Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Pizza Night Was a Hit Thanks to the New Flatout Thin Crust Flatbreads #FlatoutGood #Giveaway

Disclosure: I was sent samples from the folks at Flatout Flatbread in order to write up an honest review.  The views shared are mine and mine alone.

Flatout - Saline, MI

Spicy Italian PackagingRustic White Packaging

Does your family love pizza?  Who doesn't, right?  When it comes to pizza in our house, we love to make homemade pizzas every Friday night as part of our pizza and a movie night with the girls.  It is great to get in the kitchen and have the girls help my husband and I prep the pizzas.  And, now that they are getting older and can help out more, we set up different stations around the kitchen island -- one for sauce, one for cheese, and then another for toppings.  Mom is in charge of cooking and serving up the pizza, while my husband takes turn with the turns, helping them create their own pizza masterpieces.

When it comes to making pizza at home, we prefer already made pizza crust over the self rising or pizza dough in stores.  With little ones, it is less messy if I can simply take the pizza crusts out the bag, for them to add toppings to.  And, it is a time saving, as I don't have to let the dough rise and roll it out.  We are picky when it comes to buying store-bought pizza crusts.  While we have a couple brands we have tried and love, others have fallen short, as they are too dry, lack flavor, or don't cook up well and get soggy quickly.  But, we are always up for trying out new pizza crusts, in hopes to find one that will make us go "Wow" as we bite into the first slice. 

Thin Crust Artisan Pizza


Recently, I was chosen as a Flatout Flatbread Ambassador, and was sent samples of their new Flatout Thin Crust Flatbreads to try with my family.  In addition to their original and spicy Italian pizza crusts, they also sent along a goodie bag to make Pizza Night in our house even more fun -- including two aprons (one for an adult and another for a child), a Flatout Flatbread pizza cutter, an easy entertaining recipe booklet, and a Walmart gift card, so that I could purchase ingredients for the pizzas.  I only live a few minutes from Walmart, so was able to stop by the other night after my husband got home from work.  I ended up picking up pizza sauce, pepperoni slices, shredded pizza cheese, mushrooms, peppers, ricotta cheese and ham, to have on hand for our Friday night pizza night.  Having never tried this new Flatout Thin Crust Flatbreads from Flatout Flatbread, I didn't know what to expect.  All I knew what that it looked good from the package.  And, the instructions states that it would only take 6 minutes to cook up.  What Mom wouldn't love this convenience of a 6 minute pizza?  I thought to myself, "If this pizza crust ends up tasting great, I will make sure to have some on hand for when I am in a pinch for dinner, and are pressed for time."  Luckily, the girls are like my husband and I, and could eat pizza ever night if we allowed them to. :-)

Friday couldn't have come soon enough.  But, when it did, you should have seen us in the kitchen.  Before we could add sauce and toppings to the new Flatout Thin Crust Flatbreads, the directions stated to warm in the oven for a few minutes.  Then, we could take out, add our toppings, and return back for a few more minutes, until the cheese was bubbly.  Easy, right?  Well, it was!  The only hard part was deciding which toppings to add to our individual pizzas.

The highlight of the pizza making experience for Savannah was getting to wear the purple Flatout Flatbread apron that was sent in the goodie.  She loves purple, and felt like a real chef in the kitchen as she stood on the dining room chair, helping her Daddy make the pizzas.  Here are just a handful of photos I took of the pizza makers:

We really had a great time trying out the new Flatout Thin Crust Flatbreads, which are available at your favorite local Walmart (as well as other retailers).  I played it safe by making a pepperoni and extra cheese pizza on the Rustic White Flatout Thin Crust Flatbread, while my husband spiced his up, with chicken pieces, hot sauce and blue cheese dressing on the Spicy Italian Flatout Thin Crust Flatbread.  Savannah, on the other, had to try each of the toppings out, and ended up with "The Works" pizza we called it.  It weighed over a pound going in the oven.  And, as I pulled it out, both she and her sister couldn't help but let out "oohh's and ahh's" as it looked and smelled so good! :-)  And, together, they ate the entire pizza together, as we watched one of their favorite Disney movies.

After trying out this new Flatout Thin Crust Flatbreads from Flatout Flatbread, my whole family agrees that this is the best store-bought pizza crust we have ever tasted.  Not only was it great tasting, but it allowed for an even bake throughout, didn't get soggy upon cooling, and had a nice crunch to the crust.  Usually the girls have leftovers, but on this night, they were fighting to lick the crumbs from the pizza plate, and were looking for more.

