Super cool kids shoes: Spotlight on Joojos

I don’t swoon (often) but these shoes are amazing. I am thinking weddings, barbecues, the hamptons, baptisms, birthday parties, family reunions….and also doubling up as an everyday quality shoe. Seriously, the quality is so great that you can pass down these shoes to siblings, etc. Yes, kid’s feet grow really really fast and after your first child, you are stunned by how often you are back at the shoe store. Then you have your second child, and you start rummaging through the old shoes of your first. So it really helps if you invested in good quality shoes the first time around.

 I am pretty impressed that Charles and Ama, were inspired by this concept following the birth of their first child, Joojos and then had the gumption to turn it into something tangible. Check out my chat with Charles below….
 
1) At what point did you and Ama become inspired to put together an upscale shoeline? Was it the gap in the market? Or your newborn’s incredibly delectable foot?
 
The story of Joojos is less about any idea of market positioning. It’s a story about people cultivating relationships, working together, learning together to create something that puts a smile on our faces. Ama and I started working on Joojos around the time our son, Jojo, was born. For me, having a child for the first time, was incredibly humbling. There’s the natural pride that comes with it, but for me there was another sense of vulnerability that is hard to describe. You see this adorable boy and you have all these hopes for him, for his life, and want to move heaven and earth to care for him. The idea of Joojos was born out of a dream of creating a pair of shoes that will last forever. Now we haven’t come anywhere close to that, but if you suspend any doubts for a moment, we can begin to consider the essence of such a pair. The pair of shoes might get better with time, it might grow with your feet, lead you on the path to your dreams, it might even help you create meaning out of your life in a way that will bring you a sense of contentment. The good news is that we can live that dream, not necessarily in the form of a physical shoe, but in the way we nurture the genius of the inner child that’s in all of us, but more evident in kids. It starts with the choices we make for our kids and how we allow them to follow their dreams, through our words and actions. Seth Godin shares some practical ideas on how we might be able do that in our school systems, our homes, and in our communities in Stop Stealing Dreams. But I believe it starts with honoring that creative spark that’s in all of us.
 
2) What makes joojos so distinct from other shoes? What would be a good comparable?
We owe a lot of our look and feel to our friends at HerraizSoto & Co (a creative agency based in Barcelona), our designer Amanda Blackwell (based in the UK), our packaging designer, Daisy Lew (based in New York), our craftsmen in Italy and Romania, and the long standing tradition of craftsmanship that believes in creating things out of love. I think distinction starts with love and care for the work that one does. And when I look at Joojos, I see all the multitude of choices that were made out of a deep love for the craft of shoe making and art of delighting another human being.
 
 3) I love the ‘crew’ portion of your brand. Are the shoes inspired by different kid personalities? If so, how did you go about picking these personalities?

Thank you. We had a lot of fun with the copy for the Crew. There was no process per se for picking personalities. The test was whether the copy put a smile on our faces. And in many cases, our copy writers were as excited about the project as every one else. In the end, there are some connections between the personalities. Some we intended, others just happened to emerge when it was all said and done.

4) Where can i buy these shoes?

Joojos are available on our website at www.joojos.com.

5) My friends love these shoes so much that they are asking for an adult version. Do you see yourselves going down this route?

Most of our friends want adult versions. And we want adult versions too. Maybe someday we’ll get there.

6) Your packaging is awesome! We are currently using our box to store ‘superheroes’. What was the thinking behind the packaging?

Thank you. I think the feeling behind the packaging was to create something that was useful and fun at the same time. Something that people will be less inclined to throw away. The rest of it was Daisy looking into her crystal ball and calling on the muse.

And that’s all folks! Before you leave…go through my 2 minute quiz below…

Is Joojos for you?

1) Do your kids go to the playground, park or garden at least once a day? (yes/no)

2) Do your kids wear shoes some of the time? (yes/no)

3) You are not a shopaholic and prefer to buy quality over quantity? (yes/no)

4) You are a sucker for fashion? (yes/no)

If you answered yes for 3 of these questions…then you should seriously consider Joojos.

