Lovely Small Business: Hoopla Room

hooplaroom

Can you tell I’m a sucker for well-designed children’s products? If you’re looking to furnish your nursery or kid’s room with unique pieces that stand the test of time, Hooplaroom is a beautifully curated online store filled with enough modern and whimsical pieces to make your fingers itch to grab your wallet. I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Hoopla Room’s founder and CEO, Adeline Bron – another French mother living in the US. (Seriously, the French are just so stylish!)

Some of my favorite pieces from the shop are these charming polka-dot animal book ends, the ever-so-useful Three Sprouts toy bin, and musician wall decals. I also love how you can find certain pieces there like these super fun kids bean bag chairs that you can’t find anywhere else in the US (I mean, seriously, Little Miss would just DIE if she saw that.)

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So how exactly does this mom of four (!) do it all? Let’s get a little glimpse:
 
What were you doing before starting Hooplaroom?
I was a pharmacist in France. I came to the US seven years ago with a toddler. Two kids later, I thought it was really hard to furnish their room with products that were both practical and original. In every child’s room, I was always seeing the same kind of products: either from Target on the cheapest side or Pottery Barn Kids’ on the most expensive side. The colors were going from light pink to purple for girls and light blue to navy blue for boys. Very boring! I thought to myself ”it has to change!”

 
What are some of your favorite children’s brands right now?
In terms of organization, I’d say 3 Sprouts without any doubt! It’s actually the only American brand that I sell on my website. I first wanted to offer only European brands. I was looking for a brand that was making nice toy boxes and bins but I didn’t find any European brand as good as 3 Sprouts (both for design and practicality). Regarding kids clothing, I love Zara and H & M. And of course, Petit Bateau, great quality and beautiful design!
 
Where do you find you often discover your favorite items for the shop?
 I like to follow some French decoration blogs, Pinterest boards and websites. I also like to read French decor magazines (MILK is my favorite one). When I travel to Paris, I like to go to small boutiques and see what is trendy there. And last but not least, I attend a huge fair in Paris every year where I get to meet manufacturers and discover new products.
 
How do you balance running your own business and being a mom?
It’s hard! I have 4 kids including a newborn. It has been especially tough at the end of the pregnancy and the first few weeks after the birth. My rule is to schedule some time slots to work when the kids are in school and to stick with it even if the house is messy. If I start looking at the mess, I’ll always find something to clean-up instead of working. Every day, I stop working when I go pick up the kids from school. I often have to work on Sundays which I don’t particularly like.
 
What is the most challenging part of running your own business?
Running my own business is very rewarding because every little success is mine! I learned so many things building Hooplaroom from scratch. On the other hand, it’s also very challenging because I still have a lot to learn. Not having web programming skills is my biggest challenge. I’d like to study advance programming to be able to modify images on my website by myself. Right now, I need to ask my husband to do it for me. 
 
There’s been a lot of talk lately about French parenting vs. American parenting, and your’e a French mother living in the US. What have you found to be the biggest difference? Are there “American”-style methods you prefer in your own parenting and vice versa?
Generally speaking, I feel that French moms are stricter. They expect a lot from their kids even when they are little. For example, they expect children to sleep at night from a young age (4 month old) and to behave at the table very early. I am not saying that it always works but that’s the French mom’s expectations and I have to say the more you expect from a child the more chances you have to get a result. Also, a big difference is that in France, parents don’t childproof every corner of their house, they just expect the child to learn how to behave in the world of adults instead of all adults having to live in a child’s world.
 
The ”American” parenting method that I use all the time and that you’ll never see in France is the ‘time out’. I love it because it gives time both to the parent and the child to calm down. The child has time to think about what he did wrong and I like the talk that I have with my kid when he comes out of time-out. The nice thing about having experienced life in France and in the USA is to be able to take the best of each country and to learn that there is not only one way of doing things but you can get the same results using different techniques. 
 
And finally, what’s your favorite item in the store right now?
Regarding your question: I think my favorite Hooplaroom item is the garland light. It can really be the final touch to add color to any room. It goes well in a child’s room, a living room (on top of the fire place) or just anywhere in the house. It can look different in each different house and I love that.
 
Thank you Adeline, it was lovely chatting with you!

 

Lovely Small Business: Sunday in Color

sundayincolor

While I don’t do it as much as I want to, I love shopping at small independently-owned businesses and am often in awe of how the owners manage to get it all done. So I’m starting a Lovely Small Business series which will ask seven questions to owners of small businesses that I love. If you ever have a suggestion of a business you think is worth a mention, please share!

To kick off the series is one of my favorite online children’s retailers, Sunday in Color. Have you heard of them? If not, you should. As my nearest and dearest know I’m a huge fan of colors and patterns, which Sunday in Color joyfully embraces, and it’s impossible to peruse their online shop and NOT feel happy. It seriously makes me want to be a kid again. Or get all that stuff for my kids who you know won’t appreciate it as much as I would.

Sunday in Color was started by the lovely (and French) Sonia Imbert, who lovingly selects the most delightful finds from polka-dot animal bookends (sold out, alas) to the most adorable handcrafted stuffed mice in a box (this coming from a mouse hater), to cheerful bunting that would brighten up any nursery. What an amazing job, right? If you’re ever on the hunt for unique children’s gifts, you’ve found your one-stop shop. And now, without further a due, let’s learn a little more about Sonia.

1) What motivated you to start your own business ? And why this particular online shop?

I am French and I moved from Paris to San Francisco 3 years ago. I was 6 months pregnant at this time. San Francisco is a perfect city to launch your own business. People are very positive and are not afraid of undertaking new things. In addition having a business at home allows you to stay with your kids a little more. I chose kids decoration because kids stuff are fun, colorful and happy. I think in the US the demarcation girls / boys ( pink / blue ) is very strong and I wanted to offer something different. I love colors, dots and bright prints for boys and girls.

2) What were you doing in your previous life ?

I was a communication specialist in the medical / insurance sector (not so funny, right?)

3) What has-been the hardest portion of juggling your own business ?

Mak[ing] yourself known! It’s a lot of work and I still have much to do. On the internet there are many shops, people can compare prices, products etc. This is why I try to offer rare and hard to find products and a range of reasonable price! What is also difficult is to know what will sell or not, it must be tested !

4) What are your 5 fave items in the shop right now ?

The gold mushroom lamp by Egmont toys
The Oekaki house magic board by gg*
The metal tea set by Vilac
The red pig cuddle by Maileg
The dotted satchel bag by Pakhuis Oost

5) How do you find these awesome finds for your shop ?

I already knew some brands like Petit Pan, Vilac, Egmont toys or Kuramae before launching my shop. I spend time on Etsy, Pinterest… Sometimes, people contact me to introduce their brand. I love that because discovering new brands is my favorite part of the job!

6) Your shop is so happy – filled with bright colors and patters – all the things I love – what are your inspirations and what draws your eye when you’re looking for new products?

Thank you! I am addicted to colors and prints . When I go shopping, I am always attracted by neon colors, red, dots, stripes etc … It is the same for the shop, when I see prints and bright colors, I can’t resist ! I buy only what I really love without really thinking whether it will sell or not. I need to improve myself on that!

7) Finally, what are three things you couldn’t live without ?

Chocolate croissants, colors, and travels ! And my family of course 😉

Thank you Sonia! I can’t wait to see what fun new goodies you have in store soon!