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Sponsor Saturday, Cathy Heck Nursery Art: Win a Personalized Nursery Art Canvas Signed by the Artist!

by Amanda on August 15, 2009
category: Sponsor Saturdays

Sponsor Saturdays is a new feature on The Mom Crowd. Each Saturday we will be highlighting one of our six sponsors.


*** Keep reading all the way to the end to find out how you can win a personalized nursery art canvas signed by the artist! ***

03_noahsarksignedprint Cathy Heck Nursery Art is one of our newest sponsors on The Mom Crowd.  This online store is like an art gallery for the nursery.  Cathy Heck is a mom to three lovely girls, wife to a school administrator and full-time illustrator.  Cathy has been creating products for the juvenile industry for twenty years–in fact, over two million babies own a Cathy Heck baby book!  Cathy has just introduced her new interactive online shop, where you can personalize nursery art using Cathy’s cuddly characters, as well as purchase limited edition prints from her most requested collections. I had a wonderful chance to interview Cathy this week about what inspires her art and her new online store!

Amanda: You have been an illustrator for many years. What inspired you to open your own store online?
04_zoophabet_nell Cathy:
Until now, my artwork has always been licensed to other companies which manufacture all kinds of products from baby books to bedding. But, I have never actually sold any of those products myself.

Well, a couple of summers ago, my daughter, Ellen, was working for me while she was in college, and we were adapting our Zoophabet® collection, which is a group of cuddly critters and their matching alphabet letters, for scrapbooking kits.  Just for fun, we printed them on square pieces of canvas spelling out names of babies we knew.  We were able to mix and match the letters with many different characters and borders, because I had created lots of artwork to fill the pages of the baby books.  We thought, “Wouldn’t it be fun for parents to create their own customized canvases by combining all of our art pieces to coordinate with their nurseries?”  And, since technology was catching up to our idea, we gave it a try. It has taken a couple of years to create the kind of interactive site that allows the parents to see the art as they create it, but that just gave us more time to add more collections.

The best part is that we can make the canvases right here in our own studio, and ship directly to the new baby.  It’s like sending out little presents all the time!

05_litlallstar A:  Where do you find your inspiration for your nursery art?
Everywhere!  My nursery art is usually a blend of fun characters and an exciting color theme.  Sometimes I start with a character, and sometimes I start with a group of colors. For example, this summer, I had a fun vacation to San Francisco and went to the Farmer’s Market at the Ferry Building.  There were some buckets of super-sized hydrangeas there in every shade of pink and lavender that you can imagine.  I will definitely store that set of colors away for a new all-girl collection!  For my characters, I usually work from photographs of real animals, and I draw them and redraw them until they are ready for a baby to hug!  Sometimes, I am inspired by a personality, like that of our new puppy, for example.  He is a rescue pup, and, frankly, he is a little goofy-looking (but we adore him all the same) … and I am certain he will end up starring somewhere in my work!

A:  What has been your favorite project? Why?
This sounds like a non-answer … but every new project is a favorite project. There is just something exhilirating about starting something new … when I pull out a fresh piece of blank paper, the possibilities are endless and I just can’t wait to get started!

maryart A:  The personalized art on your site is very unique. Can you tell me more about the personalization feature?
It’s just plain ol’ fun!  You can personalize in many different ways, but my favorite is to spell out the name of the child with different canvases.  We designed the site so that you can see how it will look instantly.  Another great aspect of some of the collections is that you can choose from lots of characters and several borders so that you can make each canvas exactly as you want. It’s also entertaining to let the big sister or big brother help create the new baby’s first artwork.  And it’s easy enough to let a child create his or her own. In fact, recently, we received an order for a name created by a precious 4-year old for her new big-girl princess room!

A:  I noticed that your daughter, Ellen, works closely with you in your company. How do you like working with your daughter?
I LOVE working with Ellen.  In a way, I have been working with Ellen ever since she could hold a pencil!  In fact, all of our girls have always had a place to create in the studio.  And, they have all three helped with the many tasks that go along with having a studio, some of which, are not quite as exciting as a new drawing!  But, happily, Ellen decided that the world of art was still a great one, and after she graduated from the Chicago Art Institute, she continued working in the studio, just like she did when she was three, only her drawing skills are a bit improved!! :-)

A:   Finally, since you are a mom, what advice would you give to new mothers?
Read together and hug often!

