Running a local business is no small feat, especially in the age of the internet when we can order something and get it on our doorsteps almost instantaneously. Sometimes people seem to forget that small businesses form the core of our community. They provide spaces of camaraderie, familiarity, and warmth. So, in honor of Small Business Saturday we wanted to highlight some of our most cherished small businesses in Williamsburg. From markets, to doggy daycare, and hardware stores, Williamsburg is lucky to have a healthy and flourishing community of small businesses that really make the neighborhood what it is today.
Aurora Hardware & Locksmith
In need of a spare key? Perhaps a lightbulb blew and you need to pick up a new one? Or maybe you are getting into gardening and want to get some nice pots and extra bags of soil? Aurora has you covered in all these areas and so much more! Having served the Brooklyn community for the last 30 years with their expertise, Aurora is really a one stop shop for all of your necessities for the home. This family run business is located right in the heart of Williamsburg, on Bedford Avenue. So make sure to go check them out next time you are in need of a screw or two!
Driggs Mercantile is a whimsical store where one can find artisan and locally made gifts and clothing. Their hand-curated selection of ephemera is hard to beat, featuring items like kids toys, textiles, tarot cards, jewelry, and stationery to name a few. Founded in 2017 by the same owners as Red Pearl on Bedford Avenue, this sister store has a completely different vibe. This boutique is an extremely calming space, with candles and crystals scattered throughout. It is the perfect spot to buy a birthday gift for a friend, or even goods to revamp your own home!
Le Doggie Cool
This doggy daycare center has it all! A place to board or leave your furry friend for a couple hours, you can trust that you are leaving your pet in great hands. It is clear that Le Doggie Cool’s entire staff loves and cares about animals, and treats them like they would their own family. Le Doggie Cool also provides grooming services and a coffee shop with treats for both you and your pup! On weekends it is open to the public, so you can go and play with the dogs on site, even if you don’t have one of your own. This small business truly is doggy heaven!
Williamsburg, and Brooklyn in general, is jam-packed with small businesses of all sorts! There are so many honorable mentions to name like Vittoria Mercato for their amazing sandwiches and goods for the kitchen and Northside Pharmacy which has been operating since 1910! So next time you need to shop for something, whether it be home goods or your prescription, consider visiting a local mom and pop instead of your big box stores. Small businesses really are the bread and butter of our community and all of our customers mean the world to us! So please go and check out your local businesses this Small Business Saturday!
10 Gifts Under $50 for Cool Kids With the Best Smile
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5 Gifts Under $75 for Cool Kids Who Love to Cuddle
8 Gifts Under $100 for Cool Kids with Great Style
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As the weather starts to cool down, our time spent outdoors is dwindling, but with a little creativity and imagination there is plenty of fun to be had at home. You probably already have most of these items in your toy box so read on for some fun and easy ways to help pass time while creating great memories with your little smooch!
Tried and true, puzzles have and will always be a great way to pass time. It’s a fun activity for your little one and they can solve it on their own or with you. Puzzles are also really good for developing brains. There are many skills that your child can develop and strengthen just by solving puzzles. For starters, puzzles provide your child the opportunity to strengthen their cognitive skills. Puzzles help them understand shapes, improves hand-eye coordination, increases memory, builds-up problem solving, and the opportunity to practice trial and error. Secondly, puzzles help your smooch with their social and emotional skills. Puzzles teach patience, attention to detail, team work, and can lower stress levels. Check out a few of our favorite puzzles and get started on nourishing those brains!
Kid’s love to dance and sing! It’s no wonder then that children’s programming is chalk full of sing-a-longs and dance routines. Music matures your child’s verbal and motor skills giving them the energy to become intrigued and explore the world around them. Giving your child instruments when they’re young gets their brain to work quickly and accurately. Here are a few of our favorite beginner instruments to get them started!
Arts & Crafts
Art is so much more than a messy good time (although this is our favorite part,) it’s also key for the developmental growth of young children. Art spotlights ideas, feelings, and visual qualities while crafts involve the creation of tangible objects using their little hands. Teaching young children words about shapes and colors helps build their vocabulary. As they grow, they will take pride in explaining their creations while building confidence, imagination, and an even larger vocabulary. Here are a few of our favorite things for you and your little smooch to expand their artsy side and keep them busy!
With school back in session, we’ve got books on the mind, and since very few things in life give us more joy than reading to young children, we decided to round up our top 5 favorite books right now for toddlers and preschoolers. As parents, we love finding books that not only delight our babies and toddlers but ones we will enjoy reading to them over and over and over again! The best books for young children are entertaining, have engaging pictures, and encourage a life-long love of reading in your budding book lover. Check out our top 5 favorite new books for young children and see if any of your family favorites made the list.
This delightful read is a great children’s book that can double as a tourist guide for New York. It walks you through the big apple from A to Z. The artwork in the book is colorful and bright as it showcases iconic buildings like The Chrysler building and Rockefeller Center. It highlights landmarks in all 5 boroughs catching the essence and energy of the city! A must have for every New York City kid’s library.
