Business Profiles


1. Kidlandia (personalized gifts), San Francisco
2. White Alligator Design (Interior), San Francisco
3. Little Froglet (fashion), San Rafael
4. Who Doesn't Like a Cupcake, Santa Rosa
5. Embrace Yoga, San Rafael
6. Coopercakes,Terra Linda
7. UrbanSitter (Babysitting service), San Francisco
8. Modern Cookie Company, Larkspur
9. Treehouse Tykes (website), San Francisco
10. Schillinger Chiropractic & Wellness Center, San Rafael
11. La Jolie (facial & waxing), Corte Madera
12. Studio C (Ballet studio), Fairfax
13. A Little Savvy Event (Kid's party Co), Sonoma
14. Mom, Inc. (Book), San Francisco
15. Simple Style Solutions - Web Design & Blog Redesign



Kidlandia

1. Posted August 3rd 2011

I was lucky enough to be invited to meet Brian Backus, founder and CEO of “Kidlandia” based in San Francisco. Kidlandia is an online destination that offers personalized gifts for children’s rooms that you can create with your child on the computer. Designing one of their unique maps and fantasy kingdoms is a fun and educational activity to do together full of “teachable moments” that engages your child in geography and their family tree.


Brian, tell us how and when was Kidlandia created?

“Kidandia was founded in 2008, based on little monsters that I have been drawing since I was 4 years old, when Dr. Seuss lived next door to my great aunt and he would come over for Sunday tea which was certainly an inspiration. Then I became a biologist and became very interested in eco systems and the way different animals all interact to create an environment. As I kept drawing I became obsessed with maps and was the navigator on a family vacations to make sure we wouldn’t get lost.

As an adult I started illustrating personalized maps and fantasy kingdoms for kid’s rooms for fun and for the love of it. I was very lucky that I could never keep up with demand. I was making them by hand and the commissioned work was very expensive, costing about $2,000 to produce. When I was a software producer working at Disney Interactive, one of my clients said; I am going to write you a check so you can do this as a company! We then realized that the platform could work for the Disney movies”

Kidlandia offers Disney designs such as Disney Princesses, Cars, Toy Story, Winnie the Pooh, also the Nickelodeon brands; SpongeBob SquarePants and Dora the Explorer versions, with more exciting licensing agreements to come!

We started doing them on various products such as placemats, posters, growth charts, and fleece blankets, but what was delightfully was that our own little characters called “Kreechurs” that we created sold just as well if not better than most of our licensed characters, 3 to 1 in fact”.

How can we create a personalized Kidlandia map with our child?

“When you find a product you like and find a design you like, for example a canvas scroll of a fantasy kingdom for a child named ‘Carter’, you can name the main city, the main mountain, a lake and ocean after Carter, as he is the king. The national holiday is his birthday, with an aspirational story about him, and other elements in the map can be named after his parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts and uncles etc. Carter’s brother is called Will so a plot of land is named after him called ‘Willtopia’ and so on.

It is essentially a family tree or a social network for a child, and you can add as many or as few names on the map as you like. When you work on a map it is a fun way to learn and engage a child in geography, you put their name on it and it instantly becomes more interesting to them.

Adding relatives who may live abroad gives the child a consciousness as too how far family are in relation to themselves. My sister lives in Italy and my children don’t get to see their cousins that often, so when designing your personalized map with your child you can add information in the text about the different places around the world and who lives where.

What is amazing about a map in terms of connecting to cognitive function is there are cues beyond text, such as ‘size cues’, ‘shape cues’ and ‘distance cues’; all kinds of things that will tell a child a piece of information which can be hard to get across just verbally.

The information you add to the map will stay in the cloud and you can add to it over time so you can see it as a project that grows with your child. It is about decorating on one level and family memories on another level. The work in progress or finished article can also be emailed to a family member such as a Grandparent so they can share in the joy of this unique piece of artwork. You can start a project as a poster and if you really love it you can invest in a high-quality fine art print on canvas that will be packaged in a travel-friendly tube for the customer.”

Kidlandia have recently launched their Kreechur Coloring mobile app for the iPad that allows children to personalize their favorite characters with touch screen colors.


Tell us about the new Kidlandia iPad app?

“The Kidlandia iPad app is a very simple but sweet coloring app, you can choose your favorite ‘Kreechar’ and color it in different colors from the color spectrum, and also create your own shade of color. Each character has a special story such as ‘Thumblebottom’ (pictured) who can’t stop talking, he is a gossip so you have to be very careful what you tell him, he also has big eyes and is afraid of the dark. In the future children will be able to create their own characters, as it is an art education application and creativity is very much the intention.”

The app offers hours of fun with this easy to use interface that features you favorite ‘Kreechar’ in 24 different castles and kingdom scenes, which you can share on Facebook or print them at home. The app is free and available at the iTunes app store, it will also launch on the iPhone and iPod Touch later this summer; click here to download app

Brian’s quest is to make a website that is fun for both the child and parent to use, to make the creative process a journey that you can both take together which is constantly evolving and can be stored in the cloud and updated as you child grow. It is a great company and there are exciting developments in the future for Kidlandia whose brand pillars are “Personalize it, Rule it, Make it!”


Kidlandia Discount Offer & Giveaway! 


The Marin Scoop is giving you the chance to get 20% discount on your Kidlandia online order by using the code “momblog20” on their website; view website

Also the first 25 people to email me with “Kidlandia Giveaway” in the subject line will be able to spend $35 on their website.

Kidlandia are also celebrating the launch of the Kreechar Coloring app with a giveaway of an iPad2 by entering a competition on their website or by “Liking” Kidlandia on Facebook at: Facebook page




2. Posted August 17th 2011

“White Alligator Designs”

Looking for unique and vibrant artwork and accessories for your child’s room?

Two moms from San Francisco have recently launched their own design company named “White Alligator Designs” that produce contemporary art and home accessories for children, yet sophisticated enough to appeal to adults. Graphic designer Julie Giles and founder Leslie Thorpe bring cool and contemporary colors to kid’s rooms with a line that includes wall art and coordinating pillows in two nature-inspired designs; ‘Dahlias & Daisies’ and ‘Rainforest Frogs’.

Founder and company lead, Leslie Thorpe explains more to The Marin Scoop:


How did you both come up with the concept and inspiration behind ‘White Alligator Designs’?

