Big Gypsy Fashion

Thelma Madine

It all started over in the United Kingdom with dressmaker, Thelma Madine.  I got a glimpse into the world of Gypsy weddings.  And I was hooked!

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Each week, I’d tune into TLC’s My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding and considered running away in hopes of getting an internship with Thelma.

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Although I loved the enormous blinged-out wedding dresses she made, I was head over heels about her children’s creations.

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Her Communion and Flower Girl dresses rivaled those of even the tackiest ones here in Staten Island, New York.  The more tulle and Swarovski crystals, the better!  Her Christening dresses were breathtaking!  If you’ve never seen the show, you can buy My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding – Season 1 and 2 on DVD!

Thelma Madine and her workers in her factory

Thelma’s newest show is called, “Little Shop of Gypsies.”  She takes on 10 Gypsy girls to teach them how to make fabulous dresses.  It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for these girls who rarely get to finish high school.

Thelma has recently published her first book, “Tales of a Gypsy Dressmaker.  She has an incredible story which includes a stint in prison…LOL!

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Not to be outdone by the UK, enter the fabulous Sondra Celli, dressmaker of TLC’s My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding and Bling it On!

MY BIG FAT AMERICAN GYPSY WEDDING

Her creations are spectacular!  That woman and her crew can make dresses that dreams are made of!

 MY BIG FAT AMERICAN GYPSY WEDDING

The wedding gowns are over the top…hundreds of yards of tulle, thousands of rhinestones and enough fabric to cloth half of a large city!

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But she doesn’t stop there.  She’ll bling anything from shoes to

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baby strollers!

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Sondra has a team of girls who are called, “Blingettes.”  They spend hours upon hours applying crystals to her creations.

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Channel Guide Magazine did a great interview with Sondra.  Great read!

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All this BLING reminds me that I need to order more Hot Fix Crystals from my friend, Suzie aka The Hot Fix Queen!

With friendship,

Lisa

DomesticDivaBannerAD

The Making of a Christening Dress

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I should have smacked myself upside the head.  I’d had a month to get the Christening gown for Sophia completed, but ended up finishing it just a few hours before her Baptism.

Beyond my usual procrastination, I have a habit of “designing as I go.”  I usually have an idea of what I want it to look like.  However, I continually change design elements and always end up with something totally different from my original design.  Am I the only one who does this?

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Working with silk shantung is challenging to say the least.  And trying to set the tiniest gathered sleeves is beyond nerve-wracking!

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Then I sewed lace and tatting to tulle.  At least I was smart enough to do it flat (before sewing up the side seams of the skirts).

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But the worst was trying to gather 6 skirt layers (1 cotton batiste, 3 tulle, 1 netted lace and 1 silk shantung overskirt) and attach them to the tiny silk shantung bodice.

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Whew! DONE!  To give you an idea of size…this dress bodice is a size 3 months…LOL!  It just looks bigger in photos.  Ok, so the dress is huge…I think it measures about 48 inches.  And oh my…it was HEAVY!

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At the last minute, I decided to do these silk dupioni spider web roses.  I’ll post a quick tutorial this week (once I get another manicure), so everyone can make some, too.

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To make dressing the baby easy, I used large sewn-in snaps and covered them with no-functioning rhinestone buttons.

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Here’s a close-up of all the skirt layers.  I’ve made several special occasion dresses, but never a Christening dress.  This was a first.  I’ve been collecting vintage laces and tatting for ages and loved using them for such a precious little girl!

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Meet Sophia, daughter of my dear friend, Diana (aka Diana of Not Just Bagels)!  The Christening gown fit Sophia perfectly!    It was such a feeling of accomplishment to see Sophia in the Christening dress.

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Sophia enjoyed sucking on the big silk roses.  Isn’t she beautiful?

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Diana loved the dress and is going to put it in a huge shadow box to display in Sophia’s room.

Wishing everyone a Happy 4th of July!

lisa

CPSIA Update

CPSIA – Two New Items

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CPSC Lays Out Plans for 2010 CPSIA Implementation in its FY 2010 Budget Request – Broker Power Inc.



The Consumer Product Safety Commission has released its fiscal year 2010 budget request of $107,000,000, a slight increase over its FY 2009 budget of $105 million.

