"Everything selected for function, fashion and fun"

A hand picked selection of stylish, functional and fun clothing, goods, gifts and advice for parents, maternity, babies and children. Enjoy!

Family-Nation.it is open!

Posted by on 31 Aug 2012 in Getting going | 0 comments

Family-Nation.it is open!

It’s raining. One of those summer thunderstorms that shake and rattle and make one want to grab a novel and retire to bed for the best part of the day. But our morale is high…

We just got word from our developers that our site in Italian www.family-nation.it is now up and running!

It’s one year today that we left Thailand and we could not think of a better way to mark this anniversary (and help chase away the inevitable blues of missing our friends over there).  We can’t stop smiling and keep refreshing the browser page to see the homepage appear again and again.

Have a look too and tell us what you think.

The site is in Italian and delivery is offered only to Italy for the moment (but get in touch with us if you REALLY like something on the site). We are working to have international delivery and an international/english language site working as soon as possible.

And at one point today, we’ll also stop and breathe and pop open a bottle of something sparkling and cold and sit down for a little celebration…

Emilia and Aidan

 

Family-Nation.it launches today

Read More

Not just yet, but almost….

Posted by on 27 Apr 2012 in Our progress, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Not just yet, but almost….

 

It’s been a while since we last posted an update, but we thought it would be worth the wait, given that we can confidently say that we are now over 80% of the way to a live, online Family Nation boutique!

Our website (Italian version to begin with) is in the latest stages of development. A stockroom and storage space is being fitted. We have designed and commissioned colourful packaging – as well as the more boring mundane, but essential task of setting up an accounting system that can reliably get an online shopping cart system to talk to the maze of Italian tax laws (thank you Aidan for being so stubborn determined!).

Family Nation packaging (duck, logo, bear and rainbow)

In the process we learned that if we wanted to walk the talk of our values, we needed to put some extra time in making the right choices from the start. So for the packaging for instance, we wanted to make sure our plastic bags biodegrade, and our paper is recycled or from sustainable sources. Alas, few packaging suppliers were able to fulfil these criteria in Italy.  In the end, however, we got there. Our mail bags are degradable and made of recycled materials. Our labels and stationery are made out of FSC certified paper and printed with inks derived from renewable vegetable materials. Our boxes are made of recycled cardboard and are fully recyclable. There is still a lot that can be improved upon, but at least we feel we are giving it a serious try.

                

Last but not least, our lovely products have started arriving! It’s been very exciting to open cartons and boxes and discover the goodies inside them. If possible these are even more beautiful in real life than in pictures.

Family Nation takes its first delivery   Family Nation's new Hevea products

Family Nation receives its first order from Serendipity    Frugi products arrive at Family Nation

 

We have now adding toys to our range and we plan to include many more. And, YES, we DO get to try them out first! :)  Just as a taster of what it is to come, check out these rattles from the colourful fair trade Pebble range. Manufactured in a non-profit community business in Bangladesh and with the right dose of humour about them, they tick so many of our Family Nation boxes that choosing to stock them was a no brainer! We hope you’ll enjoy them also.

Family Nation toys - cuddly vegetables, doughnuts and octopus

While waiting for a more permanent abode, the boxes of lovelies are parked in our office and make us smile whenever we walk past (or have to climb over them in some cases…). We can almost see the the smiles of all the families and children who will be opening their Family Nation parcels to reveal their colourful, happy and fun loot!

Not just yet, but almost….

 

Read More

Valentines Dinner Ricotta Gnocchi

Posted by on 16 Feb 2012 in Getting going | 0 comments

Valentines Dinner Ricotta Gnocchi

Gone are the days when we used to try a new recipe featuring seasonal ingredients every week… Since we have gone in work overdrive, our meals are currently pared down to 4 or 5 staple dishes peppered by a nice dessert when we happen to have guests.

For Valentines dinner however, I wanted to try something new and made from scratch, but still quick, easy, foolproof and that we could make together as a family with the help of the kids.

I found this recipe for ricotta gnocchi in an old Donna Hay magazine. I liked the fact that it required ingredients that we always have at hand. Although what caught my eye were the – probably aspirational – pictures accompanying the recipes – of a loving couple preparing a relaxed weekend brunch for themselves.

The kids loved the tactile experience of getting the gnocchi dough sticking to their hands, rolling ‘snakes’ of dough and then chopping them mercilessly into gnocchi (or topini, little mice, that’s how we call them in Florence). And of course, getting covered in flour.

