Alternate Title: How I *met* Kirsten at Kleynimals
I love this little story, so I wanted to share it with my readers. It’s a very small world and birds of a feather flock together and all of that!
So here’s the story….
In 2011 I won the Healthy Child Healthy World Mom On A Mission award. You can watch the short [2-minute] video from that here. The two most memorable quotes from this video are my friend Josh saying: “Tamara’s the most annoying person I know…” and my husband saying: “It’s extraordinary being married to Tamara Rubin.“
As a result of winning this award there were a lot of unexpected and interesting “perks”. One of these perks was that a couple of times a year Healthy Child Healthy World sent me a box of products they felt were the best of the best (safest, healthiest, best for kids from a toxicity perspective). I was always surprised to get this box, and it was a lot of fun opening it each time it arrived!
The intention behind the boxes was that if there was a company or product we (my fellow parent ambassadors to Healthy Child Healthy World and I) liked, we could contact them directly about the possibility of working together. Given my focus was not really on products at the time and given how busy with my nonprofit, I mostly gave the products away as prizes in free raffles and such (via Facebook), but didn’t particularly consider the opportunity to partner with companies manufacturing products at that time [I’ve also always been nervous about the prospect of partnering with companies that manufacture products, because at any time the manufacturing can change, and a product that might have been non-toxic initially might later become toxic].
<Fast-forward to late-2016 (IIRC)>…and one of the boxes I received at my home was full of goodies (including some exciting toys for my kids), but the product that struck me as MOST revolutionary and MOST exciting, was a product I had actually often thought of making myself — yet there in my hands was a miraculous perfect specimen of what I had imagined, revealing that someone else had the same idea…and had actually done it (Kleynimals)! Yay!!.
<Dramatic flashback, over scary music>…I will never forget the very first time my very first baby played with my keys…this was 22 years ago, and my eldest son was 5 or 6 months old, and really had not played with any toys yet. I had him in his playpen in my living room and my grandparents came over to visit. My grandfather was APPALLED that there were “no toys in my baby’s play pen with him” (even though he wasn’t yet crawling or doing anything in particular that would engage with toys… and my parenting focus with this kiddo was to constantly play music in the background – including jazz standards and other culturally-rich classics – as well as keeping a strict regimen of reading him three books to him a day starting on his very first day on the planet.)
My grandfather then took out his keys and started cooing at my baby and shaking his keys over him in the play pen. I was horrified and outraged [and this was BEFORE I knew anything about the Lead hazards in most keys, I just thought “eww – gross – they are filthy; get those away from my baby!!!” However, this memory sticks in my mind as my grandfather’s keys being the very first “toy” that my eldest child ever really interacted with.
<Fast-forward 12+ years later>…when I started doing XRF testing of consumer goods – and learned about how most house keys have high Lead content and I thought, “oh boy … we need to make some Lead-free – stainless-steel – keys for babies to play with! The babies REALLY WANT to play with real metal keys, so we have to create a way to give them what they want but also keep them safe!”
<And now back to the end of 2016> (sorry for all the temporal skipping around, but I am a filmmaker, so I tend to think “cinematically” ;-))
So when I got this box from Healthy Child Healthy World – I thought WOW – this is exactly the product I wish I had invented – and they are ADORABLE… so I contacted Kirsten about possibly collaborating (specifically I asked her if she would donate some Kleynimals as a prize to my Facebook raffle in January of 2017 – you can check that post out here) … and we had a few conversations back and forth and that is how I discovered these ridiculous coincidental facts:
- Kirsten was good childhood friends with Suzanne.
- Suzanne was married to Dave G.
- (I told her I used to take baths with Dave G. as a toddler!)
- Dave G. is the youngest son of my mother’s best friend since I was a baby – also named Suzanne!
Below is a picture of me (shirtless – on the left, c. 1975) and Dave G. (far right, in stripes, eating ice cream). This is at the Hingham Center Common craft fair that my mom organized every Fourth of July near my house. Damn, whatever happened to those pants I was wearing? — They are STYLIN! lol
And there you have it. That’s how I am unexpectedly connected to the owner of Kleynimals, – with less than 6 degrees of separation: I used to take baths with her good friend’s husband! LOL.
And the moral of the story? I don’t know… perhaps it is just that we may all be connected in whimsical, undiscovered ways – and for this reason, it is our duty as citizens of this planet to work together to protect all the babies from environmental toxicity. I also wanted to share this with you to let you know that I don’t partner with just “anyone” — for companies to work with me, it’s important that I can genuinely believe in their products (as I do with Kirsten’s Kleynimals). I also wanted to make sure you are all clear that I liked her products and was supportive of her business mission BEFORE she accepted my invitation to support my work – so unlike other bloggers, this is not a case where I am doing this “just for business/money” (or because a company approached me with some sort of “good deal”). This is personal.
In any case – I am excited to have met Kirsten, and to have connected with Kleynimals, and I am incredibly thankful for her support of my advocacy work. And I hope my support of her business (by sharing her amazing baby products with you) will help support her efforts to protect babies everywhere, too.
So please, if you have not yet checked out Kleynimals online – here is the link to their website. [Lead Safe Mama readers also get a special 15% discount code (using the code “leadsafemama” on all of the individual items, just not on the gift sets.] So if you are about to have a baby (or a grandchild) and are wondering what to get them… how about a set of safe Lead-free stainless steel keys, or a s.s. baby flatware set, MADE IN THE USA by a small business owned by a woman?! (As I said before, #Win #Win #Win!)
Thank you for reading.
Please let me know if you have any questions.