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Posts Tagged ‘Designers’

If someone had told me five months ago that I would be racing dragon boats in China, I would have said they were crazy! It’s hard to imagine that only a short time ago I didn’t have a clue about this incredible sport.  Dragon boat racing started thousands of years ago in China. It’s a team paddling sport where a canoe-style boat is used.  Now, not only can I hold my own paddling the boat, but I can proudly say that I was a member of the only American team to compete in the 2009 Dragon Boat races in China!

Dragon Boating Competitors

Dragon Boating Competitors

The interest in this exciting sport is catching – at least in our design department! Surprisingly, I wasn’t the only le•top designer racing in China. Gail – our extraordinary graphic designer – was the person who first introduced me to the sport. Thanks to her, I am not only part of the team, but I’ve become part of a fun and adventurous “family”.

We competed in races in a couple of different cities, one of which was Milu, the birthplace of dragon boating. It was amazing to be able to participate in the sport that originated there over 2000 years ago! The fun part is, as in any sport that each team has a name – we call ourselves the Absolute Dragons!  We are a mixed crew, meaning that we are made up of women and men. In China there is no such thing as a “mixed” team, which meant we had to race against all men’s teams. Even though we didn’t place in the standings, we did manage to beat nine teams! Wow, were they mad when they got beat by a boat full of women!

Beautiful Sights

Beautiful Sights

China was such an unbelievable experience. One thing I will always remember is how popular my platinum blonde hair was with the locals. I was chased down at every corner by people asking for my picture! I now know what it must feel like to be famous. Man, do I feel bad for Brad Pitt!

Whether it was holding up peace signs for pictures with the locals, racing in the dragon boat, hiking the Great Wall, or just celebrating the Chinese culture – China was the trip of a lifetime, one I will never forget!

…this post was written by Sarah, le•top designer

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Those Yellow Turtle gals love our Father’s Day Mini-Me Contest! So, the ever-so-famous MS bike tour presents a related story! Look at the photo below (yes, taken after a looong ride!)…who is the Mini??? The Father or the Son??? The Mini-Me caption really got J.’s attention – apparently it is a joke in her family because, well, Alec is now bigger than his Dad (Bob) – which is why J. asks the question: Which one is the Mini? Is this a trick question, J.? 😉 Tell us, who do you think is the “Mini”?

Meanwhile if you know a dad with a Mini-Me of his own, enter our easy contest for a chance to win an exclusive, “sneak peek” $100 prize of our gorgeous and much anticipated le•top Fall 09 Collection! Just send us a photo of a Dad and his Mini-Me (look-alike), and his Mini-Me gets the fabulous threads! Contest ends on the 19th with a winner announcement.

It's Dad and his Mini-Me...or is it Alex and his Mini-Me...?!?

Look! It's a Dad and his Mini-Me...or is it a Son and his Mini-Me...?!?

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top-horseI was thinking about the top – the toy that is. I remember sitting on the floor, concentrating on pushing the handle up and down, watching the horses do a run around the obstacle course inside the plastic bubble. The faster the handle went, the faster the horse went, it was fascinating! My toys were simple and few in number. One white plastic poodle that reminded me of rice pudding – hence loved dearly. One scratchy bear stuffed with wood chips. One plastic creature with a blue body and a giant orange head. (I still don’t know what that was). One stuffed bunny with an orange shirt, often making cameo appearances in childhood photos. The shortage of toys during the Soviet years almost seemed like a plot to promote reading, and in some cases imagination and creativity in future engineers, doctors, rocket scientists, and even artists and designers. At six, I was making puppet goats out of paper, and nailing wooden boards together to make a boat. In the spring, I set sail with an empty match box in the mini “river” that ran in the space between the concrete road and the sidewalk. I’d follow it all the way around the neighborhood until it would reach its final destination and disappear in the drain. I didn’t have much, but whatever I had seemed to be enough.topotuska

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Kathy and Lisa prepping before the show

Kathy and Lisa prepping the le•top booth before the show

The theme of our New York week – let’s get to work!

After spending Friday morning doing ‘home improvement’ projects at the new showroom we were ready to move on to the next stop – the Jacob Javitts Convention Center to set up for the Children’s Club show. We had decided to revamp our booth, since we loved our new look at the Las Vegas show. We bought new furniture in New York to avoid the shipping costs from California – so here’s the question: how long does it take to put together 7 tables and 16 chairs? A looong time. Paul was again pulled in as a ‘worker bee’ – resulting in a serious cramp in his hand by the time all this furniture was assembled! So much for “easy assembly” – easy and quick are 2 very different things! Of course the result of everyone’s labor was a striking booth…the customers commented we looked “new and modern!”

