A Conversation with: Aimee & Christina of Tiny Crane
Los Angeles-based online boutique (and Estella retailer) Tiny Crane was founded by two former colleagues and now moms, Aimee and Christina. Knowing how difficult creating a baby registry can be, the two decided to create a store that offered all the items baby would need, all in one place. Tiny Crane’s selection includes clothes, accessories, toys, & nursery essentials that are all high-quality and safe yet still modern and beautiful in design. Parents will be sure to find items they can trust while also discovering new and unique brands at the same time. Read on to hear more about Aimee and Christina’s background, their favorite baby products at the moment, and funniest parenting stories…
1. Tiny Crane sells high quality and safe baby products that are also unique and beautifully designed. Where do you find these brands and are there any new ones you’ve discovered recently that should be on our radar?
Aimee: I had my first exposure to baby products when I was pregnant with my daughter Lucy. I have really supportive and wonderful friends that guided me through the vast world of baby products. They told me what worked for them and what I needed and did not need. Luckily my friends also have great style, so they were able to recommend clothing brands and accessories as well. As you start looking at baby products on your own you start to find parenting blogs and social media accounts of people that have a similar aesthetic or lifestyle as you. I find a lot of products through social media. And I love looking at smaller designers and handmade products on Etsy. A really great clothing brand that we love is LA-based Ultra Violet Kids. I actually have one of the designer’s shirts from when she designed women’s apparel, so naturally, I love the baby clothes she designs. Another line we are excited about is Rouxroo from Brooklyn, NY. They make really cool baby products in bold, bright colors. Everything is organic and they support socially responsible and ethical business practices.
Christina: All of my friends started having babies around the same time so there was definitely a dialogue among us about which products we just discovered, thought were cool, wondered if they were really necessary, etc. I had really bad insomnia during my pregnancy, and in the middle of the night, I would read pregnancy forums and research strollers, car seats, clothes, toys, etc. It became a joke with my friends because eventually there was no baby product I hadn’t heard of. I found a lot of my favorite products via blogs and social media. It’s really incredible how many new brands I found on places like Instagram! I love Oli & Carol toys because they are made from sustainable rubber, are non-toxic, super cute and they donate toys to children around the world who can’t afford them. I’m also a big fan of our wooden teethers from Maple Landmark. My daughter and I were in a parent and me Montessori class and I would go home and research every brand in the classroom, which is how I found a lot of great wooden toys. Maple Landmark is a small company in Middlebury, Vermont and the teethers are made from Vermont maple, have absolutely no finish and are really great for teething babies or as a grasping toy.
2. Best and worst parts of being your own bosses?
Aimee: The best part is having the flexibility to spend time with my daughter. She is still small so I cherish every minute I have with her. The other great thing about being my own boss is having the ability to create a company as I envisioned it. It feels good to create a store that helps parents by making shopping for baby products easier and exposing parents to products from smaller designers that they might not have discovered otherwise.
The worst part is being a full-time mom while running a business. It is sometimes difficult to manage my time and I end up working late nights and not having much personal time for myself. But I do not mind it since my time is devoted to two things that I have always wanted….a family and my own business.
Christina: I agree with what Aimee said. My daughter is 2, and I don’t want her to think I am constantly glued to my phone or computer. We both go stir crazy if we are cooped up inside all day so we tend to wake up and get out of the house even if just for an hour. That leaves early morning or late night to work, and I go to sleep fairly early so I work in the mornings while Aimee works at night (usually). The best part is having the freedom to spend time with my daughter and help create a site that we both wish had existed when we were pregnant.
3. For customers looking for that perfectly unique baby gift, what would you recommend?
Aimee: We definitely recommend the adorable rattles from Estella! The Organic Baseball or Football rattles are great gifts for baby boys. And every baby should have a Pretzel rattle. The Pretzel is not only cute, it is also great for grasping by tiny hands.
Christina: When I buy a baby gift I also like to include something like a Petit Bateau onesie. The light pink or blue stripes are classic, high quality and can be passed down. They feel special, though maybe not something every parent thinks to buy for themselves.
4. What are/were your new mom & baby must-haves that you always had on hand?
Aimee: As a new mom I loved My Brest Friend nursing pillow. I could not feed Lucy without it. It made both of us more comfortable. Lucy’s Wubbanub was a lifesaver. She loved it. It soothed her and it was also easy for her to grasp herself. When she was learning to control her arms, it was fun to see her grab the Wubbanub and put it in her mouth herself. It was a huge achievement and we were so excited when she did it!
