Over the course of writing this blog, I've been extremely fortunate to try out some amazing products and work with some really great companies. I've read about their missions and browsed all of the innovative items that they offer and have truly enjoyed introducing them to all of you.
I've had friends ask me if I could name my favorite items, the ones that I liked reviewing just a little bit more than the others and, up until now, I've kept those a secret. But I'm letting the cat out of the bag today and revealing one of my top picks. At the end of last December, I reviewed Oompa Toys, an amazing website filled with a huge variety of high quality toys, gear and furniture.
Seeing the pictures and reading about how Oompa provides only natural, beautiful toys was one thing. Actually visiting the Retail Store was entirely on another level. I would have never expected such an incredible company to have their headquarters right here in town and their one and only store almost in my backyard. Since our initial visit, my daughters and I have become even bigger Oompa fans and in the upcoming months you'll see some of the many, many reasons why.
When Big Sister E was preparing to start preschool, the last thing I asked before leaving the orientation meeting was, "What should she bring?" Her teacher nodded at me and replied, "A backpack with extra clothes. That's it." During the drive home, I couldn't wait for my big girl to get to pack up her very first backpack, partially because it really is symbolic of school and partially because she had the cutest backpack ever waiting for her.
The Little Kid Backpack: Monkey from Dante Beatrix combines all of the features I could have come up with to create the most charming, adorable backpack for little ones. Made of lightweight nylon (just wipe it clean with a damp cloth!) with a padded back and adjustable straps, Big Sister E is able to carry it comfortably and easily, even when filled.
Smaller than a traditional backpack, the Little Kid Backpacks don't overwhelm younger children or prove to be too big and bulky like the traditional sizes tend to do. Even though a standard size folder won't fit inside Big Sister E's Monkey Bag, it has proven to be the perfect thing to tote around her clothes, shoes, artwork and letters home from school. On non-school days, it's the cutest bag to come along with us to Grandma's house or other fun outings.
With options available for far past the preschool years, Oompa Toys offers an amazing selection of Dante Beatrix items that will work for any stylish child for multiple occasions. I know Big Sister E would be more than happy to carry a matching Monkey Lunch Box, which features insulation to keep her snacks fresh and cool and heavy-duty laminated canvas for easy cleaning.
Or, when she has outgrown her Little Kid Backpack (and passed it down to Little Sister B), one of the Big Kids Backpacks from Dante Beatrix would work great for Big Sister E. Using the same quality construction and durable nylon, these packs can fit textbooks, a laptop, shoes, food and more. Instead of the same generic backpacks that all the kids have, my daughter could stand out with the Panda Bag and be set for years to come.
Even better, I imagine that the next time we travel Big Sister E would be overjoyed to bring along the Bunny Wheelie Bag that Oompa carries (available in-store only) so that she could feel like a true jet-setter. These sturdy little suitcases have multiple pockets, a roomy interior and an adjustable handle that even reaches tall enough for an adult to comfortably use. Hmm, maybe I need one of these for myself...
Oompa Toys carries so many great backpacks and bags that it's hard to choose between them, but the Dante Beatrix line is definitely a favorite at our house. Plus, having the ability to browse them online and in the Oompa Retail Store is a big advantage for us - I hadn't even known the cute Wheelie Bags existed until our recent visit.
With spring break upon us, the end of this school year is not too far off. How has your child's backpack held up? Is it showing wear-and-tear? Big Sister E's Monkey Bag is in perfect shape and still looks pristine, which demonstrates its strength and durability - an attribute of all Oompa products. They care about where their items come from, who makes them and how the employees there are treated. Not to mention they strive for complete customer satisfaction and to only sell the most high quality of products.
Even if you aren't lucky enough to have the Oompa Toys Retail Store nearby, their website is clean, colorful, fun, user-friendly, and most orders ship within 24 hours. They even have a 30-day return policy if, for some reason, you aren't fully happy with your purchase... although I highly doubt that's even possible. Be sure to sign up for their newsletter, connect with Oompa on Twitter and Facebook and check out their blog for even more information.
And if you decide to come visit their store, don't be surprised if the girls and I are hanging out there playing and shopping - it's hard to stay away!
(This post is part of a series highlighting Oompa Toys. In exchange, they are helping sponsor me to attend the BlogHer '10 conference in August. However, that partnership has not influenced my opinion of Oompa in any way - I was a complete and utter fan long before that.)