“It was a slow evolution. Our children were having a play date one day and I noticed the design on the t-shirt that Julie’s son was wearing. I asked her about it and she told me she designed it and had it printed. I was really impressed.
Months later, I was contemplating a return to work after taking years off to stay home with my daughter. I wanted to work from home and have some flexibility with my schedule so that I could maintain more or less a status quo at home. 
Returning to my prior career as a health care and employee benefits lawyer would not allow me to have the flexibility I desired. After a couple of months of thinking about what I could do instead, I remembered the t-shirt that Julie had made and began to think about collaborating with her.
After months of thought, conversation and product development, we ended up with what is now White Alligator Design, LLC”.



Does your family life influence your designs and company ethos?
“Absolutely. We came up with concepts and designs that would appeal to our school-age kids. Both of our children are drawn to bright colors. Both of their rooms are explosions of color and energy!
Julie’s son loves frogs, lizards, bugs, etc. He has a pet frog named Biscuit that eats crickets and other insects. While my daughter loves visiting Biscuit and playing Super Lizard with Julie’s son, she spends her time tending to her fairy garden.
Frogs and flowers seemed like a great place to start. 
Having children of our own, we want to make sure that we produce items that we feel good about using in our own homes and that we would buy for them. We feel strongly about using safe dyes on the pillows that we produce since we know that children will have close contact with these items on a regular basis.   
We keep production local, within the city of San Francisco. We could use cheaper options in other countries. But, it feels better to us to know that we are supporting our local economy, where our families live.  
Finally, our ethos is about having fun with family and friends and surrounding ourselves with items that inspire us. We hope that your readers will find fun and inspiration in our designs.”




Tell us about the printing process for your designs
“Our pillows are individually screen printed on 100% cotton twill using water-based Eco dyes. These dyes are safer than traditional screen printing since water-based Eco dyes contain no PVCs or phthalates. In addition, this printing process results in a softer finish since the dye soaks into the fabric and does not have a tendency to flake. The result is a safer, higher quality print.
Our wall art is digitally printed on blond maple wood. The machine that prints it is essentially a gigantic ink jet printer. This method ensures a wide array of vivid colors.”



"White Alligator Designs" prices start at $38 for pillows & up to $115 for artwork, for more information view website





3. Posted August 24th 2011


Little Froglet


Little Froglet have designed a great year-round hooded jacket for boys and girls that matches practicality with style, just in time for the back-to-school fall season. The jacket has thumbholes in the sleeves that keep children’s hands warm while maintaining dexterity, an extra-high collar and a hood that will NOT fall off.

President and founder of Little Froglet Nicole Cibellis explains more:

“Having spent the past few years at the playground it wasn’t long before I saw the need for quality children’s activeware. I am continually inspired to create children’s clothing that is both functional and seriously fun to wear.”



Nicola Cibelis has worked for prestigious brands such as Williams-Sonoma, The Body Shop and Pottery Barn before becoming an entrepreneur after being laid off shortly after returning to work from maternity leave during the economy down turn.

“Little Froglet was a natural transition for me, I saw the market in the adult activeware changing and thought that the same need to happen in children’s activeware. I decided it was the opportunity I was looking for and it was time to start a company of my own.”



Little Froglet is based in Marin and its mission is to build a company with a conscience that is true to its customers, designing ‘Real Clothes for Real Kids’. Nicole explains the story behind the brand’s name:

“A Little Froglet is older than a tadpole but not quite a frog yet. We, at Little Froglet, have been inspired by this stage of a child’s life. Little Froglets have boundless energy, and we love to keep up with them. They are fearless, risk-takers, always searching to test the limits while rarely getting enough of playtime. We believe in fostering their creativity and individuality through their playfulness and wonder.”

The Little Froglet jacket is available in sky blue, raspberry pink and chocolate brown, sized 2T – 5T and priced at a reasonable $45.00. You can order it through the website; Little Froglet






4. Posted August 31st 20011

“Who Doesn’t Love a Cupcake”


I attended a birthday party recently and was so impressed by the selection of cupcakes served, not only did they look beautiful but they tasted so moist and delicious too. The children’s eyes lit up when they saw a plate of mini vanilla cupcakes brought out with little flowers on top, and proceeded to dive into them as soon as the birthday girl blew out the candles. 

The party had a garden theme and the children were encouraged to plant flowers in the back yard, so when the adult cupcakes came out, my eyes lit up as they had individual vegetables on top of each one made out of fondant icing. Others had little signs with the different vegetable names like carrots, peas and radish planted on top of the chocolate ‘dirt’ icing…genius! They were so wonderful that I had to share the talented duo behind these creations on this week’s post.

Photos by Adam Davies


The cake company apply named “Who Doesn’t Love a Cupcake” is run by Miranda and Paulette who are based in Santa Rosa, and they cater for most occasions that you can celebrate with a cupcake! Miranda and Paulette explain their story to The Marin Scoop:

How did your journey begin to create “Who Doesn't Love a Cupcake”?

“It all started with Miranda trying to find a Christmas gift for her stepmother, which she could actually use. Miranda bought the book ‘Hello Cupcake!’ for her because she bakes amazing desserts. By the following Christmas, her stepmother hadn't made any of the cupcakes so Miranda asked to borrow the book to make cupcakes for her best friend, Paulette's birthday.
Paulette had been making amazing fondant decorated cakes for Miranda's birthdays for at least 3 years so at the end of last year she decided that it was time to reciprocate.

The cupcakes were so fun to make and made Paulette so happy that Miranda decided to try to make each of the cupcakes at least once. Miranda made three on her own and then roped Paulette into helping her. By this time, they had purchased their second book, ‘What's New Cupcake?’ and they were out of control, making cupcakes for birthdays at work, holidays, and just out of boredom.”

Miranda says; “We discovered that you can't be angry when making cupcakes. It was fun and a chance to spend time together while making others happy. My fiancĂ©'s co-workers were the test dummies for most of the first attempts. We can never thank the boys at 'Johnny Franklins Mufflers Shop' enough for being brave enough to try some of those creations!”


When did you start making cupcakes for occasions?

“We starting making cupcakes for birthdays at both of our jobs and realized they were an instant hit. Our first order came in May for a Mother’s Day party and we realized that not only should the cupcakes look great, but if people were going to pay for cupcakes, they needed to taste great too. We started to experiment with recipes from scratch. We found a great spice cake recipe and make homemade cream cheese frosting and it was such a hit that we vowed never to use boxed mix or canned frosting again. Since then we have created many different cupcake varieties using both the books and our own imaginations, anyone up for a chocolate bacon cupcake?