*** Win one 12″ x 12″ Inscription Nursery Art Canvas signed by the artist! (Pictured below) We have a winner!

06_aisforalexander_giraffe1 Here is how to enter:

A winner will be chosen at random and announced next Saturday on August 22. Good luck!

A special promotion code for the The Mom Crowd readers! Enjoy 25% off your entire purchase before shipping and handling when you shop at cathyhecknurseryart.com. Code: momcrowd89

WINNER: Rachel!


Sponsor Saturday: Win a Beautiful Baby Sling or a Nursing Cover from Tot-to-Go!

by Amanda on August 8, 2009
category: Sponsor Saturdays

Sponsor Saturdays is a new feature on The Mom Crowd. Each Saturday we will be highlighting one of our six sponsors.

***Keep reading all the way to the end to find out how you can win a Baby Sling  or Nursing Cover and a Promotion Code ***

shaniandolivia Tot-to-Go has the coolest baby slings, nursing covers, and accessories. The founder, Shani Sam, is the mother of two beautiful girls. She started her company out of a need that arose after the birth of her first baby. I’ll let Shani share her story own in words.

Amanda: Why did you create Tot to Go?
Before my first daughter was born, I had decided that I would take a break from teaching after my one year maternity leave was up. This turned out to be the right decision and one of those things that was “just meant to be”. My first baby girl was 5lbs 11oz. She wasn’t as small as some preemies but she definitely was small for most standard baby carriers. The trouble was Madeline wanted to be carried all the time and I was feeling tired and frustrated. I tried many different brands and types of carriers and slings but I just couldn’t find one that I really loved so I decided to make my own. I didn’t get very far with my project when my daughter was diagnosed with Biliary Atresia, a rare and terminal liver condition. I put my idea aside and concentrated on taking care of my baby.

After Madeline had her liver transplant and was recovering well at home, I started working on my baby sling project again. I tried several designs and cuts and Madeline was the model for every single product I made at home. She was still very small after transplant and tired very easily. Having the slings around was fantastic for keeping her close to me throughout the day.

I went to a baby show and carried Madeline in one of our original slings and received compliments and inquiries all afternoon. Shortly after the baby show, I decided to try my hand at being an entrepreneur and put my baby sling on the market. The response has been so positive. People can relate to my story of constantly carrying my daughter in my arms and going crazy from pacing back and forth all day and all night (it’s pretty much what most parents go through!). When they hear or read about how the baby sling made my life easier and kept me from going insane, they also consider giving baby wearing a try. Why not? Baby wearing has been around for ages!

madelinesling A:What makes your slings unique?  Do you design them yourself?
There are so many baby slings and carriers on the market and many of them are very similar. When I was shopping for a sling for my first baby, I was really confused by the different fabric choices, complicated tiered pricing systems and whether to buy stretch or non stretch. I wanted to keep things very simple. All our slings are fully lined and reversible and made with 97% cotton and 3% Lycra for just the right amount of stretch. I like to think that we are priced pretty competitively for the quality product we offer.

Last year we started using custom fabrics and many of our customers say that is what sets us apart from local and North American competitors. I’m now trying my hand at designing my own fabric for an even more custom look. The goal is for people to see our beautiful prints and know right away that it’s a Tot-to-go.

A: What are the benefits of baby wearing?
Baby wearing provides a lot of great benefits for parents and babies. Babies love the womb like feeling of being carried in a sling or carrier. They enjoy listening to the comforting sound of your heart beat when being worn close to your body. Wearing your baby allows you to keep your hand free to complete daily tasks or to care and spend time with older children. Did you know that babies that are worn cry 43% less? Now that’s a benefit that most parents will appreciate!!! These are just a few reasons to wear your baby. Here is a bit of a personal reason that might seem silly but I like to wear my baby because the sling helps cover up my postpartum belly. Everyone is so interested in the baby and the sling that they don’t notice your extra bit of baby jiggle!

