Wednesday, November 3, 2010
While, I really do get the whole slow down and smell the roses concept, less is more, blah blah blah, every other time of the year, when it comes to holiday time, I just seem to loose all wisdom. It's like a 7 year old wetting the bed suddenly. It's humiliating, but I just can't seem to help myself. It starts now, planning for the perfect Thanksgiving for my family, neighbors and friends. Now, if you've grown to know me, you will probably guess, I don't just have a simple sit down dinner with my family. No, no, no. I have a small army to my cabin in WV every Thanksgiving. And, it's always so wonderful (more wonderful in retrospect then in the moment, and that's what gets me again and again). You can imagine the amount of work that requires. Last year, I had a sit down dinner for 22 people, with a cocktail party prior, and ten spent the weekend. Also add to that list: a dog, a guinnea pig, a bunny and a cat. This year is shaping up to be just slightly bigger. Here's how I imagine things will go. I'll arrive 2 days prior to begin the decorating, and preparations, and I'll stay back a day to put everything back in order, and then it will be a mad rush to get back into the office and do all the work I negated by having such a grand "holiday". I'll rush back to the office to do next year's forecasting, end of year financials, holiday specials, next year's catalogue finals, and to prepare for two trade shows in January, one in Dallas and one in Shanghi. I've never been there, but they tell me it sucks. Then, it's Christmas shopping, (yes I said Christmas shopping, not holiday shopping, because for me it's about the birth of Christ), getting a tree, decorating, trying to inflate that hideous giant snow globe that snows on a family of jolly penguins in scarfs (we do this for my son, Sebastian, who at 15 still adores "Mr. Pengins), cookie baking, card sending, and the time honored traditions the kids love like seeing the lights of 34th Street, strolling through some lighted up zoo or park, watching It's a Wonderful Life, going to church and preparing a box of love, and putting up our snow village. All of which are absolutely wonderful. Yes, it's busy, but I mean, really, what could I not do? If I failed to do any of these things, the children's childhood memories would be ruined, and now that they are getting older I have this sense of life as I know ending. I means Sebastian is in 10th grade, and soon will be in college, and then married to some girl with a life of his own, and well, there are really only 2 Christmas's left when he's still my little boy and Raiff isn't far behind. So, I work overtime to ensure we have our wonderful Christmas morning in our charming log cabin in the woods. Papa in his kerchief and I in my cap. Kids waking up, laughter, hearts overflowing, warm cocoa, all so beautiful. O.K., we've enjoyed that, now clean up, get ready, we have a Christmas open house at 1. Wear that new sweater, I don't care if it itches. Bing Crosby singing on the Ipod, happy faces stopping by, ahhh, so nice, so wholesome. Then, a great Christmas dinner. Maybe duck, or maybe a standing pork roast. Then, major clean up, and fall into bed, absolutely exhausted. Well, the next day is slower, everyone enjoying their presents, for the first couple of hours, but then you realize you have two restless teenagers, stuck in the middle of the woods in winter. A plan needs to be hatched. So, I plan snow tubing, and skiing for the days in between. And, then, we get our wonderful guests for New Years. Yes, I said it. We have our two favorite families to our place for New Year's each year. They arrive on the 30th, leave on the 1st or 2nd and it's a blast but so busy. Then, it's quickly put the house back together, and back to work as fast as you can. I feel so fat because I ate my body weight every single day, and I am so exhausted. But, I'm sure everyone had a great time, and I managed to pull of another memorable Christmas season complete with photographic evidence. See, everyone is smiling.
HOWEVER, I'm exhausted, bloated, overspent, and a little bit bitter. So, I'm vowing to make things a little different this year. I'm putting the boys in charge of the Christmas cards, while I look on with a glass of wine in one hand, and holding hands with Stephen with the other. I'm forgetting the "open house" idea for friends, and opting instead to spend the day doing whatever the kids want. I have a feeling we'll play poker and watch Jaws. I am having everyone over for Thanksgiving, but it's going to be a bit of a pot luck, and there will be jobs assigned, and I won't be on clean up. I'm shopping online a lot and buying a whole lot less. I'll get Stephen to bake with the boys for a change. And, I will not eat my body weight each day. Hey, it's a start. I'm wishing you all the best of the season, and reminding you, great memories are best had when you're laughing.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Thursday, July 15, 2010
When you first learn you’re about to become a mother, time stops. It’s just a split second, but it’s a very clear, unforgettable quiet out of body experience. In that single moment, you realize you are no longer just you, you are carrying a life, another. It’s a bit dizzying. The feeling that you are different than you were before that moment is ever present, until one day you realize you can’t remember exactly who you were before the baby. I don’t think there is any single event in the human experience as life changing as becoming a parent.