 

 

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7 steps to relaunching your career after a break from the workplace

So I have had an extremely interesting week – full of ‘information gathering’ events. Hence in this post, I thought it would be valuable to share some  takeaways for those looking to reconnect and reenter the workforce. Incidentally, 1/3 of working women tend to take a career break according to a study done by Harvard Business Review and then later updated by the Hidden Brain Drain in 2009. If we think of high profile women that have taken time out of the work place….and returned after some time out…

  • Meredith Vieira, quit “60 Minutes” and later took on Katie Couric’s old seat at NBC’s “Today” show after nine years on ABC’s “The View” .
  • Annette Bening (who was later nominated for an oscar)
  • Teri Hatcher (won a golden globe award)
  • Nancy Pelosi (started her career while volunteering as a stay home mom)
  • J.K Rowling (who was an unemployed single mom when she wrote the Harry Potter series during her child’s nap times)
  • Calista Flockhart returned to network television after five years at home with her child

So on the issue of returning to work, i listened to a webinar by irelaunch. Please check out their website www.irelaunch.com, this organization  is invaluable for anyone who has taken a career break and is looking to get back in the current economic environment.  And if you are too tired, or can’t be bothered to read….check out this youtube video.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lyogDJgghFw

One of the most staggering statistics I heard today was the 37% pay cut that one should expect after having been out for more than 3-years. What’s most interesting about this statistic are the reasons behind it - namely reentrants taking entry level jobs in a new field or professionals returning to work in the same field and taking slightly lower level positions  (as a result of their desire for flexibility or their need to get their feet wet again); or professionals taking a significant pay cut because of the family’s immediate financial need.

There was so much information that I cannot adequately cover it in one article so I am just going to summarize some main points:

1)      Assess your career readiness (some people return to work after their kids are in preschool, or it could be college). There is a quizz on their website that you can work through

2)      Identify some confidence building strategies

3)      Assess your career options (how have your interests and skills changed since you left the workplace) Sometimes career breaks can be a blessing, since they force you to evaluate whether or not you were on the right career path

4)      Update your job search skills (by returning to school or taking some classes at a community college if necessary) or volunteer strategically in areas that you would like to work in (check www.idealist.org). Be open to part time and project work too!

5)      Network and market yourself (either through reconnecting with old co-workers, alumni, and friends). Don’t underestimate the importance of social media like twitter, and linked in. I think a particularly eye-opening point is to make sure that your linked in profile is 100% complete otherwise, it may either be skipped by recruiters or is pushed below all those resumes that are complete

6)      Get your family’s support (they can also be a great sounding board for you when practising your 30 second elevator pitch on why you would like to return to work and what you want to do)

7)      Find another job (even if its not financially what you wanted, many individuals report that they love their new working selves)

There are so many other support groups for parents looking to reenter the workforce. 3 sites I like are:

1) www.myworkbutterfly.com – you absolutely need to look at her videos of celebrity moms and peers for inspiration!

2) I also like the glass hammer (www.theglasshammer.com), which is great for executive women in business, law and finance.

3) and third,  www.brazencareerist.com

 

 

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6 tips to maintaining your interior design identity in the home after kids: Spotlight on Splice-Design

Last week, I caught up with Dawn Bennett, a partner of Splice Design. This firm, which focuses on architecture, urban design, residential and interior design, was founded in 2010 and has offices in Atlanta and New York. Dawn was originally an architect, which was how she fell into interior design. As an architect, you needs to be concerned with what happens inside the space that you are designing. For example, does the room have storage and where will you charge the cell phones? Architects may be unable to delve into the interior design aspect of a home because of budget limitations – and so this is where Splice Design comes in. What Dawn is finding in the current economic market, is that many families that may have wanted to move to a bigger house, have chosen to stay in their existing space, renovate and use their existing space differently.

 

Here are some of her tips on how to maintain a chic family friendly home…

  1. 1.       Use Neutral colors

As a mom herself, Dawn has become even more sympathetic to the needs of families with kids. In designing rooms, she prefers to use base neutral colors like tan, warm grays and wool skein and then accents such as orange (her favorite), turquish turquoise, magenta and citron green. She tends to stay away from primary colors like red, blue, and bright yellow.

  1. 2.       Multipurpose your furniture

In designing children’s living spaces, Dawn is a huge fan of multitasking or multipurposing. For example, an IKEA stolmen system (which is a closet system) can initially be used as a desktop with a changing table on top just like in the photo below and then once the baby outgrows diapers, a desktop with drawers. For a school age child, it can be converted into a computer desk with book shelves. Now don’t you just love the guy/gal who came up with this piece of furniture? The system can also double up as a magazine book holder, or it can be used in an office or a closet….(l think this definitely makes for a great trivia question at your next games night. In the words of Toni Braxton, “how many ways I love you?” Each count would represent one of the ways it can be reconfigured.

The photo of the stolmen system below shows the vertical support poles (necessary), a narrow set of drawers, shelves (long and short), a clothes rod, and the shoe/magazine racks along the bottom.  Some are installed on an angle and some are installed flat.  You buy the support brackets that attach to the poles and space them according to the pieces and the layout you want.  You can also buy the longer set of drawers if you would like the ‘changing table effect’.