Since our pizza night, I used the Flatout Thin Crust Flatbread in a few different recipes, including cutting them into strips and making cheesy sticks for the the girls to dip in leftover pizza sauce, as well as cutting into squares and adding homemade bruschetta to the top, after the pizza crust has been warmed in the oven for a few minutes.  I continue to think of ways to use this pizza crust, and can't wait to try out some of the recipes Flaout Flatbread is highlighting on their Facebook page during "The Flatout Flatbread Good Grilling promotion" which runs from April 15th to May 14th.   During this promotion, they will feature 30 days of flatbread pizza recipes, as well as hosting a "Let's Eat!" sweepstakes that includes a trip for two to Chicago's Taste of Chicago (includes airfare, hotel and $150 spending cash.

So, if you love pizza, or are looking for fun dinner to make with your children one of these days, why not pick up a package or two of Flatout Flatbread's new line of Flatout Thin Crust Flatbread, available at Walmart (and other retailers)?  Like I said, it only takes 6 minutes to cook up, so you can have dinner on the table in no time.  Looking for inspiration for a good pizza recipe, don't forget to visit the Flatout Flatbread Facebook page and browse their 30 pizza recipes in 30 days recipe section, which can be found here:

I printed out the following recipe to try this Friday with the family, as it really looks good --  what do you think?

Looks good, right?  I am getting hungry just thinking about it.  :-)  Hurry up Friday and get here already. :-)

So, what are you waiting for?  Head to your local Walmart and pick up a package of the new Flatout Thin Crust Flatbreads, available in the following flavors:
And, make one night this week "Pizza Night" at your house. :-)

---BUY NOW---

Heritage Wheat PackagingRosemary & Olive Oil Packaging

You can find the new Flatout Thin Crust Flatbreads at Walmart.  If you don't have a Walmart store near you, please use the Flatout Flatbreads store locator to find a retailer near you who carries this brand --  http://www.flatoutbread.com/find-a-store/where-we-are/. 

Flatout Flatbread - EdgeOn Baked Crisps - Hungry Girl Foldit


Want a chance to win a two night trip for 2 to Taste of Chicago Food Festival on July 10-14, 2013?  Then, complete the entries on the Rafflecopter form below.  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Disclosure: I was sent samples from the folks at Flatout Bread in order to write up an honest review.  The views I share are mine and mine alone.

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Monday, April 29, 2013

Last Minute Mother's Day Gift Ideas -- Give Mom a Subscription to Her Favorite Magazine, Or Surprise Her with One She Would Like #Giveaway

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned herein for free in hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.



"Magazines.com offers people a fun, easy way to discover new reads and helps them track their magazine subscriptions. 
Shop the great magazine subscription deals at Magazines.com for Mother’s Day 2013! You’ll find incredible savings on Mom’s favorite cooking, celebrity, crafting magazine subscriptions and more. Don’t forget about all the moms in your life—your aunt, sister and your grandmother! Give her a gift that keeps on giving!"

Just look at some of the 1 yr. magazines you can purchase for Mom for $10.00 or under:
Cooking with Paula Deen
Martha Stewart Living
Parenting Early Years
Parenting School Years
Weight Watchers
Working Mother
Southern Living
Food Network
Real Simple
Southern Lady
Crochet Today
Tea Time
Fons & Porter's Love of Quilting
Entertain Decorate Celebrate
Taste of South
Creative Machine Embroidery
Just Cross Stitch
Quilter's Newsletter
Sampler & Antique Needlework Quarterly
Creative Knitting
Quilter's World
Sew News
Crochet World
Creating Keepsakes
Card Maker

I don't know about you, but I love reading magazines, especially cooking ones and ones that deal with the South.  As I was listing the magazines on sale above, I couldn't help but laugh, as I subscribe to practically almost of them, except for the knitting and sewing ones, which I subscribe my Mom to. :-)  Whenever I find a few free moments in the day, I love unwinding with a hot cup of coffee or tea, and flipping through one of these magazines.

So, if you are looking for a great gift idea for your Mom, or your children/husband is asking what you would like for Mother's Day, why not consider a magazine subscription from Magazines.com?  With most subscriptions only $10 or less, you can go wrong for the price.  Ordering from here is much cheaper than picking up monthly issues at the supermarket. :-)

Visit Magazines.com to browse their selection of Mother's Day gifts on sale now -- until May 13th --  http://www.magazines.com/special-offers/mothers-day-gifts-sale,default,sc.html?origin=mdbo  

And, don't forget to follow Magazines.com on Facebook and Twitter (@magazines), to stay up-to-date on discounts and special offers.


