Author Archives: James Mayes

Mom’s Love Amazon.com’s Customer Service (and struggle with Wal-Mart’s)

In August 2014, moms across the Unites States spoke out about their favorite companies to interact with, as well as sharing their most challenging customer service stories in Tastemaker Mom’s 2014 Customer Service Survey. With over 300 Tastemaker Moms participating, we identified those companies that understand moms and those that need a refresher course.

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Amazon.com is the undisputed leader of companies that moms associate with exceptional customer service. Following Amazon.com (chosen by 26% of Tastemaker Mom respondents), were Target (16%) and Nordstrom (8%). While Amazon took home the customer service crown, we found it interesting that only three of the top 15 on the list were internet-only brands (Zappos at #7, and Zulily at #13).

Here’s what else we learned about moms in the 2014 Tastemaker Mom Customer Service Survey:

Moms don’t easily forget negative customer service interactions. 85% of moms can recall a recent, negative experience.

Moms love to share. 95% of moms share their memorable experiences with their social circles, with 76% posting their experiences online.

Moms will give you a second chance. 35% of moms that described a negative customer service experience with a brand said they would still recommend that brand to others.

An apology will go along way. An astounding 83% of respondents would be interested in engaging further with the company that delivered the negative experience.

Moms rely heavily on both retail stores and websites for their shopping. 58% of moms stated their shopping is evenly split between retail and online, with 25% saying that most of their shopping is done in retail, and the remaining 17% dominated by online shopping.

What really angers moms? Unfriendly return policies, difficulty finding store employees for help, challenges in reversing double charges on a credit card, inattentive cashiers, and too many hurdles to clear when trying to use a coupon (to name a few).

Looking at Email and Social Networks for Our Children

On January 27th we followed up on our research study for CES with a study on email and social networks for moms and young children. Our results are in and we wanted to share our findings with you:

  • Moms are setting up email accounts for their children when they are very young. 91% of moms reported having children under the age of 5 years and 36% of moms reported having already set up email accounts for their children.
  • Having an identifying email address is important to moms and Gmail has longevity. 57% of moms reported setting up email addresses for their children because they wanted to save the email address. Over 33% set up Gmail accounts for their children.
  • Moms do not feel that setting up social network accounts for their children is as important as email accounts. Only 6% of moms reported setting up social network accounts for their children.

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Our findings suggest Tastemakers feel a unique, identifying email address has longevity and is important for their children – most likely for social, academic, and ultimately professional purposes. The popularity of social networks, however, ebbs and flows and Tastemakers aren’t making assumptions on what social networks will be relevant when their children are older.

A number of our respondents said they would decide on whether or not to set up an email and/or social network account for their children after seeing the results of our study. What do you think, Tastemakers? Check out our Facebook post and give us your thoughts.

Technology and The Tastemaker Mom

On January 7-9, Tastemaker Mom went to CES and took part in the Mommy Tech Summit, which celebrates all things mom and tech and looks at how women’s influences are changing things up.

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In advance of CES, Tastemaker Mom conducted a research study and collected information from 500 moms on how they interact with, and are influenced by technology.  We thought our Tastemakers would like to see some of the results:

  • Email and Social Media are your Lifelines.  51% of moms reported that they check their email and/or social media 20 or more times each day.  16% reported checking it more than 50 times a day.
  • Mobile Devices Win over TV.  Moms like their TVs, but they LOVE their mobile devices.  72% of moms said if they had to give up one, they’d give up their TV before their smartphone.
  • Security is Top of Mind but not an Obstacle to E-Commerce.  95% of moms reported being concerned about the security of their personal information.  That hasn’t stopped them from spending online as 97% made a purchase online in the past 90 days.
  • Technology = Better Mom.  3 out of 4 moms think that technology helps them be a better mom.

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Thank you for your insights on how you use technology.

Tastemakers Weigh in on “Doing It All”

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On Monday, as part of their “Doing It All” series, The Today Show welcomed Maria Shriver and launched a conversation based on “The Shriver Report” about women balancing work, family and life.  One of the topics of conversation was about how “having it all” has morphed into “just hanging on” because many women are “doing it all.”

This week we asked some of our Tastemaker Moms to tell us how they feel about “doing it all,” and this is what they said:

  • Most Moms Feel Overwhelmed.  70% of moms reported that they feel overwhelmed but are managing.
  • Moms Want Insight from Maria Shriver on the Delicate Balancing Act.  23% need help with their finances, 26% need help taking time for them, and 28% need help balancing family and work.
  • Moms Do Feel Appreciated But Need More Help at Home.  73% feel their spouse/significant other appreciates them, but when asked for help from their spouse/significant other in one area, 50% named helped with housework and 25% named help with the kids.

