Sunday, May 25, 2008

Los Pollitos Dicen...or Not?

Well, Amigas, I have to say that the past week has been full. Full of work, anticipation, activities, stress, concern, disbelief and outrage. Some of this was related to my daughter's last days of classes and our excitement that summer has arrived with new opportunities. The stress was mostly mine - worry over how to keep my kids busy and enriched. But I am looking forward to some of the neat ideas we have had (more in a later post.)

Unfortunately, the latter emotions in the above list revolve around one of my friends and a colleague in the Latin baby business world.

I have been in the business of designer children's wear for Hispanic families for about three and a half years now. Those of us who are forging a path through this relatively untapped market know each other or are, at least, aware of each other's existence and are familiar with their products. I like to think that most of us are willing to collaborate and help each other out from time to time, and I have worked together with many of my fellow business women. And I am happy to say that I am even pretty good friends with one in particular.

Carrie Ferguson Weir is the co-owner of Los Pollitos Dicen (The Little Chicks Say), a beautiful designer line of children's T-shirts. Her line is based on the Latino nursery rhyme of the same name and perfectly captures the essence of Hispanic childhood with its adorable designs. Carrie and Oscar, who also started their line about three years ago, have worked tremendously hard to create a high-quality and ORIGINAL product that is a big hit with Latino families. In fact, I am hoping to carry LPD in my boutique this summer.

We chat or email weekly (at least) and have even collaborated on a few projects. I am extremely fond of Carrie and I respect her greatly because I know the struggles and challenges she goes through as an entrepreneurial mom. I was not surprised when she wrote to tell me of another line of baby tees that has suddenly appeared on the market. However, I was completely aghast when I saw the products, because, with the exception of a few minor details, they look exactly like LPD. From a distance, the colors and even the design appear to be the same. Upon closer examination, however, the similarities and differences are obvious. The artwork is not on the same level, and instead of little chicks, the theme is some other type of baby bird. But a few of the designs are remarkably similar to LPD's. Even the font is the same (Seriously, sister, even the font??)

The other crazy thing is that Carrie finds out about this copycat from the other vendors and visitors at the Cuba Nostalgia in Miami. Within a matter of hours, she is getting text messages, emails and calls of alarm. Friends and customers wanting to express their outrage and warning LPD about the imposter. The past two years, Carrie has set up a booth at Cuba Nostalgia, but decided not to this year. Does she regret it? Probably!

Now, I don't know about you, but I would certainly be embarrassed to death if the whole world knew I had copied someone else's idea - que vergüenza! -even if it was accidental. And this was no accident. From various reports, the owner seemed completely aware of LPD and showed no remorse or embarassment. But who on earth would steal someone's idea and then set up a booth at THE SAME festival?!?

Only a quackpot.

They say that imitation is the highest form of flattery (which is what I told Carrie), but this whole thing makes me really sad because I so strongly believe in supporting other female entrepreneurs - especially Latinas. I try not to worry too much about other Spanish baby businesses that seem to be popping up out of the woodwork lately. It's a huge country with hundreds of thousands of Latinos in it. I don't expect to corner the market or monopolize the country with my fantastico line of baby products (although it is magnifico!), and I doubt they will either. However, I do expect all the players to ethically play the game and respect each other's ideas and hard work. Am I being unreasonable?

So don't be scammed, Amigas! And if you want to show your support or are simply looking for an ORIGINAL piece of quality, designer's children's wear, visit Los Pollitos Dicen here. Or you can wait and buy some of their great products from Latin Baby later this summer (wink!)

Hopefully, this will be my one and only negative posting on Mi Cielito Lindo - though certainly well deserved.

Un abrazo fuerte a todos --- and have a great Memorial Day!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Spanish Scrabble, Anyone?

I have always been a big fan of board games. Not only do they challenge us mentally, but I believe they are wonderful bonding tools. Some of my favorite childhood memories are of playing (countless) board games with my grandfather. Triominos, backgammon, scrabble, checkers, grandparents had a pile of games that I would excitedly shuffle through and then beg my grandfather to play with me. (He was quick to agree, so not much begging was required.)
Years later, after I began dating my husband, one of his sisters was always cracking open the pictionary, taboo or cranium (my favorite!) Unfortunately, my hubby is a bit of a party-pooper and never participated, but I sure had the time of my life with his family and friends.

So needless to say, since having kids, a small collection of board games has quietly begun growing in my house. I have been saving a few of them for when my kids are old enough to play them together (or with me. ) For her birthday, the above mentioned hermana sent my daughter a bunch of Dora board games, of which her favorite is Dora Bingo. It is a great way for her to practice her colors in Spanish.

For older children I have found one that is fun but still educational - great for helping them improve their spelling and Spanish. I have to admit, I think this would be great for adults, too. Amazon is selling Spanish Scrabble at a relatively cheap price.

If you'd like to pick one up, click here.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Treasured Flamenco Felt?

¡Ole! Check out this cute little FeltPeople Flamenco Dancer from Beesocks that I found on Etsy. She is only 10" tall and handcrafted of layered felt. At first, I felt inspired to try and create something myself, but my fingers hurt just thinking about trying to cut out such tiny pieces of felt. Although, the end result is fantastico, no?

I can see this being a really fun activity for los niños this summer - just break out the felt and let their imaginations take over. If they are not old enough to use scissors, try cutting out an assortment of shapes ahead of time. I generally have some premade shapes that I have cut which the kids use to create faces, animals, plants, houses, comida, etc.