One lucky reader will win a $10 gift certificate to used towards any magazine subscription at Magazines.com.  If you spend over $10, you simply pay the difference.  To enter, please complete the entries on the Rafflecopter form below.  Good luck!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned herein for free in hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

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Last Minute Mother's Day Gift Ideas -- The Pretty Peacock, The Pretty Peacock, Offering Personalized Custom Keepsake Jewelry -- Save $10 Now + #Giveaway

Disclosure:  I was sent a sample from the vendor in order to write up an honest review.  The views I share are mine and mine alone.

Pretty Peacock Logo

Just because Mother's Day is only celebrated one time per year, doesn't mean that Moms around the world should not be celebrated every day.  Without them, we wouldn't be here.  And, without their unconditional love and support day in and day out, we wouldn't be the people we are today. :-)  

I celebrate my Mom every day, and make sure she knows just how much I love her.  Unlike a handful of my friends and family, I am still lucky enough to have her in not only my life, but also the lives of my children.  Mother's Day to me is just another friendly reminder to take time out of our busy lives to thank our Moms or Mother figures in our lives.  Remember, there no vacations or sick days for Moms.  So, why not let Mother's Day be a day for them to sick back and enjoy those who they love -- their children (young and old).

What will you be giving your Mom this Mother's Day?  Flowers?  A greeting card?  Dinner out?  Still looking for the PERFECT GIFT?  Why not surprise her with a beautiful handmade pendant or necklace from The Pretty Peacock?  

Inspiral Sculpture Pendant ~ A Mother's Love Knows No End

Last Monday, I shared a review of the Inspiral Sculpture Pendant ~ A Mother's Love Knows No End  I was sent to review for my Mother's Day gift guide.  If you missed my post, click here to read it now -- http://www.inspiredbysavannah.com/2013/04/mothers-day-gift-ideas-treasured.html.  Today, I wanted to share a special $10 off coupon code just for Inspired by Savannah, which is valid through tomorrow -- the cutoff date for US orders at The Pretty Peacock, in order to receive in time for Mother's Day.  Just look at the different handmade necklaces and pendants that can be personalized for your Mom:

Textured Center Disk 

Definition of Family Personalized Charm Pendant Set

Single Scrolled Heart

Aren't they beautiful?  I am loving my Inspiral Sculpture Pendant ~ A Mother's Love Knows No End from The Pretty Peacock, and continue to get compliments every time I wear it out and about.  And, when I tell other Moms what the it says, they want one for themselves. :-)  So, what are you waiting for?  Head on over to The Pretty Peacock website now, to browse their selection of personalized custom jewelry for Moms -- http://www.theprettypeacock.com/.  Whatever pendant or necklace you choose will not only make for the PERFECT GIFT for Mom, but will also become a treasured keepsake for years to come -- long after Mother's Day has passed. :-)

---BUY NOW---

Just for Inspired by Savannah, use promo code "MDAY2013" at checkout and receive $10 off your total order through tomorrow.  Click here to visit The Pretty Peacock website now, and place your Mother's Day order by tomorrow, to guarantee delivery in time for Mother's Day -- http://www.theprettypeacock.com/


Exponential Mom Pendant  ~ Mom of 2 

One lucky reader will win an Exponential Mom pendant: http://www.theprettypeacock.com/necklaces/exponential-mom-pendant-mom-of-2.html thanks to Ana Talukder Simpson of The Pretty Peacock. The winner gets to customize the pendant with their child's birthstones.  To enter, please complete the entries on the Rafflecopter form below.  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Disclosure:  I was sent a sample from the vendor in order to write up an honest review.  The views I share are mine and mine alone.
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Welcome in Spring with a Good Book -- The World Belongs to You by Riccardo Bozzi -- An Inspiring Picture Book for People of All Ages (Review)

Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book by the publisher in order to write up an honest review.  All views shared are mine and mine alone.

The World Belongs to You

  • Age Range: 8 and up
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Templar (March 12, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 076366488X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0763664886
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 0.5 x 9.8 inches 
  • Buy now at Amazon for only $11.22.


"You belong to the world, and the world belongs to you; inspiring words for graduating students and anyone experiencing a time of change in their life. This beautifully crafted book is an uplifting gift for people of any age. Stylish graphic art paired with a deceptively simple text make this a book to be read over and over again."