The best time to influence your children’s musical taste is before age 10, according to a recent study by music streaming service Deezer. Get started early with one of these awesome board books. Their colorful illustrations give a short playful intro to the most iconic artists of each genre sure to delight the youngest of music lovers. This board book will be a great addition to your library and a fun way to teach the history of Rap or Rock!
A bedtime story book about sleep? Yes please! This gorgeous, luxurious-feeling book for toddlers and preschoolers contains 35 full-page artworks from a variety of periods that feature sleep in all its forms – from naptime to bedtime, dreaming to waking, sunsets to night skies – accompanied by a brief, tender, read-aloud text. This book definitely makes reading at bedtime a work of art!
Does your little one love to be in the kitchen with you when you're cooking? Then this is the book for you! Bake cookies from scratch inside this interactive recipe book - sift flour, whisk the sugar, crack the egg, pour the chocolate chips, and more! Simple yet factual recipe text takes young readers through the steps of baking cookies. One hundred percent adult-free, danger-free, and mess-free - baking cookies has never been so independent!
Introducing curiosity to your young one can never start too early. I ♥ Science is a great way to celebrate just that. This book has everything your budding scientist could want ranging from flap-lifts, pull tabs and spinning wheels to feed their young and curious minds. It is an easy to read book with amazing illustrations to spark your child's imagination and get them understanding science early!
Carefully curating a store can take a lot of time but it is one of our favorite parts of operating Smoochie Baby. We are quite fortunate here in New York City, to be surrounded by immensely talented makers, designers and creatives of all types. We love supporting local designers whenever possible and we wanted to share some of these wonderful New Yorkers with all of you. So we are thrilled to introduce our “Local Designer Spotlight Series”. Here we will chat with local brands that we love, many of whom we are honored to call friends.
In our first installment, we shine the spotlight on Estella Toys. An award-winning brand of organic baby gifts and toys that began in the West Village in 2002. Estella has made their mark on the baby industry by staying true to their brand core which is exceptional quality items made by artisan workers. We sat down with Estalla founder, Jean Polsky, to discuss the inspiration behind the brand.
Would you tell us a little about yourself?
Hello Smoochie readers, it’s nice to meet you! My name is Jean and along with my husband, Chike, I own Estella, a luxury baby gift store that focuses on making organic and fair trade products. I was born and raised in NYC while Chike is from Nigeria. I like to think that our union is a little example of NYC’s beautiful melting pot! Chike is trained as a lawyer, while I have been in retail since I graduated college (thanks for the suggestion, dad!). We live in NYC along with our three incredible kids.
What inspired you to start Estella?
Chike and I started Estella 18 years ago right before our first daughter, Stella, was born. At the time, luxury kids’ clothes in NYC were synonymous with starched collars and navy blue knickers. We had a different vision of how kids should dress, we wanted children's clothing that captured the imagination and joy that kids innately posess. So we set off to Europe to explore and quickly found that there was a whole new world of playful, fashionable kids’ clothing that the US was unaware of. We scooped up 20 new brands that we had never heard of and set up shop in Greenwich Village. Our customers loved the freshness of what we brought, a different vision for what luxury kids’ clothes could be. I still remember receiving boxes of clothes from Europe and customers gathering around in the shop while we unpacked the boxes, gasping with excitement as we pulled out new styles. It was exhilarating to have them share in our enthusiasm for these magnificent creations! Fast-forward to 2020, and we are now an online shop, making our own creations, with amazing shops (like Smoochie Baby) carrying our brand all over the country!
What has surprised you the most or been the most challenging since starting Estella?
One thing I did not contemplate when we started our little business was that we would have the honor of being a part of the most memorable time in parents’ lives. We had the privilege of meeting women who were newly pregnant (we would often know before their friends and family!) and then being a part of their lives for years as their children grew up. We would trade parenting tips and follow the highs and lows of life with them. We got to really know these wonderful people as well as their kids who we had “known” in utero. My kids now go to school with their kids and to this day, one of my closest friends is a customer I met in our shop who was pregnant at the same time I was. The incredible relationships, that would be the surprise icing on the cake!
Do you have a product that is a best seller?
That’s a tough one! Because our products are handmade, we are still trying to keep up with demand on so many of our things. We are best-known for our organic taxi rattle, but for some reason, there’s been a run on hot sauce rattles these days!
What advice do you have for someone looking to start their own business?
Starting your own business is a privilege: you're the boss, it’s your vision, your hours, your success. But on the flip side, you’re the boss: it’s your vision, your hours, your success!
August is drawing to an end and we all know what that means...SCHOOL!! Back to school time always brings a mix of emotions. Sadness that summer is over mixed with the great anticipation of seeing friends after the long break. If you were like us, picking the right outfit for the first day back to school was a really big deal! Certainly, things look a bit different this year as state officials are still trying to figure out the safest way to get our kids back to learning. Will they go back in person or online? Whatever they decide, looking good will be just as important and we are here to help you prep with our top 5 essentials to rock this “new” school year!