What flavors and toppings do you offer?

Our cake flavors include chocolate, vanilla butter, lemon, raspberry, even ‘chocolate bacon’ with frosting flavors; chocolate, vanilla, almond, raspberry, strawberry and lemon buttercream. We experiment with flavored whipped cream frosting and have just developed a great cream cheese frosting for a spice cake, also an almond cake with chocolate almond whipped cream frosting. We use candy, fondant, and candy melts to create the different aspects of our creations. It is an exciting challenge to try to create the perfect sweet treat for every occasion.


What is your inspiration for your designs?

“Our inspiration is the people the cupcakes are made for and we look forward to the challenge of finding that special theme for each person’s special occasion.
We recently did mini cupcakes for a first birthday and it was the greatest feeling to see pictures of all the babies holding our cupcakes with huge grins on their faces. That is what we started making cupcakes for; we want to bring little bits of happiness to people in the form of beautiful and fun cupcakes!”



If you would like to learn more about “Who Doesn’t Love a Cupcake” go to their Facebook Page and place an order through Email or by telephone: (Miranda tel: 707-799-4325 & Paulette tel: 707- 483-5942)




5. Posted September 14th 2011

Embrace Yoga

600 Manuel T. Freitas Parkway, San Rafaelwebsite



Last month I wrote about a great yoga teacher called Amanda Mount who taught classes in Oleander Park over the summer. This weekend Amanda opens her new yoga studio called “Embrace Yoga” in Terra Linda. Amanda and fellow teachers will be celebrating over the opening weekend from 2.00 – 6.00 pm by offering free classes with the various yoga teachers, special promotions, music and food provided by local “Weezys Grass Fed Shed” and “Coopercakes” (see below for details).

The yoga classes offer a variety of styles in Vinyasa, Anusara, Iyengar, levels 1 - 3 on Tuesday and Thursday at 5 .00 – 6.15pm, and Sunday morning classes at 9.30 am.

A ‘Mom and Baby Yoga’ six week workshop will begin on October 6th with Danielle Hougard for birth to pre-crawlers. Pre-registration is required and the class will run from 1.30 – 2.30 pm.  There will also be a 
Mom and Baby with Music’ class which will be on Wednesdays at 12.30 – 1.30 pm with Georgia Montgomery from The Parent's Center and mini yoga with Amanda. This class is ideally for 6 months – 2 year olds, but younger babies are welcome too. There will also be a prenatal yoga class on Sundays at 12.30 – 1.45 pm.

Take a look at the website & Facebook Page for further information and introductory offers.


Coopercakes

‘Coopercakes’ is a local mom’s organic dessert business by Lisa Cooper that offers treats such as gluten free cupcakes sweetened by pure fruit concentrate, and desserts with no HFCS, no hydrogenated oils or trans fats.

Lisa Cooper has been baked for 30 years but a poignant turning point was when her mother was fighting terminal cancer and her sense of taste and dietary needs changed. Also, the time a child at preschool couldn’t have one of her dessert due to an allergy. Lisa had to adapt her baking to make something good as well as delicious to eat, by learning more about sugars, fats, and allergies.

Lisa Cooper explains; “I make treats out of love and it brings me great joy in the process. That’s why you can trust me. I know that I’m doing and I’m doing what I love.”

Lisa offers 3 kinds of treats that are home-made and baked fresh to order: “A Little Judy”, a “Stealthy-Healthy” treat packed with nutritional benefits from hidden fruits and veggies like blueberries and spinach, and a “Free-From” treat which are free from one of more common allergens such as gluten or eggs.



Lisa’s latest nutritional breakthrough is baking without refined sugar, and using pure fruit concentrates and coconut sugar to sweeten cakes, cupcakes, and cookies.  The benefits are many; less sugar (both in volume and in calories), lower Glycemic Index (slower absorption into bloodstream) and natural unrefined sweeteners provide excellent vitamins, minerals, and nutrients, whereas refined sugar has NO nutrients and actually robs the body of other nutrients in order to process it.


Desserts you can feel good about eating is music to my ears! 

For more information about her delicious treats take a look at her Website


We all need a break once in a while for a date night with our other half or to have fun with friends, but many parents feel a bit stuck as they can’t find a sitter that they trust or rely on to be available when they need them. A new service called UrbanSitter offers parents the ability to find and book trusted sitters online through friends and connections that they know via Facebook. The company founded by three Bay-area moms launched in September in and around San Francisco and is launching in Marin this month!


6. Posted November 7th 2011

UrbanSitter

UrbanSitter was founded by three Bay-area moms: Daisy Downs; the mother of a 16-month old daughter, Lynn Perkins has 3-year old twins and Andrea Barrett  has a 15-month old son.  They started the business with the hope that they will make parent’s lives easier and more enjoyable.

We can do just about everything online these days, but when it comes to finding a trusted sitter that is available when you need her (or him), there’s just no easy way to do it.  Booking a dinner reservations can take just two minutes on OpenTable, but it can take days to find a good sitter.




UrbanSitter.com is an OpenTable-esque site that makes finding and booking a trusted sitter more efficient. When moms log in to the site using a Facebook Connect they can see sitters that their friends have used and reviewed. UrbanSitter also includes affiliations (like Southern Marin Mothers Club (SMMC) and Golden Gate Mother’s group, for example) so that if a direct friend hasn’t used a particular sitter, you can see that someone from your group may have, a friend’s recommendation is the ultimate endorsement.

By using UrbanSitter you can search for sitters for a particular day or time and see a list of who is available, and which friends have used them.  When you book, the sitters gets an email and you get one in return when they accept the job.  You can then view and manage all your babysitting jobs in one place online. What’s more, the site allows parents to view and contribute ratings and reviews for sitters.




Daisy Downs explains more to The Marin Scoop:

How and why did you and the founders come up with concept for UrbanSitter?

“It seemed to us that parents should be able to find and book a trusted sitter as quickly as you can find and book a date night restaurant reservation. So we put their heads together and ultimately, created UrbanSitter.”


How does UrbanSitter work?