Thank you, Tastemakers, for lending your voice.

For more information on Maria Shriver and The Shriver Report, visit http://shriverreport.org.

Self-care for moms who have no time for self care

Holistic health coach and Tastemaker Mom Sanieh Morgan with her son Keyhan. Image by Sweet Pixel Photography.

Sahaja Momma is the brainchild of holistic health coach Sanieh Morgan. (Keyhan, 17 months, is her actual child.)

Sanieh is a Tastemaker Mom dedicated to helping others move through the same process she did when she became a mother: figuring out how to do self-care.

On the outside, you could call what she’s created “an online fitness program.” But Sanieh, who before motherhood worked as a yoga teacher and wellness professional, points out: “People report back not just about inches lost, but also that they are more patient, better communicators… I’ve never got a response that was just about the physical.”

In other words, she works with people holistically.

“The word holistic is thrown around,” she says. “People think it’s another word for ‘natural.’ What it means is that it’s all interwoven together — and that’s what the program is all about.”

She offers a number of services, but her flagship program is called MommaFit. Busy moms who don’t have the time to “have it all” sign up to receive a 70-page manual and a 30-day experience of:

  • bite-size, highly efficient workouts
  • recipe ideas for eating whole, real foods (nothing processed)
  • personalized yoga, meditation and self-care guidance
  • weekly log submission, so the program can be tweaked as needed
  • unlimited email correspondence

She’s very clear that MommaFit is not about buying into the Super Mom mentality.

“I’m not a super mom,” she says. “I’m a real mom, and this is product of the exact process that I’ve gone through to find balance.”

She adds: “This is the truth: We have spaces of time. It’s how we use that time.”

No matter how small those spaces are, they can refill you. The little snippets of time we spend Facebooking could be spent doing a couple yoga poses and breathing deeply. Or a highly efficient workout.

Speaking of Facebook — ironically — that just might be the best place to check her out: The Sahaja Momma page is full of useful tidbits for moms looking for a better way to care for themselves in the limited time that we have to do it.

You can also message Sanieh there to get on the wait list for a future program. She plans to kick off the next one at the first of the year.

How one cloth diapering company is helping to save abducted children

Gaelle Wizenberg and Craig Cignarelli at the Green Steps Media Fashion Show last week. The two are helping to raise awareness for Project Child Save.

Gaelle Wizenberg and Craig Cignarelli at the Green Steps Media Fashion Show last week. The two are helping to raise awareness for Project Child Save.

Something that sets Tastemaker Moms apart is our desire to make a difference.

Remember we told you about the fashion show we went to last week — the one that focused on sustainable clothes and accessories? Well, one of the coolest people we met there was Gaelle Wizenberg, mom and founder at Charlie Banana.

Gaelle Wizenberg, founder of Charlie BananaGaelle is a true Tastemaker Mom. Her twin passions for design and cleaning up the earth a bit led her to create Charlie Banana, which specializes in cloth diapering solutions.

Whoa — we made that sound pretty bland. Gaelle and her team design really cute, really easy to use 2-in-1 diapers.

But it’s not her “Orbit” print diapers (much as we love ’em) that make Gaelle a Tastemaker — it’s her passion for making a difference. Gaelle’s mission is to get 50 percent of moms to choose cloth diapers over disposable.

That’s bold, we said initially.

“But to me, it’s realistic,” Gaelle said. “Because then we tip the balance. I want people to stop thinking if you’re a cloth diaperer, you’re ‘granola.’ I’m not granola. I just want the best, healthiest choices for my son.”

In that effort to change people’s thinking, Gaelle has targeted mass market stores — like Target.

“That ‘legalized’ it,” she said. “Now the thought can be: ‘I’m a normal mom; it’s available at Target!'”

But her mission isn’t just to get more moms diapering their kids in a more eco-friendly way. Charlie Banana also gives a percentage of its earnings to Operation Smile (since CB’s launch in 2011) and, more recently, to Project Child Save.

When we met Gaelle at the fashion show, it was the first we’d heard of this organization. It’s a non-profit that tracks and locates abducted children — many of whom have been sold internationally into sex slavery — and brings them back.

Pretty incredible.

Project Child Save founder Ty Ritter

Project Child Save founder Ty Ritter

“This is something as a mom of two children that I don’t want to think of, but we have to face it,” Gaelle said, adding that when she decided to support the organization and sent in the first donation, “it was a good chunk — but I definitely wished I could do more.”