In addition to presenting its budget request, CPSC outlines the following goals for 2010 regarding its implementation of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA1) (partial list):

Staff to Screen 500 Models of Children’s Products for Lead

CPSC states that in 2010, its staff will screen 500 models of children’s products for compliance with both the CPSIA lead content limit and the lowered CPSIA limit on lead in paint and similar surface coatings.

CPSC to Develop Protocols & Standards for Random Sampling, Verification, etc.

CPSC staff will develop, for Commission consideration, protocols and standards for: (1) periodic random sampling and testing of children’s products; (2) verification that children’s products tested by a conformity assessment body comply with applicable children’s product safety rules; and (3) safeguarding against the exercise of undue influence on a third party conformity assessment body by a manufacturer or private labeler.

CPSC to Consider Use of Labels to Show Compliance with CPSIA Certification

In 2010, CPSC staff will develop, and send to the Commission for consideration, requirements for a program by which manufacturers and private labelers may label consumer products as complying with the certification requirements of CPSIA section 102(a).2 Staff will also prepare a briefing package on a proposed rule regarding labeling of consumer products for Commission consideration.

CPSC May Issue Lead Content Exclusions and Determinations

If needed, staff will prepare for Commission consideration: (1) a rule providing for the determination that the lead content of certain specified products or materials does not exceed the CPSIA lead content limits for children’s products; and (2) a rule providing for the exclusion of a specified product or material from the CPSIA lead content limit.

Staff to Complete Report on Using XRF to Measure Lead in Paint

In 2010, CPSC will complete a draft status report on the effectiveness of XRF and other alternative technologies for the measurement of lead in paint.

CPSC to Finalize Interpretive Rule on Products Covered by Phthalates Provisions

CPSC will finalize its interpretative rule on the products covered by the phthalates provisions of the CPSIA.

Staff to Draft Final Rules on Safety Standards for Toddler Beds and Bassinets

In 2010, staff will prepare two briefing packages with draft final rules on safety standards for Commission consideration – one for toddler beds and the other for bassinets. Staff will select two additional products and prepare draft final rules for Commission consideration.

CPSC to Hold Six Public Meetings on CPSIA in 2010

CPSC plans that staff will participate in six meetings in 2010 to address the many questions about the CPSIA and to allow for an open dialogue with stakeholders. In these meetings, sections of the CPSIA of most interest to stakeholders will be explained and discussion encouraged through question and answer sessions.

1Enacted as Public Law 110-314 on August 14, 2008.

2Section 102(a) of the CPSIA requires that manufacturers and private labelers (later refined by CPSC to be domestic manufacturers and importers) of products subject to a consumer product safety rule under the Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA) or any similar rule, ban, standard, or regulation under any other act enforced by CPSC, issue a general conformity certificate, based on testing or a reasonable testing program, which certifies that the product complies with all applicable CPSC standards, bans, etc. In addition, Section 102(a) subjects children’s products (for children 12 and younger) to a more stringent requirement, as certification for those products must be based on third-party testing by a CPSC-accredited lab.  (Another section of the CPSIA requires that these conformity certificates “accompany” the products, are furnished to retailers, etc.)

Note that in February 2009, CPSC stayed until February 10, 2010, most of these Section 102(a) testing and certification requirements, though not the underlying product safety requirements.

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CPSC Votes for 2 Year Stay of Enforcement on Bicycles.  Now how about we reexamine the children’s clothing issue, so we can get back to business?!

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Designing a Christening Gown, Finding a Treasure and Happy Birthday to ME!

PLAYING WITH LACE

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I was so terrified honored when my dear friend, Diana (you know, the one who made all the delicious caramels apples for the big BBQ), asked me to create the perfect Christening gown for her new daughter, Sophia.

She decided on a simple an over-the-top ivory silk shantung gown with an underlay of vintage lace. 

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Diana is even going to let me add a big vintage pink silk sash which will be tied into a big bow on the back of the dress and embellished with Swarovski crystals.  Luckily, I have one of those cool hot fix crystal tools from Hot Fix Suzy™!

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As much as we both loved the alençon lace, it was too glitzy for the Christening gown we’ve envisioned.

