Thursday, September 16, 2010

New Blog Post

We've got a new blog post on our new site. Check it out:

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Admiral Road's New Blog

You may have noticed we've launched a brand new website. We're still at - we've just renovated to make our site easier for you to use.

We're still offering up the best blankets in the world, only now we're making it easier than ever to get them! And not only can you continue to get our great products, you can also upload your own photos and (glowing, we hope) testimonials.

And the blog is moving too! Going forward, you can find our blog at If you follow us in a blog reader, remember to subscribe to the new feed.

We know that change can be hard, but our blankets are soft - so come on and join us at the new

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Should you hire a Business Coach?

We’ve all heard the expression "it takes a village to raise a child." We think it takes a village to raise your business, too. We can all use help thinking about strategy, sourcing suppliers, contemplating marketing initiatives and more. When we’re stumped at Admiral Road, we routinely turn to other mom entrepreneurs for help, as well as former business school professors and smart self-employed guys that we know, not to mention friends and family members.

While this informal system works for us, there are many entrepreneurs who swear by using a business coach to help them strategize and address business issues. Hiring a business coach means entering into a formal mentoring relationship where you pay an expert for her time and expertise. The question is, is it worth it?

Here’s what a business coach can do for you:

  • View your business through a filter of experience and objectivity.
  • Ask you questions that will help you see the issues in your business more clearly.
  • Help you make tough decisions and develop an action plan.
  • An outlet for discussing your business.
  • Can be someone to whom you are accountable for getting things done.

That being said, there are a few things they can't do for you. A business coach can’t hold your hand every second. While they can help you figure out what to do, they can’t do it for you. They won’t be responsible if it doesn’t work out. Compare it to hiring a personal trainer. Using their expertise, a personal trainer will create a plan that addresses your particular fitness goals. They will work out with you regularly and they’ll answer questions and provide encouragement. But they're not going to get on the treadmill for you. And they can’t control what you eat or how often you work out. The same goes for a business coach – ultimately the results are up to you.

Another consideration is the cost. Business coaching isn’t cheap. You can sometimes get packages of sessions, or work with an online coach via email or phone, either individually or in a group setting. A one-on-one session can run you $100 to $200 per hour (sometimes more). It’s definitely pricey, especially for a small business, but if it helps you achieve real results quickly, it just may be worth it.

If business coaching sounds like it’s for you, your best bet is to ask around and get a recommendation from a friend or colleague. If that doesn’t turn up anything, you can try the International Coaching Federation or

Finally, not all business coaches are created equal. Just as you’d want to hire a personal trainer who was in great shape, with years of experience and lots of satisfied clients, you’ll want to be sure that your business coach is the real deal. Ask lots of questions and, if you can, speak to former clients before making the investment.

Do you have any experiences with business coaching? We’d love to hear about them.

Read more of our "Ask an Expert" column on Sweetmama

Thursday, July 22, 2010

New Styles and New Coupons

Hey Roadies,

Have you ordered your new Bloom blanket yet? The newest addition to the collection is girl, fun, and bold.

How to save: Use coupon code ARDSUMMER10 by August 1st to save $5.00 off your order total.

But wait! There's more: Go to our Facebook page and "Like" us (formerly become a Fan). Once you've done that you'll have access to an even bigger coupon.

We've got piles of other great things happening in the coming months so stay tuned and stay cozy.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Why it Pays to Plan

Recently, due to the G20 Summit, summitting has been all over the news. The goal of the G20 is not about quick fixes for complex problems, rather it's an opportunity to raise issues and plan how to tackle them.

While on a different scale, businesses also have complex problems that require thought and planning. When you own your own business, planning is essential. As a business owner, it’s very easy to drift off-course, reacting to daily business life without thinking about the bigger picture.