My Thoughts:

Can you believe that summer is almost year?  And, with this comes high school and college students graduating in May.  Do you know someone who is graduating this year?  If so, do I have the perfect gift idea for you -- "The World Belongs to You" by Riccardo Bozzi.  

I remember when I graduated both high school and college, my parents and family gave me books that were not only meant to celebrate my accomplishments, but also inspire me to dream big and pursue my goals and wishes.  Many of these books were picture books, which was a surprise, as I would have thought they were geared to a much younger audience.  But, after reading the books and admiring the beautiful illustrations in each, I truly felt inspired, as these books really do get you excited about the unknown and what lies ahead in one's life.  

Even if you don't know anyone who is graduating, this book is also great for those at a crossroads in their life, and looking for a little guidance.  It is such an easy read, that you will find yourself picking it up and reading it over and over again.  While young children will love bright bold illustrations, older audiences will find comfort in the words of Riccardo Bozzi, as he reassures them us all that we are free to do and who we want to be.  "The world belongs to you," he says and "You belong to the world" -- so, what are you going to do?  This book will make you think and aspire to be more, and is definitely a great book to share with graduates and those at a crossroads, or to have on hand to share with your children as they grow up.  However you choose to give this book, those who read it, will find comfort in its pages, and will cherish this book for years to come. :-)

About the Author:

Riccardo Bozzi was born in Milan in 1966. He is a journalist and works for the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera. He lives in Milan, Italy.

About the Illustrator:

Olimpia Zagnoli was born in 1984 in a small town in northern Italy. Her work has been included in the New York Times, The New Yorker, the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, Adidas Originals, Rolling Stone, Corriere della Sera, and American Illustration 30. Olimpia drives a yellow Fiat and lives in Milan, Italy.

Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book by the publisher in order to write up an honest review.  All views shared are mine and mine alone.
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Zing Helping to Promote Healthy Lifestyles for the Whole Family with their Fun New Toys (Review)

Disclosure: I was sent samples from the vendor in order to write up an honest review.  However, the views I share are mine and mine alone. 


Now that the weather is warming up, and the summer months are fast approaching, my family and I are taking full advance of the nice weather and spending as much time outdoors as we can.  From trips to the local playgrounds, to hiking on the local trails, there is so much to do, including right in our back yard.  A recent hit amongst the children and adults who have spent time at our home has been two new products from Zing -- the SKY RIPPERZ rocket launcher and the AIR Huntress bow.  Last year, I shared Zing product reviews during the summer and Christmas season, and am happy to be back with even more fun products from them, that the whole family will enjoy.

I don't know about you, but ever since my family has seen such films as Disney's Brave and The Hunger Games, we have become fascinated with archery, and wished we knew how to use a bow and arrow. The characters in these films made it look so effortlessly, and fun.  So, when I heard that the folks at Zing had improved Z-Curve Bow, with a flashy new appearance, I couldn't wait to get my hands on one to try out.  And, thanks to the folks at Zing, they sent along samples of their SKY RIPPERZ and the new Air Huntress Z-Curve Bow, which is decked out in pink, purple and sparkles (which both Savannah and I love), to review.

Already being fans of other Zing toys, we knew we would love these new additions (which also include the ZoomZooka double blaster and Zoom Rocketz air-powered rockets.  And, this past weekend, when the weather was around 70 degrees here in the Northeast, we took advantage of the warmer temps and fun new Zing toys to get out and play.  My nephews and nieces were over, along with my brother-in-law, so we had a backyard full of children and adults of all ages.  It felt like a summer camp type atmosphere, as we had didn't areas of the backyard to demo the different Zing toys (new and old).  While my 8 and 10 year old nephews were being schooled on how to launch the SKY RIPPERZ, which can fly over 250 feet in the arm, with a flick of the wrist, the girls (ages 10 and 12, along with Savannah and Arabella looking on and retrieving the bows) were learning from my husband how to use the Air Huntress bow.  


When it came time for each of their turns, they assumed their the role of Matilda in Brave or Katniss Everdeen from the Hunger Games, as they loaded up their bows with the soft-foam ammo included with Z-Curve bow and took aim at the target my husband had set up to shoot at. :-)  The girls and I were amazed at how far the ammo shot -- over 125 ft., and how easy it was to load and release the Z-arrows and Zarz inluded with the bow.