Topping the list of back to school essentials is a good bookbag! From holding your folders, crayons, pencils, and lunch to a necessary change of clothes bookbags are an absolute necessity. Our favorite brand for fun and stylish book bags is Parkland. A Vancouver, Canada-based company with a vision to create exceptional products that have a positive impact on the environment by using recycled plastic. Their products are not only durable, but their prints are stellar, and we carry a variety of sizes for daycare to elementary school-aged children.
Loungewear has quickly climbed the ranks for our go-to outfits because of the lockdown. Joggers and leggings are great not only because they are super comfy and easy but because they’re also trendy. They are effortless for both virtual and in-class learning. Then of course we can’t neglect the importance of having the perfect pair of jeans to complement your little one’s ensemble. DL1961 jeans are amazing for kids. Thanks to their 4-way stretch, they are flexible and soft and they keep their shape wear after wear. Shop both looks effortlessly here to have your smooch looking good in class and virtually!
The most recent addition to the back-to-school list, and our lives, are masks. Whether your child is going into school a few days a week or accompanying you to the grocery store, you’ll want to get them a cool mask to help keep them and everyone around them safe. The mask must be comfortable and properly fitting so your smooch has no problem keeping it on throughout the day. Bobo Choses masks have been amazingly constructed. We have 5 of their prints at Smoochie Baby and each one is sure to put a smile on little faces. The mask comes with 3 filters and has an amazing ‘buy one give one’ program associated with it to donate a mask to families in need.
A cardigan, bomber, or jacket are very important as we transition into cooler fall weather. They also work perfectly for layering and adding that extra flair to your little one’s outfit. Jackets will always be a back-to-school staple because they are perfect for in-between autumn and spring weather and a cozy cardigan will be perfect for the remote learner at home.
Topping our list for the most important back-to-school item is a solid pair of sneakers. Shoes are the anchor of any outfit and you need to make sure your little one is armed with a pair that is both stylish and comfortable. We’ve got both bases covered with the best back to school shoes for 2020. Cienta’s are easy slip-on and timeless sneakers that come in a rainbow of colors that are just right for the season. Cienta's are also a great option if your child’s school requires an “indoor shoe”. Next on our list of the best back to school sneakers for 2020 are from Veja, the very on-trend French brand that’s easy to wear with any outfit and wins top marks for style. This sneaker brand is known for its eco-friendly range. Their sneakers are designed using raw materials from organic farms and developed in a way to prevent pollution or the use of chemicals in production. Shop our range of options online and if you need guidance on sizing feel free to call us or stop in.
There’s nothing that we love more than completing a baby’s outfit with a fashionable pair of shoes. However, as soon as those little ones start transitioning from crawling to walking it’s time to pay close attention to what we put on their little feet. The joys of watching your baby take their first steps are exciting and picking a great pair of baby’s first walking shoes shouldn’t be a daunting task. Shoes that are comfortable and keep their feet safe are important factors when considering your baby’s first shoe.
When your little smooch is starting to walk they need shoes that go with their natural movement. You may notice that their little feet are wider and extra meaty. That’s because their bones are still growing. Many experts recommend allowing your little one to practice walking barefoot first. You want them to feel the floor so they can develop those bones and muscles. When it’s time to take your budding walker outdoors, make sure their developing feet have the best first pair of shoes to promote strength, coordination, and balance so they can start walking confidently. Shoes that are too heavy, chunky, or ill-fitting can make it difficult for them to move around and even balance in. Go for a pair of lightweight and flexible shoes so your little smooch can feel every step and build confidence while learning to walk. With so many options out there, the task of finding the best pair of baby’s first walking shoes can be a bit overwhelming. That’s why we put together this shoppable guide with some great options to get your little one moving properly and to top it all off, right now our favorite first walkers are all on sale!
Old Soles is an Australian brand that has been a Smoochie Baby favorite for over 10 years and they continue to prove why they are our number 1 choice for new walkers’ first shoes. Their philosophy is simple: style, comfort, and protection for growing feet. Their pre-walker shoes are made of 100% natural leather which means that they keep little tootsies cool in the summer and warm in winter. Their shoes are soft and adaptable which doesn’t restrict their movements as they are learning to take those first steps. All the materials Old Soles uses are tested for skin safety. Best of all, while offering a trusting first walker shoe for your smoocher they never neglect style.
Tip Toey Joey is another favorite brand at Smoochie that is a major player in the first walker shoe department. Created by a first-time dad in Brazil, his aim was to make sure his daughter got the ultimate protection while maintaining her natural rhythm and stride with her first shoe.
Tip Toey Joey knows how essential it is that kids’ first shoes be limber enough to allow those little feet to adapt and respond to the ground. So much so that TTJ manufactured their Flex&Grip™ sole that’s flexible and non-slip and shields your baby’s feet while still feeling the impact of touching the ground, giving them that ultra confidence in taking those first steps. Their shoes come with their very own Stretch&Stay™ elastic heel design that doesn’t ensures parents will get shoes on those chubby feet without any struggle.
Call, come in, or visit our online shop to get the perfect shoe for your little adventurer!