Saturday, January 30, 2010

Li'l Inspirations Review

I enjoy supporting small businesses that are created and owned by fellow mommies. Not only does it fit with my ethics when it comes to the economy, but these businesses almost always are more sensitive to the needs of their customers. The products are typically made with love and quality, and if there is an issue, the service provided typically is better than doing businesses with large box stores. I think that this is because the owner personally is held responsible for any product that she sells. Instead of "It's such-and-such cooperation at fault" the owner of the business has to take personal responsibility. Another reason I believe this is true, is because most mommies begin their business in order to fulfill the needs of other families. Their children, and obstacles that they have encountered while raising their families, have inspired their products and business.

Such is the case with Li'l Inspirations Custom Embroidered Gifts. Owner Sandra Kircher began this unique business in 1992 when she had trouble finding an appropriate keepsake blanket for her children to love and snuggle. To remedy this problem, she began selling a line of soft baby items. The name Li'l Inspirations refers to the inspiration that she got for the business from her children.

For this review, Li'l Inspirations provided me with a sample of their Baby Security Blanket Gift Set, which is Kircher's own product design. The gift set was in the style of the Monkey Baby Blanket, and was personalized with our baby's last name embroidered in lavender with Brody Script style lettering. I wanted to do this review because as an expectant mother, I understand what it is like to be looking for that perfect, soft, lovable item that will sooth my baby. I will do a follow up review when the baby arrives, to give her opinion of the security blanket as well.

When the gift set arrived, it was packaged in an organza gift bag. The set includes the security blanket with a matching rattle. The rattle is the kind that can be secured to Baby's wrist or ankle by a hook and loop closure. Inside the organza bag, the rattle was cleverly attached to the arm of the animal on the security blanket. The presentation was very nice, and I would have no problem including this in a gift basket, or using as a sole gift, for a baby shower or other special occasion (such as a first birthday, baptism etc.)

The size of the blanket itself is impressive. Most of the blankets that I have seen that are similar to this style, are really quite small comparatively. The animal that sits on the top of the blanket includes not only the head, but also the arms, which is another feature that sets the product apart from similar styled items. This security blanket truly is like having a stuffed animal and a soft blanket all in one item.

Another feature about the animal portion of the blanket, is that all of the facial components are embroidered on. There are no hard parts such as eyes or a nose that could potentially fall of (or be bitten off in those ornery toddler years!) and pose a choking hazzard. This may seem like a small thing to consider, but when Jonah was born, he demonstrated to me just how important it is. He had received a doggie stuffed animal that had a hard nose and eyes. When he was a couple months old, I left him in his bouncey seat with this dog while I went to the bathroom. When I came back, I noticed he had something in his mouth! It was the nose that had somehow come off of the dog's face! If I had waited a few more seconds to return, who knows what may have happened. So this is a real safety issue that Li'l Inspirations took into considering when designing this product.

The body, or blanket portion, of the animal is very soft to touch. The front is made with minky fabric and the back is satin. I like that the minky is 100% velboa, which is extremely durable and "forgiving" as well as soft and fuzzy. Velboa is a wonderfully soft fabric that is tough enough to withstand the wear and tear that infants and children can give it (dragging on the floor, throwing over the side of the stroller, tugging, and even stroking it while falling asleep can really wear on a fabric!) The satin lends a nice contrast on the back, and the two fabrics are nicely seamed together.For the personalization, I requested that the baby's last name be used. This is a good option if you would like to personalize a gift or an item, but aren't sure of what the first name will be. Some parents don't name their baby until after the birth, or they want the gender to be a surprise and have two names picked out. I also think this is a good security measure. If you are at a store or a crowded public area, and your child has their first name on an item they are carrying, then a dangerous stranger could easily learn their name while looking at the item. A child is much more likely to respond to a stranger calling out her first name, then a stranger who is calling out her last name. Yet personalized items are not only endearing keepsakes, but also practical. If your child should leave the item at playgroup or daycare, it is easily identifiable as theirs and can be returned. It is also an option to personalize it with a monogram or with initials.

The embroidery on the personalization is good quality. There aren't any loose threads hanging from it, as I've seen in other personalized items. There is a great selection of colors on the ordering webpage, that range from very bright and vibrant to soft and delicate. The lettering is easy to read, and is a very good size. While I expected the personalization to be an area that this review would be critical of (as most often with personalized products, the personalization leaves me disappointed,) I was extremely pleased with the quality and the lettering.

One final touch that really brought the gift set together was that the rattle was made with the same fabrics as the blanket. The front of the wristband is made from the same quality minky fabric, and the back of the band is satin. The satin on the band didn't perfectly match the satin on the blanket in color, but that is a small detail that I only noticed when pairing the two for pictures. One thing that I did note was that the hook and loop closure was very large and went to the edges of the wristband. I am wondering if this will irritate or scratch the baby's skin when she wears it on her wrist, as it does make the edge somewhat stiff and scratchy on that portion of the band.

I was extremely pleased to find a company that has personalized items that are such high quality. I am very critical in my reviews, and I take them very seriously. I put the items to the test and look at every detail and stitch. I can say with confidence that you won't find an item such as this at the mall or in the baby section of a department store. You might find a similar item, but it will be about the same price with less quality. The personalization and the quality of the embroidery, for me, just make the package complete.

If you would like to see the full line of baby items, handkerchiefs, and wedding items, visit their website at www.lil-inspirations.com

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