For over a few hours, the children and adults took turns moving from station to station, trying out these new Zing toys.  And, by the time it was read to sit down for a BBQ, everyone couldn't stop talking about how fun these Zing toys were.  We all agreed that Zing has done it again by offering "High Performance Fun" that the whole family can enjoy.  "Zing prides itself on designing quality toys that stimulate imagination, physical coordination and activity, and they achieved all of this with their new line of toys for 2013 -- which are sure to become a hit this during the upcoming summer months. 

After lunch, the kids got back out into the backyard for more fun and games with the Zing products, and by the time they were ready to leave, the kids were asking their Dad to get these and other popular Zing toys for them.  How could he object, as they had a blast alongside all of us, and it was a great way to get the kids outdoors and enjoy trying new things.  My oldest niece is already talking about trying out the archery course at summer camp this year -- something she was reluctant to do in years past, as she thought it would be difficult.  Who knows, maybe we will have an Olympic women's archer in our midst soon. :-)

So, if you are looking for ways to get the family outdoors this summer, why not pick up these and other family-friendly products from Zing?  From their ever popular Zing Air, Air Hunterz, Air Storm, Zing BlastOff and ZoomZooka water blaster, you are bound to find toys everyone in the family will enjoy playing together.  I recently the ZoomZooka water blasters to have on hand for our upcoming Memorial Day and Fourth of July cookouts. Who doesn't love a good water gun fun?  


And, with this water blaster, it not only shoots a water stream over 50 feet, but also launches suction cup darts, rockets and a plan, for added fun.  I can't lie, I am excited to get my hands on this new toy from Zing and try it out. :-)

For more information about Zing, you can visit the company website at www.zingtoys.com. And, don't forget to follow Zing Toys on Twitter at @Zing_Toys and "Like" on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ZingToys, to stay up-to-date on new product additions and news.

---BUY NOW---

Most Zing toys range from $9.99 - $29.99, making them an affordable form of entertainment, for the whole family to enjoy, for years to come. 

The triple pack of the Sky Ripperz is $14.99, the double pack is $9.99 and all Sky Ripperz are available at Target, Walmart, Toys R Us and Amazon.com. The Air Huntress is $24.99 and available at Toys R Us, Fred Meyer stores and Amazon.com.

Disclosure: I was sent samples from the vendor in order to write up an honest review.  However, the views I share are mine and mine alone.

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Spotlight on Mom: Monica Wreede of Accessory Connectz

Accessory Connectz

Ever since welcoming two beautiful little girls into the world in 2010 and 2011, I love buying them pretty dresses and hair accessories.  When they were little, they didn't mind me putting their hair up in clips, or throwing on a flower headband.  But, as they are getting older, they are more picky when it comes to having me do things to their hair.  And, just recently, Savannah has learned how to dress herself, and wants to pick up out her outfits (shirt, pants and sock) and put on herself, right down to the shoes.

I was noticing at the end of each month when I would put away clothes that no longer fit the girls, I had also acquired a large assortment of flower bows, clips, and other hair accessories, which continue to sit on their dresser.  I wondered if there was anything out there that I could utilize these items for, as a way to dress up my girl's clothes, etc.  This is when I stumbled upon this week's Spotlight Mom, Monica Wreede of Accessory Connectz.  Monica's ahh haa moment came when juggling two businesses, a hair accessory boutique and a clothing boutique.  She saw a demand for a much needed design, and thus Accessory Connectz was born.

"Accessory Connectz™ are the new and simple way to jazz up flip flops, headbands and even pet collars! Our device is used to clip, pin or button on your favorite accessories to your desired item to get the look you want in seconds! We carry a full line of button on accessories that can be used when you are not using your very own accessories! Attach to your existing items! There is no need to purchase the expensive stuff. You can create your own look on your very own budget! Got hair accessories at home? With our little device, it makes it super easy to attach to your item of choice and feel no metal clips or pins touching you;-) They are super comfy and you don't even know they are there. Flip flops clips can be very painful and cause irritation and have such a limited selection. With our handy new device, the possibilities are Endless! There are no limitations to what you can clip, pin or button to our product! Our product is Mother & child tested and approved! Women, children(boys & girls), bridal, pets and more can enjoy our new & unique product! Guaranteed fun for all ages!"

-Patent pending
-Moms & daughters can match
-Children can match their family pets
-Interchangeable & reusable
-Endless possibilities
-Stretches to Fit 1/2 in.-1 1/2 in widths

how to attach accessories to flip flops, headbands, pet collars, belts and more!

Please check out Monica's video to see how it works! 

