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Networking when you can’t “face to face”

March 1st, 2011

Business Networking I know you’ve been there, the next great networking conference is announcing all of their fantastic speakers, events and mixer opportunities in your niche market. You read the tweets, you see the blog posts, you can’t escape the Facebook Status updates from all the cool kids saying “I’m going!” and you literally wilt in your chair. You KNOW that if only you could attend it would catapult your business into stardom, you’d be rollin’ with the homies baby!

We’ve all been there when the reality sets in that this time (maybe every time) you have to pass on the chance to connect in a real live “face to face” situation with heavy hitters in your industry. It’s crushing, it’s depressing, you wonder if you can ever develop a connection and lasting business relationship using alternative means of networking. Can you get results, win friends and influence people without the actual face to face connect a conference setting provides?

This is the topic we’re tweeting about and discussing in the Boutique Cafe Facebook group this week. Have you had a similar experience please come share it. If you have found other means and methods of alternative networking it’s time to spill the beans and share your secret to networking success. That way the next conference that rolls around that we can’t attend won’t send us into a tailspin of chocolate eating and deep sobs. – Daria

Screen shot 2011-03-01 at 7.01.52 PM

Let’s chat NETWORKING >>

Boutique Cafe Conference – Keynote with Charlene May of Greggy Girl Pt.1

October 27th, 2010

Boutique Cafe Conference – Keynote with Charlene May of Greggy Girl Pt.1 from Daria – Boutique Cafe on Vimeo.

I’m so thrilled to be releasing this never seen footage from our 2007 Boutique Cafe Girls Getaway Conference in Salt Lake City. Our Keynote speaker was Charlene May, founder of girls clothing empire Greggy Girl. In her presentation Charlene covered so many key points for our attendees on following your dreams, this presentation was for designers of children’s apparel but translates into valuable information for any business, as you’ll see this keynote touched the hearts of many of our attendees who have continued on to GREAT things. Please enjoy Part 1 in our series from that conference, and please share it with your fellow women in businesses and mompreneurs. Thank you again Charlene, this conference was MAGIC and it meant so much to have you there. – XO Daria

In this episode (length 38:15):
Introduction by Daria, Owner Host and Producer for Boutique Cafe
How they conference came to be: with Daria and Megan of Brassy Apple
Keynote pt. 1 with Greggy Girl Founder Charlene May:

– Follow your Dreams – Create a Story – Design a Tight Line – Deliver your Line – Networking
“The Journey is part of the fun, The Journey is part of the Dream” – Charlene May – Hudson’s Magazine

Some Screen Captures from this event

Your comments are welcomed and most appreciated. (unless they are about how much of a weeper I am, trust me I know – LOL!)

** Click button below to view video coverage, or view it on our YouTube channel right here>>

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CPSIA Update from Heather Flottman

February 13th, 2009


Article by: Heather Flottman
Owner/Designer
liliputians NYC

Several new developments have come about on the CPSIA front since the last Boutique Café article on this topic. Here’s a quick summary.

1) On 2/4/09 Senators Jim DeMint of SC, Roger Wicker of MS and Saxby Chambliss of GA, and David Vitter of LA introduced bill S.374 to the Senate where it was read twice and referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. This bill would amend the Consumer Product Safety Act to provide regulatory relief to small and family-owned businesses. On 2/11/09 Senators Sam Brownback of KS, Tom Coburn of OK, Mike Crapo of ID and James Inhofe of OK cosponsored the bill also. Call (202-224-3121), email, fax and write your Senator to let them know you support this amendment.

2) On 2/11/09 Rep. John Shadegg of AZ and co-sponsor Rep. Roscoe Bartlett of MD introduced bill H.R. 968 to Congress where it was read twice and referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. This bill is identical to Sen. Demint’s in wording to amend the CPSIA, providing relief for America’s small businesses. Call, email, fax and write your Representative to let them know you support this amendment.

3) On 2/10/09 CPSC posted Guidance on CPSIA for Small Businesses, Resellers, Crafters and Charities. Although this obviously was needed months ago, it is still welcome information and summarizes the legislation in understandable terms. ALL sellers, resellers, retailers, and manufacturers would do themselves a favor by reading this guide. Table B is of particular interest, listing materials, which are exempt from testing (hopefully a permanent ruling) such as dyed and undyed yarns and fabrics.