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We decided on the perfect lace which has a soft hand.

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The abundant tulle underskirt layers will be trimmed with various vintage laces…some ivory and some pink!

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But before I can start on the Christening Gown, I’ll need to tidy up my sewing room…ugh!  Prior to sewing any special occasion dress (especially whites), I always give my sewing room the Mr. Clean treatment.  DONE!

Seems I started 14 pair of lounge pants for my daughter, 7 onesies for above new baby and various other sewing projects.  Off they all go to the UFO (Un Finished Objects) pile…LOL!

Sophia’s Christening is June 28th…so I had better get moving!

UNIQUE PATTERN MAKING

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Kathleen of Fashion-Incubator recently posted about a defunct company, East-West Musical Instruments Co., which created the most unique leather jackets.  These jackets are a work of art.

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And wouldn’t you know, I’ve had this beautiful one they created back in the 70s.  It was given to me by my childhood housekeeper who received it from Edgar Winter.

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I certainly made a fashion statement as a teenager as everyone went nuts when they saw this silver leather jacket.  I didn’t realize it was valuable.  Check this one out.  Elvis’ jacket went for over $30,000!  It is marked jacket #432, I believe!

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I can’t imagine the hours of pattern making and sewing that went into creating this masterpiece.

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME

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Last week, I celebrated my 46th birthday (May 22nd) with a delicious Mocha Butter Cream cake (thanks to my sister, Linda).  I had cake for breakfast, lunch and dinner for two days..haha!

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And no…that’s not my front lawn above…although it is not below me to get one of those!  I did, however, display the obnoxious amount of fresh flowers Mr. Diva surprised me with in the front window.  It pisses off all the other housewives in the neighborhood.

Now to get to work…hope everyone is having a great week!

With friendship,

Lisa

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How CPSIA Impacts Small Businesses

Yesterday, the House Small Business Committee, Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight held a hearing on The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act and its impact on small businesses.

Rick Woldenberg has a post up about the hearing and subsequent press release of the committee.

In other news, the CPSC voted yesterday on  NAM’s request for stay of enforcement on Tracking Labels.  It was a split decision between Nancy Nord and Thomas Moore…ugh!  That means it was denied!  NAM says labeling fosters confusion.  More posted on Amend the CPSIA here.

Oh…I’m missing Quilt Market with Lady M™ and Mary the Craft Addict™ this weekend!  I should be there in Pittsburgh, but I’m not.  DRATS!

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And a big HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Patty Young (aka ModKid Boutique)!  She, too, will be at Quilt Market (Booth #2531) having a blast without me!  Be sure to stop by her booth and check out her new Mezzanine fabric line for Michael Miller!

With friendship,

Lisa

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Downtown Joey Goes to CPSIA Rally in DC

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On Wednesday (April 1st aka April Fool’s Day) I set out bright and early to fly from NYC to DC to attend the Amend the CPSIA Rally which was sponsored by many different groups.  A flight which should have taken a mere 40 minutes turned into an adventure…4 hours later I arrived at the US Capitol Building.

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Although the cherry blossoms are beautiful in DC this time of year, the weather wasn’t great (cloudy skies and intermittent rain showers).  As I approached the Capitol Building, thousands of people were being evacuated!

I spotted Rachel Dressler-Sweetser of Monkey Baby who had a CPSIA sticker on her jacket.  I asked her what was going on.  Apparently, security found a suspicious package.  But she gave me her visitor’s pass and I snuck in the side door.

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When I finally made it to the CPSIA Rally room, I could barely squeeze in.  Standing room only!

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I listened to lots of great speakers from different industries and some elected officials.

Here’s video from Congressman Joe Barton (R-TX):

 

and another from Governor Engler:

After the Rally, we divided into groups to attend meetings with different legislators and their aides.  My group consisted of  Scott A. Cohn of Arent Fox, Jason Oliver of Oompa Toys and a few other gentlemen.

We trekked around to visit a few senator’s aides.  When we finished, my group spotted Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY and Vice Chairman of the Joint Economic Committee) and double-dog dared me to approach Schumer as he was getting on the elevator.

