ABC Kids Expo Accepting Applications for Specialty Areas

ABC Kids Expo is accepting applications until April 30 from manufacturers who would like to exhibit in the fall Modern Child or Naturally Kids pavilions.

The show is set for October 14-17 in Louisville, KY, and organizers are reworking the specialty areas to ensure that products meet specific criteria.

For more information, go to www.theabcshow.com

Wittlebee Raises $2.5 Million Seed Funding

Monthly kids clothing club Wittlebee recently received $2.5 million in funding. CEO and founder Sean Percival said the funding would be used to invest in its executive team and to create a line of private-label clothing to keep up with growing customer demand. Backed by technology studio Science Inc., the children's clothing monthly membership service launched less than two months ago, but is said to experienced accelerated growth, in part of Science's track record of quickly scaling ecommerce. 

My Little Pony Bows Online Design Studio

Toy giant Hasbro has teamed up with FashionPlaytes, an online clothing design experience, to launch a My Little Pony design studio e-commerce experience for girls. In the only design studio, kids can create their own unique fashions and have them produced as real-life clothing and accessories. The My Little Pony design studio will offer a variety of customizable apparel and accessory options, including dresses, tops, bottoms and bags. 

HSN Buys Kids’ Clothing E-tailer Chasing Fireflies

Multi-channel retailer HSN Inc. has acquired e-commerce site Chasing Fireflies though its operating segment Cornerstone Brands. The purchase price was not disclosed but HSN said the Seattle-based company (which offers apparel, gifts and accessories for children and babies) had $39 million in revenue last year. Co-founders Dina Alhadeff, Amy Grealish and Lori Liddle will continue to run business and oversee day-to-day operations while working closely with the Cornerstone team, led by CEO Mark Ethier, to drive growth.

Social Media May Reduce the Impact of Customer Complaints

A study released Tuesday by research firm CFI Group found that social media may ease the impact of negative word-of-mouth. According to its annual Call Center Satisfaction Index, social media commentary after a customer service rep experience can have a counterintuitive impact. "What we are seeing is that if you have a bad experience, you post it once on Facebook for all to see and then you're done with it," said Terry Redding, director of development and delivery for CFI Group.

Crayola Gets Artsy

Kids' favorite crayon brand, Crayola, is teaming up with Surfacers, a producer and supplier of glass tile, to create a line of glass mosaics. The Crayola Glass Tile collection includes 60 SKUs, with colors that reflect Crayola's far-reaching brand heritage, such as Fire Engine Red and Deep Sea Blue. "Our partnership with Surfaces allows us to bring Crayola colors into homes in a unique way by bringing fun and creativity to kids' spaces," notes Warren Schorr, CP of licensing for Crayola. "The colors are vibrant, and the shapes are playful and fun."

Alvin & Crew Hit Wal-Mart

To celebrate the release of the newest "Chipmunks" movie, "Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked," Fox Consumer Products is launching an exclusive apparel deal with Wal-Mart. The collection will consist of a spring collection of boys' and girls' apparel from the following licensees: Bioworld, for boys' T-shirts; Awake, for girls' T-shirts; Isaac Morris for boys' swimwear and girls' T-shirts; H.I.S. International, for girls' sportswear and swimwear; Berkshire Fashions, for boys' hosiery and headwear;  and SG Intimates for boys' and girls' pajamas.

Barbie, Hot Wheels Under Construction

Two children's industry giants, Mega Brands and Mattel, have partnered up for a multi-year global licensing deal to create a line of construction toys based on the Barbie and Hot Wheels brands. The Mega Bloks Barbie line, made especially for little girls, will feature Barbie and her friends in a buildable world of fashion and dream locations. The Mega Bloks Hot Wheels collection allows little boys to customize cool performance and stunt cars. Both lines are slated to hit stores in Spring 2013.

Moody’s upgrades outlook for US apparel industry

Moody's Investors Service said on Thursday that children's retailer Gymboree Corp. would benefit the most from plummeting cotton prices and steady demand. When cotton prices peaked last year, Gymboree's profit margins took the hardest hit, but an ongoing decline coupled with a slow and steady economic recovery in the U.S. should benefit the company, with most gains coming in the second half of the year.