Outta Sight Site Spotlight: BambolaBeauty.com

May 30th, 2011

Pretty is as pretty does.

So when it comes to skincare, why not choose a company that’s pretty through and through?

From green packaging to all-natural and organic products to a charitable mission and a commitment to fostering an eco-friendly lifestyle for all, Bambola Beauty is simply gorgeous, inside and out.

Here, we talk to Bambola Beauty founder Faith Zelenko about her burgeoning beauty business, why all-natural was a natural choice for her, which products she cannot live without and why she’s determined to help save the Earth, one skincare product at at time.

 

THE FAMILY GROOVE: What inspired you to start Bambola Beauty?

Faith Zelenko: I was always’ obsessed with beauty products even at an early age. When I was 18 I attended beauty school. Many years later I had the love for aromatherapy and essential oils which lead to a regiment of using natural skincare products. I worked for a cosmetic manufacturing company, was a retail beauty consultant and most recently worked with a QVC beauty maven. Aparently my passion was passed down to her only daughter, Kristine, who would graduate college and enter the world of beauty by landing a job at one of the largest cosmetic companies in the world.

Together with our has combined years of unique experience we are fulfilling a lifelong dream. Our dream has resulted in the launch of Bambola Beauty, which combines a “strategy of blending natural and botanical elements with science to create a full line of natural skincare products for every skin type.” We worked tirelessly with a team of chemists and skin care professionals to develop exclusive formulas that offer results.

TFG: What does bambola mean and why did you choose it for your name? 

FZ: My husband has called her his “doll face” since they first met and Kristine was his “little doll face”. Bambola in Italian means doll. It was only “natural” to name the line Bambola.

TFG: Why is using natural skincare products so important?

FZ: Eliminating chemicals from your regiment is a commitment to feeling and being healthier.

TFG: You have an extensive line of all-natural premium skincare, made from food-based ingredients, botanicals and minerals. What are some of your favorite products? 

FZ: That is such a tough question because I have a full regiment that I wouldn’t want to miss out on any of it. My husband constantly complains because he says that I’m obsessed with “everything”. But for the basics: Cleanse: My favorite is the Acai Anti-Oxidant Cleanser. It removes all of my makeup, is creamy and smells like creamsickles; Moisturize: Our CoEnzyme Repair Crème does everything I need it too—especially diminish those fine lines; Exfoliate: Glycolic Sugar Cane Exfoliant. You only need it a couple of times a week and you apply a thin layer before bed and it goes to work while you sleep. You wake up and your skin looks radiant. Okay, the exfoliant is my ultimate fave.

 

TFG: As a green business, you walk your talk in a number of ways, from creating products that promote an eco-friendly, healthy lifestyle to contributing a percentage of profit to the Save the Earth Foundation. Why did you choose that particular organization to support?

A few reasons, first we wanted to support an organization that we were confident that the funds actually were at work to getting results, not organization administration costs. Next, I felt pretty strongly about the education aspect and the impact of the research that was being done by the Save the Earth Foundation. They spend considerable dollars partnering with the University of Washington in Seattle, where my daughter now lives and is involved in several charitable groups.

TFG: What is your proudest moment as a business owner?

FZ: The day we flipped the switch for our website and got our first order. Kristine and I were on the phone just crying, saying “we did it!”

TFG: What exciting things are on the horizon?

FZ: We are working on the launch of our latest product a Calming Serum due to come out later this summer. It’s for those with sensitive skin or suffer from rosacea. It contains natural–derived panthothenic acid, from mushrooms, along with restorative grapeseed.

For more from Bambola Beauty, go to www.bambolabeauty.com.

 

 

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We Remember

May 28th, 2011

“The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding, go out to meet it.” —Thucydides

We honor the memory of the American men and women who died in our nation’s service, giving their lives to protect we the people.

 

 

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Girls In Their Summer Clothes

May 27th, 2011

Woo-hoo! (The unofficial start of) Summer is here—finally!

Do not pass go.

Do not collect $200.

Do not head to the big box chains for your darling daughter’s swimwear or your own until you see what Girls4Sport‘s got in store for the season.

Fashionable, full-coverage, UPF 50+, mix-and-match, these versatile swimwear separates suit an active lifestyle for the on-the-go mom and the sporty girl-in-the-world who wants to look hip, fresh and modern sans being gratuitously sexy (bordering on inappropriate).

“We want women to feel comfortable going to beach or pool and jumping into the water—whether it’s to surf or swim or just splash around,” says Kim Ruby, president of Girls4Sport.  “Our mix-and-match swim separates offer a variety of cuts so women can find the swimwear coverage that’s right for them.”

Top Tops

More modest styles include tankinis in halter, tank, short sleeve, half-sleeve and sleeveless options for women and girls. Those seeking full coverage, can opt for long sleeve tops that protect from neck to wrist. For the women, the swim tops, made from a nylon/spandex fabric blend with a maximum sun protection factor of UPF 50+, include a built-in shelf bra and extra length in the torso to keep them from riding up.

