Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Technologically speaking, we’re not exactly early-adopters over here at
Admiral Road. It took one of us (I’m not naming names) a heck of a lot
of effort to convince the other of us that we really did need a web
site way back when we first started. Granted, it was 2002 and it was
far from the case that every company had a web site, let alone a
functioning e-commerce web site, but the writing was certainly on the
wall. Thank goodness we got admiralroad.com up and running – it’s been
our beloved ‘store’ for the past seven years.
In the spirit of self-improvement we’ve been working on our technological know-how. Several months ago we retired our dinosaur of a desktop computer in favour of laptops. We’ve synched up our hard-drives and, with the help of Lizz, our 23-year-old computer whiz employee, are moving, sluggishly, into the new millennium – better late than never. We’ve read with interest for some time the blogs of other companies and individuals we admire, and we thought it was high time we threw our literary hats into the ring.
Blanket Statements (cute name, don’t you think?) is a blog about balancing motherhood and entrepreneurship. (We’ve got five kids between us, aged six and under.) It’s also a forum for us to tell you about products and companies we like as well as a little about some of our amazing customers. Finally, we’ll keep you posted on what’s happening at your favourite source for personalized blankets and other great gifts. We hope you enjoy reading our blog and let us know what you think. Who knows? If this works out, Blackberries might even be in our future….
Thursday, September 10, 2009
While I can never be sure why anyone has chosen a name for their child, it seems reasonable that a sudden rise in a previously almost non-existent name has probably been inspired by some outside source – like a TV show. Case in point – Addison. Surely this girls’ name gained its massive popularity from the character on Grey’s Anatomy/Private Practice. And Cohen, a traditional Jewish last name, shows up almost weekly. I’m convinced this is after the character on the now off-the-air TV show, The O.C.
And then there are the perfectly nice names that you think would catch on, but don’t. Take Meredith from Grey’s Anatomy, or Marissa from The O.C. Who is to say why some things enter the collective sub-conscious while others remain on the sidelines?
Other celeb inspired trends: Lexie and George (Grey’s Anatomy), Ainsley (The West Wing), Sawyer (Lost), Blake (actress from Gossip Girl), Dexter (Dexter), and Danica (Indy driver/pin-up girl Danica Patrick). But my absolute favourites are twins Max and Ruby, and Will and Grace.
How did you choose your kid’s name?
Thursday, September 3, 2009
I was discussing this dread with Amy the other day and ended up articulating the problem. In my opinion, moving small kids through the daily routine is roughly equivalent in effort to pushing a grand piano through a tight doorway every single day. For the next 10 months.
There is the kid who just can’t put those shoes on until I’m apoplectic. Then there’s the little one still in kindergarten, which requires an afternoon program a few days a week, which requires multiple pick up times and locations. There’s the anxiety about how the shoeless one is going to settle into full-day school and how the kindergartener will like her new teacher. In short, I’m a bit stressed out!
Fear not, I’m doing my utmost to hide these feelings from my kids and am hoping that it’s not seeping through the cracks. The kids have had a structured summer, so school shouldn’t be a huge shock to their systems. The thing is, I can hear them right now playing beautifully together – relaxed and happy. In exactly 5 days at this moment I’ll be begging for the shoes to be put on and wondering if I have everything. Not quite the same..
I’m going to do my utmost to enjoy the last few unstructured days. And then I’m going to have to make peace with that piano.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
When I was pregnant with my firstborn, we didn’t find out who was in there because we wanted a surprise delivery. Our daughter was born and we were thrilled. When I got pregnant again, I wanted to find out the baby’s gender. (My husband didn’t – but since I was carrying the darn baby, I figured I had veto power.) Of course I didn’t care who was in there, but I wanted to prepare myself if I was to have another girl.
Having grown up with one brother myself, my childhood home was fairly harmonious. We were – and still are – very different, so there was little competition between us growing up. I feared having a second girl because of my perceptions about sisters. I was terrified of them. The brother-sister relationship seemed so easy. There were so many ways to encourage different interests. And the brother-brother relationship? Well I just figured they’d whack each other to resolve their differences. But the sister-sister relationship seemed to be the most fraught of all. Sisters can be best friends and worst enemies all in the same relationship. There’s so much angst. And girls can be SO MEAN to each other!
Of course I was destined to have a second daughter. And then a third.