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I figured since I was unsuccessful at getting an appointment with him or his aides, it was now or never.  Thank goodness I’m a New Yorker and have chutzpah (even though I’m a nice Irish/English gal).  I approached Senator Schumer and said, “Excuse me Senator.  I’m a New York children’s clothing manufacturer and I need help with the CPSIA.”  He told me to come with him and took me on a little elevator ride.

Senator Schumer was intrigued that my boys’ clothing line was manufacturer in New York City (my guess is most have their items manufactured abroad) and got a kick out of my boys’ jeans snap (which looks like a NYC manhole cover).

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After discussing the issues surrounding the CPSIA and it’s effects on my business, Senator Schumer took out his cell phone and hooked me up with his Deputy Staff Director, Stacy Ettinger, telling her to meet with me now.  The Senator assured me they were working behind the scenes on this issue.  I told him we need Democrats to support this–plain and simple.

I immediately met up with Ms. Ettinger at his office–and what a breath of fresh air!  She was extremely well-versed about the CPSIA and it’s implications on children’s businesses.  She stated there had been a lot of support for the new CPSIA from consumer groups such as USPRIG and she needed to hear from others like me with real numbers (inventory loss, loss sales, business closings, etc.).  I provided here with the financial losses I’ve incurred and projected 3rd party testing costs in order to be in compliance.  I also supplied her with this blog post which lists the other companies that would be affected if I were to go out of business.

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I must say I felt really good after meeting with Senator Schumer and Ms. Ettinger.  I do believe they “get it.”  I don’t think I was given the brush-off at all.  I left feeling that I had been heard and they were genuinely concerned.  However, I do believe that unless a Democrat introduces legislation to amend the CPSIA, the point is moot.  Unfortunately, although this should be a bi-partisan issue, it’s not–how sad.

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Then I went to meet with Kathryn DiBitetto, Legislative Assistant to Congressman Michael McMahon‘s (D-NY) office, who handles product safety issues.  Unfortunately, Congressman McMahon was voting at the House of Representatives.  I would have liked to see him as he was my personal injury lawyer years ago and is a fellow Staten Islander.  Ironically, McMahon won me the money which was used to start my boys’ clothing line.

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Ms. DiBitetto (another Staten Island native) told me the Congressman was aware of the problems being caused by the CPSIA for local businesses.  She said he’s written the CPSC with concerns.  I explained that the CPSC could do nothing to change the law, but instead legislators would have to fix it.  I urged Ms. DiBitetto to ask Congressman McMahon to support any legislation to amend the CPSIA.  P.S. – Ms. DiBitetto loved my Downtown Joey clothing line!

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I almost canceled my trip, because I had no one to watch my two children.  But then I thought about how hard my friends have fought the CPSIA and felt it was my responsibility to be there.  Kathleen, Rick, Rob, Jennifer, Olivia, Wacky Hermit, Whimsical Walney, Tristan, Deputy Headmistress, Handcraftivist, Jill, Cecilia, Walter, and Marianne have all fought the good fight while I was taking my daughter through a kidney transplant.  It’s was my turn to step up and be heard.  I am glad I went to the CPSIA Rally in DC!  It was a terrific experience. I’d like to thank all the folks who put together this rally in 2 short weeks.  YOU ROCK!

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Here’s lots of great CPSIA commentary from around the web:

Learning Resources:  The Rally and the Democrats

Learning Resources:  A Quick Guide to What’s Wrong w/ the CPSIA

Overlawyered:  Things I Learned at the Rally

Wall Street Journal:  Obama Urged to Fill CPSC Post as Complaints Mount 

Women’s Wear Daily:  Kids’ Execs Rally Against Safety Law

Woman’s Wear Daily:  Businesses Seek Changes to Product Safety Act (subscription required)

Journal of Commerce:  Manufacturers Urge Change in Product Safety Law

Congressman Joe Barton:  Bill Fixes Mistakes in Toy Safety Law, Saves Small Shops from Bankruptcy

Publisher’s Weekly Addresses CPSIA Testing and Labeling Provisions

Polkadot Patch Baby:  CPSIA Rally is Over.  What Now?  Keep Spreading the Word

Why Congress Won’t Fix the CPSIA

Amend the CPSIA:  DeMint Amendment

The Common Room:  Myth Busting the Myth Busters – CPSIA

Alliance for Children’s Product Safety on CPSIA Rally

Tristan Benz:  CPSIA-If There Were a Time to Ask Questions, the Time is Now

Journal Sentinel:  Lead Law Leaves Small Businesses in a Lather

Crafty Baby:  Letter to President Obama

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I returned home from DC to read that High Lead Levels found in my own town’s shoreline.  Lovely.  Do I need to be concerned about lead in my kids’ clothing when I’m living in a lead-filled city?!