4) The Stay of Enforcement remains . . . for now. Activist consumer groups NRDC and Public Citizen are rumored to be filing a lawsuit to get it overturned.

So keep up the fight. CPSIA is not going to go away and we need to ensure that small business and micro manufacturers can survive this legislation.

A Ray of Sunshine – CPSIA Update

January 12th, 2009


Article by: Heather Flottman
Owner/Designer
liliputians NYC

On December 17th, I wrote my first article for Boutique Café. It summarized the CPSIA and its effects on the handmade toy and clothing industry as well as the unintended consequences for a gamut of other businesses that sell or manufacture products for children 12 and under. Fortunately there have been some positive developments to report since then.

For one, the media seems to be finally paying attention. News programs are reporting the ramifications of CPSIA, blog postings have a steady stream of calls-to-action, and newspapers big and small are focusing on the issue. This needs to continue to make the public aware of the impact the legislation will have to small business if not amended.

The thrift and resale shops were given a reprieve yesterday with the CPSC’s press release which clarified that “sellers of used children’s products, such as thrift stores and consignment stores are not required to certify that those products meet the new lead limits, phthalates standard or new toy standards.” It later goes on to state, “However, resellers cannot sell children’s products that exceed the lead limit and should avoid products that are likely to have lead content.” And, “Those resellers that do sell products in violation of the new limits could face civil and/or criminal penalties.”

A particularly, promising statement for the handmade clothing sector was reported in the McHenry County Business Register, a Chicago area paper, by Hyacinth Filippi Worth. As stated in the article, “Davis [CPSC Spokesperson Patty Davis] said all products intended for children 12 and younger must adhere, Davis also said hand-made, one-of-a-kind items likely will be exempt, which would allow small-time crafters and seamstresses of children’s products to continue making and selling original products.” This is a promising assertion, but unfortunately is not an official ruling at this point. I hope we can make it one.

On January 9th, a notice of proposed rule making was posted on the CPSIA web site (see Children’s Products Containing Lead: Proposed Determinations Regarding Lead Content Limits on Certain Materials or Products; Notice of Proposed Rulemaking under What’s New). This preliminary ruling will possibly exempt the following natural materials provided that “these materials have neither been treated or adulterated with the addition of materials of chemicals such as pigments, dyes, coatings, finishes or any other substance, nor undergone any processing that could result in the addition of lead into the product or material.
•precious and semiprecious gemstones
•natural or cultured pearls
•surgical steel
•precious metals: gold (at least 10 karat); sterling silver (at

least 925/1000) platinum, palladium, rhodium, osmium,
iridium & ruthenium
•wood
•natural fibers such as cotton, silk, wool, hemp, flax & linen
•other natural materials such as coral, amber, feathers, fur &
untreated leather
This is a very positive development and hopefully a definite ruling. However, it is just a start. DO YOU KNOW ANYONE WHO USES UNDYED FABRIC? Children’s apparel is about color. There needs to be more exemptions.

The CPSC has formally requested comments. The rules regarding testing are not final. Comments on testing methods (eight questions have been asked) are being accepted until January 30th and can be emailed to Sec102ComponentPartsTesting@cpsc.gov. For a discussion on these questions, the Fashion Incubator forum is a great place to familiarize oneself.

I am hopeful that component testing will be allowed along with exemptions for all components which clearly are not a lead risk as well as excluding some products altogether (such as books, handmade clothing, second hand clothing). I also hope that X-ray fluorescence ( XRF testing) is permitted as a more reasonable (read nondestructive and inexpensive) testing method.

Please help in getting this amended. Safe products are possible without the demise of small businesses in America. At this point it is imperative to keep up the momentum.

As mentioned in the article, satisfy the CPSIA’s request for comments by emailing them your thoughts on 3rd party testing methods.