The Bottom of It 

Coordinating swim bottoms for women and girls range from boy briefs to full shorts. The active lifestyle  design house also offers a loose-fitting ankle-length sports pant and extra-long board shorts, along with knee-length beach skirts.

Enjoying the spoils of summer shouldn’t be fun, easy and carefree—and so should the clothes you wear.

Girls4Sport.net is offering TFG readers 15% off with code GROOVY15.

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Outta Sight Site Spotlight: ThisPlaceIsAZoo.com

May 26th, 2011

Pandas and iguanas and Bengal tigers, oh my!

The high-quality, well-made and oh-so realistic-looking stuffed animals at This Place is a Zoo stand out amidst a sea of blah.

Here, we talk to Kirk Larsen about his awesome site (you will love how the animals are portrayed) that includes over 1300 different items, which animals are king of the jungle when it comes to popularity and how his zoo has gone global.

 

THE FAMILY GROOVE: What inspired you to start your business?

Kirk Larsen: For most of my life I worked a regular full time job. I had always had the bug to have my own business and over the years had tried several things but nothing ever panned out. Then in the late 90′s, when the computer revolution was taking over, I thought trying an internet  business would be the idea way to start a business. I went to the Seattle gift show to try to get some ideas and ran across a company that made beautiful and high quality stuffed animals. Since I had wanted to be a wild animal catcher when I was a kid, this was the perfect fit. I started very small and gradually built the business up to now having over 1300 different items.

TFG: What makes your stuffed plush animals stand out?

KL: My niche is realistic stuffed animals. I am adding a few whimsical items now but my main focus is on quality items that are realistic looking. I try to carry a full line of animals and I have one of the most complete selections available on one site. There are very few animal species that I do not have.

TFG: You feature a huge selection of plush animals (large, jungle, exotic, North America, farm, domestic, marine and more). Which ones are the most popular?

KL: It is hard to say what category is the most popular because they all have their moments, but the marine section is very popular. This could be due to the fact that I have probably the best marine animal selection available anywhere. Other single animals that have been very popular are the sloth, platypus, kangaroo and wolf.

TFG: I love that you display the stuffed animals in a natural setting. They almost look real! You can tell that you have a passion for what you do. Which ones are your favorites?

KL: I take the pictures of the animals myself, mostly in my own backyard. When I get a lot of new marine animals I will take a trip to the beach and take pictures there. My favorites are some of the whales and dolphins where I have caught some wave action just behind the picture. I also like the penguins in the snow. It does not snow here very often so getting those pictures with a snow setting was very nice. Some of the birds in trees are also my favorites, like the kookaburra.

TFG: What is your proudest moment as a business owner?

KL: I think the first proud moment as a business owner was getting my first online order. Then it was when I first realized that the business was going to survive and actually do well. Another proud moment was when the Hansa rep told me that no matter where he goes people everywhere, including foreign countries, tell him that they saw his products on This Place is a Zoo website. He said I was getting famous. That was rewarding!

TFG: What exciting things are on the horizon?

KL: This year we are going to be upgrading the website to newer format. It will give me more hands on access to updating the site. It will also allow for more features and specials. We are also looking into starting a Facebook page this year which will help us stay in better touch with our customers.

For more from This Place is a Zoo, go to www.thisplaceisazoo.com. Get 10% off with the code TheFamilyGroove.

 

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Outta Sight Site Spotlight: CatAlley.net

May 25th, 2011

Know someone who’s always on the prowl for the cat’s meow? Send ‘em over to Cat Alley for the latest in artisan-crafted cat-themed and cat-inspired home decor and gifts.

Here, we talk to Cat Alley owner Gail Rossi about her purr-fect site that’s sure to strike your cat fancy and about a certain section of it called, ahem, Dog Lane for those of you who—doggone it!— know that puppy love is really where it’s at.

THE FAMILY GROOVE: What inspired you to start Cat Alley?

Gail Rossi: I was a property manager in New Jersey when the idea of CAT ALLEY was born. On vacation in a small town in the deep south, I wandered into a tiny hole-in-the-wall shop that featured nothing but cat themed items, and thought: I could do this! I befriended the owner and assured her I would never open a similar store within 200 miles, and she became my mentor. I began by renting a small space in a mall in Paramus, NJ, and attending trade shows. I bought fixtures, inventory and a cash register, and was up and running in July of 1993. One year later I moved myself, my cat Sagami and my store to La Jolla, CA, and started a website. We are now online only.

TFG: You also have a section on the site called Dog Lane. People are usually either cat people or dog people. What are you?

GR: I love all dogs and cats (and horses, rabbits, etc.), but have always been “owned by” cats, since the age of 4, so I’d have to say I am predominantly a “cat person”!

