The Fort St. John Huskies are hosting a meeting on April 7th (Tuesday) in hopes of recruiting some new executives. The Huskies are already a little short-staffed, and with some members set to move on this summer, the team will be needing some willing volunteers to fill vacant roles. Anyone interested in joining the Huskies executive, particularly any parents with kids who might play for the pups next season, is welcome to attend. The meeting starts at 7pm, at room #152 at the Northern Lights College.- Advertisement –
Diapers, blankets and dry ice. Lots of dry ice. Roxanna Bina had a curious packing list when it came to preparing her 9-month-old son, Felix, for his first trip outside the U.S. Then again, the Santa Barbara mom is far from ordinary. A foodie who had sworn off jarred baby food, Bina cooked and pureed gourmet organic dishes for her infant son nearly every day, including his favorite, Provence Chicken, made with premium butter, rosemary, sage and thyme. The trip in question was to Bermuda in March 2006. Bina’s movie-producer husband, Emmanuel Itier, was a juror at the Bermuda International Film Festival, and Bina was determined to travel as a family. Still, she worried about the spicy restaurant food she would find and its effect on Felix’s sensitive palette. “I Swasn’t sure we should even go. Then I figured, well, why not make a bunch of meals, freeze them and ship them with dry ice to meet us at the hotel?” Bina, 29, said. “It worked for 10 days, and it was perfect. From then on, I thought I could make a business.” Like lots of parent inventors, Bina developed her product out of desperation. The same goes for Eagle Rock dad Livio Scagliotti Jr., who invented a vibrating teething ring, and Los Gatos mom Claire Eukeland, who invented a fashionable nursing coverlet called the Hooter Hider. “Nobody does a better job of figuring out what parents need than those who are with their kids on a daily basis,” says Laine Caspi, owner of Granada Hills-based Parents of Invention, a company founded in 2002 to help parent inventors get their ideas to market (parentsofinvention.com). Caspi, a stay-at-home mom, says most of the submissions on her Web site aren’t viable. Take the strap-on pacifier or the high-chair straitjacket. But every once in a while an idea hits, like her company’s Teeny Towels product, a key-chain dispenser filled with anti-bacterial towelettes. A veteran entrepreneur, Bina didn’t need the help of a start-up service. Instead, she used the $50,000 she made selling a bed and breakfast in Providence, R.I., as seed money for Fifibear’s Brasserie (Felix’s nickname is Fifi-bear). After acquiring the necessary licenses, certifications and approvals from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, she began selling her 4.5-ounce twist-cap tubs of frozen organic baby food both online and at shops such as Erewhon Natural Foods in West Hollywood. Bina says all her fresh ingredients are purchased from the Santa Barbara certified organic farmers market. And Fifibear also claims to be the only baby food that adds ground flaxseed — a source of Omega-3 fatty acids — to every meal. Livio Scagliotti Jr. invented his teething ring back in 1991. He got the idea after noticing that his vibrating pager was the only thing that seemed to comfort his teething son, Jeremiah. Scagliotti, a professional handyman, said Jeremiah would put the bulky pager in his mouth and find relief in the gentle massage and white noise. “But I knew most parents wouldn’t feel comfortable putting electronics in their kids’ mouths, so I sat down to design something safe,” he said. His first plexiglass prototype of the Je Je Teether was cumbersome at 8 inches wide. A subsequent model was smaller and used a child-safety cap from a Tylenol bottle to enclose the electronics. Scagliotti, now 40, eventually shared the product with childhood friend Mario Gonzalez of Canoga Park. A quadriplegic father of twins, Gonzalez was amazed at the ring’s soothing powers. He put everything on the line, selling his home and moving in with his in-laws to finance professional development. Gonzalez and Scagliotti patented the design and received FDA clearance in November 2004. They produced about 25,000 here in California, but high costs put the retail price between $12 and $14. “I couldn’t afford to get it into mass-market stores,” Gonzalez said, explaining that retailers such as CVS and Wal-Mart are ruthless at driving down prices. The pair finally gave up on local manufacturing, and Je Je now is produced in China. Soon its retail price will drop to $9.99, Gonzalez said. “Now we have two reps working to get us into CVS, Wal-Mart, Sears and Kmart,” he added. A careful and meticulous ramp-up can have its downside, the pair learned. A company called First Years has since introduced its competing “Massaging Action Teether” for $7.95. Still, the local dads aren’t deterred. “We’re definitely ready to go to the big boys,” Scagliotti says. “We’ve perfected our product over the last 17 years. It’s built right, and it’s built solid.” Inventor Claire Eukeland thrives on competition, saying she entered the market for nursing coverlets after shopping for one and finding “horrid” designs that looked like “hospital X-ray vests.” The mother of two young girls made her first Hooter Hider for herself in 2003, choosing a retro blue and yellow design and using the coverlet to breast-feed daughter Ariana at her husband’s professional soccer games. A former midfielder for the San Jose Earthquakes, Ronnie Eukeland is now the business manager for Bebe au Lait, the company the couple started to market Hooter Hiders. “The thing that makes (a Hooter Hider) unique is that it has a rigid neckline with some structured boning, so you can still maintain eye contact with your baby while nursing,” Claire Eukeland, 33, says. “That’s important because the baby might be fumbling around, trying to latch on, and that’s stressful if you can’t see what’s going on.” Now three years old, Bebe au Lait has seven employees, a manufacturing operation in Vietnam and sales accounts with more than 500 boutiques. “I get a lot of ideas for new inventions all the time, and I go off and do the research,” Eukeland says. “Maybe when my girls get older, I’ll start inventing things for teenagers.” — Nancy Dillon, (818) [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! 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