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Admiral Road, kids, names, personalized blankets


All we do, all day long, is think about baby names. Here at Admiral Road we really see it all. We see traditional baby names, avant garde baby names, and everything in between.

Sometimes we see traditional names with deliberately unusual spellings and, admittedly, I have been known to wonder why a parent would give a child a name that he/she will surely need to spell/pronounce for everybody else for the rest of time.

When I was expecting my second daughter, we wanted to honour my late grandfather (whose Hebrew name was ‘Ya’akov’). We happily stumbled upon the Hebrew name ‘Yakira’ which means ‘precious.’ It was the perfect Hebrew name: unusual but pretty and a tribute to my grandfather.

It also helped to inspire our daughter’s English name, the name which she goes by: Kyra. We loved it.

I dutifully researched her name-to-be in the baby books and found that there were multiple spellings of Kyra (Kira, Keira, Kiera, Keera). Here is the reason we chose the K-Y-R-A spelling: At the time she was born, it was the most popular spelling! I wasn’t trying to be weird. I wasn’t trying to be unusual. I wasn’t trying to present my unborn daughter with a lifelong challenge. In fact, it was quite the opposite. I actually thought that I was doing the kid a favour!

Then Keira Knightly showed up on the scene. After a few hit movies, not only did the name Kyra increase in popularity, so too did the K-E-I-R-A spelling.

To make things worse, I’d show up with my infant daughter at her doctor’s appointments, and the receptionist would call for “KY-ruh” when it was her turn (rhymes with pie/sky/rye). People couldn’t pronounce her name! I had inadvertently given my daughter a name that was routinely mispronounced!

We have sewn thousands of baby names on to thousands of blankets. After all these years, surely you would think that of all people, I would have been able to choose a simple, straightforward name!

Admiral Road has been making personalized blankets since 2002.

Admiral Road, kids, mompreneurs, personalized blankets

There was a time when I fantasized about travelling the world – meeting adventure and intrigue along the way. Now I fantasize about walking into any bathroom in my house and finding a flushed toilet. (This is followed closely in the rankings by finding that a dish has made it to the dishwasher without the mandatory stop in the sink – but that’s a marital, not a parenting issue.) Believe me, it’s not like I’ve never pointed out the importance of flushing to my children…it’s only one of long list of things that get said but somehow never heard. I can just hear the parenting experts now saying that we shouldn’t nag our children and we need to hone our messages, etc. etc. The question is – how do we refrain from nagging our children while setting expectations for behaviour – or getting through the day for that matter. Are we meant to settle for the bathroom surprise?

Recently a career mom that I know and love told me with exasperation that her son never puts his shoes on when asked. With a heavy heart she told me that she is sure this is because she works out of the home and isn’t able to manage discipline during the work week. I laughed. Hard. I’m a mom who gets her kids off to school each morning and I assured her that the sentence ‘please put your shoes on’ has never been uttered fewer than 8 times before working in my house – each time with increasing volume and exasperation. I’ve been asking around – and apparently there are legions of children who won’t put their shoes on when asked – I’m beginning to wonder if this is even a global phenomenon (my mind is drifting to children in Fiji refusing to put their flip flops on…).

So what is a beleaguered mom to do? I’m of the firm belief that we moms are hardest on ourselves. I am trying to learn to be kinder to myself and more accepting of the many imperfections of life. Maybe I don’t need to accept that my kids don’t flush or put their shoes on when asked – but maybe I can try to accept that I’m going to have to keep reminding them. Again. And Again.

Admiral Road has been making personalized blankets since 2002.

Admiral Road, Economy, Environment, mompreneurs, personalized blankets, Recession
If you had asked us a year ago what the most important trend for businesses was, and for children-related businesses in particular, we wouldn’t have hesitated for a nano-second – GREEN, GREEN, GREEN. An amazing variety of products and services all aimed at consumers with an appetite for all-things environmentally responsible cropped up and inspired us all to do a little better. But the shaky global economy has changed things. It’s been a while since I heard a company talking about how green they are…

Here’s a story I found interesting. Amy recently popped into a posh grocer in midtown Toronto. This store is one of a row of shops wryly known for their steep pricing as ‘The Five Robbers’. I don’t want to give you the wrong idea about Amy’s spending habits – it’s just that one of these Robbers carries a chocolate cake that you would practically mortgage your house for (and you almost have to). Amy noticed that a whole handful of products in the store had special packaging pointing out their recession pricing – about 10% off.