TFG: You also recently launched Animal Town USA, a site that features animal-themed/inspired gifts, housewares and artisan creations. The items are really special and unique. How do you find them?

I already had a stable of wonderful artists and suppliers who offer wholesalers an array of cat/dog themed items, so I opened the door to their other critter creation as well. Sometimes artisans find me, and I also discover talent at trade shows and on a wholesale online website that offers a plethera of fabulous options to specialty retailers.

TFG: Can you share with us a favorite gift or two?

GR: Some favorite gifts are Cranky Cat prints by Cindy Schmidt, as well as the Buddha Cat collection in a array of beautiful colors by Gary Steinborn. Funny cat and dog doormats by High Cotton and clocks by Michelle Allen of Allen Designs are other popular items that have remained popular through the years.

TFG: What is your proudest moment as a business owner?

GR: My proudest moments occur every time a customer takes a moment to email and tell me how happy they are, or how much the recipient of a gift purchased from my store enjoyed it!

TFG: What’s new for the season?

GR: We are adding new goodies all the time. Check out the fabulous rainbow colored ceramic collection by J. Stiles, including an all-new heart shaped box in feline motif, and the to-live-for custom cat jewelry by D. Estrin, featuring actual photos of customers’ pets! Another cool custom gift item is the wonderful PhotoSilk optical lens cleaning cloth of soft, smooth microfiber, featuring gorgeous full-color images or even an actual reproduction of your fur, feathered or otherwise fabulous friend(s)!

For more cat-tastic items, go to www.CatAlley.net.

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Outta Sight Site Spotlight: DaddyScrubs.com

May 24th, 2011

Guess what, moms! You’re going to have to start sharing the spotlight with someone else.

Yup! Dads are joining center stage as the new celebrities. From dad blogs and books to the proliferation of for-dads-only products, the zeitgeist of modern-day parenting is opening up to include dads.

Case in point: DaddyScrubs.

This father-centric site gears men up for their latest and certainly greatest role, aka Daddy.

Here, DaddyScrubs founder Robert Nickell talks about the company he started to help himself (and other men) standout in the maternity ward, how his uber-cool line continues to grow and why dads deserve to be recognized for the super men that they are.

THE FAMILY GROOVE: Why did you start your business?

Robert Nickell: I started the company upon the birth of my fifth child on September 20, 2009. I really wanted something special to wear as I knew the dad usually arrives in his “street” clothes, possibly sleeps in them over night, and the nurses and doctors do not know if the “guy” is the daddy, the uncle or the brother. I am a very proud daddy and I wanted everyone to know.

TFG:  Tell us about the Daddy Scrubs.

RN: DS are extremely comfortable. They can be worn before you even leave the house and drive mommy to the hospital. They are great to sleep in. You can wear them later as PJs or Saturday morning just hanging out. I like to think of them as the “Superman” outfit for the daddy. Once he puts them on, he is ready for action and to help mommy and baby enter the world. DS are designed for happy, proud, excited daddies everywhere. Guys like to wear uniforms, and this is the best there is.

TFG: Since you first launched Daddy Scrubs, you’ve expanded with a whole line of gifts for dads like hoodies, tees, mugs, gift sets and more. Why do you think your daddy wear has resonated with shoppers?

RN: So often the daddy is the last to be recognized. Rightfully so, it is the mommy carrying the baby, it is the celebration of the birth, and the joy of the new baby. However, daddy has an important role and the more the daddy is recognized the more he becomes involved. Daddies should be part of the experience from day one.  So often we hear about how daddies feel they cannot connect until the baby is over one year old. Our gift and product line is designed to keep the daddy involved. The opportunity to wear the “I’m the Daddy” hat, sweatshirt, and T-shirt everyday during the first four to six months is a constant reminder. The coffee mug and pens lets their co-workers, friends and family know that they are proud. Later this year, we will be introducing Daddyscrubs baby wash, diaper cream, and a DS back pack for the “manly” diaper bag.”

TFG: What is your proudest moment as a business owner?

RN: When we got our first sale online and I realized that other daddies across the USA feel the same as I do. The moment I am waiting for is to see daddies at the market, the park, or the beach, sporting “I’m the Daddy” clothing and loving their children.

TFG: What’s exciting things are on the horizon?

RN: The line up is amazing. We recently added a new product line , the Certified New Daddy bundle, which includes a t-shirts, pen set and picture frame in a beautiful gift box. We have expanded our blog, “Mr. Daddy’s Daughter,” where we post something every day, including product reviews, product recalls, tips for new daddies, and celebrities citings (ie celebs that are sporting our DaddyScrubs like Kevin James, Antonio Sabato, John Roberts, Joey Lawrence, Cash Warren – just name a few.) And, we have a top secret product launch in the works, that will hopefully be ready in time for the holidays. We are very excited about it and we think our fan base will be too.