Upon reaching out to Monica, not only did she answer my Spotlight on Mom questions promptly, but she also sent along a sampler pack for me to try out.  Stay tuned Friday when I will share more about Monica's Accessory Connectz product line, and offer one lucky reader a chance to win a surprise package worth $25 of Accessory Connectz products -- as well as a coupon code to save on your order.

But, in the meantime, please enjoy my Spotlight Mom interview with Monica Wreede of Accessory Connectz® and The Boutique Kids.

Name: Monica Wreede
Company Name/Product/Service: Accessory Connectz®/The Boutique Kids
Company Location: Delphos, OH
Company Websites: www.accessoryconnectz.com and www.theboutiquekids.com Facebook URL: www.facebook.com/accessoryconnectz
                            www.facebook.com/theboutiquekids Twitter Handle: @theboutiquekids
Age of Company: The Boutique kids since 2004/Accessory Connectz® since Aug. 2011
Favorite Inspirational Quotes: "When one door closes, one always opens"
Favorite Book: I hate to admit it, however, I am not a reader. I have never enjoyed reading books, so therefore I don’t have a favorite book..lol

Tell us a little bit about yourself.  How many children do you have?  What are their ages? Your hobbies? Etc.
I have 3 beautiful children. 2 sons, Tyler who is 13 and Dylan who is 5 and a daughter, Kaylin who is 8.  I have always been creative at heart since I was a child. I love art and designing new things. My niche was born when my daughter entered this world!

Briefly explain your business.  How did it come about? 

When my daughter was born 8 years ago, inspiration for design instantly fell into my lap. I started creating hair accessories as a hobby which quickly turned into a little business I could run from home. I then branched out into clothing design. Amongst clothing, I offered flip flops, headbands, etc. with attached accessories. I saw a huge demand for a much needed design and that is when my “ah ha” moment came to me. My new product & company was soon born! I am currently running both businesses, The Boutique Kids & Accessory Connectz.

What is a typical work day like? 

My typical work day is filled with computer work, filling & packing orders, designing & chasing after my 5 year old.

What has been a struggle while starting up your company? 

The # one struggle has been funding to grow my business. I am currently running all aspects of both businesses from making all inventory, marketing and all that comes along with it. Because of this, I do not have time to focus on the areas that need improved day to day.

What did you do in your past work life? 

I skipped from job to job trying to find the perfect fit for me. I worked as an assistant manager for a dept. store & pizza place. I have found that being an entrepreneur has been much more rewarding for me than working for someone else.

What have been some of your major successes? 

I am proud to say that I got to design for the San Fransisco 49ers, been featured in Inventors Digest, was chosen 24 out of 800 inventors given by Invention Home, one of the 3 finalists for “The Next Big Thing” competition given by The Dallas Market Center, amongst the 200 top leading women-owned businesses given by Startup Nation, and have had many news & editorial mentions. The list continues to grow by the day;-) Besides the competitions and mentions, I am proud to have successfully brought a new concept to market on my own.

What have been some of your major challenges? 

Trying to get my new product & company out to the masses has been very challenging, especially on a tight budget. Running all aspects of the businesses has taken a toll on me from time to time & trying to figure out what strategies work.

On those impossible days, what motivates you to keep going? 

My kids, husband and close family & friends keep me going on those impossible days.

What is your balancing secret in managing a business and family? 

This has been a rough one! I have to set aside strict hours for business & family. My two older kids are in school from 8-3. I have set aside those hours for business and try to be cut off by 3 everyday, which is very hard some days when I have deadlines. My 5 year old son is usually by my side throughout those hours. I try including him as much as possible. Ex: he will sit on my lap while I sew and he gets to push buttons on the machine for mom;-)

What is next for your business?

I have many plans for my business. Once I secure funding we are going to get a professional video made, hire a few assistants, order inventory, advertise and approach big box retailers. I have many product prototypes on the drawing board that I would love to introduce in the near future.

Do you have any advice for other mom entrepreneurs that are starting out and struggling, or are on the fence about starting a business? 

Please don’t get discouraged and never give up. I have seen so many moms that start a good business model and give up because sales are just not there. These things don’t happen overnight! You need to be very determined and dedicated to be successful. I believe we can all achieve anything we want to with much persistence & dedication of following our dreams & goals!  Reach for the stars!
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Spotlight on Mom: Sonja Pettingill of Vestopia -- A Utility Vest for Moms


Now that my girls are getting older and I don't have to pack as much stuff in a diaper bag like I used to, I have been looking for another way to carry their necessities when out and about.  Even though I am not lugging around formula, double the change of clothes, rattles, books, etc., I still need a way to store and be able to find things I need like diapers, wipes, binkies, etc.  And, with the girls being more mobile, I thought a backpack or other form of hands free storage would be great -- than having to lug around a heavy bag, in which the shoulder straps never stayed put.  During my search for just the right product, I stumbled across Vestopia, created by mom, Sonja Pettingill. 