A: What is the weight range that the slings can hold?
Our baby slings are suitable for use for babies from newborn up to 34lbs. If you have a tiny baby, it helps to fold up a receiving blanket into a small rectangular “pillow” and tuck it in the sling first for support. Also remember that baby slings are sized for the parent and not the baby. You should be able to use the same size sling throughout your baby’s growth and development unless you experience a sudden weight loss or gain.

madelinenursingcover A: You also sell nursing covers. How does using a nursing cover make nursing in public easier?
Some moms are super comfortable with their bodies and don’t feel self-conscious about breastfeeding in public. Hooray for these mommies! I like to be covered up when breastfeeding in public and also at home when people visit. That’s just my personal thing. I don’t like people seeing parts of my body that I consider private. The funny thing is I talked to some other nursing moms who said they weren’t as worried about covering up their breasts in public as they were about hiding their tummies while breastfeeding. This isn’t such a biggie if you are wearing a nursing tank or top that provides discreet access for feeding. If you don’t want to invest in an expensive new nursing wardrobe, a nursing cover is an affordable option for breast AND tummy coverage! Using the cover is also great if your baby tends to be distracted by noises and sounds when you are out and about in public. I have recent experience nursing my new baby girl in public and I can attest that a nursing cover does come in handy!

A: Finally, you are the mom of 2 beautiful girls. What advice would you give to new mothers?
Something I learned the second time around is that you should try to accept any kind offers of help. If you can, delegate tasks out to helpful family members and friends. I don’t know what I would have done without my mother and mother-in-law when Olivia was born. My mother was kind enough to take care of big sister Madeline and my mother-in-law made sure my husband and I were well fed those first two weeks post partum. Make sure you nap whenever you can. I am not one to nap but I took everything opportunity to sleep whenever I could!

*** Win a Madeline Baby Sling OR Nursing Cover! (They are pictured above!) *** Now Closed

Here is how to enter:

Winners will be chosen at random and announced next Saturday on Aug. 15th. Good luck!

A special promotion code for The Mom Crowd Readers!  Enjoy 15% off your purchase of $50 or more when you shop at www.tot-to-go.com. Code: momcrowd


Baby Sling – Jenn!


Nursing Cover – Amy K!

Thank you to everyone that entered!

Sponsor Saturday, Design Room Group: Win a BUD Luxury Duck or Little Honey 100% Natural Bug Repellent Band!

by Amanda on August 1, 2009
category: Sponsor Saturdays

Sponsor Saturdays is a new feature on The Mom Crowd. Each Saturday we will be highlighting one of our six sponsors.

***Keep reading all the way to the end to find out how you can win a BUD Luxury Duck or Little Honey 100% Natural Bug Repellent Band! *** 3 Winners! ***

designroomgroup Design Room Group is one of our newest sponsors on The Mom Crowd. They have the coolest rubber ducks and modern gear for children. Jenny Pithie is a mom to two beautiful girls, a wife to a nature loving husband and the owner of Designroom and Little Honey, modern products for kids and their parents. She was kind enough to do a Q & A with me about her store and her family.

Amanda: How did you come up with the concept for the Design Room Group?
Design Room Group was formed to bring to the US great Australian designed children’s products.  My husband is Australian and I always find really cool stuff when we visit.  After the birth of my first child I noticed all the amazing kid’s products when we would visit and I decided to try to bring them to the US.  It has expanded over the years to include other products I like, but the main focus is Australian design and now our own label coming soon, which is Little Honey.  We continue to bring in some cool Australian products including great natural children’s skin and hair care coming soon.

fashionduck A: What are your most popular products?
The ducks by far…we sell lots of our rubber duckies.  They are so cute, unique, fun and we have always been phthalate free and lead free so you know you are getting a quality product.  The gurgle pots are also a big hit.  Not only do they look great in your kitchen, but they are fun for kids.  When you pour the pitcher it makes this gurgling sound like a fish.  My daughter’s friends just crack up when they come over.  Lately, we have been selling heaps of the beach balls and swim rings.  They were featured in InStyle and Cookie which didn’t hurt!

bugrepellent A: Do you have any products that you wish people knew more about? If so, what are they?
Our 100% Natural Little Honey Bug Repellent Bands.  This is a super cool product that we developed with a leader in natural bug repellents.  They really work and they work well.  They have been tested by the Australian government and endorsed by the PGA.  We love them because they are so great for kids.  Just pop one on their wrist or ankle and they last for a full five days!  If you put them back in their reusable bag, they last even longer.  They stop releasing the natural vapors once they are put back in the bag!  The way they work is natural essential oils are injected into the plastic before molding the band.  Once the band is removed from the bag the natural oil vapors are released and form a “vapor barrier” within five feet of wherever they are placed.  Great for camping or just out for a walk.  My dad loves them for golfing or mowing the lawn and I always put one on the stroller or on the table outside when we are entertaining.  They smell like peppermint…no stinky smells, no toxic creams.

