Since getting such a huge response from the last post about Elks and Angels Snuggle Pod, I thought it would be nice to get to know the brand a bit more. I asked designer Janet Kennedy-Ault a few questions…
1. When was Elks & Angels born and how did you come up with the fabulous name?
Elks & Angels launched just last year October 2010, although we had been in planning and prototyping for several years before this. As for the name of the brand, I racked my brain for a name and floated a few different things around which inevitably didn’t fit. One night when I laid down to go to sleep “elks and angels” popped into my head. It was almost as if I didn’t think of it at all, but more like someone handed it to me from above… and it fit perfectly. I loved that it encompassed an earthy feel with the elk and a heavenly feel with the angel.
2. I was shocked behind the theory of sheepskin and it’s adaptation to climate. Can you explain this in further detail?
Yes, sheepskin is great all year round. A sheep’s coat is designed to keep him warm in freezing cold temperatures and cool in hot summers and it will do the same for a baby. Simply put, this works by trapping baby’s own body heat in a microclimate around her, insulating and thus retaining the body’s own temperature rather than overheating. This will ensure a baby remains near body temperature and feels more comfortable.
On a more cellular level, the secret lies in the porous structure of wool, the ability of wool to absorb and evaporate moisture, as well as the mesh of wool fibers that create millions of tiny air pockets that trap air within and between its fibers. This layer of trapped air is an excellent insulator- still air being one of the best insulators found in Nature. In addition to this the fibers absorb moisture in cold weather to ensure baby stays dry and warm. A little moisture on the skin will chill the skin; quickly reducing body temperature. Sheepskin fibers can absorb up to 34% of its weight in moisture vapor without feeling wet — ten times as much as any synthetic fiber.
3. What was your inspiration behind the line?
The inspiration behind our first collection, was noticing there was a gap in the US market for a tried and trusted Australian tradition which is using sheepskin for babies. It is an entirely natural product that is so simple and yet so refined and designed to withstand the elements.
My mother had a sheepskin rug for me when I was a baby and she loved its versatility. It comforted me in my crib, in my stroller on the floor as a play mat or somewhere to take a nap while she was out and about.
My mother and I thought we should share this Australian tradition with American parents and babies. We took this timeless material of Australian sheepskin and designed it to be an essential item for modern day parents by making a pod that can go from summer to winter, pram to play mat. For me, nothing can compare to natural products and in a World that is becoming more and more fast paced and technical, it’s sometimes nice to be a little old fashioned and work with pure materials from the past. We complimented the snuggle pod with the flat sheepskin teddy which children love to cuddle with, sheepskin baby rugs and welcome booties.
4. What is next for Elks and Angels? More products?
Our goals for 2011 were to increase awareness and distribution of our brand, especially the snuggle pod as it is really its first full season. So thank you to moms who keep giving me great feedback and spreading the word. In terms of distribution, we have some fabulous new stores selling our products and are going to be available at Giggle nationally come fall (which was a big dream come true for us). The cuddle bears have been photographed for the O-list in the O- The Oprah magazine for the September issue which is super exciting for someone who has come from a small town in Australia and somehow landed in NYC so I feel awareness will really increase this year.
As for new product, my last couple of months has been devoted to cuddling my new 2 month old baby boy (so moms know how much doesn’t get done with little babies although many mothers now appear to me to be super-super moms), however I will start to prototype a bear for a charity which will launch in 2012. We will also be working on a chic diaper bag, and hope to branch out into some eco nursery furniture in the future. Whatever products we do though, they will continue to be made to the highest quality from the most pure and natural materials.