Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Professor, what's another word for pirate treasure?

Why I'd call it booty, booty, b-b-b-booty, that's what it is...

So, amidst all of the nasty bum madness my best friend, Jenn, came to visit and to meet Ferris for the first time.
This involved some good times and hangovers for me and her and a whole lot of presents for the young man.

Here are a few of Ferris' fabulous new possessions:

(left to right)
1. double devil- awesome new stuffed fun by jenny harada. we bought this at the grand opening of Twin Hearts.
2. mini gnome-by bla bla. we call him Nomar. Also, a Twin Hearts purchase.
3.decole forks- spoons are in the wash....again, Twin Hearts...I guess I don't need to mention that Twin Hearts is a pretty great store.( They carry Focoloco, too!)
I love these. I have always been attracted to small shiny trinkets and these forks and spoons made me drool. There was no chance I was leaving the store without at least a few sets. All of the websites that I found these on when I did research were sold out. So, if you like 'em and you live in the Berkshires you'll have to check out Twin Hearts.
Actually, all of the Decole stuff is wicked cute. I could see this brand becoming an obssession of mine.
4.Red Converse All-Star Hi Tops- I have never seen a baby look so ridiculously cute in anything like these. Our favorite belated Christmas gift from aunt Jenn.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

I've got a mobile 8 month-old with a wicked case of the runs and you want me to do *what*?

Ever since my son became mobile at the ripe of age of 6&1/2 months I've had to learn a new mantra.

"The chemicals we use to clean our homes are more harmful to my child than the dirt and germs that inhabit them."

My son discovers one of the dogs toys and slobbers on it before I get a chance to whisk it out of reach...(chant mantra)...he crawls alllll over the kitchen floor and immediately sticks his hands in his mouth...(chant mantra) he makes a bee line for the garbage can...(chant mantra)

I thought I was going to turn into one of those obsessive-compulsive parents that barely lets their child's feet touch the ground and has to run home to boil their binkies after a terror filled 2 second trip to the floor. I refuse to let this happen.
So after 8 successful diaper-rash-free months of life (I'd like to believe has something to do with using cloth diapers, but, hey, I’m no doctor) my son has developed the most heinous case of it.
It all started about a week ago when the diarrhea (cha cha cha) fairy came to visit. I guess sometimes those germs win the battle.

Anyways, the doctor says we just have to let it play out, so a week later I have a son with bright red baboon bum with oozy-bloody sores and it breaks my heart.

The punch line? The doctor says, "Try leaving him without a diaper on as much as possible."

Excuse me? I've got a mobile 8 month-old with a wicked case of the runs and you want me to let him go commando? Are you insane?

So right now we are spending a large part of our days playing in the nice tiled bathroom and playing in the tub.
Just one more perk of running a business from home. You can, if you choose, spend many hours chasing after a leaky bottom.


Thursday, June 08, 2006

PIck ME!!! Pick ME!!!

The baby clothing biz is a competitive market to get into. There is a new "ultra-hip" line of baby products introduced every hour. That sort of challenge has made me really question what I want to accomplish from this endeavor.
I'd be lying if I said I didn't care about Focoloco being popular among today's parents. It's a residual sickness carried over from those painful years in junior high when all you wanted was to be liked by everyone...and all anyone wanted to do was be horribly mean and cruel to each other.
Sure, popularity as a brand has a lot to do with financial success, but there is a small part of it that is deeply rooted in seeking the approval of the "cool" parents, magazines and boutiques. I've tried to shake it, but it just won't go away.

This need for approval gives me very little satisfaction though. It made me wonder, "What does success mean to me and to this business? What would give me the most satisfaction?"
Popularity is NOT the answer.
So here it is, my vision for Focoloco.
I want the company to be dynamic. Always looking for new ways to improve our products…new designs, new colors, new collaborations.
I want to make the effort to support other cool small business through link exchanges, product reviews and (hopefully in the next few months) creating gift boxes that feature the products of other incredible artists and crafters.
I want to work on finding great organizations to donate some company profits to on a yearly basis.
I want to explore new ways for the company to be a kinder, gentler comany to the environment.
I know we are small, but every little bit counts. Our products are not a necessity. No child *needs* a closet full of clothing and accessories. So I feel like we have a responsibility to find ways to lessen our impact of the environment through our choice of resources, materials, business practices and our choices in the other companies we choose to support and endorse.
I will accomplish all these goals. They are fairly simple and I've seen so many other wonderful business succeed in them.
Sometimes it's slow going.
I am still a full-time mama...there are many days that the mundane details of life take priorty. Laundry, dishes, groceries.
There is also my fabulous son. There are many many hours spent playing with him instead of working, BUT those are hours I gladly give to him. Spending time with him is the reason I do this business in the first place.

Here are a few of the changes Focoloco has made in 2006 to work towards these goals:

1. We have introduced a large selection of American Apparel's Sustainable Editon into our product line. These garments are made with 100% organically grown cotton. We'd love to use this line for ALL of our products, but AA has not yet begun production of long sleeved baby garments and bibs in a Sustainable Line. We do use AA for all our products though. 100% sweat-shop free! How cool is that?

2. We have ditched the plastic boxes we were using for our gift packs. When gift packs reappear on the site they will be packaged in simple, recyclable corrugated cardboard boxes decorated with our funky new custom stamp...and instead of tissue paper filler, we'll be using more colorful shredded confetti created by recycling our old magazines.

3. We don't heavily package our products. We hope that our products are unique and funky enough that they don't require gimmicky packaging to sell them.

4. All of our printed information(brochures, line sheets, labels) are now printed on 100% post-consumer recycled papers.

There is still a lot of room for improvement, but I'll continue to implement more and more eco-friendly practices as time goes on. These are the kinds of projects that truly give me satisfaction as a business owner…and as a mother.

For great shopping that helps support other wonderful small businesses check out Focoloco’s link page

Because "PR for Dummies" told me to...

Okay, so here it is, the blog of www.focoloco.com founder, Suzy Helme. Never heard of me? Join the other 8 billion people on the planet who have no idea either.

Do I expect anyone to care about this blog? No, not really, but if some do, how wonderful! Besides, it gives me a home for all the ideas and thoughts spinning through my head that are utterly lost in the conversations between myself and my 8 month-old son. Sometimes I actually have something good to say.
Why start this blog?
Do you really want to know?
Okay, because PR for Dummies told me to. Seriously, it's the truth.
While I'm fairly confident in my skills as an artist/illustrator I am tragically lacking in business savvy...and grammar skills for that matter. Please excuse my random use of correct punctuation, sentence structure and capitalization.
So, yes, PR for dummies told me to. I'd been toying with the idea for a while, but completely forgot about it until I read the chapter in PR for Dummies about using the internet and related things to increase visibility for your business.
I'm sure some people would be embarrassed to admit to using such tools, but I don't embarrass easily and I have no qualms about showing myself for the flawed and often befuddled person that I am.

So, perhaps before you read any further you should check out my site, www.focoloco.com


Above and beyond being a business owner I am a mother. Actually, that's sort of why the business was started in first place. I've always wanted to be a mom and the idea of having a "career" has always been a secondary thought.
I have a degree in Graphic Design and Illustration and I decided that I wanted to use that skill to allow me to make some money running a small business that would ultimately give me the freedom to stay at home with my family, or at least creat my own schedule so I could be available to my family whenever they needed me.
Focoloco, LLC was started 3 years ago. It has grown from a necessity into a passion. I l-o-v-e my job. I think about it all the time. I get excited when new designs are ready to be printed and when I find new ways to make the business better.