“It’s easy! Parents sign up for UrbanSitter using Facebook and can view sitters known through friends or affiliations like schools, sports teams and parents groups. They can search for a specific date and time to see which sitters are available, or plan an outing when they know their favorite sitter is open. Jobs or interviews can be booked in minutes. After the fact, parents can contribute written reviews, ratings and Facebook “Likes” to sitter profiles.

It’s just as easy for sitters, who simply post their credentials, as well as availability, hourly rates and location preferences. The ability to see who parents are connected to fosters trust and familiarity and helps them decide which jobs to accept. To protect privacy, contact information is exchanged only after the booking is confirmed, and, unlike with childcare agencies that skim a percentage of wages, sitters keep all the money they earn. What’s more, positive reviews posted to the site help them gain more work.”


What makes UrbanSitter stand out from similar sitter services?

“We take a unique spin on the childcare services that exist today in that our focus is connecting parents to sitters through people they know.  So, first and foremost, UrbanSitter offers trust. We use Facebook Connect and affiliation groups so that parents can find sitters they are connected to.  For example, when a parent registers they can select groups such as Southern Marin Mothers Club (SMMC), their child’s school, or a sports team.  When searching for a sitter, parents can see all the parents from their various affiliations that have used a specific sitter. 

Second, the site increases efficiency. Booking a sitter with UrbanSitter is as easy as booking a dinner reservation on OpenTable.  Parents can search by date and time.  Only sitters who have availability during the requested time will show up as available. For example….let’s say you want to buy tickets to see the latest play in town.  Should you go Thursday or Friday?  A quick glance at US and you can see that two sitters that you know and five sitters your friends know are free on Thursday so you buy the Thursday tickets.
Third, UrbanSitter offer parents a much larger network of babysitters. For parents, more babysitters means flexibility to enjoy more nights out without having to plan so far in advance. Many of our parent members say they love that ability to be more spontaneous!


Do you have any affiliations with mother's groups in Marin?

The three founding moms live in San Francisco and are part of Golden Gate Mother’s Group.  They know how important and influential opinions from mothers in their groups can be, so they've built those affiliations into the site.  When parents in Marin sign up, they'll be able to indicate which groups they are a part of, like Southern Marin Mother’s Club or a sport team or a school, so that they can see which sitters have been recommended by moms in their groups.

So make life easier for yourself by signing up today on UrbanSitter's website!






7. Posted December 5th 

Modern Cookie Company

25 Ward Street (off Magnolia), Larkspur; view website

The Modern Cookie Company opens their doors in Larkspur today, and I for one can’t wait to get in line for one of their unique baked-to-order warm cookies! It is the first location for the Marin-based business launched by two local moms; Jeanine Samuel and Erin Hull; both talented bakers who wanted to share their cookie concept in a kid-friendly social environment. Being “local” and organically-driven are important aspects of the Modern Cookie Company experience, and they also want to give back to the community to benefit children’s education. The Marin Scoop asked them both to explain more:


When and how did you start the Modern Cookie Company? 

Jeanine Samuel explains; “Modern Cookie Co's made-to-order concept is just launching now, but it's an idea that's been baking for a number of years...

It began with the desire for really amazing, just-outta-the oven, WARM cookies, never processed, or a day-old.  Couple that with a need for a family-friendly setting; a social place – like a coffee house, that's inviting of all ages, and uniquely modern in approach... I just needed to find the right partner and the right space. In 2010 everything fell into place when I met Erin Rose Hull, who shares my passion and vision, and who possesses an unmatched talent for baking! Wait ‘til you see what we have in store...

We are in beta mode currently, with a “soft” launch planned December 5th. But we really believe you will love what we’re doing, and give us your sincere feedback along the way so that together we can deliver the best cookie experience – one that’s truly customer-driven.”

Co-Founders Jeanine Samuel & Erin Hull

When did your love of baking begin? 

Head Baker; Erin Hull says; “It’s been a passion of mine for 20 years. I have always loved making baked goods and pastries, and really learned to love baking in college. For fun, my roommate and I would make peanut butter cups, chocolate chip cookies, cakes, brownies and cupcakes! I honed my skills and recipes, and further built upon my love of baking at Culinary Institute of America in St Helena (CIA culinary school) and I never stopped.

Jeanine adds; “I began baking in 4H as a young girl and continued to cultivate my baking and cooking abilities as a teenager. It was great therapy for me!  Today, I cherish baking with my girls, and passing along a wonderful, important tradition. Cookies are the original comfort food!
 My recipes are adapted from my time growing up in Maine, and include ingredients like pumpkin and olive oil; our signature "fudge jumble" bars, linzer type cookies with blue chair jam, and a gluten-free oatmeal favorite we'll likely call the “larkspur truffle ball.” 



What makes a good cookie and what type of cookies do you offer?

“We are organically-driven and have very deliberately chosen our select & often locally-sourced ingredients with care. Starting with the very best...and balanced to bring out their different flavors. We’ve tested and tasted, then re-tested for flavor and texture, perfected our oven temp and cooking time.

It’s very much about the customer experience from the moment you enter, and we encourage your feedback as we grow the business from a beta concept, to a brand with multiple locations delivering the best cookies in the marketplace!

Furthermore, and exclusive to our approach, is that Modern Cookie Co’s cookies are made-to-order, per your specifications and presented to you fresh, within minutes – straight from-the-oven!  The possible combinations are many: you can choose your favorite dough, select your premium mix-ins and perhaps add a gourmet finish. Your cookie is warm, with just the right amount of gooey-inside, with a crispy-chewy texture.

We will also offer gluten-free and dairy-free dough in original & seasonal flavor options (including sweet and savory farmer’s market varieties). We have while-they-last Signature Cookies, Bar Cookies, S’Mores with house-made marshmallows, Three Twins Ice Cream Sandwiches and “Dough to Go.” We are also offering Bicycle Coffee, Art of Tea teas, Evolution Juices, Izze sodas and other beverages.”

Are you offering any special cookies for the holiday season?

“Absolutely! We will always offer seasonal cookies. Currently, we have Ginger Molasses and Pumpkin dough, in addition to Original, Shortbread, Sugar Cookie, Oatmeal, Molten Chocolate, Chewy Chocolate Brownie, Almond & Peanut Butter doughs. We have ginger men cookies and gingerbread house-shaped cookies and snowflake and dradle-shaped cookies and 12-Days of Christmas Cookies – there will be plenty of holiday themed decorated cookies – in addition to ingredients like dark chocolate-covered pomegranate, cranberries, peppermint candy, toffee, nuts, and finishes like edible glitter, various frostings, jams, and honey. And that’s just this coming holiday season!”

