Let’s talk about the brands behind BlogHer ’11- the ones that make it happen. I’m going to talk about a mix of both official sponsors (thank you for making my conference pass more affordable!) and sponsors of unofficial private events (many of which were awesome).
There were so many brands represented that it would be almost impossible to cover them all in one post. So I’m just going to cover some of my favorites.
I spoke with Ayo Hart, one of the co-founders of Dolphin Organics, for some time about their products and company. Dolphin Organics makes bath products for babies, using only natural ingredients and, where possible, organic ingredients. She is clearly passionate about what they produce and makes the products part of her everyday life. I loved hearing her describe what motived the creation of the company. She talked about how they developed the current lineup of products and what they are working on for the future. As a mother of three fair skinned kids with sensitive skin, I’m excited to try a product that shouldn’t irritate their skin.
I loved talking to Christopher Wu, CEO and co-founder of this stationary, card and art company. He was full of information and energy in describing the company and its products. I like that they use different designers and try to find artists from a variety of creative industries in order to get some diversity in the company’s designs. They also plant a tree in a National Forest for every order they receive. How cool is that? I was so excited by their products that I ordered some “we’ve moved” cards the night I got home from San Diego. I’ll talk more about Paper Culture on Monday when I have a giveaway for a FIFTY DOLLAR gift code.
This is a small company that seemed to have a lot of heart. My kids are watching a video from “Ruby’s Studio,” the show the company produces and centers its products around, as I type this. It’s beautiful, age appropriate and the kids are enthralled. On right now is “The Feelings Show,” which I think would be fantastic for any family with small children but especially those families with difficult emotional situations. I would have loved to have this during Sergeant Handsome’s deployment, to help Fidget to identify his feelings about it. Currently, I’m hoping it will help the kids to articulate how they feel about our most recent move.
Also, their booth at BlogHer was made up of furniture and art from their actual offices, not expensive rented furniture. Not that I minded the fancier booths- some were incredibly designed!- but there was something endearing about the homey touch of the place where they do work being transported to San Diego. And once again, the company representatives were passionate and informative.
This was a fun booth. Pressman makes toys and games that cover a wide age range. They have Dinosaur Train games! And fishing games (which I’ve been told is great for fine motor development). And Scooby-Doo games that my boys would absolutely adore. But the best? They let us play Silly Socks, a game by Chimp and Zee, and it was surprisingly fun considering that none of us were in preschooler ourselves. Obviously, I kicked ass and won the game. I am that competitive that I felt the need to beat everyone at Silly Socks. But we are a game loving family- at holiday get-togethers games are always played, we have a huge collection, and I feel like some games from Pressman Toys may end up joining us before Thanksgiving so that the kids can join in the game fun too.
I love this company for two reasons. First of all, it is one of the most useful and user friendly recipe databases online. Secondly, tweeting about them got me an invite to the Clever Girls Collective “I’m with the Brand” party. Which I was dying to go to. Thanks again, FOODILY, for giving me a chance to party like a rock star with The Clever Girls!
Party invite aside, I love this site. It’s perfect for when you have no idea what to make for dinner. You can put in what ingredients you have on hand and check out recipe ideas side by side. For people with allergies or picky eaters, you can also search for recipes without certain ingredients. How genius is that? You can see what friends are making, save recipes and generally rock it in the kitchen. Check them out.
I have, admittedly, not signed up yet. But Fidget has asked me 6 times a day when I will get it done. He is so excited and I am too. He is old enough to want time on the computer, but it’s hard to let him do that because of safety concerns. But it looks like Fooz Kids will let him use the computer without feeling like I am hovering over him. Plus, Kate and I can finally realize our dream of making our kids be pen pals. Plus, the Fooz Kids rep at the Clever Girls party was enthusiastic and knowledgeable. She didn’t ask us to mention it on our blog and then move on to the next person. She listened, answered questions and asked questions. Like Ayo from Dolphin Organics, Crystal asked for feedback on the product. She didn’t just want to know if we liked it, she wanted to know what- if any- issues we had when using it. I like when a company wants genuine feedback. I look forward to contacting her to let her know how Fidget and I are finding Fooz Kids.