Dawn also loves the storage stool or bench ottomans from Target – (for a shared living room) since the top comes off and you can store the toys underneath. Perfect!

  1. 3.       Invest in a handful of quality pieces

Mix high end and low end stuff with a focus on a handful of good quality pieces. “Nobody wants to redo a house every five years!”  For your high end pieces, pick items that are ‘neutral in color’ and ‘classic’. The rest of the living space can be modified as trends change with pillows, and rugs, for instance. Having a few good quality pieces allows you to ‘repurpose’ the items.

 

  1. 4.       Low tile carpets are great for families with kids

I had never heard of these before this conversation, but low tile carpets are the in thing. You can put them together yourself, the tiles are 18 by 18, and can be cut, you can install borders and patterns, and this is key (drumroll), they clean like a breeze!). That is, you can spot clean them with a detergent. Have a very overactive and perhaps destructive child? No problem.  Rather than having to totally replace a carpet, you can replace just the damaged tiles @ ($15-35) a piece. Dawn’s favorite company to buy low tile carpets from is Flor (www.flor.com)…a sample of which is displayed in the photo below.

  1. 5.       Scale the size of the furniture to the size of the room

Dawn is NOT a fan of large sectional pieces in small rooms…..but an L-shaped sofa could work.

 

  1. Think broader than the nursery

Babies are only little for such a short time…so when you are choosing wallpaper, rugs, and murals…think of themes that grow with the child. I love the gender and age neutral mural in the little toddler’s room below.

 

Dawn’s tips are really super….….perhaps, she can help all of us get our homes featured in the next architectural digest???

For more fabulous tips by Dawn, please check out her website….www.splice-design.com.

 

 

 

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Re: 5 top professions for new moms

So you have just had a baby, you are bleary eyed, and massively sleep deprived to say the least. In the US, at about 6-weeks, your paid-maternity leave ends and its time for you to head or rather wander back to work. At this point, you really wish you had chosen one of the more ‘family friendly professions’.  When thinking about a top profession for a mom, I would consider flexibility as a key factor.

According to the Solutions Journal (Feb 2011), in a post titled, a revolutionary change: Making the workplace more flexible, “ approximately four out of every ten mothers in the United States are primary breadwinners, and almost two-thirds are breadwinners or co-breadwinners. This dynamic has transformed American marriages and families, with couples working more collaboratively in order to juggle careers and caregiving.” As a result, of the demographic changes in the workplace, women and men value professions with flexibility more than ever.  Telecommuting, ability to have short work weeks or set one’s own hours, and ease of finding contract work are some factors that enhance one’s job flexibility.

Here are some of the top family friendly professions for new moms. Average salaries are based on new york and were obtained from www.indeed.com.

1)      Writing jobs ($65,000):  a journalist ($53,000)

2)      Sales jobs ($61,000): an executive recruiter ($102,000) or real estate broker ($121,000)

3)      Web developers ($97,000)

4)      Teachers ($65,000): this is great if you are a parent, since you keep the same hours as your children and your summers are off.

5)      Healthcare jobs ($82,000) – For example, there is such a high demand for nurses ($80,000), so you may be able to get flexibility. Nursing though can be very demanding, especially if you are doing the all-night shifts, so you will certainly be trading off sleep for family time.

As new and existing moms evaluate firms for their longevity, flexibility will continue to be a determining factor.  Here are a list of a few websites for parents looking for flexibility. Note even if you don’t use these sites, one can always use flexibility practices at other firms as a template to negotiate or create flexible policies at an existing firm.

www.momcorps.com (specializes in flexible working arrangements)
www.flexprostaffing.com (perfect for professionals with skills in pharmaceuticals)
www.businesstalentgroup.com (great for parents looking for project or consulting roles)
 
 Happy parents, mean a happy family!

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Are you a fashi mom? You know, a fashionable mom?

When you go out for an evening of fun without your kids, do you shed off that ‘mommy’ personality and metamorphosize into the cool chic that you once were? Or do you hold on to your mom’s identity, so that you look like exactly that, ‘a mom going out without her kids’? I would say, that i am definitely the cool chic wanna be….. Whether you are going out on a date with a spouse, or a friend, i think its important to resume your own personality. Not only is it healthy, its good for your kids to see you without your mommy hat on. i think it brings out a different side of you…..and allows them to see you as an individual separate from them.

So here goes my first list of going out clothes….and no, it does not currently include a ‘little black dress’. I am so over that actually….And of course, this assumes that you are wearing spanx right? Of course!!!!

 

 

So that was mine. What is your going out look???

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