How are you giving back to the local community?

“We are a start-up, but we’re a company with a soul. More than just a cookie company, and a great in-store experience, we are inspired to “do something that matters”: 20% of (founder’s) after earnings profit is earmarked for public education non-profits. In addition to a small percentage of the company’s after-profit earnings.”

Go and taste their cookies for yourself at their new store; 
Modern Cookie Company, 25 Ward Street, Downtown Larkspur; view website
Also follow them on Twitter or Facebook





8. Posted June 17th 



What Being a Dad Has Taught Me

By Adam Davies



Father's Day is when we take the time to say thank you to not only our own father (and Grandpa) but to our husbands for the great job they do as co-pilot, and for the joy they bring into our children's lives. My husband and “wing man” has learnt a lot so far about being a Dad to two children and here are his top ten lessons:

Being a Dad has taught me lots of things…especially that these kids are smart, way smarter than we give them credit for, but mostly that my kids think I'm the best Dad in the world, even when I've had a crappy day.

Here are the main 10 things I'm still learning daily about being a Dad:

1) I need to have a sense of humor about it all and remember to laugh at the chaos.

2) It doesn't matter how much you talk about poo, you'll never get used to the smell of someone else's!

3) Having two kids now, it's amazing how talented I've become at doing things one handed.

4) I now know, from having a son that there are more names for diggers and tractors than you could possibly imagine!

5) There are some fascinating things in life that we often overlook and take for granted, but that my kids are amazed by each day.

6) I still have so much more to learn about being a Dad, it isn't a science, I'm not always going to be perfect (yes, even Super Dads can mess up from time to time!), but patience and tolerance will get us through if you remember to laugh at your mistakes.

7) You need to remember to take loads pictures of your kids, not just so you won't forget... but also how else are you going to embarrass them at their future birthday parties, weddings, anniversaries?!

8) You need to remember that while the family always comes first, you need to find some time to still be the man you were, as well as the husband and father you have become. (Looking forward to tee off time  this week!)

9) We won't always be cleaning poo off everything forever and there will be an end to it. (BTW, you do need to stop having kids, if you want an end to that!)

10) Finally, you’re not in it alone! Remember to speak to other Dads. Something we guys aren't traditionally very good at. But you'll be amazed at the effects a good BBQ, cold beers and tequila shots can have, so get some Dads together and take some well-deserved down time now and then!

What Other Dads Have learnt from Fatherhood

“Since the birth of our children was not as expected (twins at 29 weeks) the parenting learning curve has been different than most. Knowing they would be in the hospital for months and I wouldn't be able to bond with them the traditional way, I think it kick started an incredibly powerful love and bond the second they arrived. I've heard some Dads say it takes time for those feelings to develop but for me it was instant, and in that way I feel lucky.”
Ryan, father to 10 week old premature twins

“I have learnt that time is precious. You can’t waste any time when you have kids and that you have to be organized with what and how you do things, that way everyone gets what they want when they want it.”
Jon, father to a 3 year old boy & 12 day old boy

“Being a Dad has taught me that living for someone else is more fun and rewarding than living for yourself. Oh and I forgot I really like peanut butter sandwiches a lot!”
Jimmy, Dad to a 2 year old daughter.






Treehouse Tykes


9. Posted December 12th 2011



A socially responsible deal site called Treehouse Tykes has recently launched offering high-end fashionable design-driven children’s gear and apparel at up to 70% off!  Some of the luxury brands include Le Petit Bateau, Nursery Works, Mod Mom Furniture, No Added Sugar and Kukunest, with some new designs exclusive to the site.

Treehouse Tykes is reinventing the online shopping approach and experience by giving back with 10% of each sale donated to a charity or school of the buyer’s choice!  

Co-founders Elena Zaretsky and Cynthia Saito, both mothers with entrepreneurial backgrounds, wanted to help local communities and children after seeing school budgets continuously cut. Treehouse Tykes was born out of Elena's idea to impact local schools and charitable organizations that benefit children, while incorporating the new way in which people shop.

Elena Zaretsky, co-founder and mother of two, said the idea for Treehouse Tykes came to her about a year ago.  “With every passing budget, schools get hacked,” she said. “This project’s evolution started with, ‘How do I give back to schools and be philanthropic? Treehouse Tykes is dedicated to supporting children and their education with a platform that donates 10% of its net proceeds to schools in need and children's charities. Customers can allocate their donations to charities of their choice

Co-founder Elena Zaretsky explains more to The Marin Scoop:


What inspired you to start the Treehouse Tykes website?

“I've worked in municipal finance investment banking for over a decade - working with school districts and cities in California.  While working with the schools I realized that there are so many budgetary gaps that need to be filled, things that the state won't do and cannot do - but things that the kids desperately need.  So I wanted to figure out a way to be able to give back to schools.  Then the concept expanded to include charitable organizations, because they too need to fund projects and programs during tough economic times.”

Taut Canvas on sale on Monday


What makes Treehouse Tykes stand out from similar on-line sales sites?

“No other private online sales company allows customers to select the school or charity that they want their 10% proceeds to be allocated towards.  We want our members to make a designation - we encourage them to do so.  If they have no affiliation with a school or charity, we would like them to think about selecting the Community Trust.  When they do so, they are contributing to fund an underprivileged school or schools across the country.
Also, each day of the week targets a specific age group.  Mommy & Me Monday (0-2), Toddler Tuesday (3-5), Wonder Years Wednesday (6-8) and Tyke to Teen Thursday (9+).  Fridays we do a Fab Finds Friday which can be something across several age groups or something that would be great for mom or dad.  Our members select which days of the week pertain to them and the children in their lives for whom they shop.  We've segmented our sales so that parents don't have email exhaustion - we want them to know that what comes up on their selected day is in fact appropriate for their child.”

Taut Canvas

How does Treehouse Tykes give back to children’s education and charities?

“Each quarter, we issue checks to those organizations that have been designated by our members.  The key however is that members need to shop and designate.  So, if a member for example is very involved with Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) they designate them as their charity of choice and they've shopped on the site, then 10% of the proceeds from the purchases of that member are made to the JDRF.  So the more people that shop the site and designate organizations the more proceeds we'll be able to give back.

