Friday, January 30, 2009

CPSIA delayed... Yay!

Good news! The U.S. Consumer product Safety Commission has delayed for one year the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) banning all children's items not laboratory tested (at a cost of thousands of dollars per item) for lead. You can read more about it in the Etsy Storque. Yay! We made a difference! The work still isn't over to clarify this issue, but at least we have more time for discussion.

This is great for kokoleo because I have a big web shop update coming soon - chock full of all new kids clothes! Stay tuned!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

It's a beautiful day. . .

No one likes to see a tattered flag flying in the wind.

So this weekend, when I was at Goodwill (where I finally found the absolute perfect desk which I'll blog about another day) I uncovered an awesome American flag crumpled among the linens. It wasn't printed, like most flags I get, but stitched, red fabric to white fabric to blue fabric, with white stars embroidered on it. Plus, it was HUMONGOUS - 6 ft. by 4 ft., bigger than any flag I'd ever flung before. And! it was just $5! Score!

I waited until Tuesday at noon to raise it.

I feel like I got my country back.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

No mo' kokoleo. . .

. . . or, at least that's what's going to have to happen next month if the new child product safety law goes into effect. The Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) is an ill-written law that demands ALL items intended for children be tested for lead content, at a cost to the manufacturer of roughly $300 per component. For big name companies of mass produced toys and clothing, this might not be a problem, but for those of us who make one-of-a-kind items by hand, it will drive us into bankruptcy.

Therefore, like a good shrewd businesswoman, I am going to pass this cost on to my customers. Starting next month, I will increase my prices to cover the testing of each item I create. Also, expect a 4-6 month delay in shipping, as I must send each piece to a lab for testing.

Kokoleo friendly monsters, which used to sell for around $30, will now cost $2,735 (plus $5 shipping). It breaks down like this: $30 for the monster (my profit) +

and that's before taxes (included in the price). Sundresses, which usually sell for $40, will now be $1,540 (plus shipping). That's $40 for the dress (my profit) +

And personalized pieces, the bread and butter of my business, will now start at $2,140 (for a two-letter name), and $305 for each additional letter (plus shipping). This pillow:

would be $4,265. This banner:

would be $3,955.

Sounds crazy doesn't it? Don't get me wrong, I'm all for keeping lead away from our kids. I would never make anything I would not allow my own children to play with or wear. I pride myself on making quality, durable, safe items. Kokoleo has been a way for me to do what I love to do, stay at home with my kids, and make a little money each month to help with the bills. I don't do it in the hopes that one day I'll be some fatcat C.E.O. of kokoleo, I do it because I like to make things with my hands and there are people out there who appreciate handmade things. It's a living.

So what can you do? You can join the Handmade Toy Alliance to find out more about his legislation, who it will affect, and how you can help. You can sign the online petition asking this law to be revised. You can also write to your Congressperson and Senator using the Handmade Toy Alliance sample letter or write your own. Most of all, you can spread the word. Email, blog, talk about it on the playground. Please don't let one-of-a-kinds become a thing-of-the-past.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Holy Hectic Holiday!

Wanna know what the VanHorns did over the holidays? Here goes.

First, we had our own dang Christmas:

Then, we took some airplanes, plural, through San Francisco and Chicago (with 2 kids, did I mention that part?)

on Christmas Eve to make it to Columbus, OH in time for Christmas day with my parents.

The next day we drove my mom's car 11 hours south

to Charleston, SC (thanks mom! sorry Sage puked in your car) for a hotel Christmas with Erik's family:

In the morning we all took taxis to the Norwegian Majesty for a week-long cruise. Yep, a cruise. It had been a year in the planning and despite the fact that the economy is crumbling, we went to live like kings (ok, more like pirates) for a week out in the ocean.

First we stopped in Great Stirrup Cay:

The next day we went to Nassua, Bahamas:

Then Freeport, Bahamas:

There were also a few days when we just stayed on the ship out at sea. We didn't get many pictures of ship life because we spent most of that time chasing a baby down rocking halls and corridors, getting lost, trying to get kids to sleep, watching goofy song and dance shows, or eating at one of their many grazing stations. The best parts were dinners with Erik's family and watching Sage hang out with his Grammy and PopPop and cousins and letting his cousins watch McKenna while Erik and I sipped rum (not their expensive ship drinks, but our own that we smuggled on like pirates (thanks dad!).

New Years:
Happy 50th anniversary Grammy and PopPop!

The next morning we docked in Port Canaveral, Florida, where we took a taxi. . . to rent a car. . . to drive to Orlando. . . to go to Disney World! (free, since Erik is still working there until February.) Whee! We only had 6 hours but we explored as much as we could.

then drove the rental back to Port Canaveral, got a taxi back to the ship and made it back in the nick of time. Here we all are on the last night:

We spent one more day at sea and then Saturday we were back in Charleston to lug our luggage through customs and into a taxi to my mom's car and drive 11 hours back to Ohio (thanks mom! sorry McKenna puked in your car).

Next up, airplanes, plural,

and now we're back home. Whew! If you're not completely exhausted you can see more pictures in my Flickr album.


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