Now we could all use a break in these tough economic times – but I’m willing to guess that if you do your groceries at The Five Robbers, then 10% isn’t going to make or break you. So what gives? I think that cheap just may be the new green. I’ll bet a year ago that same store would have been touting eco-friendly products or packaging. I’m afraid that recession pricing at the toniest grocer in the city may be just another marketing gimmick. I think it’s designed to make the customer feel virtuous and responsible, much like a lot of the green marketing did. Does it work? I’m not sure. Ten percent off the world’s best chocolate cake is certainly a nice pick-me-up, but I’m hard pressed to think that sales are way up at that shop as a result. If cheap is the new green, what will be the new cheap? I wish I could predict it – but it’s no piece of cake.

Admiral Road has been making personalized blankets since 2002.

Admiral Road, mompreneurs, personalized blankets, pets
Sometimes I wish that I were the kind of person who could just say, "no." I don't know why I find it so hard. Maybe I don't want to disappoint people? Maybe I don't want people to think poorly of me? Maybe my expectations of what seems reasonable aren't really reasonable?

We are not a pet family. My husband never grew up with pets. Although there was a dog in my own family, she didn’t arrive until my brother and I had reached double-digits. Sure, I like pets well enough, but with three children, none of whom are remotely close to double-digits, a pet seems like one more thing that is WAY too much work.

So when our neighbours asked us to bird-sit their pair of budgies last week, I was a little apprehensive.

The birds were delivered to us last Wednesday and, it was my understanding, that the neighbours would collect the birds on Monday, Family Day, when they returned from their trip. My husband took directions on how to feed and water the birds. I stayed in the kitchen. (I was cooking dinner!) The girls were thrilled and amused by the pets-on-loan.

All was going fine. We watered the birds. We fed the birds. Family Day came and went, but the neighbours did not return for their birds. Then Tuesday morning arrived and the birds weren’t looking too good. Kind of puffy. And then they literally began climbing the walls of their cage. They got loud too. By the time our neighbour and his daughter came to collect them on Tuesday night the birds were totally hyper and it was clear that something was amiss.

I saw our neighbour at school this morning at drop-off. “Have the birds calmed down?” I asked hopefully – and unironically.

“The birds are dead,” was the reply.

I’m mortified. What’s the appropriate gesture to make in honour of dead birds? That you killed?

Time to whip out the cookie dough. I’ll deliver an I’m-sorry-I-killed-your-birds batch later today.

Admiral Road has been making personalized blankets since 2002.

Admiral Road, Generation Gap, Social Networking
There are all sorts of unique experiences I have in my work day that my corporate friends will never have. For instance, I get to make up my own title - which changes depending on the tasks of the day, who I am telling, and which one makes us laugh the most! The truth is I wear many hats at Admiral Road. I am the Office Manager when I have customers to talk to, supplies to order or bills to pay. I am the Director of Social Media (our favourite title) when I am spreading the word via Facebook, in a newsletter, or of course, blogging. Today Amy declared that I am the "web-genius". I get these titles not by virtue of my degree in Sociology (which I am still trying to figure out how to apply to the blanket business), but by virtue of being 23.

I’m not the only one who knows how to use a computer but I do have the advantage of not having had to work very hard at it. I was interested and I grew up at the right time. My family got our first computer when I was 12. It was new and exciting and I fought my 5 siblings for a chance to play with it. Now I can't imagine doing much in life without my computer. Instead of looking words up in a dictionary, I look them up on dictionary.com. When I can't remember who was in a movie, the lyrics to a song, or baseball stats, my computer answers me instantly. The Internet is like my very smart best friend that I have grown to know so well that I take it for granted that I had to learn these things.

I have a whole host of knowledge that was acquired simply by being exposed to a huge amount of new technology as it came out. The benefit of my useless knowledge is that I have managed to carve out a unique role at this company because so many "skills" from my everyday life (blogging, Facebooking, troubleshooting) have turned into assets that I didn't know had value.

Now I see 5 year-old kids surfing the webkinz site or 8 year-olds texting on their cell phones (I didn't get a cell phone until I was 18!) and I wonder about my generation gap.What will these kids be able to do in 15 years?


Admiral Road has been making personalized blankets since 2002.

Admiral Road, imitation, knock-offs, mompreneurs, personalized blankets
Where do original ideas come from? Aren’t all new ideas inspired by something? At Admiral Road we have always prided ourselves on our original blanket designs. There is something very satisfying about putting something out into the world that was never there before you made it. Sure, we’re influenced by external factors: The success of the films ‘March of the Penguins’ and ‘Happy Feet’ led us to consider a penguin-themed blanket. But we’ve always put our own stamp on our ideas.