We love it too as we have just teamed up with Malaria No More and will be donating a portion of all sales to their cause.  A cause that is helping fight malaria, which kills a child every 30 seconds and is treatable and preventable, tragic.   As a mom, it breaks my heart to think how these other moms must feel to watch their children suffer, I knew we had to try to help.

elle A: Your products have been featured in many magazines. Which magazine feature are you most proud of?
I was super excited about the Elle Magazine spread as it was our first major publication and I had been working tirelessly to try to get the business going, so it felt good that we were being recognized by such an awesome publication.  I also love whenever we are in Cookie, because I think they are the best kids magazine out there and love that they love our stuff.

A: Finally, you are the mother of 2 daughters, what advice would you give to new moms?
Relax.  As much as you want everything perfect for your precious little ones, you can’t do everything and the most important thing is just spending quality time with them.  Everyone tells you they grow up in a flash and they are not kidding.  Recently I went to the graduation at my daughter’s preschool and her whole little life flashed in front of my eyes..and it wasn’t even her graduation! So, enjoy every minute of it!

***Enter to WIN a BUD Luxury Duck OR Little Honey 100% Natural Bug Repellent Band *** 3 Winners! *** Now Closed

spaceduck Jenny has generously offered to giveaway 2 BUD Luxury Ducks and 1 Little Honey 100% Natural Bug Repellent Band!  All you have to do to enter is go to Design Room Group’s website, pick your favorite duck design, and come back here and write in the comments of this post which is your favorite design! Winners will be chosen at random and announced next Saturday morning on Aug. 8th. Good luck!

I used Random.org to choose the winners of the giveaway.

Winner of the first BUD Luxury Duck is… Lindsay!


Winner of the second BUD Luxury Duck is… Trina!


Winner of the Little Honey 100% Natural Bug Repellent Band is… Jenn!


Thank you to everyone who entered! Be sure to check out our next giveaway – a Madeline Baby Sling OR Nursing Cover from Tot-to-Go!

Sponsor Saturday: 20% Off Your Entire Purchase at Baby Cakes!

by Amanda on July 25, 2009
category: Sponsor Saturdays

Sponsor Saturdays is a new feature on The Mom Crowd. Each Saturday we will be highlighting one of our six sponsors.

* Read through to the end for a special 20% off discount code for readers of The Mom Crowd!

babycakeslogo Baby Cakes is a long time sponsor of The Mom Crowd. Sara, the owner, is a mom to 3 children. When she was shopping with 2 small children and one on the way she realized that hopping from store to store was no longer a convenient option for her. So Sara created an online store with all her favorite products so moms would not have to leave their home to shop for baby items and gifts.

Baby Cakes features many baby products for bath time, bed time, meal time, and for your nursery. The store also features apparel for kids and moms. There is also an accessories section for moms that contains agendas that will make the lives of moms a little more organized.

thumblt_bubblebath I asked Sara what is her favorite product. She loves the California Baby bath & skin care products. Sara said, “I love that they are organic and they all smell so good.  My kids are fans of the bubble bath….it comes with a bubble wand. :)

Finally, as a mother of 3 children I asked Sara what her advice is  for new moms.

My advice to new mothers……..don’t be afraid to ask for help or accept help when offered. When my first child was born, I thought if I asked for help it meant that I was not doing a good job. I wanted to everything by myself, which I soon realized was not good for me or the baby.

I agree! We certainly to need to ask for help when we need it. We are being good moms by asking for help!

If you need a gift or a treat for yourself, check out Baby Cakes!

Discount Code

Sara has graciously offered the readers of The Mom Crowd a 20% discount off entire purchase (not gift cards).  Just enter “momcrowd” in the promotional code field to use the discount.