Thank you so much for helping us spread the word that supporting new daddies is important!

For more from DaddyScrubs, go to www.DaddyScrubs.com.

 

 

 

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Outta Sight Site Spotlight: PetTags.com

May 23rd, 2011

Not all pet tags are created equally.

Though they’re small in size, pet ID tags are a big component of your pet’s safety, health and well-being—not to mention that they’re (usually) mandated by law.

So where do you go when you need to tag up your precious pooch or pussycat? You go to PetTags.com. Online since 1996, this pet gear site packs quality pet tags, collars and leashes for a low price without skimping on style.

Here, we talk to Pet Tags owner Stephen Greenberg about his innovative line of pet products, including the Pet Recovery Tags, and what’s in store for the near future.

THE FAMILY GROOVE: You launched PetTags.com in 1996. What inspired you to start your business?

Stephen Greenberg: Actually, we started as a mail order pet tags company in 1987. In 1996, I recognized that the Internet would eventually be a destination for pet supplies.

TFG: How has the pet accessory industry changed over the past 24 years?

SG: Buyers realize they can get better prices if they take advantage of good discount programs and have become more loyal customers because  them.

TFG: The pet tags, collars and leashes on your site are PetTags originals. What sets your products apart from the rest?

SG: We innovated the glow in the dark tags in the early 90’s. We also have cartoon and tye-dye tags and a complete designer collection of tags and collars.

TFG: How do the Lost Pet Recovery Tags work?

SG: The all say “I am Lost. Please Call  800-227-4260”.  Then each ttag has a unique alpha-numeric number. When someone calls the toll-free number and gives the tag number and we can pull up all the information the pet owner gave us in our secure data files and the person can now reach the owner and get the pet safely back. Like a chip but non-invasive and priced much less.

TFG: What is your proudest moment as a business owner?

SG: Just waking up every day and feeling lucky that I am still in business after 23 years and that I have so many loyal and great repeat customers.

TFG: What exciting things are on the horizon?

SG: This year we will be marketing, fulfilling and managing the 24/7 live operator call center for The Pet Detective, a GPS/cellular pet tracking device.

For more top quality tags, go to www.PetTags.com. Get 15% off with code FG37XZ

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Outta Sight Site Spotlight: OmahaBabyStore.com

May 20th, 2011

All-natural, breastfeeding and cloth diapers—these are the new A, B, Cs of parenting. And those A, B, Cs are easier to do than ever thanks to the support of local and national, primarily mom-owned businesses like Baby Junk.

A brick and mortar store in Omaha, a local cloth diaper service and a national natural parenting and baby gear site, Baby Junk brings style and substance to new moms in search of both.

Here, owner Andrea Foley talks about her foray into the world of cloth diapers, why they’re a natural choice and what else moms-to-be need to pick up on their way to parenthood.

THE FAMILY GROOVE: Why did you start your business?

Andrea Foley: After learning about cloth diapers and how many moms were transitioning back to them, I started to do some research on the issue. Not being a mom yet, I had a very neutral stance.

After finding out about all of the harmful effects of disposables and knowing I would never use them on my children in the future, I realized that my city did not have  a service that would enable moms to make an easy transition to cloth. I created the Diaper Dudee Diaper Service and have blossomed into a full retail store from there.

TFG: You carry a large variety of maternity and new mom essentials, baby gifts and gear. What are some of your favorites?

AF: Aside from a stash of cloth diapers, I think all moms need:

1) A wrap—Moby or Sleepy Wrap are great brands

2) A pumping bra, if she is nursing/pumping

3) A great nursing bra or tank

4) A cloth wipe warmer with cloth wipes—even if she’s not using cloth diapers. This kept my son 100% rash free from the time I began using it.

TFG: How does your Diaper DuDee Service work?

AF: We provide new parents with all the diapers they need for an entire week. We come to their home once a week, pick up their dirty diapers, leave them clean ones and do all of the dirty work! It costs less than disposables for this personalized service and does wonders for your baby!

TFG: What would many moms be surprised to know about cloth diapers?

AF: EVERYTHING! You don’t pin them, you don’t have to learn crazy folds, you don’t use pull-on rubber pants, you don’t have to rinse them (with our service). Disposables are very scary and have carcinogenic chemicals in them. Cloth diapers are safe and healthy and babies get 87% less diaper rash with them. And they’re very easy to  put on—they only take five more seconds than disposables.

TFG: Tell us about your brick and mortor.

AF: We are finally realizing our dream of introducing cloth diapers and less “mainstream” baby products to the Omaha market! Our store, Baby Junk, focuses on education with a free community room and a staff that knows the ins and outs of natural-living baby items. From cloth diapers to baby carriers to every item a nursing mother needs, we’ve got it. The name stems form diapers and that cloth babies have more “junk in their trunk.”

