Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Day After (Plus One)

Well, the one-day sale to celebrate the blog was a smashing success! Thanks to everyone who subscribed, and congratulations to everyone who scored big bargains. The "Sewing in America" series will continue next week. Just need a day or so to catch up.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Sewing in America (Part 2): That's Sew China

This is the second in a 5-part series on the state of sewing and manufacturing in America:

An incredible proportion of our goods (be they sewn, molded, assembled, etc.) are made in China. If you TRIED to avoid buying "Made in China" merchandise, you would have a very hard time indeed. Sara Bongiorni, a journalist in Baton Rouge, lived for a year avoiding the purchase of any products made in China. She wrote a book about it, "A Year Without Made in China: One Family's True Life Adventure in the Global Economy," where, according to Publisher's Weekly, she tells "often funny, occasionally humiliating stories centering around her difficulty procuring sneakers, sunglasses, DVD players and toys for two young children and a skeptical husband."

To get a sense of how these kabillion products are produced, take a look at these truly awesome photoscapes by Canadian artist Edward Burtynsky. I've been rendered speechless by natural sights like the Grand Canyon and man-made architectural wonders in Europe, but when I saw Burtynsky's "Manufactured Landscapes," my mind was truly, truly boggled. I could not even imagine, or believe how big these factories are.

The output from just ONE day or work would probably fill every shelf of your local big box store. Imagine hundreds of megafactory complexes, operating 365 days a year.

What does this have to do with sewing?

That'll be covered in the next post. Have a great weekend, everybody.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Sewing in America (a 5-part series)

This is the first in an ongoing series of observations about the state of sewing in America. As many of you know, the Car Seat Poncho is manufactured right here in the USA, and I hope that I will always be able to say that. Unfortunately, I'm not sure that will still be possible 5, 10 or 20 years from now.

Fifty years ago, there were millions of factory jobs in this country -- skilled labor that built the middle class. And thirty years ago, middle and high school kids were learning how to make things, in wood shop or in home ec. Those classes were terrific laboratories for math, geometry, and creativity. Where are they now -- those jobs, those classes? Is it even possible to bring them back? And what will we do when/if they're gone?

PART 1: Keeping An American Brand in America

I breathed a big sigh of relief when I read that Hartmarx had received approval to sell itself to two American and British investor groups (link).

Britain's Emerisque Brands and SKNL North America have vowed to keep the company intact as a leading manufacturer of men's and women's suits. Hartmarx, the 120-year-old maker of Hickey Freeman and Hart Schaffner Marx brands, has outfitted generations of men in their "first day of work" suits, wedding tuxedos and retirement dinner jackets. Based in Illinois, they have made several suits for President Obama, including the one he wore at his inauguration.

This vow means that over 4,000 employees in Illinois, New York and Alabama get to keep their jobs, their homes, their healthcare (hopefully), their security. It also means that the art and craft of apparel manufacturing stays alive a little while longer in this country.

(Wells Fargo, HM's creditor, had wanted to liquidate its assets, dismiss its employees, and license the esteemed brand name to offshore manufacturers. Hmmm. That's not a very nice "thank you" to the American people for shelling out the $25 billion in federal aid that kept the bank afloat, is it? Quite arrogant, I'd say.)

What do you think?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Brandy, is that you?

I've heard from about half of my dear followers, with the email addresses they'd like me to use for their 50% coupon (remember the July 9th post?). I'm still hoping to hear from seven of you, before Sunday, 7/26 (for some, I've taken a guess from the store customer list):
  1. brandy calhoun (perhaps aka "brandylynn01"?)
  2. Alan
  3. Megan
  4. Karen ("karenc"?)
  5. Jen Smith
  6. Muriel ("melgroff"?)
  7. Amber ("raisingkain"?)

Send to me at DONNA at HBARRYBOOLLC dotty com. Thanks again for your time.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Comments welcome!

Thanks, Christine Bondi, for letting me know that my Comments settings were out of whack. I fixed them, so now registered users can leave feedback after each post. I'd love to know what you guys think, and welcome any suggestions for what you'd like to read about here -- mompreneur life, safety obsessions, anecdotes about the garment industry? No promises, but I'll do the best I can!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Ponchos for boys?

I get a lot of moms wishing there were more of a selection of prints and colors for boys. Honestly, it's tough to find the right balance of fun, cute, and boyish. I've had hits over the past 3 years, but honestly, some combos were a lot less popular.
So before I commit to any new production, I want to make sure that new colors have sales traction. Let me know what you think of these:
  • Brown with Light Blue
  • Denim with Gold
  • Footballs with Black (Reversible)
I'd also be interested in reasons why they are liked or not, as well as any other suggestions you might have. Thanks!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

"When I was a kid..." doesn't cut it with car seat safety.

I was pleased to read this post on the Kyle David Miller Foundation Blog recently, about how practices that seemed safe a long time ago are now known to be unsafe. Think about how much more we know today, about cigarettes, asbestos, pre-natal healthcare, bisphenol A! I wrote a similar piece as a press release last year, and posted it on the website. Same idea, with data and footnotes. Here it is, in case you missed it: July 8, 2008 "Back in the day..." is no excuse for slacking on safety.