Sponsor Saturdays: Win a Soy Candle from Maddison Avenue!

by Amanda on July 18, 2009
category: Sponsor Saturdays

Sponsor Saturdays is a new feature on The Mom Crowd. Each Saturday we will be highlighting one of our six sponsors.


*Keep reading all the way to the end to find out how you can win a free soy candle!

Maddison Avenue Soy Candles is owned by Jeanette Combs. I first got to know Jeanette through my husband when he built her website. She is one of the nicest and most generous people I have ever met on the web, so I wanted to do a Q & A with her about who she is and her company. I have several Maddison Avenue candles in my home and I love the way they smell and look.

soycandles Amanda: Why did you choose to sell soy candles and how long have you been selling candles?
Jeanette: It started as a hobby in 2003.  My husband has bad allergies and asthma which never allowed me to burn candles.  Because paraffin candles contained toxins and carcinogens, it affected his breathing.  I had come across some research telling that soy candles were clean burning and if you previously had breathing difficulties with paraffin candles, to give soy a try.  I wanted to do just that but found they were very hard to find.  So, I bought all of the ingredients and made them myself.  After my friends and family found out the benefits of soy wax, they were hooked and started buying from me.  And the business grew from there!  Maddison Avenue soy candles can now be found in every state and abroad.

A: I know your company is based in Illinois where there is a lot of farm land. Does your company grow your own soy beans?
No, but our factory is surrounded by soybean fields.  We are thrilled to watch them grow each year knowing we are helping to support the American farmers.

A: What are the benefits of burning soy candles, instead of other candles you can find at the store?
Most of this was answered in the first question.  The benefits of soy wax is unbelievable!

  • made from 100% soybean wax
  • does not emit toxins while burning
  • emits an incredibly small amount of soot
  • biodegradable
  • water-soluble
  • burns cooler and slower
  • renewable resource
  • supports US farmers and our own economic growth

A: How do you choose the fragrances?
Most are from requests from customers, but some we put together by trial and error.  It’s a fun process.

A: What is your favorite scent?
It changes with the season.  Right now I love summer scents (beach house, pomegranate passion, and meadow), in the fall it changes (spiced cranberry, pumpkin crunch, and orange clove).  I always burn one of these in my bathroom (que, tuxedo, or lavender fields).

A: Have you ever sold a scent that you thought would be popular, but it didn’t do well? Is there a scent that you thought would make a good candle, but it ended up smelling horribly?
I was certain that Chocolate Kisses would rock, but in fact it barely sells.   As for a horrible fragrance – that is the funny thing with our noses.  What smells wonderful to one is aweful to another.  For example, I took Gardenia Blossoms off the site because I thought it was horrible and didn’t like being in the factory on the days they poured that aroma.  Then I was contacted by a client wanting to know why she couldn’t buy it any more as all of hers had been bought by Richard Gere’s publicist.  She said it was his favorite candle and he used it while meditating.  Obviously, we brought it back and it has remained a great seller!!  Just a note… I still don’t like it, yuck :)

A: If your business didn’t sell soy candles, what else would you like to do for a living?
I used to want to write.  I wrote and published our church newsletter for years.  Writing is a lot of work though.  I would like to learn how to use Adobe Illistrator like a pro and then do some designing for cards, and such.  I love creative people and love learning to be more creative myself.

A: I know you are a mom and a grandma. What advice would you give a new mom?
Easy.  Relax and keep it simple.  Enjoy the small things.  I was always told that my kids would grow up fast, and that was such an understatement!  I am much more relaxed with my grand daughters, and I have finally learned how to enjoy even the small things, like being there to kiss a skinned knee. I wish I had worried less and enjoyed more with my own kids.

A: What is your favorite quote?
Watch your thoughts; they become words.
Watch your words; they become actions.
Watch your actions; they become habits.
Watch your habits; they become character.
Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.


Jeanette has generously offered to giveaway a soy candle to 2 winners! All you have to do to enter is go to Maddison Avenue’s website, pick your favorite fragrance, and come back here and write in the comments of this post which is your favorite fragrance! Winners will be chosen at random and announced next Saturday morning on the 25th. Good luck!


This giveaway is now closed and we have 2 winners, Erika and Denise!  The winners were chosen by random.org. Thank you so much to everyone who entered.


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