The Committee on Energy and Commerce sponsored CPSIA and it is the chairman of the Committee that can call hearings on this matter. Let’s convince him to revisit this legislation by writing letters or calling (202-225-2927) to express your concern and how this law will affect you. If you’ve already written them, please write them again. Here are their names and addresses:

The Hon. Henry A. Waxman, Chairman
Committee on Energy and Commerce
2125 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

The Hon. Joe Barton, Ranking Member
Committee on Energy and Commerce
2322-A Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

The Hon. Bobby Rush, Chairman
Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection
2125 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

The Hon. Ed Whitfield, Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection
2322-A Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Continue CALLING and writing your congressmen and senators (Search by your zip code in the top left and right pages to find your representatives contact info.) Make sure they hear your views on this issue. Mention the REGULATORY FLEXIBILITY Act and explain that because CPSIA burdens small businesses unfairly, that CPSIA needs to be amended. Convince them to join their colleagues such as Congressman Charlie Dent, Congressman Jim Gerlach, Congressman Tim Holden, Senator Orrin Hatch, Senator Patrick Leahy, and Congressman Anthony Weiner who have taken up our cause.

The second round of voting has started at Change.org. Register if you haven’t already and make this issue one of the top 3 items presented to President-elect Obama.

Keep blogging about CPSIA and utilizing sites like facebook, twitter, and YouTube. The internet is a buzz with CPSIA. Just google it.

Join the mail-in protest, sending soon to be “hazardous goods” to CPSIA founder Rep. Rush.

Take this survey to help ascertain the economic impact of CPSIA for retail and manufacturing businesses.

And if you haven’t already . . .
Sign this petition for the Children’s Apparel Industry and this one from the Handmade Toy Alliance.

Visit the CPSIA war room” and CPSIA Central to discuss get up to date news on the topic.

The Sky is Falling – CPSIA Issue

December 17th, 2008

Article by: Heather Flottman
Owner/Designer
liliputians NYC

The sky is falling! Yes, I feel a like an overly dramatic Chicken Little. And I wish it were true considering recent congressional legislation is about to crush the life out of the handmade clothing and toy industry. I’m talking about H.R. 4040, the Consumer Protection Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) signed into law August 14, 2008, and the ramifications it will have when it goes into effect February 10, 2009 (now being popularly referred to as National Bankruptcy Day).

Make no mistake. CPSIA was necessary in principle and has noble intentions, keeping our children safe and holding companies accountable for importing toxic toys. We all demand safety for our children and this is the intent of CPSIA; specifically to ensure safe levels of lead and phthalates in all products manufactured for children under the age of 12. Unfortunately this legislation lacks common sense, is ambiguous and fails to take into account the handmade industry.

What you see is not what you get with CPSIA. There is no distinction between big, small, or even micro one-person businesses. Whether it’s a large-scale manufacturer importing apparel to be sold in big box stores, or a work-at-home mom (WAHM) selling customs on ebay, the legislation applies the same to all.

Unit testing will be required on finished products, regardless if the components are natural materials or if you have documentation from a vendor stating that buttons, for example, are certified lead-free. As it stands, H.R. 4040 fails to recognize that textile products are inherently lead-free. Why then is an organic cotton shirt being tested for lead exactly?

Unit testing is extremely cost prohibitive to small business, but worse, it is unnecessary. In fact, it is completely redundant if the components that comprise the whole have already been tested and due diligence can prove they meet the guidelines.

To put a real dollar amount to testing one of my products, I solicited a lab quote. I was told it was $75 to test for lead per garment component and each substrate. Coated or painted items such as buttons are $100. So my Little Red Riding Hood Shirt, a 100% cotton knit shirt with an appliqué made from 7 cotton fabrics and 2 buttons eyes would cost $625 to test for lead. Flammability testing is also required and is either $50 for a certificate per component stating it meets weight code or $100 for actual testing. So add another $400-$800 for a grand total of $1,025-$1425. in testing costs for a shirt that retails for $40. If the shirt is offered in another colorway, the same testing is required despite the fact that the same fabrics are used throughout.

Small manufacturers have no way of absorbing the price of such redundancy. And all manufacturers will be required to test a finished component/item from each batch. Easy to do in mass production—simply pull one sample from a lot of thousands. But how does one comply when your “batches” are made-to-order batches of one? SKUs will also be required for each product with a permanent label on the item itself.