TFG: What is your proudest moment as a business owner?

AF: I have two things that really stand out: The day I reached 100 diaper service customers and these last few months of opening my own laundry facility for Diaper DuDee and preparing for the opening of our retail store.

TFG: What else is on the horizon?

AF: Major changes are happening this year. We are working on some other initiative with cloth diapers. I am the head of a committee to re-introduce cloth diapers into hospitals and we are working on other projects like a Diaper Service DVD. We’re also providing free educational classes to younger women to get them into the fold before they have children.

 

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Outta Sight Site Spotlight: GreentainerUSA.com

May 19th, 2011

Waste not, want not—a saying that rings truer than ever these days.

The reality is that once you know better, you have to do better. Not being green just isn’t an option.

Fortunately, there are a slew of cool lifestyle products on the market that have helped to give green a long overdue makeover, taking it from crunchy to chic.

Case in point: Greentainer.

These reusable stainless steel containers are a safer, smarter food storage alternative and they’re sleek look and ease-of-use make them age-appropriate for parents and their kids.
Here, we talk to Jessica and Tracy, the two moms behind Greentainer, about durability, design and world domination.

THE FAMILY GROOVE: What are Greentainers and how are they different from other containers?

Jessica and Tracy: Greentainers are eco-friendly alternative to plastic food storage containers. They have a removable inner tray, unlike most others, that helps separate foods. Made of high quality stainless steel, Greentainers do not leach any residue into foods and are made from the earth’s own resources. Unlike many other food storage containers, Greentainers have smooth rolled edges that make it safe to use, and come in a variety of sizes. Greentainer is ethically made in India. The size and shape of the Greentainer make it possible to tote the perfect 20oz meal in two layers. They are 100% recyclable and reusable.

TFG: Why did you decide to bring them to the US?

J & T: Our expansion into the US was the next obvious step because we were being contacted by many customers in the United States. After a while it didn’t make sense to keep turning people down who wanted to use Greentainer.

TFG: The Snack Sets are really a cool design. Tell us how they work.

J & T: The Greentainer Snack Set is one of our best sellers. This makes us laugh it was just an accident. One day when photographing the Greentainers, we put our 2oz in the medium Greentainer. It dawned on us that this was perfect for snacks! We are the only company with a snack set that we are aware of! They work so well because not only are they compact and convenient on their own, but put together they compliment each other. A great way to separate and tote a variety of snacks.

TFG: What is your proudest moment as a business owner?

J & T: When Greentainer was trademarked.

TFG: What exciting things are on the horizon?

J & T: We are in the process of developing new and exciting products this year. We would like Greentainer to become a household name.

For more green goodness, go to www.greentainerusa.com.

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Outta Sight Site Spotlight: BayLaurels.com

May 18th, 2011

Forget about every picture telling a story. These days every business tells a story.

The story behind Bay Laurels, an eco-conscious home fragrance company that specializes in heavenly wax melts, is one of our favorites.

From college-age entrepreneur to Iraq and back, Qunetin Robinson’s passion for and commitment to creating the best eco-friendly home fragrances burn brightly. Here, Qunetin talks about his quality line of wax melts and air fresheners, why green is the only way to go and how melts, not candles, make sense (and scents and cents) when it comes to a healthier and safer way to give ‘em smell.

THE FAMILY GROOVE: What inspired you to start Bay Laurels?

Qunetin Robinson: As weird as it may sound coming from a guy, I grew up with a love for the fragrance industry, in particular the home fragrance industry. While going through college I was pretty much living off of financial aid and the GI Bill, so for a part-time income supplement I would sell incense and votive candles (with little money it was a very low cost start with great margins). On campus, I was known as the incense guy or candle dude. Did quite well to the point to where I started selling on a neighboring college institution’s campus. Made it to my junior year doing this before I caught called for duty in Iraq. My time there made a huge impact on how we take advantage of so many things including the care of our beautiful planet. I grew a newfound love for the color green for obvious reasons. Once I made it back to the states, I decided to finish school and work a full-time job instead of jumping back into the whole fragrance thing but I wanted to take it a step further with a more impactful business structure. I knew I was gone too long as well and needed to catch myself up on the home fragrance industry and how the war and other things have affected it. Discovering that the majority of the home fragrance products that we use have many harmful toxic ingredients, I decided I would put both of my passions together and start an all “green” home fragrance company thus the start of Bay Laurels.

TFG: How are melts different from candles?

QR: Melts differ in the fact that they are more eco-friendly, safe and cost effective for the consumer. Eco-friendly because they are wickless and use less packaging materials such as jars and the additional materials it takes to ship these fragile products. There is also less waists after the product is use up. They are safer because no wick means no fire. Cost effective in the fact that what you would spend at a reputable company for a candle that lasts 40 hours is $19 and some you can find for $5. With our melts you spend $2.50 for at least 40 hours, but that’s the same comparison across the board. The added bonus is that a single .5oz melt can hold just as much fragrance as a 20oz jar candle hence the ability to smell longer and stronger.

