Monday, December 29, 2008

As seen in the Las Vegas Review Journal

Where has the time gone? The holidays have been a little crazy around here. My oldest has a birthday on Dec. 22nd (poor thing) and my youngest has a birthday on Jan. 6th. What was I thinking. It is like a month long marathon of birthday parties, Christmas events, wrapping presents and thank you notes. So that is my excuse for being gone so long :)

In the mean time, not much has changed on the CPSIA front. And February 9th is just around the corner. However, Glenn Cook of the Las Vegas Review Journal did an amazing job writing a column about this law and how it is effecting my business as well as other businesses in Las Vegas. If you have a second, it is a great read.

CPSIA Article

I was also just interviewed by the LA Times. Hopefully all this press will start to wake consumers up to the fact that we are about to lose a large portion of the children's apparel and toy industry. Very sad times indeed.

On a brighter note, look at this little cutie from Norway wearing her Molly O on Christmas! I love to see that little faces are lit up across the world in their Molly O's.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Huge Sale at Molly O Designs

I'm the type of person that likes to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. I want to make sure all angles are covered and I don't get blindsided by anything. I have a gut feeling that amendments will not be made to the new CPSC law until after February 9th when more consumers start to take a stand. Right now, very few journalists, business owners, consumers and even designers know about this new law.

So, I am going to prepare. Everything on my website is 50%-75% off. I think I might have just shed a tear even typing that. And I have more spring styles to put up. So, buy it now while you can! After February 10th, it will be no longer. Or at the very least we will be on a break until some kind of reasonable amendment is instated.

Take a peek. Do some shopping and PLEASE pass this on to everyone you know. Even if you don't have little girls to shop for, you might need to buy a gift for someone you know, right?

Pop on over to and have fun shopping the sale racks!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Maybe Everything Happens for a Reason

I just spent about 20 minutes writing an update on the CPSIA battle. Just as I was about to post, I lost the entire entry! So frustrating. But I feel like maybe I need to slow down, relax, take a deep breath. And maybe you didn't want to hear my ramblings any how.

So here is the cliffnote version (do they still make cliffnotes?).

1. Don't believe everything you read. There are so many posts floating around the web about how people are exempt from the law if they work out of their home, work while no one sees them, only make left shoes or run in 5 circles counter clockwise before they start sewing. The law is the law. If you make something and sell it for a child, it needs to be tested. If you don't believe me, see the 800 number from yesterday's post and give them a call.

2. There may be a little hope in regards to testing between now and August. Not a huge break through, but a little glimmer of hope. You can use "reasonable testing" between now and August 2009. That doesn't mean a hardware store lead testing kit. That means a lab (does not have to be certified by the government) that uses testing applications such as the XRF gun. Much cheaper. But keep in mind you still have to go through the regular (insert expensive) testing in August. So it just buys you a little time. Here is a great article by Kathleen of Fashion Incubator.

3. Hmmm, I forget what my third point was. See, everything happens for a reason. I guess it wasn't that important.

Now, just a little something fun to take our mind off the craziness that has consumed us. My gorgeous friend Natalie just did a photoshoot with her singing group "Swing City Dolls". And she was nice enough to wear one of my Molly O aprons (only intended for moms therefore exempt from testing). See I told you there was something to smile about.

Anyway, I don't have the original photo yet, but here is a link to the photographer's website that did the shoot. Can you believe she is the mother of 3 little ones?! Seriously, I think I should go and do about 1200 situps. Or maybe I'll just go and eat the apple crisp I just made. Decisions, decisions.

Click Here: Molly O Apron

Monday, December 8, 2008

Don't Shoot the Messenger!

O-kay, I have to say that I have received many supportive emails regarding my business and how the CPSIA applies. However, I have also gotten a lot of nasty emails as well. Listen, I didn't make up the law. This isn't a conspiracy theory that I drummed up on my own. It is happening. The impact will be wide spread. Probably beyond what we are imagining even now.

So here is what I have to say. If you don't believe me, call! Here is the number:

CPSC Hotline: 1-800-638-2772 Ask to speak to someone about the CPSIA and how it will effect your business.

Call them and give whomever answers the phone your scenario. They will tell you how the new law applies to you.