Taut Canvas


What can people expect each day if they sign up with Treehouse Tykes?

We are highly selective and very thoughtful of what we offer.  It’s not just about putting something on sale.  Often times they are toys that are helpful developmentally, they are clothes that we know and love, and they are tremendously helpful things that we've learned about.  They are also cool for the teen set and cost effective for the parental set.”


How can members benefit by referring a friend to the site?

“We have a 10-10-10 program.  If you refer a friend, your friend receives a $10 credit to use on our site.  Once they make their first purchase of $50 or more then you receive $10.  Finally, 10% of the proceeds from every sale go back to the school or charity of the customer’s choice.”
Treehouse Tykes' main objective is to offer the best products for families while instituting change by funding educational organizations and children related programs. "Our goal is not to dilute exceptional brands by juxtaposing or over exposing them within a large mix of other products. Rather, we focus our keen merchandising approach akin to the elite experience one comes to expect of a high-end boutique," says Cynthia Saito, co-founder of Treehouse Tykes.
Mod Mom Furniture


Each sale will last 72 hours and Mod Mom Furnishing has a sale starting Monday; this Pink flower design is exclusive to Treehouse Tykes.

Mod Mom Furniture 

Sign up today at Treehouse Tykes and follow them on Twitter & Facebook 




10. Posted January 3rd 2012

Schillinger Chiropractic & Wellness Center

1050 Northgate Drive, Suite 1, San Rafael; view website

Last month I pulled my back and neck muscles when lowering my baby daughter into her exersaucer while I was overtired which caused a pinched nerve and affected the strength in my hands. After suffering many days of pain I found a great local chiropractor called Dr. Mark Schillinger in San Rafael who gave me an adjustment that instantly energized me, unblocked the pain and gradually helped me back onto the road to recovery. For the past three weeks, I have been receiving three adjustments a week and the most amazing massages by one of their therapists.

An adjustment helps to restore the nerve flow and corrects spinal problems including the minor scoliosis that I developed from an accident five years ago and other problems I have acquired along the way from falls, snowboarding, a car bump and the general wear and tear of picking up and carrying kids.   

Our health is something we take for granted until something happens to threaten it and then we panic and seek help. I have learnt that seeing a chiropractor is something that will need to be a regular part of my life. I highly recommend Dr. Mark Schillinger and urge you to take a look at his website as potential patients can receive a FREE chiropractor consultation at the beginning portion of your initial visit to determine if he and his staff can help you.

Schillinger Chiropractic & Wellness Center is located in San Rafael and also offers workshops such as their “Vital Living Workshop” on Wednesdays to help you take care of your mind and body through yoga, meditation, stress management and nutrition


Check out his website Facebook page & Twitter

11. 

Facial by La Jolie

45 San Clemente Drive, Suite D100-C, Corte Maderaview website

After indulging over the holiday period and in my case eating too much sugar, the first place in shows up is on my face. I found a wonderful esthetician over a year ago that I wanted to share with you so you can carve out some relaxing time to yourself!

La Jolie is located in Corte Madera and offers the most wonderful facial by Lisa Perkins, who not only cleanses and polishing your skin but also offers a totally soothing experience that relaxes your entire body for a blissful hour!  Lisa uses the “Sothys” Parisian skin care line for her facials which includes cleansing, a mask, exfoliation, steaming while you receive a relaxing hand and arm massage, gentle extraction, another mask while you have a head or foot massage, eye care and moisturizing.

La Jolie also offers waxing and brow & lash tints, and currently you can get a free brow wax with a facial when using the promo code ‘Winter 2012’ when booking your appointment before March 31st. Also all treatments for first time clients are 25% off so treat yourself for the New Year! Also see her Facebook page for special updates.

Happy New Year and wishing you good health for 2012!





Studio C (Ballet Studio)




Fairfax


12. Posted February 3rd 2012




Fairfax resident and mother of three, Claudia Alfieri-Wallace is a professional ballet dancer who has performed in some of the world’s prestigious companies, such as the Baryshnikov’s American Ballet Theatre at 16 years old and then Boston Ballet, San Francisco Ballet and Smuin Ballet, with the best choreographers in the world. Now Claudia wants to give back to her local community and create a place to nurture the next generation of dancers.

Claudia opened a dance studio called Studio C Ballet last November in Fairfax and offers classes for children as young as two and a half through to teenagers and adult classes.

Claudia explains more to The Marin Scoop:

When did your love for ballet begin?

“My ballet lessons began at the age of three.  My mother was a dancer from Australia and my two older sisters were taking ballet already by the time I was born. Wherever we were living (my NYC born American Dad moved the family around a lot for his maritime work) I had pretty much been in a ballet studio waiting room since birth. At three, my mother officially enrolled me in a class even though I’d been dancing around the waiting room and knew all the steps already.  I don't know if my actual love of ballet really set in until I was older and could understand it, but the movement was innate from the start.”
Why did you decide to open a ballet studio in Fairfax?

“I retired from ballet in 2003 and concentrated on having a family with my new husband.  We moved out to Fairfax from San Francisco in 2005 (we always loved the area).  Being an ex-professional dancer I had problems conceiving, so I steered away from ballet and any type of extreme exercise for a while. So I put my past on the backburner and concentrated on building my family. It took a while, but we now have three beautiful children; Joshua 5 1/2 years, Julian 4 years and Eve is 2 years. I started teaching ballet again through the Fairfax Focas Program a year and a half ago and my passion and experience instantly ignited. I hated having to teach ballet after an AA meeting at the Women's Center with no barres or mirrors and a slippery floor!  So, I knew it was time to start my own school.”

How does your ballet studio stand out from other similar dance studios in Marin?

“I know that my experience in the ballet world is very unique! I was starring in ballets on the MET stage at the age of 16 years with 
Baryshnikov’s American Ballet Theatre.  I was touring around the world performing at different Opera Houses, attending embassy parties, art openings, having Christian Lacroix, Santo Laquasto or Norma Kamli design costumes for me. I've been extremely blessed in my career. I'm also a certified American Ballet Theatre teacher. No one in this area has that credential, it's only available to ABT alumni or select ex-professionals so I think that a big factor in setting me apart as a teacher. Also, my Studio C Ballet studio is very small and personal; each student gets special attention and instruction and from an actual professional instead of someone that studied dance in college! It’s a BIG difference. I really do know what I'm teaching in the studio, it's the real deal! But that said, I still offer the tutu dress up's for Pre-Ballet and Ballerina Birthday Parties for the little ones. I'm a Marin mom too!”