B.C. (before children), I thought of myself as the quintessential twenty something, living a very happy, exciting life. I loved to dance, and travel, and eat dinner at 10, and felt absolutely no guilt whatsoever about lounging in my pajamas for an entire weekend, reading, and watching movies. I would eat cake for dinner, and pizza for breakfast, and fly off to Paris on a whim. I loved fashion, and would wear super sexy, low cut dresses at times, ridiculously high heels, and loved every minute of it. I drove a fast little sports car, and I would crank up the music and sing to the top of my lungs, especially on hot summer nights. My self-concept was one of a fun loving girl, figuring it out, and enjoying life to the fullest.
Then came the moment. The little pink plus sign on the stick. And time stopped.
I don’t remember exactly how long the moment lasted, but I do remember the shadow from the sun moved from one end of the bathroom to the other as I sat there on the floor, considering all that the little pink cross could mean.
Now, admittedly, I was less prepared to becoming a mommy than most. I wasn’t married. I wasn’t financially secure. I was “between opportunities” in my career. I had just moved cities and into a new apartment. I was so free, and the thought of a baby inside of my body, in that moment, was a bigger concept than my brain could handle. As I sat on that floor considering all of my options, I went to a very deep place within myself. The world became very quiet and very still. When I stood up, I still didn’t know what I was going to do, but I did fully understand that a change had come and I was different than I was before I entered that room.
The next few days were surreal. I didn’t stop praying, or considering or evaluating. I asked for and received signs. I spoke at length with my boyfriend. I soul searched in a way that I cannot explain. I wanted to do the right thing, but I just wasn’t clear on what that was. And, then one day, the answer, for me, became crystal clear. I was going to become a mommy. It was a brave decision, an act of faith. And, without giving too much away, let me say, it’s a decision I have never regretted for a single second.
So many miracles and gifts fell from that decision. My beautiful boyfriend became my beloved husband, and my bouncing baby boy was in attendance for the wedding. We started a company, where together, we did work we were proud of, and put goodness into the world. We had another baby. We’ve traveled, laughed so much along the way, created, and had a beautiful symphony that has been our life for over 15 years. The choice to become a mommy put me on a road I could not have possibly predicted. So many experiences, rich and beautiful were waiting for me as I walked along.
When you become a parent, you cannot help but go back to your own childhood. It happens to all of us. In some ways, I think its God’s little gift and opportunity to make things right that were wrong, for the next generation. It’s also a time to celebrate and forgive and give thanks to the enormous love and sacrifice of those who came before, knowing for the first time, how different the world looks from the perspective of mommy. It’s a time traveling mind trip.
I know you have 9 months to prepare for the baby, but honestly, that’s just not enough. The rate of change is immediate and never ending. Almost from the moment of inception, changes begin. You get cranky, tired, bloated, nauseous, and emotional. And, when that begins to subside, other changes roll in to take over, keeping you constantly confused. Your body grows in the weirdest ways, (my feet got bigger!), your boobs itch, your sex drive goes bizerk (again, not all change is bad), and everything leaks. Then, stage 3, nearing the end. O.K., you nest like some crazed Canadian goose, buying furniture, folding t-shirts, painting, preparing. You are sore and you can’t sleep. You hair and nails and skin become someone else’s. Your stomach explodes and suddenly those pictures of fully pregnant octomom make sense, sort of.
And, then, the baby arrives. And, again, time stops. Everything forever changed. Quiet. Nothing else matters. Tiny, pink life. Smell of heaven. Tears, joy, love indescribable. The rest of the world melts away. Beautiful miracle in your arms.
The high you get from seeing your baby for the first time, never completely leaves you. You’re transported back with a memory, a photograph, a sound or smell. But, life does normalize and you find yourself on a road, with no sign posts, and it’s all a little scary. You have to redefine everything. So many mommies don’t consciously think about the life they want to lead, they don’t make a plan with rules; they simply walk along aimlessly, making it up as they go. I can tell you, having a plan and a goal has made all the difference in the world for me and my family. I think the old saying is true, when you fail to make a plan, you plan to fail. Planning the life you want your family to lead is a great gift. Now, most of us plan some things. We plan the tangibles, school, day care, finances, etc. But, those are just the frameworks of the life, not the life. It’s the life you need to plan and consider, because if not, the tidal wave of parenthood will rush over you and sweep you away, and you could find yourself asking, “How did I get here?”