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Not to mention, our local landfill makes the news once again.

Lastly, I’ll leave you with some CPSIA inspired photos.  Feel free to use any of these around the web to help spread the word about the unintended consequences of the CPSIA:

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With friendship,

Lisa

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CPSIA Rally in DC TOMORROW!

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Just wanted to make a quick post to let you know about tomorrow’s CPSIA Rally in Washington, DC (April 1st @ 10am).  I’m getting on an airplane from NYC at 6am so I can be there to fight this poorly-written law.  Children’s apparel companies, toy companies, thrift stores, motorcycle companies and children’s book publishers will converge on DC to bring attention to our elected officials.  We’ll be meeting with Senators, Congressmen and State Representatives in hopes of being heard.

I have thought of canceling my flight, because I feel like I’m fighting a losing battle. But then I think of what other CPSIA affected people have done to make our voices heard and I realize it is my obligation to be there.

I’m saddened not more children’s apparel manufacturers will be attending the Rally tomorrow. We are all pinching pennies, have children and other obligations. However, if we don’t fight this, we will all be out of business next year.

I’m not going to sit here and be reactive. Instead, I chose to be proactive.

There will be lots of press including Glenn Beck and CNN!  Should be an exciting day!

More CPSIA blog posts around the web:

Fashion-Incubator’s CPSIA in 3 Acts

Learning Resources:  If We Can Meet Standards, Why Do I Still Hate this Law?

Learning Resources:  CPSIA – Contesting Higher Ground

Organic Baby Farm:  CPSIA and the Black Market

Overlawyered’s CPSIA Chronicles

 Deputy Headmistress:  How CPSIA Hurts the Neediest Children

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CPSIA–Just When You Thought it was Safe to Get Back to the Sewing Room…

UPDATED:  RECEIVED THE FOLLOWING GUIDE FROM THE CPSC AT 1:23 AM TODAY!:

Guidance on the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) for Small Businesses, Resellers, Crafters, and Charities

Nothing like waiting until last minute?  Unbelievable!

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Not sure how the rest of you feel, but this whole CPSIA stuff continues to mentally and physically DRAIN me!  I spend a tremendous amount of time reading, bewildered, rereading, twittering, disseminating information, testing, retesting, and banging my head against the wall.

It has all knocked the life out of me.  Some think it’s no big deal.  But the reality of it is another story.

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Read the latest 7 items from the CPSC from this past Thursday and Friday.  Now before you get all excited and think you are off the hook, perhaps you should read some of the thoughts around the web:

Fashion-Incubator:  3 Days Until National Bankruptcy Day

Senator DeMint:  Congress Turns Toy Story into Nightmare for Small Business

Rick Woldenberg:  The Emperor Has No Clothes

Rick Woldenberg:  CPSC Commissioners Speak Out

Rick Woldenberg:  CPSIA More Serious Message

Overlawyered:  CPSIA Roulette

Overlawyered:  What Will Be Enforced?

Overlawyered:  CPSIA Fifty Stars and an Asterisk

Overlawyered:  CPSIA Chronicles February 10th

The Common Room:  There’s a Difference Between a Policy and a Law

The Common Room:  CPSIA and State Attorney General

The Common Room:  Open Letter to NRDC

Shopfloor:  Ambiguous Enforcement-Certain Disruption

CPSIA by Numbers (Part 1):  How Much Safer Will CPSIA Make Us?

CPSIA by Numbers (Part 2):Stochastic Approach

CPSIA by Numbers (Part 3):  Scary Sounding Chemicals

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(Note:  Yes, I did eat the tires off my first carriage….LOL!)