TFG: Bay Laurels is a green business through and through, from using 100% recycled packaging and natural soy wax for the melts to striving to eliminate waste and reduce your carbon footprint as company. You also work with two charities. Tell us about them.

QR: is American Forests’ education and action program that helps individuals, organizations, agencies, and corporations improve the local and global environment by planting and caring for trees. By the end of 2006, American Forests has planted 25 million trees in more than 500 projects across the United States and internationally. It is their goal at American Forests to continue to plant millions of trees in new Global ReLeaf projects across the country and the globe. Bay Laurels donates $1 for every order received to American Forests for the Global Releaf project.

EarthLab.com is a leading climate crisis community that provides a practical guide to green living through community interaction, exclusive environmental news, advice from experts and key analysis. EarthLab features a personalized Carbon Calculator, the first Carbon and Lifestyle Calculator of its kind – a unique three-minute survey that generates a carbon footprint score (ECP Score), which members can then save, work to reduce and track their success over time – as a member creates their own personal green strategy. The EarthLab Foundation is a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization headquartered in Kirkland, Washington. The foundation provides functional outreach and reverse research and educational efforts in part through EarthLab.com. Bay Laurels donates 5% of every order to The EarthLab Foundation.

TFG: The different scent collections, especially the food-based ones, are so enticing. What are some of the more popular collections?

QR: Around this time of year the most popular collections are our Fresh | Clean and Floral collections. As yummy as our Bakery Collection is, it does very well around the winter season.

TFG: You also have all-natural air freshener/odor eliminator sprays—which is great because the conventional ones are so toxic. How do these sprays work?

QR: BayNone works on contact to entrap malodor molecules and rid the odor they produce forever. BayNone does not cover up odors like other air fresheners. BayNone has to come in contact with the odor causing material to eliminate the odor. When sprayed on the material it simultaneously rids the odor and leaves a subtle more pleasant aroma. Although the fragrance will fade after some time, the odor never resurfaces. It is skin safe and pet safe.

TFG: What is your proudest moment as a business owner?

QR: Every sell no matter how big or small is a proud moment because whether the consumer realizes it or not, buying our products is an investment in our planet. Green is the principle behind every move we make at Bay Laurels. If I could not do it green I would not do it at all.

TFG: What exciting things are on the horizon?

QR: We have improved the BayNone formula to support a larger variety of fragrances. Soon we will carry BayNone in every fragrance we carry except many of our bakery scents. We are also researching and making plans to expand into a natural and organic line of bath & body products.

For more good scents, go to www.baylaurels.com.

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Outta Sight Site Spotlight: BlingBlingPuppy.com

May 17th, 2011

Got puppy love?

Then you’ll most definitely want to check out Bling Bling Puppy. The high-end dog accessories and essentials site specializes in making the exquisite available to all. With top choices in everything from toys and carriers to gourmet treats, shampoos and more, the chic boutique barks up the right tree when it comes to luxury. But it’s the designer doggy beds that take the site’s MO to the next level of fabulous.

Here, we talk to Bling Bling Puppy co-owner Victoria Seidler about what makes her site so barkin’ special.

THE FAMILY GROOVE: Why did you start your business?

Victoria Seidler: We started the business for a few different reasons. We knew that the pet industry was booming and felt that it was a good time to jump on board. As dog lovers ourselves, we wanted to make sure that other dog lovers out there would have a place to go that they could give great products to the dogs that they love. This would mean that we would have to carry quality products that we would be proud to sell to our customers. Our customers are special and the dogs that they have are special.

TFG: Tell us about the name.

Victoria Seidler: We wanted to have a name that stuck with you when you hear it as most business owners do. We thought about the term “bling” and how it relates now to having something highly fashionable and or sparkly for a person and how it would translate to your dog. In the dog world it represents to us the idea of getting things for your dog that are nice quality products because they deserve it. It does not mean to us that a product has to be expensive to be nice. We like to carry stuff that is good quality and more unique than much of the standard stuff that you can find in your common pet store. In short, “bling” to us means things that not only look nice but are of good quality as well. When we came up with the name we knew it was the one and we didn’t need to look any further. We thought it was short, catchy, and easy to remember.

TFG: The lines that you carry are absolutely stunning. I mean, those dog beds, carriers and jewelry are nicer than many people have for themselves. You obviously have great taste and a keen sense of style. What’s the most fabulous dog accessory you’ve seen?