The moment I first realized I needed a plan was when my baby was about 6 months old. My husband and I decided to have a small Christmas party, to celebrate the season the baby, and life. Now, obviously, I didn’t drink at all during my pregnancy, or up until that moment, because I was breast-feeding. So, I told myself I’d have a glass of wine or two at the party, and really enjoy myself. Well, without all the gory details, let me say I had more than my system could handle, which was so much less than I could handle BC. And, then as the alcohol wore off, the guilt and shame came over me like nothing I had ever experienced. I just kept thinking, “I’m a mother, how can I behave like this?” It was a long, long night. I didn’t sleep at all. I sat up on the couch really thinking about just how much had changed and how unprepared I was for so much of it. I thought about the lack of security I so often felt as a child, because the adults around were so lost in so many ways, and I knew I wanted to do better. I thought about the general air of survival I lived in, not really thriving, just surviving. And, then I thought about my parents’ marriage, which was a true train wreck. Mommy was an Indian and daddy was a cowboy, and the fighting didn’t end until daddy left when I was 7. I knew I wanted to do things really differently for my son. And, I didn’t simply want to fake it, or settle, or compromise on our marriage. I wanted to remain madly in love with my husband, and be truly happy. I wanted my kids to see that and know it was possible. I realized I needed to find out who I was now, and what was acceptable and what wasn’t. I looked far down the road I was on, and imagined what my life would be like in 5 years, 10, and 15 and beyond, and I made a plan to get there.
Here’s the outline for my family life plan:
1. I wanted to be truly happily married, in love with and in like with my husband. I want to respect him as the years wear on, and have our love deepen, just like in the fairy tales. Although, I had never seen a love like that, I made a decision that would be my reality.
2. I wanted to be present and available for my kids, as they needed me to be. They were the most important things to me, and I didn’t want to forget that as life happened.
3. I wanted to laugh a lot, everyday; with the ones I loved most.
4. I wanted to stay fit, sexy, healthy, and interesting.
5. I wanted to give my children a safe, secure, loving home life.
6. I wanted to have a beautiful home.
7. I wanted kids of faith, with loving, compassionate hearts.
8. I wanted all of us to be close and able to talk about anything.
9. I wanted our family life to be full of the things I valued: God, nature, homemade dinners, art, music, books, healthy living, travel, balance, endless possibilities.
10. I wanted to know how beautiful my life was every day.
I’m sure that most people want most of the things on the list for themselves, but if you don’t take measures to ensure it, the likelihood of having it, decreases. It’s the awareness of the desire that brings about purpose and follow through. Think about the goal, and keep it present in your awareness, and it will dictate so much of your life, your decisions, your speech, your actions. It’s a truly lofty life, and it’s not easy to achieve, it requires so much sacrifice, maturity, humility, strength, and deep layers of unending love. But, you can have the family life you want; you just need to design it. Think, plan, prepare and execute.
As soon as you make a plan, life comes along to sabotage you and challenge your resolve. You must stay the course, and remember the reward is worth all the work. Every single goal that I set has been in serious threat of peril on many occasions, and I had to grow each time to achieve the goal in every situation. And, if you have a bad day, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again. Remember, it’s a life is a journey. At the end of a very long, tiring day, when every single thing went wrong, and your husband was less than helpful, and your baby cried all through the night before, and you seem to actually be gaining weight instead of loosing it, believe me, it’s almost impossible to feel grateful, and loving to your husband and good about yourself. But, if you go deep within, deeper than the annoyances of the day, you will find a place where the sacred is and you will know that you are a blessed woman and that life is so perfect. Get beyond the dirty dishes and the unpaid bills. Get to the bliss. Know that you are full, beautiful and complete, and that your life is dripping with love from every corner. You are a mother and knowing the richness that is your life, will allow it to come forth and stand right in front of you. You will lead your whole family into joy. The true love and beauty of life is beyond our circumstances, it is deep within our souls, and we can get there in any given moment.
Design your family life. What do you want?
Monday, May 17, 2010
"No, mommy, I'm scared."
"Scared of what?"
"The monster under the bed."