But then a really good thing happened to us this weekend. We reconnected with some cousins who we don’t see often and don’t know very well. They are raising sisters. They have an 11-year-old daughter and a 14-year-old daughter. And these kids blew me away. They were SO NICE! They were kind and authentic and well-mannered and charming. And they were delighted to play with my children! (My three girls swimming away while my husband and I sat poolside? My idea of paradise!) Sure those adolescent girls sleep ‘til noon – but as far as I can tell, that’s a break from the 6:30 a.m. wake-up call we have going on around here. These girls gave me hope that it’s possible to raise great kids and happy sisters.
Plus, I think I may have scored myself two future babysitters.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Despite the fact that I made it through business school I’m not what you would call a quant jock – so anytime a formula is involved I start to feel a little unwell. But in our business we do measure and consider whether the things we spend money on generate returns.
We’re not sure that all small business people think about what their returns are. At a recent show we were next to a woman who did the most beautiful quilts and who lost money at a staggering rate throughout the show. We don’t blame her for that – you’ll never know how something will work out unless you try, right? But she’ll be back, and that’s the problem. She comes back every year. And she’s not the only one. So if we're talking about issues in starting a business we want to raise the issue of considering returns.
The thing is though that we’re talking about mompreneurs here – not your average Joe or Jo-Anne Entrepreneur. Many of us start our businesses looking not only for money, but for family time and balance as well. The returns may be different for us.
Here are some of the profits and (losses) in my daily mompreneur experience.
Yesterday I picked up my kids from the camp bus and walked them home. I sat with them while they had a popsicle and heard about their day.
(Later I shushed my son and visibly hurt his feelings when he tried to tell me something while I was on the phone for a work call.)
I’m taking a few days off next week to go camping with my husband and kids. And I didn’t have to ask anyone’s permission.
(I’ll be a little stressed out about how far behind I am when I get back. I’ll disappear and leave the kids to their dad so I can catch up when we return.)
I have breakfast with my kids every day.
(My laptop is on the kitchen table sometimes.)
I get to decide when I work and where, and I love that freedom.
(I sometimes miss the companionship of a busy office. And I wouldn’t mind making more money either!)
I haven’t ‘missed’ anything as my kids have been small. I’ve felt every new tooth come in, seen them roll, crawl, walk and speak for the first time. I’ve soothed hurt feelings and kissed owies better.
(I’m not always as present with my kids as I’d like to be.)
So what’s the ROI on my mompreneur experience? Well, I’ve invested the last 7 years of my life (and counting), I’ve forgone both a lucrative career in the corporate world as well as being a full-time mum. But even though there’s a ‘loss’ for every ‘profit’ I’m still definitely ahead. I choose the positives even knowing that there are negatives and I know that the gains are worth more to me than the losses.
Maybe it’s time we wrote a new formula.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Rather than getting all wound up about what to wear, we put on our (best) jeans and headed to the meeting. We decided that we were too old to run around to buy an outfit just for this occasion. After all, we were representing ourselves – and jeans are where we’re at right now. (The meeting went very well, by the way.)
Since we first started talking about this, I’ve added other things to my list. According to me, I am now too old to:
- Wear a crop top. Or a mini-skirt;
- Drink so much that I’m incapacitated the next day and unable to care for my children;
- Fight with my friends;
- Help anyone move. (This applies to anyone over the age of 30 – not just me. When your 20s are behind you, you are too old to “pay” your friends with pizza and beer for helping you move. You should outsource this task to professionals.)
As I age, some things just aren’t the same, but there have been some improvements too. You get to know yourself better. You know what works and doesn’t work in your life. You get better at saying, “No.” But here’s the problem: Now there are a bunch of things that I’m definitely old enough to handle, but just don’t want to. Like the rodent who briefly took up residence under my kitchen sink. (Disgusting. Disastrous. Needed the husband to deal with it.) Or the rain in my bedroom as a result of a recent thunderstorm. (Still begging the roofer to come by and patch the hole.) Or the baby puke on my sweater that now needs to be dry-cleaned. (Well, that’s just part and parcel of the many thankless tasks of motherhood.)
Look out 40 – I’m coming! Here’s hoping for just the right balance of the things I’m too old to do and the things I’m now ready to handle.
Monday, August 10, 2009
Congratulations to Alexandra Macqueen! She is the winner of our summer contest. Alexandra has won an Admiral Road Camp Blanket AND a Mabel's Labels Camp/School Pack!