Christina: I had the Nuna Leaf baby seat and my daughter loved it. It kept my daughter occupied while I showered or prepared meals AND it’s designed so that it is not an assault on the eyes. There are a lot of products out there that aren’t beautiful, but babies love them and so we try to incorporate them into our homes as best we can, but this happens to be well-designed and it works. I also loved my Summer Infant Touchscreen Digital baby monitor. Sometimes my husband and I found ourselves watching Louise sleep instead of TV. I’m excited about the Babymoov 0% Emission monitor that we are carrying. I will get that for my next baby. Also, Comotomo bottles. Those were my daughter’s favorite and they allowed me to have someone else feed her which was a sanity saver. They are very breast-like!
5. Besides the obvious stuff, are there any toys, products, gear, etc. that all expecting parents should put on their registries?
Aimee: I would definitely recommend a play gym. Babies can lay on them and play independently. I also recommend toys with different textures and rings or tags on them. And for clothing, when you have a newborn you want your baby to be comfortable so you should stock up on cute basics. Kimono style onesies are the easiest to put on newborn babies.
Christina: I second what Aimee said about clothing. The Under the Nile basics are perfect for newborns. The rolled waist pants are nice because they are comfortable, loose and made from organic cotton. Hansel from Basel socks are the cutest socks you can put on a baby’s foot. I love all of the designs. I believe that expecting parents should put items they love on a registry. Go ahead and add that outfit that you may not buy on your own, or the blanket that you know will make you happy each time you wrap up your baby. If it brings you joy AND you will use it, then it’s worth registering for. Fortunately, at Tiny Crane, all of the items we carry are useful and/or necessary. I registered for many items that I never used because there are products that claim to revolutionize things that don’t need to be revolutionized. Most often those products are used once or twice and then left to collect dust. Rather than invent new baby products, I’d like designers to update and modernize the products we can’t live without. Let’s make them look as good as they are functional.
6. You’re both based in Los Angeles – are there any can’t miss baby/kid-friendly spots (restaurants, stores, parks) we should check out if we ever find ourselves on the West Coast?
Christina: There are so many baby/kid-friendly spots in LA and Southern California in general. Plus, the weather!
Kidspace Children’s Museum in Pasadena is great for children of all ages. For babies from birth-age 3, there is the Early Childhood Learning Center. It is an interactive play-space with soft toys, tunnels, a climbing area and more. They also have music and story time every day.
Every Monday and Friday at 2 PM there is story time in the Korean Galleries at LACMA and after they head over to the Boone Children’s Gallery and spend some time drawing, painting or making whatever project is on hand that day. It is one of my favorite activities to do with Louise in LA. A bonus is the kids can explore the sculpture garden, run in the grass and ogle the wooly mammoth at the adjacent Tar Pits.
The Huntington Library is a beautiful place to explore and there is a children’s garden designed around the elements (fire, water, air, and earth). If your baby is not yet toddler age or older, the Huntington is a perfect place to stroll and enjoy the gardens and art collection.
Another great thing about Southern California is the hiking and the beaches. You can strap your baby in the carrier and hike all over LA. I like Solstice Canyon in Malibu and Griffith Park in Hollywood (which also has a carousel). Pack a picnic for Malibu, and stop at The Trails Cafe in Griffith Park for an avocado sandwich.
Mother’s Beach in Long Beach has a playground, a protected swimming area and lifeguards plus picnic facilities and a grassy area. It’s a nice, relaxing beach where you can dip your baby’s toes in the water and you don’t have to worry they’ll be taken out by a giant wave.
Grand Park is in downtown LA and has a splash pad for hot days. Downtown has changed so much in the past few years and the park is a great place to stop and relax while exploring what the area has to offer.
7. What’s your funniest parenting memory?
Aimee: Trying to breastfeed my baby in public for the first time and having breast milk spray everywhere…on me, on my baby, on my blouse…I am much better at it now and can do it like a pro.
Christina: This question makes me realize I need to write more things down! Recently my daughter has been renaming objects. She started calling tooth-paste, “flavor,” and a nail file, “a scratch.” A few weeks ago she was asking for flavor and it turned into a full-blown meltdown because at the time we had no idea what she meant. There’s never a dull moment with a toddler.
8. Finally, what’s one thing nobody told you about parenthood?
Aimee: I did not know that becoming a mother would bring me closer to my own parents. I have gained a deeper understanding of what they went through while raising me. Growing up you know that your parents love you, but you don’t realize how much they love you until you have a child of your own. I talk to my parents all the time now and I love seeing how happy their granddaughter makes them.
Christina: Nobody told me about the guilt I would feel as a parent. I have finally (mostly) silenced that inner guilt, but for a good 2 years, I experienced it if I took time for myself or went away overnight with my husband or girlfriends. On the other hand, nobody told me about how intensely I would miss my daughter the second I did take that time for myself! Sometimes I would get tears in my eyes after a few hours—it felt like a part of me was missing. The good thing is I have learned from experience that the best parent is one who takes care of themselves, and that’s another thing I had to learn on my own.
Thank you, Aimee and Christina!