I looked into those big brown eyes and saw fear, real and deep. No amount of softly spoken encouragements could convince my three year old that there was no monster under the bed. Where do kids get this idea? Finally, clinging tightly to my neck, together we crawled out of bed, and looked at the dark beneath. I shined the flashlight all around, and turned on every light, and with trepidation, he opened his eyes and saw that there really wasn't a monster lurking there, just a few legos, a pair or shoes, and a candy wrapper.
We all have that monster under the bed; that thing that frightens us beyond all reason. The thing we're simply too scared to even look at. For me, it was the thought of loosing my business. When we first started, the only goal was to be able to earn enough money to stay home with the kids. But, as the kids grew, so did the business, the business became our sole source of income. Everything we had was tied to the business, and the thought of all of those uncontrollable factors that could lead to the company's immediate demise, robbed me of my peace. I lay awake at night, wondering "what if". There are literally tens of thousands of ways I could loose everything and I'd be powerless to stop it. It was a thought so frightening, a pressure so great, I simply could not bare it. I ran myself ragged trying to control those uncontrollable things. Finally, I reached my breaking point, and realized I could not live with that level of fear and stress any longer. So, slowly, and with trepidation, I faced that big, scary thought. If I lost everything I owned, everything I worked for and sacrificed for, what then? I think it's a question every entrepreneur needs to ask themselves, and then be able to live with the answer. Because risk is everywhere. If I lost everything, what would be left? I'd still have my loving husband, and beautiful boys, and my good looks, so hey, we'd just do something else. Maybe we'd rent an old falling down barn somewhere, and lovingly bring it back to life. Maybe we'd home school and the kids and I will grow even closer. Maybe I'd create a garden and eat healthier than ever before. I couldn't see what our world would look like, but I could see that as long as I had my family, I couldn't really loose anything, because they were my everything. All else are simply details, and details can be re worked, new dreams dreamt. So, when I turned on the light, and looked under the bed, there was no monster after all.
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Thursday, May 6, 2010
Just got back from Louisville, KY for the 2010 Spring Conference for independent retailers in the baby and kids industry,and we had a blast. First of all, Louisville is a very charming city, clean, friendly and with a decidedly sophisticated edge. We loved the cool restaurants, and shops. The Museum Hotel was amazing, and was actually just written up in Conde Nast. Check it out, if you're going to Louisville. The show was small and exciting. We saw some of our wonderful store owners from around the country. We saw Debbie from Beautiful Beginnings in Chicago, who is doing great with the line. Spent some time with two of our favorite Left Coast Girls who own The Juvenile Shop in Sherman Oaks, California. If you're ever out there, stop in because the store is beautiful and the service is unparalleled. There was cool new products on the market that you may love. Little Castle has some really sophisticated new fabrics and chair designs. Renditions by Reesa has a new layette line, and some great new art. And, as always Nava thrilled and dazzled with silky new sensations in bedding. I think the new designs are better than ever, evolving with the times, and creating amazing new objects of desire. Sending you love from Louisville!.
Thursday, April 15, 2010
There are a plethora of options today for creating a nursery that will meet all of your needs and your unique vision of style. Almost all nurseries, at least double as a bedroom and playroom, and with dual functions comes twice the stuff. So, you need to consider plenty of storage options and pieces that can serve double duty. For example, choose a changing table that doubles as a dresser instead of two bulky pieces of furniture. A great armoire can hide a myriad of sins, including dirty clothes, entertainment centers, clothes, shoes, books, and toys. It’s a great piece that will grow with your child and serve you well in the years to come. There are wall units that can serve as a display case, book shelf, and art gallery. There are a ton of toy boxes, but for safety’s sake choose one with no lid, or a lid with safety hinges to avoid pinched fingers. Also consider baskets, which can go anywhere, even under the crib, and are easy for a toddler to tote around and access. If floor space is an issue, consider the variety of wall shelves available. Several in a row can create a floating book case, and a great set of bookends guarantees all your books will stay in place.
When setting up a nursery, it’s also important to be safety minded. Often toddlers spend time alone in their rooms, so creating a safe space is essential. Floor length curtains can be a strangulation hazard for crawling babies and toddlers, so opt for cordless blinds, shades, or shorter curtains. Floor lamps can be pulled over, so use ceiling lights and table lamps, and take care that the cord is out of baby’s reach. Also, make sure all of your outlets are plugged. For larger case goods, make sure you’ve tethered them to the wall to avoid tipping. Many manufacturers provide anti tipping straps for this exact purpose.
