Inside a bustling factory and design studio in Chicago, needles embroider children's names on rocking chairs, receiving blankets, and mammoth toy boxes. Nearly every Hoohobbers item is highly customized—whether with monogramming, personalized color and pattern options, or a choice of fabrics. This feature isn't the only one that appeals to design-minded parents. Furniture, accessories, and household goods for babies, toddlers, and children are portable, lightweight, and durable. Unfortunately for neglected screwdrivers, allen wrenches, and stress balls, the items require no assembly. Their practical yet modish designs often appear in magazines, including Chicago Parent, Life & Style, and People and regularly win awards, such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Best of Chicago title for infant and toddler gear in 2009 and 2010.
Inspired by their mutual passion for babies, sisters Jackie Wilkinson and Debbie Feiler set out to apply their experience raising 11 children by opening Beautiful Beginnings in 1995. Bright lights twinkle from the high ceiling, illuminating high-end colorful wares designed to outfit youngsters or decorate nurseries. A design team aids parents in selecting all the pieces to create a custom space for a baby, from pairing complementary wardrobes and cradles to matching beds with the perfect size boogey monster. For parents-to-be, attentive designers stand at the ready to assist them in creating a registry.
Smitten Boutique lets gift-givers check off items on their daunting to-do lists in one stop and touts a bevy of baby and bridal trinkets, candles, frames, custom invitations, and more. Peruse the gift selection, which includes Vera Wang picture frames and accessories great for sprucing up any newlywed’s mug shot ($25–125), or ooh and aww over a set of sweet Trumpette baby socks that come in various styles and sizes ($26). Voluspa candles add an ambrosial accent to any room or cyberspace ($6–$28.50), and Hanky Panky bridal panties, chemises, and garters can enhance honeymoons or dress up honeydews ($12–$72).
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The team at Designer Maid tidies up homes and commercial facilities with unusually meticulous care?which makes sense when you consider that the owners also run an industrial janitorial business. Running that business has armed Michael and Shirley Wells with the know-how to tackle the grimy kitchens, messy living rooms, and unkempt commercial work sites they encounter each day. The team shows up to each location wielding environmentally friendly cleaning products designed to vanquish dirt and odors without leaving behind any caustic fumes or inappropriate thought bubbles.
Jamie O'Hara the Magic Guy's child-friendly, interactive performances have entertained jaded children and giddy adults with a balance of magic and comedy for nearly a quarter century. Jamie's balloon-shaping hands, humor-filled hats, in-depth encyclopedia readings, and surprise rabbit showings keep special events entertaining with eye-fooling flimflammery.