But the donation brought PCS founder Ty Ritter nearly to tears. “The minute they got the wire in, they were able to take off on a mission they’d been waiting for funding on,” Gaelle recalled. “Three days later, Ty called me and said, ‘Gaelle, we went in to get five kids, and we got 13.'”

“I can’t explain how I felt in that second,” she continued. “And in that moment, I knew I needed to help. That we can do a lot more. It actually motivated me to do better with my company — because the bigger we get, the more people we can help.”

Gaelle and her friend Craig Cignarelli, who also works closely with Project Child Save, are planning a fundraiser event for PCS on June 5, 2014, and helping the organization to increase awareness.

Find out more about Project Child Save and how you can help reunite abducted kids with their families.

Real moms weigh in on provocative ‘Fallen Princesses’

What does happen after “happily ever after”?

With the Disney princess set royally popular among the single-digit female demographic, there’s been a lot of hubbub about how the princesses fit in with feminism and the message we are wittingly or unwittingly sending our young daughters.

Award-winning Canadian visual artist Dina Goldstein adds to that conversation with her photo series Fallen Princesses.

The photographer has said that she was inspired to create the series when her mother was diagnosed with cancer around the same time that her daughter started getting interested in the princesses. This was her inspiration for juxtaposing Snow White, Rapunzel, Cinderella and more with modern problems that real women face today.

We asked a few moms from our own community to share their reactions to Goldstein’s popular — if somewhat controversial — images…

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image via DinaGoldstein.com

Those beautiful children in the room and he wants to look at the TV. Somehow it keeps being her job, even when he’s there. She’s more alone right there than she is when he’s at work. — Atieno B., Washington DC

As an educated stay-at-home mom, I still think stay-at-home moms are seen as the primary caregivers of our children and uneducated. However, I believe more men are stepping in and taking on more responsibilities with their children and more women are working out of the home… This image seems old in relation to today’s reality. — Crystal S., Houston

This made me LOL – at least once in the past month this image was my reality of marriage and motherhood. Only my prince is way hotter and I have one kid. — Michelle S., Washington, NC

I definitely relate… I feel so un-young and un-beautiful right now.  Just tired and weathered watching TV, watching our old lives. Although I wouldn’t trade it… I wonder if I can show this to [my 5-year-old daughter]. — Hannah W., Austin, TX

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image via DinaGoldstein.com

Gah, alone in a tower of Cancer. Cancer has shaped my adulthood and made me into clean food fanatic. My kid is “that kid” who is not allowed to eat most “kid” foods because I police her. Because I love her, that’s why? — Michelle S., Washington, NC

I immediately thought of my mother, who went through chemotherapy when I was in high school. Her wig was the same color, but short. She was still my beautiful mom, with or without the wig. — Melissa T., Pittsburgh

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image via DinaGoldstein.com

Red Riding Hood is the poster child for the USA’s health crisis. – Michelle S., Washington, NC

It’s like the alternative tale of what cam happen to the princesses when their princes don’t show up. And these ladies really didn’t have a plan B set in place: college education, cottage industry (pun intended), or a network of friends outside of forest animals. At first glance they just seem so lonely.It makes me a little sad as a mom I want my son to live his life full of whimsy and believing in fairy tales. But they remind me that it’s also important to remain somewhat grounded. – Florence W., New York City

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image via DinaGoldstein.com

These all offer powerful, socio-political commentary on gender roles and the beauty ideal. “Beauty” is particularly graphic, showing a bloody face lift for the price of, well, being “Beauty.” There has been a lot of critique of the “princess ideal,” projected on young girls, and despite a little progress in that area (there’s now a black princess, and some of them are warriors), the picture of perfection is still pretty airbrushed. If every girl still wants to be a princess, shouldn’t the role models be less concerned with perfect hair, a perfect-pitch singing voice, and swooning over Charming? I want to see Scientist Princess, President Princess, Lesbian Princess!  – Heather W. R., Sacramento, CA

What do you think? Check out the full collection of Fallen Princesses.

Tastemaker Moms hit sustainable fashion show in L.A.

IMG_0030This past week, Tastemaker Moms in L.A. got to be VIPs in the world of sustainable fashion.

Select local moms joined us at the First Annual Fashion Night from Green Steps Media (the company that publishes Natural Child World magazine). We chatted with progressive designers over cocktails on the terrace. Then we headed inside the beautiful Ahmanson Ballroom at the Skirball Center to watch the latest in sustainable clothing parade down the catwalk.

Sounds fabulous, right? But what really made the event so interesting was that virtually everyone there is passionate to making the way we use products for ourselves, our kids and our pets more sustainable.

