News from Kolcraft Category
Last Saturday Kolcraft participated in the National Wildlife Federation’s Hike & Seek event in Chicago. It was a cold day with light showers, but that didn’t keep us away! We met wonderful families who braved the cold to hike & seek. Along the hike they learned about nature, animals and climate as they stopped at the learning stations. At the end of the hike the children received their Junior Explorer badge, refueled on snacks and won prizes.
Besides meeting all these great families who truly saw the value of getting outdoors, we had the opportunity to meet Ranger Rick and visit with Bob the screech owl while learning all about him and his way of life.
If you live in Seattle, your Hike & Seek event is October 16th. There’s still time to sign up, so don’t miss this great opportunity to take a hike!
Kolcraft has been catching parent’s attention for years, but lately Kolcraft baby products have had some interesting media appearances.
If you live in Chicago, you most likely are familiar with the popular radio station Q101. We had to snap a photo of their billboard which is a spin-off of a scene from The Hangover. The baby carrier is none other than our popular Jeep 2 in 1 baby carrier.
We know our baby products are worth 5 stars and while we love the media attention, we know that the best endorsement comes is when parents like you love our products.
As we continue to celebrate Grandparents in a special way this week, we wanted to give you a behind the scenes look at one of our very young at heart Kolcraft Grandparents–Russ Butson who is our Senior Product Safety Manager.
Russ, you have been at Kolcraft for 4 years but you have been working in the world of “safety” for quite some time. What made you choose this rather intense line of work?
My temperament is one that makes me look for a “mission” in life. I’ve worked in areas from jet engines to implantable medical devices to high-end bikes. But I’m proud that my wife calls me a baby whisperer. I found that sense of mission working in product safety for babies. They have no idea what to do and not to do with a product. Everything they can reach is fair game to be grabbed, mouthed, batted, sat on, crawled through, you name it. So everything has to be thought through ahead of time FOR them in order to protect them. It’s very much a sense of service to others that I’ve never found in other professional areas
Can you explain a little the world of safety regulations?
- Many of the voluntary product performance standards in the US are created through the American Society for Testing Materials (ASTM). The committees that create and update these standards consist of people in similar positions as mine throughout our industry, safety advocates, representatives from the Consumer Product Safety Commission and often other countries’ equivalents, laboratories that test products, other interested organizations and even individual consumers. I appreciate that my position allows me to work with people from differing perspectives to focus on creating performance standards which help keep babies safe.
- There are also safety requirements set by the federal government and now even some states. We often consider product safety standards from other countries as they sometimes have a different approach to a similar issue we’re working on.
- On top of all of these, we also have internal Kolcraft product requirements for critical safety areas that exceed both voluntary and mandatory safety standards. This is to ensure there is no question that our products can pass existing standards with significant margin, to address areas that other standards don’t and to keep babies safe even if the product is possibly being misused or abused.
- Finally we have our own internal safety and usability reviews throughout the development process which include the use of safety principles and measurement tools developed for infants and children. These involve a lot of “what if’s” as we consider how a child, a sibling or an adult user might use a product.
What is a typical day like for you?
Like many people I have my share of administrative tasks. But even these tasks help build safe products by capturing test data showing the materials we use are safe, meet state and federal requirements and assure our instruction manuals are accurate and as helpful as they can be. I also prepare products or materials to be sent to labs for testing, including preparing the test request and discussing any questions with the lab ahead of time.
Often there is work to be done on proposed product safety standards which may require testing in our lab and discussing design options with the development engineers. I work with the engineers and design teams to determine if a particular design feature would pass a particular safety standard. This is what interests me most, considering the shapes, gaps, softness or hardness, or other characteristics of a design and determine how a child may grab it, bite it, climb on it, bump into it, fall asleep in it, climb on it or any of a number of ways a child may interact with it. And sometimes it can be easier to figure out what a child would do with a product than what a caregiver may do with it.
You are a parent & recently a grandparent. How has being a dad/grandpa affected how you approach working in safety for a baby gear manufacturer?
I will confess, when our first child was born the first few nights I would put all his stuffed toys around the inside of the crib as if they were standing guard. My wife, then a newborn intensive care nurse, quickly set me straight that NOTHING goes in a crib with an infant other than what he must wear. And everyone’s first newborn is a HUGE learning experience. As an engineer, I began observing that this little person lived in a COMPLETELY different world than I did. When he started crawling, I would get down at his level on the floor to see what he saw and to find out what he could reach. It’s a whole other world down there and I’d recommend this exercise to every parent of a newborn. I found it fascinating to imagine living as he did, not knowing “why” about anything, and unable to communicate in a meaningful way. I loved those early years with both my kids and that’s where I really found an affection for babies in general.
Now, being a new grandfather, I want not only to be sure the products my grandson uses are safe, but are used safely too
Now that you are enjoying being a grandparent, what has been the biggest joy of your new role?