VS: Thanks for the compliment. We wanted to strike a balance with the lines of products that we carry between things that are really high-end and those that are more affordable. We have things that are much nicer than ordinary for those that can afford to lavish on their beloved canines. We also wanted to make sure that we have plenty of stuff that is much more affordable for any dog owner and still keep the quality and the “bling” factor there. I think that we have achieved that. As far as the most fabulous dog accessory I have seen, I would have to say it is one of the beds that we carry. That bed is the Hepburn Chaise and there are 2 versions, either brown or pink. All the way down to the crystal legs it is a true luxury item for dogs. This bed is for the true canine connoisseur.

TFG: What’s your favorite doggy gift to give?

VS: Our favorite gift that we like to give is what we call puppy baskets or doggie baskets. We typically fill them with an assortment of things like dog shampoos, treats, toys, and perhaps a collar and leash.

TFG: What’s your proudest moment as a business owner?

VS: I think that my proudest moment is when we realized our vision and started to see it become a reality. This is when we realized that we can cater to the needs of all dog owners. Whether they can afford an extra fancy bed with a monogram pillow or a soft donut bed, everything we sell is quality. We know that their dogs will get a great product and that the owner will be happy.

TFG: What’s new for the season?

VS: One of the things that are new is the unstuffed plush dog toys. With these you don’t have to worry about having to pick up the aftermath of your dogs destruction when they tear a toy apart and leave stuffing everywhere. Many of these still have that audible squeaker that dogs love, but without the mess. We will be adding these to the site this year. We are also going to be adding some beds made with organic materials and like many of the other beds we carry, they are filled with recycled plastic bottles. The recycled plastic filling is super soft and comfortable. It is a good use for plastic bottles that would otherwise be sitting in a landfill.

For more from Bling Bling Puppy, go to www.blingblingpuppy.com.

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Summer Lovin’

May 16th, 2011

Dress up your summer look with a stand-out piece of jewelry from Reija Eden

Summer-sational styles include the Sand Dollar Necklace, White Gold Diamond Starfish Pendant and Gina Earrings, a costume set of sunburst  jewel danglers.

This eclectic and inspired line of handmade artisan jewelry offers something for everyone at a range of affordable prices.

Get 20% off through Memorial Day with code memorial.

For more gorgeous adornments, go to www.redenjewelry.com.

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Outta Sight Site Spotlight: MalkaGem.com

May 13th, 2011

When someone loves what he or she does, the feeling is palpable. It is nothing short of transcendent.

The beautiful, passionate custom-made, handcrafted healing gemstone jewelry from Malka Michelson embodies her beautiful, impassioned joie de vivre. Her one-of-a-kind pieces (she’s got ready-made pieces too but the majority are unique) capture her intention to spread love and heal the world, one soul at time.

Here, we talk to Malka about her growing line (you must check out the gemstone bookmarks!), her a-ha moment and the meaning behind her mantra.

THE FAMILY GROOVE: What inspired you to start the Healing Heart Collection?

Malka Michelson: I have been fascinated with gemstones and their healing properties for a long time; then many years ago my immune system crashed. I began to work with gemstones designing jewelry that embodied beauty, light and healing. I found that by connecting to the stones it strengthened my connection to the earth. At the time a friend of mine had a gallery and she put some of my pieces in her gallery. People responded to the jewelry and the heartfelt intention I put into each piece. I’ve been designing jewelry for about ten years. And, my immune system has strengthened greatly over that time as well.

TFG: Your tagline and motto is “I Create With Love.” It signifies not only what you do but serves as a reminder to the person reading it. Tell us what this motto means to you.

MM: It is truth in action. I’ve embraced many healing modalities and one day I was writing a series of affirmations. This one sank deeply into my soul. I finally got it; that every intention embodies love. Connecting this love to myself is the beginning; only we often bypass ourself opting to offer that love up to others. That realization that I… I Create… With Love was powerful. This is the truth for each of us even though we may not be aware of it; we are all creating out of love.

TFG: On your site (which you will be unveiling a redesign for in the fall), you have a list of gemstones and their healing properties. What stones are the most popular and do you have any favorites?

Absolutely, my all time favorite is tourmaline. And it’s by far the most popular. It’s such a versatile stone with it’s many colors. And tourmaline’s healing properties work both overall and on specific chakras depending on the stone’s color. It’s a stone for protection, balance, inspiration and creativity in all areas of one’s life. I also love quartz crystal; it’s an overall healer for everyone. And stones like aquamarine, chrysoprase and Peruvian blue opal—all yummy !

TFG: I love the gemstone bookmarks! That’s something I’ve never seen before. What a beautiful gift to give. How did you come up with such a cool idea?

MM: First of all, I have a deep appreciation for beauty. It’s a guiding principle in my work as a designer. Initially, I had a client who wanted jewelry for her wedding and she also wanted an unusual bookmark for guest sign-in. I used to make wedding bouquets and I was inspired by the way I worked with ribbons. The bookmark evolved out of the previous experiences I had with ribbons and gemstones. The original wedding bookmark was more elaborate only I wanted to make it more accessible so I refined it for everyday use. I see them as sacred alters adorning books that embody personal meaning and the essence of spirit for each one of us.