The gnocchi were lovely: took just over 15 minutes to make from start to finish and about 3 minutes to eat up! It’s only after we gobbled them all that, alas, I realised that I had forgotten to take any pictures of the finished dish! So here instead is a shot of the aftermath!Ricotta Gnocchi - Family Nation Valentine's Day

Here is the recipe, with my variations:

Easy Ricotta Gnocchi with Herbs Butter

For the Gnocchi:
– 250g best quality ricotta
– ½ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese + more to serve
– 1 egg, lightly beaten
– ⅔ cup plain all purpose flour + more to flour the surface to roll the gnocchi
– ¼ cup flat leaf parsley leaves chopped
– Sea salt and cracked black pepper

For the Lemon and Herbs Butter:
– 80g butter
– 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
– 4-5 fresh sage leaves
– 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon rind
– 2 teaspoons lemon juice

To make the lemon and herbs butter, melt the butter in a small saucepan together with the lemon juice, lemon rind and herbs. To make the gnocchi, place the ricotta, egg, Parmesan, flour, parsley, salt and pepper in a bowl and mix well. The mixture will be soft and very sticky. Turn the mixture onto a generously floured surface and roll it into one or more ‘ropes’ (or ‘snakes’) about the width of your thumb. Cut into 2cm long gnocchi and press them gently with the back of the fork. Cook the gnocchi in batches (so they don’t stick to each other) in a large pot of salted boiling water for about 2-3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and ladle the gnocchi in a wide serving plate and spoon over the lemon and herbs butter and a little grated Parmesan alternating layers of gnocchi, herbs butter and Parmesan. Eat immediately adding more Parmesan, if needed.

Serves up to 4, but more likely 2 greedy adults!

Buon appetito!

Read More

We ♥ Playtime Paris!

Posted by on 3 Feb 2012 in Getting going | 0 comments

We ♥ Playtime Paris!

The year of the Dragon got off to a roaring start for Family Nation. January and February are trade fair months and so while the days are still short and the weather is bad, we set off to visit two of the biggest trade fairs for maternity, baby and children products.

First was Pitti Bimbo. Conveniently located in Florence, Pitti Bimbo is the main international fashion trade fair for baby and children wear. We had a chance to visit colourful and conceptual stands and get the lowdown on what will be on trend for the next couple of seasons.

Then Playtime Paris. Teeming with independent designers and interesting new brands of clothing, accessories and useful products for future mothers, babies and children, Playtime Paris was an essential stop to identify brands that are fashionable functional and fun. Designers and manufacturers come from all over Europe, the US, Japan, Colombia, New Zealand, and other countries. Needless to say it absorbed us for three full days leaving only a few hours here an there to sneak in a dinner at a lovely French Bistro and a Thai restaurant (of course!).

Emilia with Katvig designer – Lenee.

Family Nation Founder Emilia Mugnai with Katvig

We came back tired but very happy to have made so many contacts, met interesting and passionate people, and seen gorgeous and useful products that we can carry on family- nation.com.

Aidan making friends at the fair…

Family Nation Aidan Cox at Playtime Paris

Please see below for some of the lovely brands and products we saw and that we are considering carrying. Should we? Should we not? Help us: choose with us! Let us know what you like by clicking below (your vote will remain anonymous and will not be shared further).


Thanks, and see you soon!

Read More

Small is beautiful

Posted by on 27 Jan 2012 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Small is beautiful

Raise your hand those of you who have NOT bought anything from Amazon this Christmas season. I suspect there will be very few hands out there that have resisted the temptations of Amazon’s cheap prices and fast delivery.

I wonder however, how many of you were left a little uneasy after these purchases. Particularly, when, lost for ideas, you started browsing Amazon’s lists and suggestions that, let’s face it, do not always heed quality items or original gifts and you ended up having to return several items after the holidays.

This recent article from the New York Times argues that you might not be alone in your online shopping queasiness.

Similar to what is happening with bricks and mortar retail, where many customers are starting to support local and small businesses rather than big chains, some online shoppers are staying clear of Amazon and other online giants (or at least reducing their addiction…) and preferring to support small, independent retailers. They want to support small businesses, foster diversity in offering, and share an antipathy for the bullying techniques sometimes used by Amazon and other big retailers.