In the meantime, let's try to get along. The point of writing about this on my blog was to bring together a community of designers, consumers, moms, etc. so that we could fight as one solid team. Not to spend time fighting amongst each other about whether you think the law will apply to you.

The hard facts are this. If you make ANYTHING that is intended for children ages 12 and under, you must have your product tested by a certified lab. The government is determining which labs will be used. This does not mean buying a lead testing stick at home depot. Once you have your product tested you must have the required lead tracking label attached. If your item does not have this label, you will not be able to legally sell it.

I feel like because I have taken the time to educate myself on the new law and wanted to share it with thousands of other people who it will effect, I'm the one put in front of the firing squad. Let's just try to all get along.

And in the mean time, everyone take a moment to click on this link and write your representative. Whether you are a designer or consumer, you can use this link. The letter is already written. You only need to fill in your name and address. The website will find your representative and email the letter to them.

O-kay, I promise to go have a glass of wine and relax. Tomorrow is a new day and I promise to have a better attitude. Until then, cheers!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Congressional Hearing Canceled

I have to admit, I have been holding out hope that on December 10th, the representatives involved in the congressional hearing for the CPSIA would suddenly open their eyes and realize the devastation that is about to erupt throughout our economy. But sadly, the hearing has been canceled.

So what is next? I really have no idea. It seems consumers are supporting this law in hopes of providing safe toys and clothing for their children. And I couldn't agree more. As a mother of a child with Autism, I'm the first to get in line for all natural toys, clothing, food, etc. But, the law as written is overlooking the fact that many of these items do not need to be tested. Fabrics for example are inherently lead free. Yet, thousands of clothing companies are preparing to shut their doors because the cost to test their designs and prove they are lead free is simply too expensive.

Several European toy companies have already announced that they will stop production as of December 31, 2008 on all toys that typically sell in the U.S. Others have announced that the cost of their toys will increase between 30-50%. Clothing companies who can afford to test will now be offering fewer styles, colors and sizes. Gone will be beautifully embellished dresses or tshirts with appliques that use a variety of fabrics, trims and crystals. Did I mention that "bling" will be non-existent for little girls. Swarovski crystals are lead based. Need I saw more. Will we survive without "bling"? Absolutely. But the children's runways in New York will have a new look and feel. Basic, simple, few options. Period.

The bigger question is did congress just open Pandora's box. Where do we stop? What about the furniture our children sit on everyday, or the plates they eat off of, the floors they walk on and the beds they sleep in. Where do we draw the line?

I want a safer environment for my children. But I also want them to have choices. Most of all I want our economy to repair itself and thrive once again. This law is kind of like kicking a horse while it is down. I'm not sure how we are going to get back up after February 9th.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Write to your representative!

Congress will be meeting on December 10th to discuss the CPSIA regulation and the impact it will have on our economy. Below is the letter that I sent to my representative. It was written by a group of industry experts. While it may not apply directly to you if you are not a designer, you can feel free to change the opening to reflect your support.

Here is the link to email your representative. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your support!

I am writing on behalf of my self and other small manufacturers of children’s apparel and textile products throughout the United States to express our concerns regarding the lead and lead in paint standards as mandated by the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA).

We want to first emphasize that many of us are parents ourselves and care as much about the safety of our children as anyone. We welcome measures that will help to ensure greater child safety with regard to lead. However, such measures are only effective if they target the real risks.

Lead in children’s apparel and other textile products pose little risk

There is very little research to support the notion that lead in textiles presents a significant risk to children. On the contrary, in his presentation to the May 13, 2008 Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) roundtable, Understanding the Pending Legislation and the Use of Lead in Consumer Products, Mr. Hardy Poole makes the argument that the lead content in textiles is actually very low. Mr. Poole, president of the National Textile Association, is considered a leading expert in the textile industry with than 30 years of experience including working with the CPSC on fabric flammability standards.