How? Well, obviously a big focus is through the products themselves. All the ones featured in the show are somehow combining eco-friendly innovation with style. Like Charlie Banana, for example, who specializes in cute kids’ clothing and cloth diapering solutions.

Incidentally, Charlie Banana also brought some reps from Project Child Save, a non-profit they strongly support — and this seems to be a big trend as well. Many of the product lines have non-profits they work with directly to give back — like DoTERRA, which creates high-grade essential oils and helps less fortunate populations through its Healing Hands Foundation.

But the sustainable world’s movers and shakers are not all designers. The event was filled with bloggers, writers, stylists and filmmakers.

One documentary filmmaker we chatted with was Andrew Morgan, whose current project is called The True Cost. Check out the trailer. It’s quite compelling, spelling out how the cost of clothing has been going down over decades for the consumer — while the true, global cost has been going up. The film is an attempt to raise awareness by telling the whole story of how the garment industry works — but in a way that offers real solutions, and doesn’t just point the finger at major brands that are in all our closets.

Like us: real moms who are interested in using our collective voices to make a difference to brands. Thanks to the Tastemaker Moms who were able to join and help us represent!

Hot Pick: Aquafarm (self-cleaning fish tank + garden)

image via Back to the Roots

image via Back to the Roots

Apparently, growing your own produce isn’t that hard. You simply outsource the fertilizing of your basil, mint and cilantro to your pet fish.

That’s how it works on Aquafarm — the hydroponic garden that’s the latest invention from sustainable living startup Back to the Roots. It’s a closed, self-sustaining system where the fish waste feeds the plants, and the plants clean the fish tank water.

The tank is small. Just 3 gallons, it’s comfortable for one fish — whose waste alone is enough to create the perfect fertilizer for your lettuce or wheatgrass to grow. So there’s no soil. The plants are in a bed of rocks, and the fish takes care of the rest.

The idea isn’t totally new, but the scale of it is. Specifically the teeny tiny scale that allows Aquafarm to sit on your kitchen countertop. Co-founders Nikhil Arora and Alejandro Velez studied aquaponics farms, which are normally the size of a pond or bigger. These are — you guessed it — farms where the fish waste creates natural, organic food for the plants that farmers are growing, and the plants clean the pond for the fish.

“We took [the idea of] these big aquaponics farms and made the smallest system ever created — with help from aquaponics experts and industrial designers,” Velez said in a video interview.

Since seeing is believing, here’s the official video explaining how Aquafarm works:

The bottom line: Their invention helps you turn natural waste into actual food.

But this isn’t the first time Back to the Roots has done that. It’s actually the second. Their first product is a mushroom kit that allows you to grow your own edible mushrooms at home — with leftoever coffee grinds. Breakfast’s trash is next month’s salad.

Get real tips & laughs from ‘Hilah Cooking With Kids’

Cooking with the kids is one of those things we can so easily romanticize… and also eternally put off doing.

Because let’s be honest: It’s messy and time-consuming.

But Austin-based internet chef Hilah Johnson has a message about cooking with kids: It should be fun, simple and imperfect, y’all.

Those three traits are what’s made legions of DIY chefs — this Tastemaker Mom included — love Hilah’s weekly internet show, ‘Hilah Cooking,’ for the last 3.5 years. The web series led to Hilah becoming the YouTube Next Chef Competition champ and — even better (for our purposes, anyway) — winning the hearts of the fine folks at ulive.com, who produced a special kid-focused series called ‘Hilah Cooking with Kids.’

Here’s what you should know about Hilah:

  • She’s real. And so is her kitchen — there’s nothing glammed up about it. You can totally see the mic on her lapel, and she uses mismatched utensils that probably didn’t all come from Wiliams-Sonoma.
  • She’s not perfect, but her recipes are pretty darn close. The ones we’ve tried (like Fried Brussels Sprouts or Puffy Tacos or Lemon Pound Cake) are simple, with ingredients you can easily find in a standard grocery store or farmer’s market.
  • She’ll sometimes realize a small mistake halfway through and roll with it (often with a four-letter word — so watch the show for your own enjoyment — and inspiration for future kitchen time with the kiddos).

For each ep of the ‘Cooking With Kids‘ series, Hilah pairs up with a young cohort — making for two elements of say-what’s-on-your-mind unpredictability. Here are a couple of our favorite recipes, in 5-minutes-or-less video form:

  • No-Cook Peanut Butter Balls (total ingredients: peanut butter, honey, powdered milk, coconut)
  • Pizzadillas (total ingredients: flour tortillas, shredded cheese, pepperoni — or anything else you’d like to add)

What are your favorite cookbooks or shows for cooking with kids? We’re curious — please share in the comments below!