I can’t keep it to one thing! It’s the joy of seeing my child now with a child of his own and happily taking on that responsibility. It’s holding my grandson Lucas and getting cuddled up with him with his fuzzy little head next to my cheek and smelling that baby smell. ALL the tension in my body melts away. As we live 6 hours away, it’s getting new photos of him and showing them to everyone I can. It’s planning the things I want to do with him and places I want to take him to as he grows. I can’t wait to find out what it is that he’s going to be good at and where his interests will lie.
Russ at a glance
If you had a free day without commitments or obligations, how would you spend it? Studying the aircraft at the Oshkosh airshow, the Air Force museum in Dayton, Ohio, and in the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry (one of the reason I became an engineer) because of the art inherent in all those aircraft. I love them because of the functional artistry in each one.
What’s one thing that is always in your fridge? Ice cream. A friend once looked in our freezer and announced to everyone that we had the ice cream equivalent of a wet bar.
What is your favorite Kolcraft product? Jeep Strollers in general. I love the look the Jeep brand brings to the line, as well as the play between tender babies and tough Jeep! It’s saying, “I’m a baby, and I’m ready to travel. Anywhere!”
And since he now has “grandson on the brain” 24/7, a little fun mind game with Russ. We asked Russ what is the first word that comes to mind when we say:
Baby – Cuddling
Sleep – Finally!
Morning – Hungry. Hungry! HUNGRY!!! (It’s still only one word.)
Broccoli – Creamed?!?!?
Beverage – MOM!!!
Diapers – Realmenchangediaperseventhenastyones
Thank you Russ for giving us a little glimpse into the world of Kolcraft safety!
We take a break from our regular baby gear news to give you an inside glance to the activities that keep Kolcraft creative. Yesterday Kolcraft engineers, industrial designers, Fashion designers, marketers, and the IT department participated in a brownie smackdown. There were brownies with frosting, s’more brownies, Twix brownies, traditional brownies, walnut brownies and brownie sundaes! Brownies were anonymously placed on a table with a number. Participants were to sample each brownie and cast a secret vote. Votes were then tallied and a winner was declared!
The event in pictures:
The empty tin speaks for itself. Ron from IT (with help from his team member, Allen) won the brownie smackdown with his homemade brownie sundaes. Stay tuned for the next smackdown when Ron defends his title.
BlogHer is underway as blog moms from all across the United States descend on NYC and Kolcraft is excited to be part of this event! We will be introducing our new Kolcraft Mom review program, giving away a Kolcraft Golden Ticket to a lucky winner and partying with some pretty savvy, fun moms.
Follow us as we tweet about it using #BlogHer10 and #KolcraftMom
If you would like to meet us at BlogHer, it’s not too late. You can contact us at @Kolcraft or @MichelleHalm.
See you there!
There is a mania spreading across mommy blogs called Blogmania! What is Blogmania? It’s a two-day giveaway extravaganza where you visit different blogs to win prizes from baby necessities to mommy necessities! Some blogs will have scavenger hunts to find product giveaways, some will have reviews, some will have contests. Each blog will have it’s own unique way of approaching Blogmania, but one constant is that at every blog you will find great giveaways!
Blogmania will take place September 15 & 16 across hundreds of blogs. Join Kolcraft in being part of the mania!
You may have heard about the BlogHer conference – a place where women bloggers have the chance to learn, share, connect and have fun. This conference is the epicenter of meeting the “who’s who” of the blog world. It was started in 2005 with the mission “to create opportunities for women who blog to gain exposure, education, community and economic empowerment.”
Since its inception, BlogHer site and conferences have grown at a rapid pace
We want to facilitate and curate a community that empowers our members and creates value for all. This mission is the driving force behind a community that now reaches more than 20 million people each month via BlogHer conferences and events, the BlogHer.Com news service and the BlogHer Publishing Network of more than 2,500 blogs. - BlogHer Website
If you are going to BlogHer10, please leave a comment. Kolcraft would love to meet you in person! We will be giving BlogHer attendees a “sneak peek” to our new review program and one lucky attendee will receive a golden ticket which will give her priority to review a product of her choice.
Look out NYC – here we come!
Kolcraft is looking for people who have 0-3 month old babies—or are expecting a baby in the next 3 weeks—to do a 4 week in-home new product test on a bassinet with a new feature.
The product will be shipped to your home. You will be expected to use the product daily for a total of 4 weeks, and you will have to complete 2 short online surveys after week 2 and week 4 of the test.
You will be compensated $100 for your participation and you will get to keep the bassinet—minus the new feature which must be returned to Kolcraft. Kolcraft will arrange for pre-paid UPS pickup of the portion of the product that must be returned after the test is complete.
If you are interested, please contact email@example.com for more details.
Whether you have a question on a particular product, a general baby gear question or you want to give feedback on a product- Kolcraft wants to hear from you!
To make it easier for you to let us know your opinions and ask your questions, we now have the possibility to do this on our Kolcraft website. If you have a question, simply go to the product category page on our website & ask your question. Our staff will do our best to answer your question in 24 hours! You can see an example of this here.
If you want to write a review on a product, simply go to the product page & write the review. You will notice we use the Kolcraft heart rating system instead of stars.
We truly value your opinions and are excited to hear from you so we can continue to create innovative, must have baby products for you.
Thank you for being a Kolcraft fan!