Honestly, I don’t have a game plan yet.  I rented an XRF gun to lead test my boys’ clothing line and everything else in my sewing studio (over $400/day).  All fabrics, elastics and trims passed.  Problems occurred with some snaps and zipper heads (thankfully I have lead-free substitutes).  Not sure if the reflection of the silver on these items gave me false-positive results.  So what I’ll need to do now is have these items in question re-tested by a professional (more $$$).

But the good news is I can continue to sell for the next year.  Yet, unless the CPSC decides to allow component testing next year, my business won’t be able to survive the high cost of third-party lab testing.  Kathleen of Fashion-Incubator sums up how I feel.

With friendship,

Lisa

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CPSIA Stay of Enforcement-Thoughts Around the Web

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I know everyone in the children’s business is jumping for joy.  I’m not–at least not yet.  The CPSIA problems are far from over.  The CPSC has issued a “stay of enforcement” meaning they aren’t going to enforce the new CPSIA law just yet.  However, they are allowing your state’s attorney general to do so.

The law still applies.  The CPSC, however, is not requiring third-party testing at this time.  Yet, you are still  not allowed to sell children’s products outside of the new lead limits.  Seems the law hasn’t changed–just the testing requirements and enforcement for the time being (and only Congress can change the law, not the CPSC).

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Another thought that comes to mind is wholesale accounts (children’s boutiques).  I seriously doubt boutiques want the liability and will want some type of proof that your children’s products are lead-free.  They’ll want to have all incoming stock to be certified prior to any amendments in the law as they are unsure how this will all play out.  Stores won’t want to add products that might not be sellable in the future.

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I’ve decided to go ahead with my XRF lead testing tomorrow and have GCCs issued to ensure the safety of my boys’ clothing line.  It will only add value to my products as not all of my competitors are doing so.

Now for some CPSIA links around the web:

National Bankruptcy Day:  Cautious Optimism

Overlawyered.com CPSIA Stay:  Part I

Overlawyered.com CPSIA Stay:  Part II

Z Recommends:  Seller Beware

CPSIA Cheer:  Touchdown!  We Scored!  But It’s Not Even Half Time

Senator Hatch Wants Senate Hearings on CPSIA

Reform CPSIA

WhatDoISell.com:  Temporary Relief

Boutique Cafe:  Breathe Easily and then Call Your Representatives from Heather of Lilliputians

Kenneth Ross, Attorney at Law:  Summary of CPSIA Stay

Scholars and Rogues:  No Child Product Left Behind

How Much Safer Will CPSIA Make Us?

Nancy Nord of CPSC:  Letter to Congress regarding Stay

The Smart Mama

I think what everyone should be doing at this point is contacting your local members of Congress and ask them to support Congressman DeMint’s Bill to amend the CPSIA.

One last thing, my mentor, Kathleen Fasanella of Fashion-Incubator.com, deserves a big THANK YOU from me and the rest of the children’s apparel industry.  Kathleen has worked countless hours (and continues to do so) on the CPSIA and its affects on sewn products.  I don’t know what I would do without her.  Seriously.

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DORKA THE EXECUTIONER by wacky artist David Gross

Hope everyone’s enjoying a wonderful weekend!  I know Mr. Diva will be.  He and his passe are awaiting the limo to take them to Atlantic City, NJ for Super Bowl Weekend.  Oh, what a wonderful wife I am–LOL!

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Disclaimer:  Although I consider myself extremely bright, I have no legal background (other than a paralegal certificate…LOL) and therefore, the above post reflects my personal opinion and should not be construed as legal advice.

CPSIA BREAKING NEWS!!!

The CPSC has issued a STAY on the CPSIA!  Read it here:

CPSC Stay on Lead in Children’s Products

CPSC’s Press Release

Fashion-Incubator re:  CPSIA Stay of Execution

Also SC Senator Jim DeMint is proposing legislation next week to reform the CPSIA!

Wondering if I should cancel the XRF testing this weekend…perhaps.

Hope your weekend if off to a great start!  I’ll be out to see Joe Piscipo and other comedians tonight with Mr. Diva and another couple!  I so need to get out more often!

With friendship,

Lisa

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