Many people dismiss car seat safety, saying, “When I was a kid, we didn’t ride in car seats, and we turned out fine.” They go on: "We sat five across on a bench seat, no belts... My parents took me home in a laundry basket on the floor of the back seat... I used to ride in the front seat between my mother and father..." (Of course, the voices of those who were not so lucky to have "turned out fine" are not being considered!) While skeptics may use their own childhood experiences as references, they should remember that it’s not just the type or number of products that's different: The nature of driving itself has changed significantly in the past 30 years:

1. There are 300% MORE CARS on US roads now than when we were kids.

According the Federal Highway Authority, the number of passenger vehicles has steadily risen, from 74 million in 1960 to over 231 million in 2004.(1) That means more traffic, more congestion, less parking, and more road rage. And drivers' attention is more divided than ever, with cell phones, DVD players, GPS systems -- not to mention non-technical distractions like eating, putting on makeup, or settling arguments between backseat passengers. Every one of these can be a factor in a collision.

2. The average US motor vehicle is nearly 20% HEAVIER than the ones we used to ride in.

According to the Center for Auto Safety, the weight of the average passenger car increased from 3,227 pounds in 1980 to 3,868 pounds in 2000. (2) Even at relatively low speeds like 30 miles per hour, the 600+ pound increase in one or more of the cars’ weight could dramatically increase the damage of a crash. Add to that the wider range of weights in the vehicles on today’s roads (from the Honda Civic DX at 2,628 pounds (3), to the AWD Cadillac Escalade at 5,708 pounds (4)), and the possibilities for injuries and fatalities are even greater.

3. The average American child spends MORE TIME in the car than ever.

The National Household Travel Study, released in 2003, found that three fourths of children aged 5 and younger rode in private cars daily, averaging 65 minutes per day. In reporting the study, the Washington Post wrote that younger children, not yet in school, probably spend significantly more time in the car than that. (5) Those with stay at home parents go wherever (and whenever) Mom or Dad goes, and those with working parents often drive with them to day care near the workplace. Suburban sprawl also makes a difference: "Fetching a carton of milk used to mean toting children along to the corner store. Now it means strapping them in for a 20-minute drive to K-Mart." (6) The more time spent in the car, the more risk of being in a collision. That's why most car crashes tend to happen close to home, not on the highway -- we spend more time close to home!

Safety improvements like seat belts, air bags and car seats have helped decreased the number of deaths over the past 30 years, but motor vehicle injuries are the leading cause of death among children in the U.S. (7) They still cause about 25% of injury deaths among children 12 and younger. (8) We all have anecdotes about how our childhoods were simpler. Some may argue that the old days were better, and in many ways, they were. But there is no question that advancements in technology and communications have also enhanced (and prolonged) our lives. So resist the temptation to disregard today’s safety advice. Make sure your kids stay safe whenever they are in a car, so that in years to come (when their world is unrecognizable to us!), they, too, will be talking about "back in the day."

SOURCES: 1 US Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, number of motor vehicles since 1960. 2 Statements of Clarence M. Ditlow, Director, Center for Auto Safety, to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, December 6, 2001. 3 US News & World Report, Automotive Rankings & Reviews, 2008. 4, 2008 AWD Escalade, Vehicle Information, Curb Weight 5, “The Road Too Much Traveled: For Many Children, Drive Time Just Keeps Going,” January 27, 2003 6, January 27, 2003 7 CDC. Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System [online]. National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (producer). Available from URL: [2008 May 5].8 National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. 2003. Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System. Atlanta, GA. Available:

(This article was originally published on About Donna Eng: Donna Eng is the inventor of the Car Seat Poncho, and the CEO of H Barry Boo LLC. She invented the Car Seat Poncho at her dining room table, after searching in vain for a product that would keep her son both safe and warm in his convertible car seat. Prior to founding H Barry Boo, Eng had a 15-year career in advertising and market research. About the Car Seat Poncho: The Car Seat Poncho is the safe alternative to a coat for children who ride in a convertible car seat. Regular winter coats are often too thick to allow the safety harness to fasten properly, which could lead to the ejection in a crash. The Car Seat Poncho is the easy way to keep a child safe and warm in the car seat, and is more convenient than a coat because it can be worn outside of the car as well. The Car Seat Poncho is available online at, and is patent pending.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

OK... A Small Glitch

Dear, Dear Followers: Thank you so much for signing on so quickly! I assumed, though, that when members subscribed their emails would be listed from my blog dashboard, and that I could then email each of you individually with your coupon codes. I was wrong. No email addresses listed, and in retrospect it makes perfect sense. That sound you hear is that of my palm slapping my forehead. So I need you, dear subscribers, to do me one more solid and email me with the email address where you would like to receive your coupon. I'm so sorry for the inconvenience, and I promise I will study the mechanics of this thing more closely. Thanks so much, Donna

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Blog Day Kick-Off: 50% OFF SALE!

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009 will be the official launch date of the Car Seat Poncho Blog. In this blog, I plan to share what's going on "behind the scenes," like:
  • Factory visits
  • Photo shoots
  • Important safety news
  • New styles and color/fabric choices
  • Safety-community events, like KIDZ or LifeSavers.
  • And of course, upcoming sales and coupons!

To start things off, I'm having a Crazy One-Day Sale on Tuesday, July 28th. Become a subscriber to the Car Seat Poncho Blog BEFORE midnight, Sunday, July 26th and receive a unique, one-time use coupon code for 50% off your purchases on the 28th.

Let's get started! Sign up today, by clicking on "SUBSCRIBE TO" at the end of this post or on the FOLLOWERS icon immediately to your right (in the light green area). Be sure to forward this to other safety-minded friends and colleagues (see the little ENVELOPE with an arrow?). Feel free to post about this to your birth boards and other forums, too. Heck, do you think we can hit 100 subscribers by the 28th?