In his presentation, Mr. Poole cited dyes, dyestuffs and pigments used in coloring fabrics as the primary source of lead in textiles and pointed out that the dyes produced by the major suppliers to the U.S. textile industry are already required to comply with the standards for trace metal impurities. These standards allow a maximum lead content of 100 ppm, which is well below the CPSC interim goal of 300 ppm and consistent with the ultimate goal of 100 ppm. Mr. Poole added that these suppliers offer no lead complex dyes and that he knows of no operation in the United States using lead-based pigments in the dyes produced for the textile industry. Currently, there is no lead added to yarns or fabrics manufactured domestically. Regarding imported textiles, Mr. Poole indicated that the testing of imported fibers and fabrics reveal none or only trace levels of lead.

It is important for the CPSC to recognize that the majority of the materials used to manufacture apparel and other textile products are inherently lead-free. Textiles (both synthetic and natural) and thread are inherently lead-free. While trace elements may be found in some dyes, those amounts are well below the regulatory limits and the consensus in the industry is that lead is not found in or used in textile dyes. Even if trace materials existed in the materials used to produce the textiles, very little would remain on finished fabrics because of the low application levels and the washing that occurs during processing.

Without prudent regulation and clear guidance from the CPSC, the CPSIA will result in unintended and devastating consequences to manufacturers of children’s products that pose little to no risk of lead exposure to children.

The costs of unnecessary testing and its impact on our businesses
Requiring expensive tests on inherently lead-free products to verify that they, in fact, don’t contain lead will only add financial burdens to small manufacturers and ultimately consumers – most of whom are already suffering from the current economic climate – while providing no improvement in consumer or product safety.

We recognize that some types of children’s apparel contain components that may contain lead. However, metal, painted plastic, and vinyl components in children’s apparel (painted and/or metal buttons, snaps, zippers, decals, etc.) are adequately regulated under the requirements for third party testing for lead in paint.

The CPSC has the authority to exclude components and classes of products from the lead ban. Accordingly, we urge the CPSC to issue guidance that makes clear that textiles and apparel are only subject to the lead and lead in paint requirements to the extent that a component presents a risk that it contains lead.

We are also concerned about the apparent requirement to test the component – both as a stand alone component and also as an element of the entire garment. This redundancy greatly multiplies the cost associated with testing.

For example, the cost of digestive testing for lead is in the range of $130 to $180 per test. A garment with two metal component parts, such as a zipper and snaps, would have to test each component separately at a cost of $360. Previously, a small manufacturer might have been spread these costs out over several styles by incorporating the same zippers and snaps into several styles. Let’s assume a manufacturer produces 10 styles. Now, with new regulations that require testing of each component part after it is removed from a sample garment, one in each style, the costs of testing increase dramatically to $3,600.

These costs multiply exponentially if companies are now required to test fabrics and threads for lead, or if different dyes also trigger their own lead tests. Going back to the previous example, if each style contains six components – body fabric, lining, knit cuff, thread, snap, and zipper, as well as 5 possible dye options – the number of tests increases to more than 300, or $108,000 to for just 10 styles in addition to the actual costs of production. Any small manufacturer that survives these costs – and there aren’t many of us that can – will necessarily have to pass them on to our customers. So, consumers end up on the losing end, too.

CPSC should exempt lead testing for those components and articles that are inherently lead-free and require testing for only those components that may contain lead.

And, what do we do with our inventories?
In its September 12 memorandum in which CPSC general counsel advised that “products that contain lead above the limit set in the CPSIA cannot be sold from inventory or on store shelves on or after February 10, 2009.”

Many of us operate on extremely small margins. We cannot sell the merchandise we currently have in stock that we made prior to the standards ever having been approved, nor can we afford the testing required for each and every component of a finished product on top of the cost for testing the finished product – the vast majority of which are inherently lead-free or only present trace levels of lead, well below unsafe or regulatory limits. Requiring us to dispose of all our inventory and imposing huge testing costs on producing new inventory to replace it will force many of us to shut down our operations for good.

What happens to us will effect the U.S. Economy

Based on an analysis of 2002 U.S. Census data, which is the most current available for the apparel manufacturing industry, the Cut and Sew Apparel Manufacturing industry, which includes most categories of small manufacturers of infant’s and children’s apparel, is comprised of more than 40,000 companies. Of these, almost 28,000, or 68%, are sole proprietors contributing a total of $900 million to our nation’s economy. Thus, while our businesses are small, they comprise well more than the majority of the apparel manufacturing businesses currently operating in this country.

