It’s been a while since my last mamapreneur feature and I’m so thrilled to be able to share some really great women with you all again. Starting off 2011 is Alexandra from Laughing Giraffe Books. I just love the name! And, I really love the idea behind her business so I was anxious to get the ball rolling and her story out there. I even braved the snow storm last week and drove out to meet Alexandra and her girls! So grab a cup of coffee, sit back and enjoy!
Business Name: Laughing Giraffe Books
How did you come up with that name: I was looking for a name that would evoke whimsy and the magic of childhood. The fact that my daughters love giraffes and that they are scattered throughout the house might have helped point me in that direction….
Do you have a website?
You can also find us on Facebook and Twitter @LaughingGBooks
How long have you been in business? The website went live in July 2010
Please explain a little bit about your business and how you developed the concept behind it: Laughing Giraffe Books offers high quality, award-winning, Book Bundles and Book of the Month collections for children from birth to age 8. Each collection is built around a specific theme, gender or age and contains a well researched collection of kid favorites- both classics and newer offerings. In addition, unlike anything else on the market, each collection comes with a search-and-find game related to the book bundle or book of the month theme, which can be redeemed for a prize, and arrives beautifully gift wrapped.
My background is in education and as a reading specialist and special education teacher my favorite moments were when I was able to get a “nonreader” hooked by a special story or character. After having my daughters, I wanted to find a way to help encourage young readers while keeping a flexible schedule that allows me to be with my kids as much as possible.
Laughing Giraffe Books makes it easy to give the gift of books and encourage a love of reading with the click of a button. Our website is easy to navigate based on age, gender, price or interest, and all of our selections are carefully selected from the wide array of available children’s books. Parents, grandparents, and other gift-givers can be confident that that the gifts they give reflect the best that the children’s book market has to offer.
What makes your business so unique? Books are our business, and research matters- that’s what sets us apart. At Laughing Giraffe Books, we focus entirely on books for children, ages newborn through 8 years. With thousands of books to choose from, we know the value we add is in the selections we recommend. As a Reading Specialist, Special Education Teacher, parent of two young children, and life-long children’s book aficionado, I have a lot of experience identifying books that delight and captivate. We also spend a significant amount of time sorting through literary reviews, recommended lists, award winners, browsing the shelves at the bookstore, and speaking with parents, teachers and children about their experiences.
In addition, the unique search-and-find game and prize add to the reading experience. The games are perfect for giving children a sense of accomplishment when they know or find the answers in the books, and help to encourage and extend the reading experience. We include one question tied to each book in a collection- find (or remember) all the answers- win the prize! Each prize ties into the theme of the collection, and is appropriate for the recommended age and gender. Prizes range from bath confetti and freeze dried ice cream to rolling stilts, wooden grasping toys, growth charts and arts and crafts kits. Many of our prizes are from companies such as Alex Toys, EEBOO, Melissa & Doug and Peaceable Kingdom Press and are significant enough to make a great gift all on their own!
How many children do you have? What are their ages? And ages when you started your business? I have two daughters, ages 3 and 18 month (they were about 2 and 8 months when Laughing Giraffe Books started.
What is the hardest part or have been some of your struggles starting your own business? The hardest part so far has been trying to balance the demands of starting my own business with my family life and responsibilities. As a stay at home mother for two young children, the running of Laughing Giraffe Books is relegated primarily to naptime (which is rapidly disappearing) and after bedtime. In addition, my husband purchased a Silk Screening and Embroidery company in January of 2010 adding one more element to our wonderfully hectic lives. However, the feedback we have received from happy parents and customers makes it all worthwhile! Knowing that I am helping to encourage the next generation of readers is a great feeling.
What are some of the creative ways you have found to juggle being a woman, a mother, a business owner, and a wife? I have formed a “partnership” of sorts with a neighbor and good friend who also runs a small business from her home. We often rely on each other for feedback, support, occasional child care, and a much needed glass of wine and dinner break.
Who is your biggest inspiration? My parents.
Favorite meal? sushi (my current craving)
Favorite Dessert? Cold Stone Creamery’s Coffee Lovers Only
Favorite restaurant? Zebra’s Bistro in Medfield, MA (plays into the sushi craving)
Favorite piece of clothing or accessory? Yoga pants… and a good book!
Favorite vacation spot? Spain
Favorite childhood memory? Summers spent swimming
On any given day, what makes you smile? My daughters.
When you have free time (ha!) what would your ideal day entail? A good book, a hot bath and a nap.