In the world of mompreneurs, we’ve seen imitation run rampant. You wouldn’t believe the things we’ve seen women do to one another. We ourselves have been imitated by other small businesses more times than I can count. (I know! The cut-throat world of baby blankets – who knew?) Our designs have been imitated. We’ve also had content from our web site knocked off many times. Heck, we’ve had to take legal action against a competitor!

But what happens when a big fish gets into the small pond? We recently learned of mass-market retailer who ripped off a mompreneur friend of ours – a children’s dress design. Same unique fabric, same style, same cut. The mass retailer was selling the dress for one-sixth of her retail price.

Where does the mass retailer get its ideas from? Aren’t there teams of designers sitting around designing new things?

I’ve always been a total cheapskate when it comes to my kids’ bibs. Drooling infants can necessitate a staggering number of bib changes in a single day. Five bibs for $1.99 at Ikea – that’s right up my alley. Not all the Ikea bibs lasted for the third kid, however, so I was thrilled when I recently found the good, wipeable kind at this same dress-design-ripping-off mass retailer (3 for $10!) It wasn’t until I got home and took apart the packaging that one of the bibs caught my eye. It looked…familiar. Why, that reminds me an awful lot of our sheep blanket! The sheep, the grass, the fence – those are the same three elements on our blanket. Now that sheep looks a little different, but the grass is a similar green. And my, the shape of that fence is….

Did a big fish imitate a little fish? Maybe not. But maybe….

You be the judge.

Admiral Road has been making personalized blankets since 2002.

Admiral Road, mompreneurs, personalized blankets
You know how they say that old married couples begin to resemble one another? If this is true, I’ve always thought it had something to do with the fact that we all get wrinkly, gray and smaller as we age. Then there’s the Fido campaign, where dog owners and their dogs share similar traits… But can you start to look like your best friend if you hang out long enough?

Amy and I have been hanging out in a fairly exclusive club of two for the past 19 years – exactly half our lives, in fact. We’ve noticed that ever increasingly, people are starting to think we look alike. For years at craft shows people have asked if we are sisters, and even twins a couple of times! This may not sound unusual to you – but perhaps if you saw us you’d know why this is funny. Amy is a petite brunette with straight hair. She’s 5’ 2” and 100 pounds soaking wet. I’m a 5’ 8” curly-haired redhead who is – ahem – more than 100 pounds bone dry. So how could it be that we are beginning to look alike? Even our kids are weirdly interchangeable in appearance. Amy’s oldest and my youngest could easily pass for sisters much more easily than they could with their actual siblings. Same for my oldest and Amy’s middle child.

We certainly do sound alike, who wouldn’t after a 19 year-long conversation? But it appears to be more than voice and mannerisms. At a recent social gathering a new friend walked into a room full of women, most of whom she didn’t know – paused, and looked at Amy saying, ‘you must be Danielle’s sister’. It’s definitely a strange phenomenon…I wonder if we’ll be identical twins in another 19 years?

Admiral Road has been making personalized blankets since 2002.

Admiral Road, dogs, mompreneurs, personalized blankets, pets
We're not all about babies at Admiral Road. Admiral Road fans include kids, adults and .... well... see for yourself!

I grew up with dogs starting when I was 5 years old. My dad and brother came to pick me up at summer camp, and my brother tortured me (as he often did) with the surprise that was awaiting me at home. Much to my delight, my much older brother had gone to work one day at the gas station and come home with a dog! Several years later we added a second dog to the family. Needless to say that I love dogs. But I never loved my dogs enough to buy them a present more expensive than a $3 chew toy. Luckily for us, our customers feel differently.


Earlier this year we had a customer call from Vancouver to tell us that her dog LOVED the blanket that she bought for him last Christmas and now she needed a blanket for her new dog so dog #2 wouldn't feel left out.

Ethel's owner finally gave in and bought her this blanket as a Christmas present at the One of a Kind show this year. This blanket is roomy enough for Ethel and her little friend!


We were a little confused when we opened this picture that was submitted for our photo gallery contest. Lots of times pets make their way into pictures of new babies - it's usually quite endearing. And we do get some great pictures of dogs on our dog-themed blanket. But this pup is on a baby monkey blanket.... that says Ethan. His owner got this blanket as a part of one of our recent Facebook group giveaways where we give away free or marked down items that are taking up too much room in our warehouse. As it turns out, there is no baby and there is no Ethan. This dog is Benji and he apparently sleeps with this blanket every night. Good thing he can't read.

Admiral Road has been making personalized blankets since 2002.


Admiral Road, mompreneurs, motherhood, personalized blankets
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….

Admiral Road has been making personalized blankets since 2002.

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