In addition to small manufacturers who work with apparel industry contractors, consider also the numerous home-based businesses that produce children’s apparel and sell directly to the consumer. These businesses are best characterized as “micro-manufacturers” who commonly produce several styles but in very small quantities. For these businesses to test for lead in every textile component of each and every style would exponentially increase the costs to produce a garment, which would effectively raise the price well beyond what the market will bear. They simply cannot survive these costs.

While it is important to ensure compliance under the CPSIA, at the same time, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) must also ensure that implementation of consumer product safety standards does not involve burdensome requirements or extraordinary costs.

Unfortunately, by exempting this rulemaking from the requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act and the Regulatory Flexibility Act, which would require the CPSC to prepare and make available for public comment an initial regulatory flexibility analysis that describes the impact of the lead content testing rule on small apparel manufacturing businesses, Congress has circumvented the public discourse necessary to truly ascertain the CPSIA’s impact on small business. As written, the CPSIA ignores the wide variety of small business models that comprise the children’s apparel manufacturing industry and the fact that the majority are indeed small businesses.

Every small manufacturer of children’s apparel shares the goal of the CPSC – ensuring that only safe products are permitted to reach the consumer. We believe this is best achieved by implementing and enforcing the CPSIA (specifically the lead and lead in paint standards) in a manner that focuses on risks.

Although I am sending this letter to you as an individual, I can assure you that these comments share the support of many others who, like me, want to continue providing necessary and safe products to American consumers. While we believe there are some components in textile and apparel products that may fall under the lead standards, we believe the vast majority of products and components are inherently lead-free and should thus be excluded from the standards.

We urge the CPSC to issue guidance that makes clear that textiles and apparel are only subject to the lead and lead in paint requirements to the extent that a component presents a risk that it contains lead.

[Your name or business name]

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Support Changes in the CPSIA Legislation

The saga continues. If you are on Facebook, take a moment to join the cause.

Help over 40,000 small business that provide infant and children's products remain in business. February 9th, will either be a victory for small business owners, or a day that will cripple our economy further as we all close our doors.

If you are a designer, drop me a note at I will be happy to pass on any information that I have to you so that you.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

In 70 short days......

In just 70 short days Molly O Designs may be forced to shut our doors along with thousands of other children's manufacturers.

February 9th has been deemed National Bankruptcy day. The reason is due to the CPSIA regulations going into effect. How does this effect Molly O Designs. Well, I'm happy you asked.

The CPSIA regulations will mandate that all manufacturers of children's goods (even little ol'Molly O) will be required to have our products tested for lead. Now, at first glance this sounds like a great idea! Safety for our children. But then you look at the numbers. For Molly O Designs to have our Spring/Summer 2009 tested to meet federal standards, the testing will run us over $30,000. That is just for the testing! Not the manufacturing, or the purchasing of materials or everyday overhead expenses.

This regulation will cover EVERYONE who produces products intended for children ages 12 and under. Do you make baby blankets to sell at craft fairs? You will have to pay to have them tested. Do you sew custom boutique clothing on ebay? You will have to pay to have your designs tested. What about those cute baby bibs that everyone keeps asking you to make? If you sell them for money, they have to be tested!

Needless to say, thousands of entrepreneurs and businesses will go under on February 9th. But where will all their inventory go? In the dump. That is right. If you produced anything prior to February 9th and it has not been tested and approved, it will be considered hazardous waste on February 10th. All my beautiful spring clothes? In the garbage. I'm not kidding. And yes, this sounds too crazy to be true, but trust me, it is a very real reality.

Here is a great link that kind of sums up this mess:

So, I will stop being a selfish for a moment and not think about what I will lose personally. Let's talk about the children's consignment shop down the street that will have to close its doors because for all practical purposes everything in it will be a hazardous dumping site. What about the children's boutique that has a store full of inventory that can't be sold after February 9th? I have many friends who sell clothing and toys on ebay to make a living. Again, all garbage.

I really can't wrap my head around the enormity of this issue and what this means for our already failing economy.

More to come later. In the mean time, I could use your prayers and good thoughts. If you feel so moved as to help with this fight, feel free to sign this petition. I will also be posting a letter later that can be sent to your local congressman/woman.