As your baby grows, you will want to add a play space, but take heart, doing so doesn’t have to cost a fortune or take up a ton of space. Pick a corner, and pitch a colorful tent, (which could just be your mom’s old bedspread hung from a hook in the ceiling), add some throw pillows and a sleeping bag, and voila, you’ve got magic. If your child is more into building and creating, put a small child’s table in the corner, and add a bookshelf, filled with tantalizing colors, books, toys and shapes. It’s important to rotate the offerings often to keep their interest. Your nursery should be safe, functional, and fun.
This room will grow and change right along with your baby. No sooner you get the crib up, and it becomes a toddler bed. Before you know it, that changing tray is removed and a potty chair appears. The walker is replaced by a tricycle, and on and on it goes. The key is to match the contents of the room with the needs of your child and make sure it remains a place where they feel at home, intellectually and artistically challenged, and entertained.
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
10 Great Tips for Going Green in the Nursery:
1. Buy furniture that will grow with your child, ensure the quality and the design will last. By keeping your furniture longer, you are decreasing waste and furniture turnover that eventually ends up in our land fills.
2. If purchasing wood products, ensure the wood has come from sustainable forests. What this means is the trees used in the wood products are harvested and then replanted which ensures a replenishments of the worlds trees.
3. Don't be afraid of "engineered" wood such as MDF. MDF is an environmentally responsible choice for production. Engineered wood products make far more efficient use of the available resource today than ever before and can be manufactured from fast growing, underutilized, and less expensive wood species grown in privately managed forests. That helps safeguard older forests that as a society we have chosen to preserve. Byproducts from other production processes—small chips or unusable bits of wood—can be recycled and reused in engineered wood products. Engineered wood also eliminates many of the defects found naturally in wood, thereby improving upon many of the material's inherent structural advantages. Simply put, manufacturing wood is energy efficient.
4. Consider wrought iron as a medium for your furnishings. Wrought iron is sustainable, long lasting and renewable by nature.
5. Consider organic and natural materials for your textiles: crib bedding, rugs, curtains.
6. Use only organic and natural/non toxic cleaning products. Babies mouths end up everywhere!
7. Cut down on plastic. Plastic is a major contributor of indoor air pollution. When available choose furnishings, fixtures and toys with little or no plastic.
8. Ensure only non toxic paint and finishes enters the room, weather its on furnishings, toys, or walls, it all needs to be non toxic. *Also, make sure room is painted well before baby arrives and has been completely ventilated to ensure all fumes are gone. Give mom a day at the spa when the room is being painted, she doesn't need the fumes when pregnant.
9. If you have wall to wall carpet, consider getting rid of it and opting for bare floors, wood, bamboo or even cork. Dangerous toxins are often found in new and old carpet alike, and no matter how much you clean your carpet, it can still be highly toxic and filled with germs.
10. Less is more. There's a tendency to fill up that nursery long before the baby arrives. Be conservative and thoughtful in your purchases cutting down on over consumption and waste.
Sunday, February 7, 2010
Saturday, February 6, 2010
We were so sure that our idea for a hip little designer baby furniture company was destined for billion dollar success, that we became paranoid that, should anyone find out, they would surely steal our idea. To protect the concept, we nicknamed the idea “The Cat”. We discussed “The Cat” all the way on the train.
The next few weeks every conversation included “The Cat”. We would lie in bed at night, with Stephen drawing and me adding my two cents. We came up with the name, "Bratt Decor" because Stephen, being South African, loved the American cheekiness of the word Brat (we added the extra "t" to soften the effect) and Decor, because we felt it added a bit of range. All in all it's proven to be a great name. People remember it. It's sort of sassy with a dash of elegance. We incorporated our business, copyrighted our name, and were ready to make our millions. Stephen did all of his homework with the Consumer Safety Products Commission, and made sure that the design was safe, so that limited our artistic freedom, to some extent. Once we knew our boundaries, we were off. We decided that the crib had to reflect our tastes and truly be a work of art that we both loved. I had some requirements. I wanted my beloved French wrought iron to be the medium, because Paris was still in my soul. I wanted to be taken back to the windy French streets where iron balconies reached the sky of the fanciest of facades, where four-poster iron beds graced huge, marbled rooms and where even the signposts for the metro were curly wrought iron and totally gorgeous. So, with that, we had a beginning, a four poster wrought iron crib. Stephen had to put some Africa in there, so he decided that the top of those four posters would be a perfect place to incorporate the exotic wilds of Africa. He called his father, who drove for miles to an ostrich farm in the Karoo and hand selected a beautiful display of white ostrich plumes. Once they arrived, he carefully inserted them into these beautiful hand turned wooden finials that he finished with linseed oil, and then wrapped with leather. They were stunning. He kept the design fairly simple so the feathers could sing. The wrought iron was slate gray with simple scrollwork along the bottom and finished with brass balls on the feet. He also insisted the bedding be stark white with a bit of movement, to counterbalance the lines of the crib, so he designed and sewed a beautiful white wave bumper. The look was completed with a bed skirt. It was the most beautiful sight. I felt sure that this was a winner, and that the entire world would definitely want this crib. I was so caught up in the loveliness of the object that I didn’t really think too much of the logistics of how actually turning that crib into a business would really play out. Because, let’s face it, Stephen couldn’t put this much time into every single crib, there would be manufacturing to consider, inventorying, procurement, government regulations and that was just the start. However, there would be plenty of time to think on those things. This was the time to focus on my husband, my nursery and my growing baby.