TFG: What is your proudest moment as a business owner?

MM: Knowing that my small contribution is part of the greater ocean of humanity gives me joy and opens my heart. When the heart is open, that in itself is the proudest moment. I have received many stories of gratitude about how something I made for someone or their friend or their wife touched that person deeply. It’s an honor to be of service in this way.

TFG: What exciting things are on the horizon?

MM: Actually, along with my jewelry, I am designing a book of healing affirmations and prose. I will certainly keep you posted. It’s a book that one can go to everyday to receive support and inspiration in any moment. And the Goddess Gemstone Necklaces and the Five Gem Necklaces are the newest creations.

You can find new jewelry on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/malka.e.michelson

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Outta Sight Site Spotlight: PurpleDaisyKids.com

May 12th, 2011

Hopping around on the Purple Daisy Kids site is fun.

From the most excellent nap mats to the adorbs clothing to the well-vetted selection of toys, the site captures the essence of childhood in a well-edited, highly (but not overly) designed depot of cute.

Here, we talk to Purple Daisy Kids co-owner Susan about the site she started after her husband was laid off, why luxury goods don’t have to be luxury priced and what’s new for the season.

THE FAMILY GROOVE: Why did you start your business?

Susan Miceli: After giving birth to my daughter in 2004, I fell madly and passionately in love. I knew this would be my only child, so I did not want to miss a single moment with my new baby. I just could not bring myself to return to my hectic and demanding career in advertising. With just the little bit of time I had on my hands, I started following a few mommy blogs, checked out baby and children designs and styles, and educated myself with the latest children’s trends. Before long, I found a new creative outlet with decorating nurseries, children’s rooms and purchasing children’s clothing for friends. I tinkered around with this, and even started selling on eBay, but felt it could be so much bigger.

Eventually in early in 2009, my husband was laid off from Victoria’s Secret marketing department. Given the failing economy, jobs in advertising were extremely hard to come by. We brainstormed different employment ideas, and kept coming back to this: How much our lives had changed since we had our baby, the many new interests we now had, the new and innovative products that now graced our cupboards, and how the design of our home had changed to accommodate our growing family.

We decided to scrape together our savings to purchase an existing children’s website. Given we were a couple of seasoned advertising professionals, we thought we could handle it. In the process, we learned how much we didn’t know about Internet marketing. While it was working site, it was only a shell with a limited product offering, so we quickly redesigned the entire site. In fact, the only thing we kept was the name. We completely redesigned the site’s navigation, the graphics, logo, colors, photography, target audience, the products and category lines…everything was revamped. Then we plunged head first into search engine optimization, Google analytics, meta tags, social networking and more.

It has taken about 18 months of constant work, but we are now at a point where we are proud of the site. Although, I will say it is in a constant state of evolution, and there are many more products we are now introducing.

TFG: Tell us about the name.

SM: As mentioned above, the name came with the site, and we decided to keep it. At the time, I thought it might have a little bit of branding power behind it. I feel it evokes a sense of individuality, innocence and whimsy.

TFG: What makes Purple Daisy Kids stand out?

SM: Purple Daisy Kids offers a broad selection of nice products that fit any budget. While we offer many luxury brands, we also offer brands that are equally wonderful, just without the luxury price tag.

TFG: What’s your proudest moment as a business owner?

SM: Wow, this is a tough one because I have a few. The fact that my husband and I are able to work on this day in and day out together as a team, all while overcoming his layoff and the weak economy is a homerun to me. Secondly, sometimes it seems we’ve expanded much more slowly than we wanted to, but we’ve been able to do this all without outside financing. Thirdly, this spring, I am so excited to expand the children’s party line, as this is what I’ve dreamed of since the inception of the site. This is a personal goal of mine, and we have some great brands and products coming.

TFG: What’s new for the season?

SM: We are beyond thrilled that Mud Pie Baby is now offering larger sizes. Up until now, they have offered sizing only up to 24 months. So many of our customers have inquired about larger sizing for this brand, and now we can meet our customers’ demands.

For more from Purple Daisy Kids, go to www.purpledaisykids.com.

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Good Day, Sunshine?

May 11th, 2011

Navigating the brave new world of going outside isn’t always so easy.

Is it okay to go outside in the sun? How much SPF do we really need? Do the chemical-free sunscreens work? Do we also need to wear sun-protection clothing? What about getting enough vitamin D?

With summer quickly approaching, it’s time to get the answers we need to make sure that our season in the sun is safe.

Fortunately, the sunny folks at Girls4Sport, a progressive girls’ and women’s swim and athletic wear company, pointed us to their Q & A with an in-the-know dermatologist for the scoop on weathering life in the great outdoors.

For more info, go to www.girls4sport.net.

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