Imagine a hunter or fisherman with their utility vest.  Then, imagine a Mom with a similar vest, but having filled all the pockets with your little ones necessities for easy transport.  Sounds cool, huh?  I thought so, when I saw photos of Sonja's utility vest for Moms at her website, Vestopia.  I wondered why this vest in all the major baby chain stores, as I know moms (and Dad's) would love this option, over the standard diaper bag, especially families who likes to hike, and get outdoors with their children.

Want one of these cool utility vests for Moms, or one for your child?  Then, head on over to Sonja's website to browse her product selection, and to place an order.  And, make sure you use the promo code "20-OFF" at checkout to receive 20% off your entire order at http://www.vestopiaclothes.com/

I can't wait until Sonja sends along one of her new Vestopia vests for me to try out in the coming months.  Right now, she is making a few changes on her current design, and plans to have a new version ready by the fall/early winter.   But, in the meantime, you can still purchase her popular Vestopia vest for Moms, as well as the kuvvy made especially for kids.  
 Lulu loves her kuvvy

Make sure you mark calendars for this Friday, as I will be running a giveaway for one lucky reader to win a kuvvy for their child.  But, in the meantime, please enjoy my Spotlight Mom interview with Sonja Pettingill, of Vestopia.

Name: Sonja Pettingill
Company Name/Product/Service: Vestopia; creator of the Mom's Utility Vest & the kuvvy for kids
Company Location: Philadelphia
Company Website: https://vestopiaclothes.com
Twitter Handle: @VestopiaClothes
Age of Company: 4 years
Favorite Inspirational Quotes“Do not forget that the value and interest of life is not so much to do conspicuous things...as to do ordinary things with the perception of their enormous value.” ― Pierre Teilhard de Chardin 
Favorite Book: Margaret Drabble's, The Radiant Way

Tell us a little bit about yourself.  How many children do you have?  What are their ages? Your hobbies? Etc.

With family and work my life is full and satisfying ... never a dull moment! I have a 21 year old son, about to graduate from college; he's great, smart, savvy and even has a job offer! I always say he's the perfect part of my life as things seem to go smoothly and predictably for him and everyone loves him.  My daughter is 10 and growing up so quickly. She's a red head and strong-willed and loving, sweet and funny; she plans to be a professional soccer player when she grows up... I love this age; we are reminded that everything is possible! She gives me great design help and is the main influence for kuvvy colors.  Besides being Mom, keeping the house somewhat sane and managing my business, I love photography, hiking, gardening, my dear girlfriends and sisters, and traveling. We're going to Peru soon to trek the Inca Trail; I can hardly wait; this is the trip of a lifetime! 

Briefly explain your business.  How did it come about?
Vestopia started with the the idea of replacing the diaper bag... fishermen and hunters have utility vests, but who could possibly need pockets to manage life more than a Mom? In days gone by I was a geologist and needed pockets to manage in the field. When I had kids it seems like a natural extension for the new job. The Mom's Utility Vest was born with detailed design including insulated pockets for drinks (and EPIpen), secured zipped pockets for valuables including passport if traveling; 18 pockets in total. The Mom's Utility Vest enables Moms to be fully present with their kids; I see this as the most important and vital role a parent has, to be really there with their kids & not worried about the diaper bag getting stolen or dirty. Having hands free to fully engage with your kids makes parenting easier, more fun and more loving.

 I didn't actually have the vest when my kids were very little, however I use it all the time now. It's much more than a diaper bag replacement even though it was originally designed for that; it's evolved into a hiking vest and is very popular in Colorado and Seattle because it's perfect for a day hike; much easier to reach for your camera and drink than taking the backpack off and rooting through it each time. It's also ideal for theme parks - I had Mom's running up to me after watching me in the Harry Potter roller coaster line for >1 hour as I had my phone, cold drink, sunscreen hat,  valuables etc with me to use while they had to stash their bags in lockers;  for me everything was secured it in pockets as we rode upside down, didn't lose a thing, and walked off at the end (no locker again).... Mom's running after me literally asking where they could get one. The Mom's Utility Vest is an attractive, colorful all around great & useful design for women to use anytime you want your hands free. Now it's in 2 weights, fleece lined and lighter cotton-nylon and microfiber. All our vests are machine washable, ready for years of life. 