We had so much fun putting that room together. Stephen painted a romantic blue sky on the ceiling, and then went into the attic and drilled tiny holes throughout which he filled with soft, twinkling Christmas lights. The affect was pure magic, Paris at twilight. We placed the crib in the center of the room on a large sheep skin rug, and as far as I was concerned, we were done. However, that wasn’t entirely practical. We had an old walnut dresser refinished, and filled an antique book case with Curious George, Dr. Seuss, and Goodnight Gorilla. I put my mother’s old, armless, spindle rocker in the corner and recovered the seat cushion in white. We purchased a beautiful yellow animal mask from a street vendor on our last trip to Africa, and we hung that on his wall, then we were complete. The room was simple and dazzling.
In June of that year, Sebastian was born, and like every first time parent, we were all consumed with wonder over every single thing about our magnificent baby. We would put him in the bed between us, and gaze endlessly at the rise and fall of his little chest while he slept. A heavy sigh or sudden startle would fill us with joy indescribable. You know how it is. Those first few weeks you're walking in the midst of a miracle, and your mind really can't catch up with what your heart and your soul know in it's deepest most eternal secret places.
Needless to say, not much happened with Bratt Decor for the first few months following Sebastian's birth. We were just settling in, experiencing all the changes a baby brings to one's life. Stephen's illustration business was very successful, and he worked from home. So, the three of us had what I referred to as our Camelot year. It was the most perfect year. Money was not a worry. The baby was a constant source of joy and pride. Stephen worked, but not too much. I didn't really work at all. I don't recall one fight, not one moment of stress. Honestly, I was so grateful that God would see fit to give me so much love, I don't think I could have mustered an unkind word to anyone, let alone the two loves of my life. We had so much time together, and Stephen didn't miss one of all those amazing "firsts" of a new baby. I was still planning on making Bratt Decor a real business, but had no idea when or how that would happen. Until our fist day at Gymboree. Sebastian was six months old, and we decided to join a mommy and me gymnastics class. On the first day, all the proud mommies were sitting in a circle with their little fat cherubs, and the instructor asked us to go around the circle, introduce ourselves and our babies, and tell a little bit about who we were. There were doctors, lawyers, school teachers, stay at home moms, and just about every thing in between. When my time came, after introducing myself and Sebastian, I told the group how I was planning on creating a crib company, and producing wrought iron cribs. But, that I really wasn't sure how all of that was going to happen (this was before the internet), because I hadn't figured out manufacturing. We made the prototype locally, but the costs were prohibitive. Just the four sides of the crib cost us $800, and that was in the mid 90's. So, we knew we'd have to make the product somewhere besides the U.S. if we ever wanted to actually sell any. And, then, from the other side of the circle, this cute little mommy piped up and said, "Well, one of my best girlfriends, who was my maid of honor and who is little Isabell's godmother, represents iron manufacturers in South America. I bet she could help you find someone to produce your designs." As it turned out, she did. We worked with a small foundry in Nicaragua who was run by two sisters. They produced our designs for several years, and it was one of the most extraordinary coincidences I've had in this business. I mean, really, what are the chances? If you don't believe in God, start your own company, and soon you will.
That's when Bratt Decor actually started to take shape. Stephen worked with them, faxing our specifications, and working only over the phone and fax. In all the years we worked together, we never once met them. When our first cribs arrived, wrapped in Tide boxes and flown in, it was like Christmas morning. It's one thing to make yourself something that you love, it's quite another to communicate something you've dreamt of and imagined to people thousands of miles away, and then see it all come to life in your living room. When we assembled it and saw that it was good, I wept.