The show was very, very busy for us! It is always wonderful to see our favorite customers in person and listen to their feedback. I have a confession…neither Paul nor I actually sell the collection to the buyers, we simply ‘hang out’ and absorb suggestions. I always joke that we act as ‘booth host and hostess’ – but the pleasure is always ours. One of the real treats is that we not only see all of our favorite New York customers at this show, we also see friends from different regions of the U.S. and some from outside of the country. The show is officially an international show – and it is wonderful to hear input from all different perspectives. Our designers are in the midst of designing the Spring 2010 collection and eagerly await the feedback, since it gives them even more inspiration. I loved hearing about colors and styles that are selling in the stores – because we want to be sure we create new things that will make our customers happy!

Of course “all work and no play” makes for a dull group – and we are definitely not dull! Erin said all I wrote about  our Vegas trip was food, making her very hungry, so stay tuned for what we did to “play”…because we love going to great restaurants!

Busy buyers at the rabbitmoon booth

Busy buyers at the rabbitmoon booth

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cxengs-doggyYou have heard us say over and over about how much we love our pups here at le•top. Well, I think we have taken it to a whole new level. Cengx (pronounced Chay-ng), one of our star team members in the le•top warehouse, brought in her new puppy awhile back with a very familiar, and yet, unfamiliar, outfit on him. We all did a double-take at what he was wearing because it was none other than our le•top “fireman” coverall from a previous season, which she had cleverly redesigned into a doggy romper (of sorts)! Did I mention that we are not only creative in our designs for babies and kids, but it turns out, in our adaptations for dogs as well?!? Although you can’t buy this one-of-a-kind doggy outfit anywhere, you sure can make an attempt at morphing your baby’s outgrown le•top outfits into pet clothes. If you do, make sure to send us a picture, so we can share it with everyone!

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neonSince I was a child, my favorite color has been what I call, “highlighter-green” (yes, even though I’m one of the designers for le•top baby with the beautifully soft pinks and blues!). More than anything else in the world, I wanted a highlighter-green ball gown! I’ve even asked Russian Santa for it on several occasions…but, it was understandable that he probably raised an eyebrow in confusion while reading my letters – “highlighter-green gown?!?!?”

As my mom and I strolled through a local mall one day, I saw a rather out-of-place “prom” gown boutique selling what appeared to be replicas of the Beauty and the Beast and Cinderella style gowns! As luck would have it, they had one in highlighter-green! I couldn’t believe that my dream would finally come true! My mom, unfortunately (for her!), does not share my love for neon. She looked at my over-puffed, neon-green tulle, enormous ball of a dress, and said, “Are you kidding?” Thus, my dream of having a neon green ball gown were dashed. Fortunately (for me!), the fashion world has finally caught on! Since I follow and love all things even remotely related to design (and fashion and furnishings!), I’ve noticed neon colors are temporarily in…hopefully they’ll stay “in” (for adults!) a little longer!

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…interview with le•top baby designer: Elena Kotchetova

Design sketches by head le•top baby designer MaryKate

Design sketches by head le•top baby designer MaryKate

Whenever I tell people what I do for a living, they always reply, “Wow, that is so cool!” Well, I do work for a great company with an amazingly talented designer, Marykate Fleming, who leads the design team for le•top baby. Sometimes we take for granted being able to say wonderfully bizarre things like, “That blue is 5% too red”, and “I’m thinking of a more shabby-chic-not-so-heavy pink…” or, my signature phrase, “That looks like cake, let’s go with that!” But, after an hour of serious discussion that the turtle looks too “round” or the elephant isn’t “fat” enough, and how getting the elephant weight just right is crucial, I don’t need to be reminded that designing is a very “cool” job. Cool, indeed!

le•top baby Lullaby Lnading (L) and Baby Train from the le•top baby Spring 09 Collection (R)

A few views of Elena's le•top baby favorites: Lullaby Landing, Fall 08 Collection (l) and Baby Train Spring 09 Collection (r)

And here we are, already into the start of a new season (Spring 2010!), and well into the beginning of what is going to be another gorgeous le top baby collection. I’ve met with Marykate to discuss thread colors and the shades of ribbons, as well as other design details. Very exciting! My favorite groups have always been the “Precious Blue” baby boy groups. “Precious Blue” is a color we pretty much invented, and we feature it in our collection every season. I love the clean, fresh and soft look of these groups. My favorites include “Lullaby Landing” from Fall 2008 and “Baby Train” from Spring 2009. Of course, everyone has her favorites. Believe me, there are lots of beautiful groups to chose from!

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