Thursday, May 7, 2009

"How It's Done" with Cecilia Leibovitz of Craftsbury Kids and the Handmade Toy Alliance

This Mother's Day weekend, we have the amazing privilege of spending time with Cecilia Leibovitz, owner of Craftsbury Kids and President of the Handmade Toy Alliance.

Many of you probably recognize Cecilia's name from her work addressing the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) issue in her role as President of the Handmade Toy Alliance (HTA). Cecilia played, and is still playing, a huge part in bringing the Save Handmade movement and the problems with the CPSIA to the public's attention.

In fact, if it weren't for my relationship with Cecilia through Etsy and Craftsbury Kids, I would not have even been aware of the incredible impact the CPSIA would have on handmade artisans, like myself.

Cecilia is an excellent example of how you can accomplish huge business and personal goals while at the same time, thriving in a relationship and raising a house full of children!

Plus, she's honestly a really nice person who is also driven, well-spoken and just plain smart. Basically, she's the woman you're raising your daughters up to be! She's not afraid to stand up for a cause, and when she does stand up, she isn't likely to sit down anytime soon.

Due in large part to Cecilia's efforts, just about every Etsy shop proprietor or other small business owner that makes and/or sells children's products is most likely aware of the CPSIA, how the changes it requires has already affected their business and the potential effects it could have in the future.

Cecilia's efforts with the HTA have gained national attention, including numerous Internet, television and other media appearances, including a huge response to the Amend the CPSIA Rally held in Washington D.C. on April 1, 2009. Members of the HTA played an active role in the rally, along with groups from various other sectors affected by the CPSIA.

Since Cecilia fills two enormous professional roles (in addition to wife and mother) I thought it would be best to divide our time with her into two parts. Today, let's get to know Cecilia as an entrepreneur and owner of one of my favorite places to browse and shop for handmade children's products - Craftsbury Kids.

Tomorrow, we'll learn much more about her role in the Save Handmade movement and position as President of the HTA.

~When people ask you what you "Do" how do you respond? (i.e., work,business, blog, mom, etc.) I retail and promote the work of artists who create items for children.

~How old are your kids? My son Anton is 15, daughter Talia is 11, son Liam is 6, and my youngest son Jasper is 2.5. I have two step-children, Jessica who is 21, and Alexandra, 15.

~What are your top goals for your business & career? To continue to shape Craftsbury Kids based on my vision that children have the innate ability to play, to have fun, and to be amazing. Rather than offer products that result in their passivity, I want to encourage children to have an active role in their play and everyday decision making.

When we ask children to mold their personalities to limited ideas, activities, and products created in response to fads, or the latest blockbuster movie, we hinder their growth. When we show children that there is so much more out there, they can develop a confidence and a realization of their own ability to create and achieve incredible things, whether paintings or doctorates.

I would like for Craftsbury Kids to continue to develop as a source that offers parents and children choices that allow them to express themselves.

~What are your top goals for your family and marriage? To always try my best to keep the lines of communication open. To respect that we are each individuals with our own ideas.

~What are the top 1 or 2 things you do to keep your life in "balance" while you work toward these goals? Try to have a sit down family dinner as often as possible (the goal is every night but this doesn't always happen).

~What is the greatest obstacle or challenge you face in reaching these goals? Balancing my time between self, family, and business. I can often get swept up with work, and have to remind myself that there's always tomorrow.

~What resources do you use (books, blogs, websites, people) to help encourage and educate you?
I read lots of blogs. There are so many great ones out there. These three business books that I read years ago have influenced and been helpful to me over the years: Soul of a Business, by Tom Chappell; The Ecology of Commerce, by Paul Hawken; Price Wars, by Thomas J. Winninger

~What do you feel is your most important characteristic in helping you live your life well and keeping things in balance?
I'm pretty good at accepting change, and I'm willing to try a different approach if the direction I'm going in doesn't work out. It's not easy to let something go when you've invested so much time, effort, and energy, but I feel it's an effective way to keep things balanced. Once I recognize the need for change, I'm able to move forward much more easily.

~What advice would you give to another working/blogging mom if they asked you for it? Don't let anyone tell you that "you can't." If you enjoy and have passion for your work, then you're doing the right thing, and you will succeed!

Now, to give you a taste of what to look forward to tomorrow, here's one of my favorite quotes from Cecilia's interview about the Save Handmade movement:

"When I first did a "CPSIA" search back in November, Google yielded little more than two or three results linking to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) website and documents associated with the CPSIA. The number of people who knew that the CPSIA even existed was next to zero. A search today, just five months later will bring up 1,280,000 results. This is largely due to the work of the Handmade Toy Alliance and its supporters."

Thank you so much to Cecilia. Please come back tomorrow for Part 2 of our time with Cecilia Liebovitz in our ongoing series, "How It's Done."


Kidcessory Haven said...

Hi Lyn-

Found your blog on the HTA forum and decided to check it out. Great post on Ceceilia!!

Your blog looks great..hope you can check mine out to at

Lisa Verde
Kidcessory Haven

Melody said...

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in fact, I have a lot of joy when using Viagra Online Without Prescription or making crafts because they amuse me a lot!

By the way, I think your blog is truly lovely!