I can certainly imagine this little señorita being a treasured favorite of any little girl....and maybe their mamá? If you'd like to purchase Macarena (as I secretly call her), click here.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Children's Crafts Blog Saves Mami's Sanity

Summer is fast approaching, so for all you mamis out there looking for ways to keep your niños occupied and happy, I am sharing one of my favorite blogs. Cassi from Bella Dia, has created a new blog that focuses mainly on crafts for children. The Crafty Crow is filled with links to hands-on projects for children of all ages. I certainly had no idea that there were so many children's crafts being blogged about on so many different blogs. I have on occasion surfed for ideas to chase away my kids' boredom, but now, Cassi does all my homework for me! All I have to do is flip through her blog to find the right project. Since it started in March, I have been a devoted reader. And I have been thinking that, perhaps, I might add a few posts to Mi Cielito Lindo with instructions for making Latino crafts as well? A nice challenge - we'll see how I do...

To check out The Crafty Crow, click here.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Baby Shower Invitations in Spanish and English

So many of you have expressed interest in baby shower invitations with Spanish wording or phrases/rhymes. SO, I talked with my friend Lena Hayden, owner of Nos Vemos Greetings, and convinced her to create a line of bilingual baby shower invitations. Before I knew it, she was sending me various styles to review and I am happy to announce that Latin Baby is now carrying a few of our favorite designs! We are hoping to add more invitations styles by the end of the year, but to get you all started, we have chosen to carry a few designs that are perfect for your needs. We have pink girly ones, blue boyish, and colorful I-don't-know-its. We even have an elegant style in two colorways that are for more formal showers. So if you haven't already seen them, check them out in our on-line boutique here.

We will continue to offer our personalized shower invitations that you can have printed with all of your personal information. And, of course, we still offer a page filled with free suggestions on how to word your Spanish or bilingual invitations. You can view this page here.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The Indie Collective 2008 Spring/Summer Gift Guide

Ta-da! I am pleased to announce that Latin Baby has participated in Indie Collective's 2008 Spring/Summer Shopping Guide. We are, of course, listed in the Baby category. For those of you unfamiliar with Indie Collective, it is a showcase of independent artists, artisans, and designers of the creative arts community. Both Latin Baby and Mi Cielito Lindo are listed on the site and we have gained some great customers and readers from the association. So be sure to check them out if you are looking for new and original gifts that are often handmade by highly talented designers.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

La Casa Azúl Now On-Line!

For all you mamás in East Harlem who may not have heard, La Casa Azúl Bookstore has officially launched its on-line bookstore. If you are having trouble waiting for the actual bookstore to open, you can now buy many great books on-line! For those of you not in El Barrio, La Casa Azúl is an independent bookstore and café (owned by fellow Comadre, Ms. Aurora Anaya- Cerda) that features the work of contemporary Latino authors and carries a number of new and used books in English and Spanish.
It is also the host of El Barrio Book Club, which meets once a month in local restaurants. You can find updates about the current book they are reading at their on-line store, so even if you live in Chicago or Los Angeles (and find it difficult to make the meetings - wink!) you can still find some great literature by keeping tabs on the Book Club’s selections.
The store even sells music from the US, Mexico, Latin America and the Caribbean. The on-line store is a sneak peak of the actual storefront that is due to open soon. So if you are looking to support a Latina-owned business that promotes cultural awareness and supports community education, check out La Casa Azúl Bookstore’s new on-line website by clicking here.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Hispanic Toys on the Rise

YIKES! A lot of possiblities today...shall I tell you about a collaboration I have been doing and the new products that will be available next week? Shall I highlight a few really cool projects that I have read about recently on some of my favorite blogs? Or highlight a new favorite blog, which features a plethora of crafts and activities for children? Or how about some neat toys I discovered yesterday?

Right. I'll wait on the collaboration and blogs, but feature some pretty neat toys I have recently stumbled upon for Hispanic families.

My kids have several toys by Play Town and Little People. I love the toys because they are great for children to role-play with and allows them to use their imaginations. I so enjoy listening to how my children funnel what they have learned about family, home and the outside world into their play time with toys like these. I recently found these little toys by Play Town that feature a Hispanic girl and boy, mom and dad. You can find these on Unfortunately, I have to buy the caucasian parents, too, since my husband is a blonde, but the others are a generic respresentation of the rest of us...I even wear my hair up most of the time like the little mamacita! Buy them from Amazon here.

I am also a GIANT fan of Brain Quest. We have a few sets here at home that I crack out on almost a daily basis with my kids. I can't tell you how super super geeked I was to run across this set of Brain Quest's Hispanic America! Here is the description put out by Brain Quest:

"Celebrate the heritage: El Cid to Selena, marimbas and the Pyramid of the Sun. HISPANIC AMERICA covers it all: history, famous people, the Arch of Carabobo, geography, "The Liberator," pop culture, hasta la vista versus hasta luego, and more. Quiz yourself, quiz your parents—quiz your big brother. The Aztecs. La raza and el boricua. Sammy Sosa and a snack of pasteles."

Hee-Hee! Definitely for older kids, but I may just go ahead and buy it for me! If you are ready to get your set, you can find them for sale here.

OOOOO! I have a few more, products to tell you about, but will have to post about them later as I hear my kids waking up from nap-time!
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