Monday, March 28, 2011

An afternoon at TOMS

As you may have guessed from my Steppin' Out posts, I'm a big fan of TOMS shoes. I have two pairs of wedges, and I've been drooling over some of the flats for myself and Em for a while. Also, it just feels nice to support a company that's made a business out of philanthropy -- for each pair of shoes you buy, they give a pair to a child who might otherwise go without shoes.

You can imagine my excitement when I was invited to visit the company's headquarters for a TOMS Moms event.

It wasn't long ago when I discovered the headquarters are just a stone's throw from our place in Santa Monica. What are the chances, really?

For whatever reason, I assumed the event was going to be a mid-day gathering with a bunch of mom bloggers and their kiddos, hanging out. The invite had pics of kids in TOMS and said to RSVP for the kidlets. When Em and I arrived, though, I learned that it was going to be a much more intimate event than I had imagined, and Em was going to be the only kid there. Doh!

The TOMS folks were ready for us, however, with loads of craft supplies, coloring pages and crayons. Em was delighted.
I have friends in fun places. Hanging out at @TOMSshoes hq!

We were joined by bloggers Heather from The Spohrs Are Multiplying, Jennifer from Perfectly Dishelved and Rebecca from Girls Gone Child, as well as TOMS marketing gal and PR team. Shortly after we arrived, we toured the offices, which are open and rustic.
TOMS headquarters
Pic from Jennifer

There are shoes on the walls and thank-you notes from kids who've received shoes from TOMS One to One Program.

We saw the e-commerce department, the design team, and my personal favorite -- the giving department, which works with charities in 23 countries to help distribute TOMS shoes. I almost sat right down and stayed there. "Hi, I'm Nanette. Please hire me to help distribute your awesome shoes to awesome organizations in need. Kthx."

We headed back to the conference room, which is themed to match the barn where the company's shoes were launched. This is where we were given a pair of plain, light canvas TOMS to design and decorate ourselves, similar to the Style Your Sole events described here.

After lamenting about how non-crafty we all were, we got into the spirit of gussying up the shoes.
#tomsmoms @tomsshoes

Em, of course, didn't want to be anywhere but on my lap, so my pair ended up being the least decorated. I was scared of doing anything permanent to the shoes while wiggly Em noshed on croissants and fruit.

Here's what I accomplished while we were there:

TOMS founder and "chief shoe giver" Blake Mycoskie joined our group while the rest of the gals finished painting their shoes.
The creator himself, Blake! @tomsshoes He's a doll!

He told us more about TOMS roots, including some fun anecdote, like TOMS is short for "tomorrow's shoes." Folks are sometimes disappointed that Blake isn't, in fact, named Tom.

The company doesn't just give one pair of shoes to a child and then disappears. As kids grow out of shoes every 6 months on average, they try to give as often as possible.
Chatting w/ Blake

Blake also spoke about an upcoming event they're promoting. Next Tuesday, April 5, is One Day Without Shoes to raise awareness of the impact a pair of shoes can have on a child's life by taking off our own. TOMS is asking people to do *something* -- ANYTHING without their shoes, and think about what the millions of children who group up without shoes are risking -- injury, diseases, sometimes the inability to go to school.

TOMS employees are going to walk barefoot along Venice. I've pledged to go for a walk without my shoes. You can join the initiative here.

I loved the behind-the-scenes look. Apparently Em did, too. I've never seen her so calm and quiet. She held my hand and stayed close as we toured the offices, and she sat on my lap contently the rest of the time. She only got chatty when Blake entered the room, which is unusual because she typically clams up around boys over the age of 6. His calm vibe must have resonated with her.
Chatting w/ Blake

Oh! TOMS warehouse sent over the wrong color of Tiny TOMS for Em instead of the plain ones for her to decorate. It worked out great, though, because seriously, how cute are THESE bad boys? She LOVES them, and I love that they fit all the podiatrist-recommended criteria for toddler shoes.
Em's Tiny TOMS

In her Tiny TOMS

I, um, may have also bought these pink sparkle Tiny TOMS after the event for Em, too. I just couldn't resist!

Lastly, I couldn't get past the feeling that my decorated TOMS needed something more, so I picked up some fabric paint and updated them while Em was safely nestled in her crib for the night. No wiggle worm to stifle my TOMS creativity!
My self-designed TOMS

Monday, September 6, 2010

Deliver unto me

When Em's in a good mood, I don't mind taking her grocery shopping. She wins over other patrons with her giggles, and we'll sing the ABCs while cruising the aisles. As the Terrible 2s approach and her vocabulary increases, so do the grocery store meltdowns. If she's in a *mood* and sees me place yogurt or strawberries or string cheese in the cart, she'll lunge for the item and yell, "OPEN! YOGURT! OOOPPPEN!"

Plus, we live on the second story of our condo complex, which limits the amount of groceries I can juggle while making sure Em gets up the 15 stairs safely.

With this in mind, you can imagine how quickly I jumped at the opportunity to review Vons Home Grocery Delivery service.

Here's what rocked about it:
  • I shopped from my couch.
  • I saved a step and didn't have to write a list. I read directly from recipes I planned to make and just searched for the necessary ingredients.
  • The prices weren't bad!
  • Von's Club card prices are automatically applied.
  • I was able to choose a two-hour delivery window for the next day. Two hours is not bad at all, particularly compared to the 8-hour windows you typically have to commit to for the cable or utility guys.
  • I chose the 7-9 window, and the delivery arrived promptly at 7!
  • I didn't have to carry the items up our stairs myself.
  • The cold items arrived cold.
  • The delivery guy walked me through the bill.
  • As he started to leave, I stopped him to give a tip. He very politely declined and said it was against company policy. I'm not hooray-ing that I'm not able to reward someone for quality service, but it is nice not to have to pay extra. I'm hopeful that Vons compensates its drivers nicely.
  • I cheered aloud when I saw this product on the site:

This stuff is HARD TO FIND! Much to the chagrin of my hardcore baking friends, I look for this
Red Velvet cake mix each time I'm in the baking aisle.

The few minor cons about the experience:
  • There were a few items I didn't receive, but that's not unlike when I visit actual stores myself. Not everything is always available everywhere, which is fine. The driver did note which items weren't available. (You can choose to have alternate similar products delivered if the chosen items is out of stock, but I didn't.)
  • I'm a visual person, so it wasn't as easy to visualize how much I actually needed of a particular ingredient on the website, even with the amounts listed.
  • Some options were for product categories seemed more limited online than in-store, but I could be wrong about that.
Even with those few "cons" above, I enjoyed the Vons Home Grocery Delivery service and would recommend it to my readers. As a bonus, I get to offer you a promo code good for free delivery and $7 off your first order. Simply enter "sayit" in the promo code box when you check out.


Disclosure: I received Vons gift cards to try out the service, but the views expressed are all mine.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Team Over!

If you already entered via my other site, you're STILL entered! Don't worry!

Oh, yes, I will sell my blogging soul for a month's supply of Cottonelle! (Did I mention that Brent's still funemployed?) If I'm one of the first 200 to blog about this (and it looks like I will be), I get myself a month's worth of Cottonelle toilet paper as a member of the Mom Bloggers Club.

I'll participatie in the Cottenelle Roll Poll - as a member of Team Over!

And by leaving a comment on THIS post, YOU will be entered to win 1 of 10 Cottonelle gift baskets randomly chosen on January 29, 2010 from all entries.

Nice, clean, wobbly bits for everyone!
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