Here's what Alexandra had to say about Admiral Road and Mabel's Labels:
"Oh, these blankets look fantastic! I am already a huge fan of Mabel’s Labels; I am sure my kids would be ecstatic to get their own blankets - especially as they have relatively unusual names!!"
Thanks to everyone who entered our contest and left us such great comments! We love to hear from you!
Be sure to check our Mabel's Labels for all your labelling needs
Thursday, August 6, 2009
JC Wiatt (Diane Keaton) – Baby Boom: Didn’t you love this movie? JC gives up her fancy job and huge shoulder pads for a money-pit of a house in Vermont and full-time mommyhood when she ‘inherits’ a baby girl. But she takes life’s lemons (apples) and makes lemonade (applesauce). Not only does she get the hunky town vet, but she also gets revenge on her former corporate colleagues. A mompreneur must see!
Elyse Keaton (Meredith Baxter Birney) – Family Ties: Oh Elyse – the mother we all wanted. She could draw up plans for a new house while strumming Dylan tunes on the guitar and imparting life lessons to her kids. And she did it all with never a hair out of place – a true mompreneur indeed!
Angela Bower (Judith Light) – Who’s the Boss: She gets the career and the hunky housekeeper. What else is there to say? (And don’t you dare judge me for calling Tony Danza a hunk, you were totally crushing on him in the 90’s too!)
Kate McCardle (Susan Saint James) & Allie Lowell (Jane Curtain) – Kate & Allie: These quick-witted mompreneurs not only worked together, but they also lived together and raised their children Emma, Chip & Jennie. It certainly couldn’t have been easy to spend all that time together, but more puzzling is how they afforded a brownstone in Greenwich Village on a start-up catering company’s earnings. Hmmm… perhaps they had the same real estate agent as the did kids on "Friends"….but I digress.
Lorelai Gilmore (Lauren Graham) – Gilmore Girls: Lorelai Gilmore, beautiful mom to beautiful Rory. She quips, she caffeinates, she runs the Dragonfly – and raises a great kid, with time for romance too. It must be all that coffee.
Nancy Botwin (Mary Louise Parker) – Weeds: Selling dope may not be for every mom- but it pays the bills!
These are just a few famous mompreneurs. Send us your favourites!
Coming soon – mompreneurs in fiction!
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Here's another fun thing: We're teaming up with our friends at Mabel's Labels for a Summer Contest. You can win an Admiral Road Camp Blanket and a Camp/School Combo Pack of Mabel's Labels. You can enter by leaving a comment here (be sure to include your name) or on the Mabel's Labels blog. We'll randomly select a winner on August 10th.
One last bit of fun: For a limited time, get $5 off your Admiral Road blanket purchase. Just enter ARDSUMMER09 at check out. This offer is valid until August 14.
The Admiral Road Team
Monday, July 27, 2009
An Admiral Road Personalized Camp Blanket of your choice, including shipping. Camp blankets are perfect for twin beds, bunks or the couch. Cozy and durable, our camp blankets are made to suit any member of the family.
A Camp/School Combo Pack of Mabel's Labels, including shipping. We don't let our kids take anything out of the house unless it's got a Mabel's label in it. Trust us, Mabel's Labels are perfect for the stuff kids lose.
Here's how to enter:
Leave a comment here (be sure to include your name) or on the Mabel's Labels blog. We'll randomly select a winner on August 10th.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Admiral Road customers come from far and wide. In this ongoing feature we will profile some of the Admiral Road "Customers We Love." Do you love us too? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org. We'd love to hear from you. Any customers featured in our blog receive a very nice coupon toward their next order.
Name: Sarita D.
Hometown: London, UK
Customer since: 2002
Became an Admiral Road fan after: she learned about the company from a friend. After sending her first blanket and getting a great reaction, Admiral Road became her new baby gift destination.
Likes Admiral Road because: "I've sent an Admiral Road blanket to every new baby I know, on both sides of the ocean. People love to receive them. My friends in the UK have been especially excited by them as there is nothing else like them over here."
Thursday, July 16, 2009
War on fat? Check. Thanks to current information, I diligently monitor the intake of fat for myself and my family.
War on sugar? Sure – I can get behind this one too. (Anyone who’s ever been to a kid’s party has seen firsthand the impact of birthday cake on a small person.) Why wouldn’t I want to be cognizant of how much sugar the little ones are ingesting?
War on salmon? This one I had a little more trouble with. I thought that those omegas were supposed to be good for you…
War on meat? Cattle-rearing produces more greenhouse gases than driving cars?? Wait a minute – I thought that eating meat constituted part of a balanced diet.