When is a good age for children to start ballet lessons and how does practicing ballet improve your physical well-being? 

"Ballet is wonderful training at any age. It's not only graceful and athletic but can be a great way to stay in shape. Ballet is one of the most physically demanding activities in the world. Flexibility and strength are essential; it can open up tight hips, correct posture problems and just make you feel pretty! Whether you’re goal is to become a pro or you just want a good workout, everyone can benefit from this kind of dance training."

For further information on the studio and classes, visit Studio C Ballet





A Little Savvy Event (Party Production)





Sonoma


13. Posted May 3rd 2012


I was kindly invited along to the Modern Cookie Company in Larkspur the other week to watch the creative team at A Little Savvy Events set up a first birthday party for jewelry designer Ashley Morgan's  daughter.

Ashley Morgan & her daughter

I first wrote about Modern Cookie Company when it opened in December (read article and it is fast becoming a social hub in the local community and a popular place to hold children’s parties.

Modern Cookie Company

Each party can have a made-to-order concept and this particular party’s theme was based the birthday girl’s favorite things; “puppies & polka dots”. I was rather interested in coming along to take a look, as I am also planning my daughter’s first birthday party, so I wanted to pick up a few tips!

A Little Savvy Events party at Modern Cookie Co

A Little Savvy Events is a new division of A Savvy Event which specializes in weddings and bespoke events based in the beautiful Cornerstone Gardens in Sonoma.  The head of the company is Kelly McLeskey Dolata who has extensive experience in organizing and managing events in the Greater Bay Area and specifically in the wine country. She is also a mother of two children; her latest addition was just 6 weeks old at the time of this party, so she is also a bit of a wonder woman as well as a momtrepreneur!

Being a mother and her ability to organize stylish children’s parties, made launching a sister company specializing in fun children’s events a natural progression. A Little Savvy Events was founded in February with the belief that “gorgeous and once in a lifetime events aren’t exclusive to grownups!”

Dog theme dessert table by A Little Savvy Events

The Marin Scoop spoke to Kelly McLeskey-Dolata to find out more…

When and why did you first start to organizing events?

I started my company A Savvy Event in 2007 after working in the hotel industry for 10 years. I used all the knowledge I gained from planning corporate events to social events and weddings and started A Savvy Event.

I have always had a love for planning parties! It sounds so clichĂ© to say I have been planning parties since I was a little girl but it is the truth! I remember planning my fifth birthday party and I told my mom that I was a big girl and I wanted to have a luncheon birthday party and that all my friends need to dress fancy because I was bigger! So we had a beautiful luncheon in my mother’s formal dining room and everyone wore there Sunday's best! I truly love planning the events and designing them! It fits my personality to a tee! You have to work countless hours and have lots of energy, patience and personality! 

Why did you decide to start a sister company dedicated to kid's parties?

I have always loved children and I have always wanted to do something with children! For a while I thought I wanted to be a teacher but I tried that and it just wasn't for me. In 2010 I gave birth to my daughter Kate and from that day forward I knew A little Savvy Event was going to happen! It took me two years to build it up and work on the business and exactly two years to the day she was born: A little Savvy was born! 


Party hats by Jessica at Prop shop Boutique 

What are the key elements to a successful kid's party?

Organization is Key! Lots of FUN and fun Activities for the kids to enjoy!

What should you bare in mind when planning a first birthday party? 

Usually the first birthday party is for the parents then the child and that is true as the child isn't old enough to express what he or she wants however with A Little Savvy we really try to learn about the first year of the child's life so we can make the party about him or her and personalize the event so people even though usually most of the guests are adults feel like they are at a celebration for the child and that their personality and their first year shines through at the event!

What are the things you want people to take away from attending a party you have planned? 

That a party can be well orchestrated, that no detail was left untouched and that they had a great time! It doesn’t have to be pretentious just carefully thought through and thoughtful.

Creative party services from A little Savvy Events


How do you give back to the local community?

We love to give back! This past year we did a holiday party and raised close to $5000 for Loving Ella Foundation ! We love to look for organizations that help children locally that we can either donate our time to or raise money for! 

Tell us more about your forthcoming craft classes

Well we are a bunch of crafters at A Savvy Event and we love to share our ideas with others, so this year we launched our first ever craft series and it has been a huge success! Our most popular classes have been our "for the love of chalk" class and “How to photograph your children” taught by Allyson Wiley. We are getting ready to launch our summer series of crafts and we will even have a mini-series that kids can sign up for! So stay tuned!!!! Fun things are happening!

How do you come up with a concept or theme for party i.e "puppies and polka dots" and develop it with the client?  

We sit down with each of our clients and we have a questionnaire that they fill out to get to know them as a family and their child! Through the questionnaire and our discussions we usually can come up with a pretty cool theme or take a theme that is popular and put our own spin on it! I never want two parties to look the same because no two children are the same! Each party and theme should reflect the child we are working with! To me that is what is so fun and challenging and makes me love what I do so much!!! 

“Puppies and Polka Dots” Party Ideas

Print Your Party created the cute puppy flag bunting, signage, and printable labels on the bottles, cups, straws. Check out Andrea’s website for more free printables!

Print Your Party sign 

This impressive birthday cake of the birthday girl’s dog was adorable and created by inticing Creations

Dog birthday cake by inticing creations

It’s a great idea to offer a creative activity at a children’s party, like this cookie decorating station with the icing served in dog bowls. There was also eatable doggie biscuits served in doggie bowls dotted around the party.

Cookie Decorating Station at Modern Cookie Co

The guest’s goodie bags contained this beautiful alphabet print by petite lemon and faux fur hats by SpiritHood Kids

Alphabet print by petite lemon 

If you are looking for a company to help you organize a baby shower, gender reveal partysip & see and children’s birthday parties, then A Little Savvy Events does it all! Check out their website for further information about their services included stylized children photoshoots with Allyson Wiley Photography who provided these beautiful pictures.  


Special thanks to Lisa Hanson and Nina Sadjadpour for making this article possible!





Mom, Inc. - Essential Guide to Running a 



Successful Business Close to Home




San Francisco


14. Posted May 20th 2012



For those of you wanting to start a home based business or creative venture whilst balancing the demands of motherhood…this is the book for you!