We've also got the kuvvy for kids, reversible, 7 pockets including secret inside pockets, 4 on the front and a large one on the back. Kids love them; they have loads of things to keep in pockets and the kuvvy helps them to be more responsible for their own things. 

At this point we sell primarily online but will be branching out to retail in the next year. We'll be doing an Indiegogo crowd funding campaign in April and May to raise capital so we can go into bigger production which will enable us to move to retail shops.

What is a typical work day like?
I'm up early dealing with email, then I get my daughter up, make breakfast, pack lunch, drive to school then drive to the factory in NE Philadelphia. This is not daily year round, at the moment it is because we're working on a new version of the vest and making samples is a complicated procedure requiring very regular monitoring. I drive home (& might pick up some food for dinner), work at the computer - all day, creating/updating Amazon shop, dealing with Mom Bloggers that are reviewing samples, reaching out to journalists for media coverage, fulfilling orders, preparing for the Indiegogo campaign, developing the Kuvvy Kreature stuffed toy and working with my co-author of the book side, doing a webinar on publicity, working with my interns on social media, creating a social media post, updating our website and blogging, adding any new PR, photographing samples and preparing them for web and Amazon use.... I don't necessarily do all of these in one single day, but bits of several of them for sure. I stop for the dinner/ bedtime hours and later at night I do some more including make a list of what must be done the next day; then do some marketing reading before bed. At least 4x/week I fit in an hour of power exercise, sprinting up the driveway, yoga video and or a  power hike. Whenever I have the chance I talk to people about the vest, the design, colors & fabrics. This is a business that changes all the time.

What has been a struggle while starting up your company? 
I had no idea about anything to do with the garment industry when I started this. I've had to learn everything about design, pattern making, marking, sourcing fabric & notions and find a factory to manufacture my vests! This was very difficult and I had a costly failure with the first one. The Mom's Utility Vest is so complicated and needle intensive there are not many people that can sew it.  

What did you do in your past work life?
I was a geologist and started in the oil industry in Calgary. Later I worked in higher education both teaching and in administration.  When I had my daughter I stopped to become a full time stay at home mom. When she was about 5 and in school full time I started Vestopia.

What have been some of your major successes?
Finally getting a first production line out was the greatest success, after a couple of years of design, sample making, fabric & notion sourcing, finding a factory and overcoming the disastrous first factory problems. It felt like a miracle to get that first run! I have had loads of successes along the way I'd say, from finding my partner in NY that makes videos and websites, to getting my vests into a local shop to making a life doing something entirely new and exciting.

What have been some of your major challenges?
Again, finding a good manufacturing facility was a big challenge. Sourcing fabric in the volumes I need is hard, finding the right insulating product that is safe, light, non-toxic, sewable and washable was another challenge that took some time and money, but worked out very successfully. I've made some big mistakes, but I don't make the same one twice; I'm getting pretty good at knowing how to deal with new challenges.

On those impossible days, what motivates you to keep going?
... and I do have them! I just will not quit! There is only one way for us and that is forward; I've come much too far to stop! Some days I just have to remember that I really am still very excited about this business but that other things affect my mood and tomorrow everything will be back to normal.  

What is your balancing secret in managing a business and family?
That's a good question. Because my son is 21 and graduating college I am aware of how ridiculously fast a child grows up and I very consciously spend the time I can with my daughter; you can't get that time back again one day in the future! I stop work by 5 and devote myself to the family until she is in bed. While making dinner I overseeing her homework, we talk, eat dinner, play pingpong, play with the hamster and I still read to her in bed every night. When I leave her at about 9:30 I do a little more work, prepare for the next day. Weekends it's family first, though I typically do 4 or 5 hours of work around the family plans.

What is next for your business?
We've designed a creature that goes in the back pocket of the kuvvy, and story books to go with it; it's an adorable concept and kids love it. We have to produce the toys and books and market them. We're also making a vest for Dads and expanding the vest line to lighter more streamlined versions. ... never a dull moment. 

Do you have any advice for other mom entrepreneurs that are starting out and struggling, or are on the fence about starting a business?
I say dive in if you have a burning desire to do it. It takes perseverance and you'll work a lot. Expect that "success" will probably take longer than you think. We only regret the things we don't do as they say and I agree. There are so many things you'll find that you don't know along the way but solutions always emerge when you look for them; you learn so much starting something new and what could be more interesting. Good luck and enjoy the journey!
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