This was a surprise for me. I kind of wandered over to the booth just because a friend wanted to talk to them. And I ended up talking to one of the reps for so long that we ended the conversation with a hug. Etymotic makes ear plugs and earbud headphones. The headphones for kids won’t go above dangerous decibel levels but because of the technology, sound quality remains. They also have a program where you can sponsor marching bands but providing ear plugs that protect the band members’ ears while still maintain sound quality. Etymotic is also working with the military to make ear plugs that allow soldiers to communicate while protecting their hearing. Know anyone in a band? They can get custom earplugs that will allow them to rock out and protect their hearing at the same time. I’m so glad I wandered over!
I met Heather Vaughn from Cotton Babies at a party. I’ve loved Cotton Babies for years- it was where I bought my very first cloth diapers before Fidget was born, almost 6 years ago- but it was fantastic to meet someone from “behind the brand.” Heather was smart and funny and the beautiful bumGenius artist series diaper that she gave me to try is already Mini-Me’s favorite new diaper.
I was introduced to Imperial Toys at the Big Toy Book party (which was AMAZING, btw). Imperial Toys makes some fun products. They offer selections for a wide range of ages and many of their products would make great additions to birthday gifts, gift bags or stocking stuffers. But hands down, the very best thing about Imperial Toys was their rep, Janis. She was so fun and full of energy that you couldn’t help but love everything she showed off. One of my favorite moments of the weekend is captured here. Thanks Janis, for making me laugh!
Toca Boca, a Swedish company, hosted a small lunch to introduce their “digital toys” and facilitate discussion about kids and technology. While there wasn’t much conversation about kids and technology (at least not at our end of the table), I did get to play with some of their “toys.” What most of us would call iPhone/iPad games, Toca Boca calls digital toys. Because there is no winning or losing element. When they test out new apps, they create focus groups made up entirely of kids. Every kid gets an iPad or iPhone and they just get to play and experiment. I love that the company knows that kids are the best test for kids toys. And, um, I’m kind of already obsessed with Helicopter Taxi. I may have also convinced my 31 year old brother to get it as well. Now I just need an iPad to really enjoy some of their other toys. Thanks Jamie for organizing!
Hex Bugs was at the Big Toy Book party too. And I was mesmerized. They are so cool! I have a few sets that I was lucky enough to get during the conference set aside for Christmas. (Let’s hope the boys don’t start reading the blog) But I don’t know if I will make it that long without breaking them out. Because they are just. that. cool. They use nanotechnology to “learn” and they just look cool. They are weirdly fascinating to watch and I cannot wait for the boys to bust in to these on December 25th. They may have to push me aside to be able to play with the bugs themselves.
There were also big companies that most people will have heard of, but had reps that really made a fabulous impression.
Kim Vinje, from Procter & Gamble, was warm, engaging, and knowledgeable. I was impressed to see someone from such a large corporation that would take time to chat with lil’ ol’ me.
Jaci Twidwell, from Hallmark Cards, was also a delight. She made me laugh and reinforced my love of Hallmark.
Janice Nickloff, from Stila (I met her at a private party), was gracious and informative. She fit me in to get my makeup done when I had no appointment and then took time to show off Stila products. It would have been easy for her to just hand me her card and save her energy for “big” bloggers. But she didn’t, and I really appreciated that. Oh- and wait until you see some of their holiday products. Love it.
There were many more wonderful brands, but these are the ones that stood out the most to me. What they had in common were company representatives that were knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the company. I was less concerned about good swag (not that I didn’t come home with some generous and fun things, courtesy of the sponsors) and more interested in having real, in-depth conversations with a company about what they do, what they believe in, where they came from, and where they believe they are heading. So thank you to everyone who took the time to talk to me and share! I appreciate it.