Cat Seto and Meg Ilasco from Mom Inc. Daily  are experts in running a successful home-based business whilst running a household. Cat Seto is a blogger mom who runs a stationary business in her studio and boutique on Polk Street in San Francisco. Meg Mateo Ilasco is a mother, freelance writer, artist, author and the co-founder and creative director of the fabulous home and lifestyle magazine Anthology.

Meg Ilasco & Cat Seto - authors of Mom, Inc. book

Cat and Meg share their wealth of knowledge and personal experiences in this inspiring and practical guide book about how to run a successful business from home called Mom, Inc.. It is full of informative advice on how to choose the right business for you, how to write a business plan and mission statement, find clients, and stay focused at home.

Cover of Mom, Inc. book


The Marin Scoop spoke to Cat Seto to find out more about the book:


What inspired you to write the Mom Inc. book?

I started an online community of designing moms (Mom Inc. Daily) after a difficult pregnancy and recovery. I wanted support from moms who were creative in spirit, juggling work and family and doing it online seemed the most efficient means of doing that. That's when Meg Ilasco approached me to co-author the book with her. 

You feature some interesting enterprising moms in the book, who did you speak to?

We spoke with 17 inspiring design moms. They range from bloggers like Gabrielle Blair of Design Mom and Abby Larson of Style Me Pretty to fashion and cake designers like Cynthia Rowley and Sylvia Weinstock. Of course if you have little ones then you'll also recognize Christiane Lemieux of Dwell Studio
Q & A with founder of "Style me Pretty" in Mom, Inc. book

What factors makes a home run business successful?

Knowing when to draw the line between your time with work, and your time with your family. You need to treat your business as the real thing. You can still have all the perks like wearing pajamas until lunch and being able to pick your kids up from school, but you need to give yourself hard deadlines and be able to say "no."

What are the main obstacles a mother comes up against when trying to launch her own business?

Time and the space to really map out a structured plan. This book has a section called the "Mom Statement" and it's about coming up with not just a mission statement for your business but a mom statement about your goals for your family. Taking both into consideration is helpful when trying to launch a business.
What advice would you give a mom trying to pursue her passion project and make it a reality? 

Don't be afraid to ask for support. Most of the moms we interviewed could not have accomplished what they have without asking for help, advice or gleaning information from those around them. If you lack time, join a mother's group that might be entrepreneurial or creative in nature so you can bounce ideas off of one another.
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Mom, Inc. book

I started reading Mom, Inc. last week, which was at a very poignant for me as I was starting to work from home, whist writing my blog and looking after two children while my husband travelled. This book helped me think through a lot of factors when considering working from home, the pros and cons, and helpful advice on how to handle the difficult balancing act. I highly recommend it!

Read more articles about mothers who run successful business in my “Local Businesses & Stories” section.


Mom, Inc. is published by Chronicle Books and available through Amazon.com  or an independent book store near you. 




15. Simple Style Solutions


Online Web Design Business 

Posted June 12th 2012

I am so excited to reveal my blog’s new redesign with you today!

I gave a creative brief to my friend Amy Bartle at Simple Style Solutions who helped me by designing the new header, background and custom buttons. 

As a fashion stylist and blogger, Amy understands the role that image plays in communicating a brand message. She now offers her expertise to small businesses wanting to develop their brand and expand their on-line profile through blogs, social media, free sites and practical advice on digital photography.



What and who inspired you to create your business?

“After taking a short break from fashion styling while I raised my son, Noah, I got into blogging as an outlet for the creativity I was missing from working on magazines. I loved the process, but learnt quite quickly that there are limitations to what you can do with very basic knowledge, so I began taking classes both on-line and at local colleges trying to fill in the gaps in my design knowledge. 

One of the most inspiring courses was “Blogging Your Way” with Holly Becker of the brilliant blog decor8. She runs regular courses to help people develop their blogs and brands, and I felt like I wanted to share some of my knowledge and experience with other women. It started as sitting down with family and friends helping them build their own blogs or websites on free platforms like blogger, and I'm hoping to be running my first workshop soon. It sits nicely with my new personal styling service and gives me the time to spend with my son.”


Amy's personal blog Karma and Cupcakes 

What does your service offer?

“It is a very relaxed approach to design, working closely with individuals to develop their own ideas and give them the knowledge and confidence to do what they would like with their blog and social media presence. I was always intimidated by the web design world and the costs that were involved, but with a little guidance a lot more is possible than we imagine."



What do you want to achieve for your clients? 

“Foremost a design they love without the designer price-tag! Also the confidence that they can move forward and develop their own ideas and brand independently, to feel a little empowered in the tech-world.”


Parenting website Chatterbox designed by Amy Bartle


Some bloggers enjoy the blogging process but lack the "technical know-how", what advice would you give them?

“There are so many amazing resources on-line, tutorials and guidance that are free, this is a great place to start. Aside from Holly's courses [which you have to pay for] some of my favorites are Pugly Pixel, and the Biz Ladies on Design SpongeDownload a photo editing package like Photoshop, if you can't afford a professional package like this there are some great free sites that will work well to edit your pictures and design posts - one of my favorites is Pixlr. Great pictures are so important to building your blog. Beautiful, unique content can be posted to sharing sites like Pinterest to drive traffic to your site.”



What brands/companies/blogs are doing it right, that we should keep an eye on?

“There are so many out there it is almost impossible to choose a few. The most effective blogs for me have a simple design and a very clear message. Here are just a handful:



Any other advice you would like to share?

“A little knowledge goes a long way, I would really encourage anyone starting a small business to make sure they are in control of their web presence [if you are hiring someone else to design your website etc. be sure to read the small print carefully]. The more informed and empowered you are with your business on-line, the stronger your brand will be.”


Being a fashion stylist Amy also offers a new type of personal styling and shopping experience to those living in the UK. The service offers a tailor-made wardrobe edit, with styling suggestions and ideas to update your style to fit your lifestyle and budget. It can help to simplify your life as a busy working or full-time mom juggling life’s demands. Maybe your body size has changed since having a baby, or you are thinking about going back to work and need to adjust your wardrobe for the next chapter in your life?

Amy Bartle's editorial styling

For further information on how Amy can help you or maybe you know someone who could benefit from Amy’s help: Email Amy Bartle,

Follow  Simple Style Notebook blog,

Follow on Pinterest & Twitter                                  
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