CPSIA will be retroactive and takes a guilty-until-proven-innocent approach with extremely hefty fines for violators. As written, any product used by children 12 and under (such as toys, footwear, carpets, clothing, bedding, luggage, lamps, toys, books, magazines, baseball cards, consumer electronics, school supplies, office supplies, jewelry, housewares, sports equipment and so on) without the newly required certification would be deemed hazardous, whether the item poses an actual threat or not. So on February 10, 2009, any unsold merchandise (in big box stores, the corner boutique, your fabric stash, Good Will donations, etc.) will be deemed “hazardous goods” and illegal to sell unless 3rd party testing proves otherwise. By the way, there are only 14 said labs currently in the United States.

Think you won’t be affected? I hope not, but the sad truth is that hundreds of thousands (if not millions) will be. Do you make children’s clothing, toys, jewelry, hair bows, accessories, furniture, artwork or anything else “intended for use by children age 12 and under”? Are you a retailer of children’s goods? Do you resell used children’s clothing or toys on ebay? Do you participate or shop at craft fairs? Do you donate used children’s items to needy organizations? Do you belong to a church that has rummage sales as a fundraiser? Does your child play sports and get their uniforms from a local screen print shop? Are you a consumer shopping for alternatives to mass-produced toys? If so, this law takes away that freedom.

Surely this legislation can be amended by incorporating some common sense and still make it possible to ensure our children’s safety without further hurting the US economy. According to the 2002 Economic Census (the last survey of its type), small U.S. clothing manufacturers (with fewer than 20 employees) contribute over $900 million dollars [consider: nearly $1 billion dollars] annually to the economy and comprise 68% of total apparel manufacturing in the U.S. This is clearly a vital and contributing asset to our economy. Multiply this fallout exponentially when you take into account the myriad other manufacturers, retailers and businesses that will be hurt or ultimately driven out of business.

So, why should you support amending this legislation?

Because the CPSIA isn’t fair and will not function as written. It inadvertently punishes American industries unrelated to toys and will ultimately result in fewer alternatives to mass produced merchandise made in China. The concept that small producers should be subject to the same rigorous standards but with lesser regulation (and common sense) has already been fought for and sustained in the food industry, which is why your local farmers market still exists. Now this same idea needs to be applied to children’s products.

What can you do?
1) Email or call the CPSIA - the office of the CPSC ombudsman 888-531-9070.
http://www.cpsc.gov/cgibin/newleg.aspx
Comments on Component Parts Testing accepted through January 30, 2009.
mailto:Sec102ComponentPartsTesting@cpsc.gov.

2) Email or snail mail your representatives.
http://capwiz.com/americanapparel/issues/alert/?alertid=12274476”>http://capwiz.com/americanapparel/issues/alert/?alertid=12274476

3) Call your representatives. For their contact information just enter your zip code.
http://capwiz.com/americanapparel/dbq/officials/

4) Make your voice heard by voting on this issue. The top 3 in each category will be presented to President-elect Obama.
http://www.change.org/ideas/view/save_handmade_toys_from_the_cpsia

5) Sign the petition.
http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/economicimpactsofCPSIA/index.html”>http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/economicimpactsofCPSIA/index.html

6) Spread the word! Write about this on your blog. Tell others about this issue and encourage them to do the same.

7) Join others in fighting this cause.
Facebook group
Twitter search
“>http://cpsia-central.ning.com/notes/Notes_Home

8) Join the etsy community in the virtual chat with CPSIA Small Business Ombudsmen or send a handmade children’s item that will become “hazardous goods” as of 2/9/09 to Bobby Rush, founder of H.R. 4040.
http://www.etsy.com/storque/craftivism/handmade-childrens-items-unintended-consequences-consumer-pr-3056/
Etsy Thread

9) Read more about this legislation and its ramifications:
Fashion Incubator

Handmade Toy Alliance

National Bankruptcy Day

YouTube video

YouTube Video

YouTube Video

5 Minutes for Mom

Cool Mom Picks

The Smart Mama

blogher

Apparel and Footwear.org

Toy Association.org

Cafe Mom

Safety and Compliance

Zrecommends

SleepingBaby.net

Freshly Baked Blog

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