We have always thought that the competition will be hard, but that Family Nation will stand out from the crowd by providing a smashing selection of hand-picked, scrumptious and quality products, personalised advice and customer service, and an opportunity for families all over the world to share their views. We also want to support other small businesses that produce interesting and useful baby items, particularly those in developing countries that have few opportunities to sell to an international audience.

The recent New York Times report is giving us hope that there really are potential online customers out there that are attracted by these ideas. We can’t wait to get out there and deliver to them our functional fashionable and fun products!

Read More

New Year – New Gear!

Posted by on 18 Jan 2012 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

New Year – New Gear!
It’s been a while since we reported on Family Nation progress from our new home in the lovely Florentine hills. After a very energetic start setting up our business, our style was somewhat cramped when four hundred (400!) boxes of our belongings filled with over 6 years of life complete with a menacing tiger head (the moving company’s logo), were delivered to our doorstep.
We had to invest several weeks in opening cartons, disposing of boxes, moving around pieces of furniture, combined with ensuring a functioning household (redoing electric wiring, building wardrobes, and sorting out childcare). Finally, we got to Christmas with our house in order and only a few tiger-eyed boxes peaking out from the corner of our bedroom…
Having shifted gears for 2012, we are working with renewed energy and enthusiasm to get the Family Nation site up and running as soon as possible. We’ve now got our own office that allows us to work uninterrupted and undisturbed (until Flavia and Tancredi figure out it’s actually hidden behind our house…). And we have secured a small warehouse where we are housing our growing catalogue of products. To our relief, we have found a very good local partner to help us set up our site – Aperion– conveniently based in Florence and specialists in e-commerce. We are enjoying working with the Aperion team. It helps that Andrea, the manager, is Anglophile who sees eye to eye with Aidan on many things.
We have decided that Family Nation will start its operations in Italian, rather than English, to capitalise on the growing Italian online market. And we’ll use the first few months to hone our logistics so that we can deliver fast, cheaply and reliably – so we’ll be ready to open in English to deliver all around the world by summer. We can’t wait for that day!
Last but not least, at the end of this month Family Nation will attend its first trade fair “Playtime Paris”, the international trade fair dedicated to babies, children and maternity where more than 400 international brands will exhibit their best products. More on that soon.

  

Read More

Step-by-step – we’re now legal!

Posted by on 24 Sep 2011 in Getting going | 2 comments

Step-by-step – we’re now legal!

Writing this on the train back from Milan tonight, it doesn’t seem possible that it is only 11 days since we settled in Firenze, maybe because so much is happening. We returned on Monday 12th from our post-Bangkok recovery and chill-out week – spent by the sea in Elba Island.  Since then we have: selected, changed and finally settled on a nursery school for Tancredi – including of course the “inserimento” where you get to sit on tiny chairs next to your beloved for 2 hours every morning (and then you bring your child back home again), to help them settle in; we then came out smiling, or at least alive, from our first combat with the Florence city authorities… we now have “la residenza”, a prized possession without which you have no rights to medical services, can’t buy a car or register a company… though this owes more to a courageous Council employee fighting our case against all odds, and almost coming to blows with less enlightened members of il Comune di Firenze. We’ve opened a business bank account; met with an encouraging internet developer; signed up Flavia for gym classes, bought a car.

And – best of all – today we legally exist! Today Family Nation (S.R.L.) was born as a company. We went to Milan today to sign off at the notary office and meet our accountants (two lovely and lively ladies who have been advising us on our business set up). As a nice perk it was right in the middle of Fashion Week, and the city was bursting with designers and utterly gorgeous models. It left Aidan and I feeling that if you have to meet with tax accountants and mediaeval-style notaries, then Milan in Fashion Week, at least, is a really phenomenal place to do it.

We finally feel that we can change our “Progress Bar” on this page to something more dignified than the 2% from when we left Bangkok!

Next week we will focus on setting up the house and storage space for our humongous shipment that is set to reach Italy on 16 of October – and to be ready to receive our Family Nation goods to get our inventory in shape ready for launch in December or January. We can open up negotiations with manufacturers and distributors knowing that we are now a company!

We’ve been blessed by incredibly mild, summery weather and by our lovely families welcoming us back to Europe. Flavia and Tancredi are adapting well to the new schools and friends, although it is not always easy to master new languages and habits (socks and shoes, anyone??).

We look forward to a relaxing weekend together and an exciting new week, our first as Family Nation S.R.L!

Emilia and Aidan

Read More