And as of last week, Canada has declared a war on salt. I’m sorry, but I just don’t think that I’ve got this fight in me. For years, sodium has been the single aspect of the nutrition label that I have blissfully ignored. I’ve counted and compared calories, fats and sugars. But sodium? Nuh-uh. This one I’ve overlooked – until now. Now my eye goes directly to the middle of that label – shocked at how high this sodium number can climb. Now I know that I’m failing, on a daily basis, to limit my intake to the appropriate recommended amount. Sodium is added to everything – especially prepared foods.
To wage the war on salt, my newspaper nutrition columnist suggests that I cook my foods from scratch and then season them with cayenne pepper or citrus. Okay – so here’s a question, World: You want me to work to support my family, be a doting yet firm mother, a supportive and available friend and family member AND TO COOK MY FOODS FROM SCRATCH AND SEASON THEM WITH CITRUS? No, I say. I just can’t do it. I cannot juggle Admiral Road, my children's schedules, my schedule and grow my own foods too. My kids will eat Cheerios (loaded with sodium) and hot dogs (who knows what’s in those?) and as long as our blood pressure remains under control I’ll do my best to get them reared into adulthood.
I’ve fought the good fight, but I just can’t fight the war on salt. I’m saving my strength. Twelve years from now I’ll have three teenaged girls in my house and I’m going to have other battles to pick.
Thursday, July 9, 2009
This is a mom company. Throughout the day we talk about babies, families, and life. Sometimes my work day is interrupted by a 4 year old who needs help with her computer game or a sick kid home from school that brings me pictures she has drawn. Sometimes there are babies at business meetings.
I started reading “mommy blogs” and keeping up to date on the world of celebrity babies – all work related I’m quick to tell anyone who will listen. But somewhere along the way I realized I was enjoying them….and occasionally related to them. I guess I am far more entrenched in their world than I thought.
I used to think I ended up at Admiral Road by accidental networking (I babysat their kids), but the more time I spend here, I realize that there is probably a good reason that I fit in so well. In school I thought I was working towards a degree to get a job. As it turns out, sometimes knowledge of diapers and Dora can be a lot more useful if you’ve got the right audience.
Thursday, July 2, 2009
Anyone who has ever been responsible for a lot of moving parts knows that inevitably something, sometime is going to go wrong. We’re human and occasionally we make mistakes. In the event that this happens, we try our very best to do everything possible to help our customer and fix the situation. Invariably, our customers are surprised and grateful to be treated decently and fairly – a testament to the sorry state of customer service in general, I think. It seems so many companies have a ‘you’re on your own’ attitude. Who wants to be treated like that, especially when you’ve paid for a product or service? We just don’t understand it.
Every now and then, though, a company will restore your faith. Last Christmas, I had a great customer service experience – and it all started when a company really screwed up.
My husband, an avid cyclist, had been pining for a particular pair of bike shorts. I scouted them out and ordered them from a local bike shop. It was extremely busy at Admiral Road and I had no time to go pick up the shorts. I called to ask that the shorts be held for me until I could come and collect them. I had a bad feeling about it and actually made the guy on the phone promise me to hold them. When I eventually went to collect the shorts they were nowhere to be found. They had been sold and were out of stock.
I was beside myself. But I also really felt for the bike shop owner who was just trying to deal with his busy season. The owner promptly offered to re-order the shorts. I didn’t want to have to go back to the bike store, so the owner delivered them to my house himself a few days later. Also, the shorts I had ordered were no longer available, so they gave me even fancier shorts at the same price.
As a business owner I know that this transaction resulted in a lot of work with no profit for the store. However, I also know that I will shop there for years to come because of how they fixed the problem. We all just want to be treated fairly – it makes all the difference. Every company makes mistakes - but they are defined by how they handle them.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Company Name: Mabel's Labels
Company Web Site: mabel.ca
Owners: Cynthia Esp, Julie Ellis, Julie Cole and Tricia Mumby
What they do: Provide all kinds of fabulous labels for the stuff kids lose
Why we love 'em: Because their company is innovative - their web site is great and their products even better. Because the Mabel women are inspirational. They won the inaugural SavvyMom Mom Entrepreneur of the Year Award and constantly push themselves. They've set the bar for what mom entrepreneurs can achieve.
What you can get: A great camp combo pack full of everything you'll need for your child's camp experience this summer.