all-natural cotton thread. No glue or adhesives were used, in keeping with the organic theme. This means that the edges of your applique will fray a bit, but that's supposed to be part of the charm! Our onesies retail for $18.00 -- you can also choose our Earth applique, made entirely out of recycled felt.

What's that, you say? You'd like to package this up and send it as a gift? If you purchase multiple organic items, you're entitled to a discount!!!

Buy two items, save 5%.
Buy three items, save 10%
Buy four items, save 15%
Buy five or more items, save 20%.

Simply contact us for a custom listing and mention you saw our promotion in our blog to receive your savings!

So, what do you think? Good, bad?

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Organics will soon be here!

Hello everyone! I am SO EXCITED!! Why, you ask?

Well, my organic fabrics arrived a few days ago and they rock (well, with one exception). The Harmony Art prints are as soft as they are beautiful and they wash extremely well. The organic is thick and as soft as the fleece, which is fantastic. The fleece isn't as thick as I thought it would be -- it's not like the blizzard or anti-pill fleece you find in stores, but it's still a great fabric. The sherpa, though, is a whole 'nother beast. I can honestly say I hate it, hate it, hate it.

Oh, don't get me wrong... It's thick, soft and super snuggly, but it's a bear to work with. First, I wash it (in Seventh Generation 100% natural, perfume free soap with no fabric softener) and it shrinks an ungodly amount -- I lost something like 20% of the original amount. I ordered one yard, which was 54" x 36" and I *might* have been left with a width of 40" when the washing and drying (tumble dry low) was done. I was ok with that, but that stuff is monstrous to sew. Talk about distortion -- I thought minky was bad, but it doesn't hold a candle to the sherpa.

Want to see what I'm talking about? Look at that serious distortion -- I'm meticulous about cutting out my squares exactly, I pin things in place to keep them from shifting, I sew slowly and I'm just careful, overall, to ensure things are in place. Sewing cotton is easy-peasy, I don't even pin that... but minky stretches, so you've got to be careful if you're not using stabilizer or interfacing (which I don't). Ugh. I'm seriously rethinking the sherpa now because it's major effort to sew and I'm afraid it'll shrink *again* when someone washes it (hint: iron!). I'll post more pictures of these blankets once I put the flannel on the back -- they really are going to rock when they're done... I can't believe how soft all my materials are :).

Anyway, you should see the bibs! They're amazing and the burp cloths (filled with 100% natural cotton batting!!) are going to be fantastic. All I have to do is put the snaps on the bibs and they're done -- the snaps will be the *only* thing on the bib that isn't either organic or natural. My cotton thread is Gutermann's 100% natural cotton thread and the fabrics are certified organic.

Also, I'll be away from my computer until Saturday -- we're going up to Gainesville to hang out with college friends for the BCS National Championship game. Go Gators! :) :) :)