We are strong believers in writing a business plan. (Never did one? Take the time now – there are lots of resources online to help you get started, like this one from Ernst & Young.) However, there’s a big difference between a business plan and business planning. Although it's an invaluable exercise, your business plan pretty much becomes obsolete the minute you finish it – targets move, goals change, realities set in. This is where business planning comes in. The only way you’ll keep your business plan alive is with ongoing planning.

At Admiral Road, we didn’t hit our stride right away. There was so much we had to learn just to get a blanket out the door – how to make one, how to ship one, where to find our customers. And while we had spent the time on a comprehensive business plan out of the gate, regular ongoing planning definitely took a back seat. Then, about two years in, we had what we called the G2 Summit. (That would be the two of us!) We sat down and talked about our priorities for the business and began to look at our business in a new way. We made a plan for the coming 12 months and then executed it. A year later, we had another G2 Summit and made a new to-do list for the year ahead. Annual planning was a huge change for us. It helped us clarify our goals, which meant we were better prepared for whatever came our way.

Down the road, we moved to monthly plans and weekly check-ins. We set goals. We assign responsibility. And we move forward. Don’t have a partner? Have a G1 Summit. It helps you learn about your business, how the various parts work together, and how it might evolve.
Running a business is definitely a trip – and we all know that trips are a lot more fun when you’ve got a road map. All you need to do is follow it.

Read more of Amy and Danielle's 'ask and expert' column on SweetMama

Monday, June 21, 2010

We Have a Winner!

We’ve randomly picked a winner for our Green Sheep contest.

Congratulations to lucky #25 – Nadine who commented on our Facebook page. Her nephew, Jonah has won a green sheep blanket.

There could be only one winner, but we think that all the kids we heard about deserve a blanket. We’ll be sending everyone who entered a very special coupon. Check your inbox shortly.

Thanks to everyone for entering.

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Green Sheep is Back... and You Could Win!

Back by popular demand, the green sheep! (the sheep's white actually, but on a lovely celery-green coloured blanket)

To celebrate, we're giving one away to one of our lucky readers.

To enter, leave a comment below telling us the name of a little one you think deserves this cozy blanket and why.

Want an extra chance to win? Comment on our Facebook page, or tweet this.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Myths about Mom Entrepreneurship

So much has been written about mom entrepreneurship over the past few years. It’s a great choice for women – providing the best of both worlds – a blend of work and family. We wonder though, whether some of the less than perfect aspects of mom entrepreneurship have been glossed over in the media. So, from time to time, we’re going to do our best to shine some light on mom entrepreneurship myths.

Myth #1: Mom entrepreneurs get to spend lots of time with their kids.

Well, technically speaking this isn’t necessarily a myth. We do spend lots more time with our kids than we would if we worked for someone else. After all, that’s the whole point, right? We work carpool-to-carpool, and we wouldn’t trade that for the world.

The myth is about the quality of time we spend with our kids. Being a mom entrepreneur means that you always have something to do. So, even while you’ve scheduled “kid time,” it can be awfully hard to tune out the endless business to-do list running in the back of your mind. For example, we’re around with our kids after school – but we’re checking our BlackBerry and taking calls – and that’s on a good day. If there’s a business crisis, then all bets are off with respect to mommyhood. We may be sitting at the table with our kids for an after school snack – but so is our laptop.

And it can be hard for the kids to understand how it is that we’re home, but not available to them in the way they’d like us to be. We are not available to play Candyland again (mixed blessing on that one) and we may be only half listening to the endless discussion about Obi Wan and his cunning use of the Force. On the other hand, we are around to kiss a boo-boo better, to negotiate sibling scraps, and to listen when things didn’t go well at school. At the end of the day, we hope that they remember those things more than they remember the laptop and the phone calls.

We think that mom entrepreneurship is about having the things you want most. Sometimes we’re a little envious of the nine to five moms who can leave work behind, and also of the stay-at-home moms who are truly focused on their kids. For us and our families though, and maybe for you and yours, the balance generally works and we can’t think of an arrangement that would work better.

Read more of Amy and Danielle's business tips on Sweet Mama's "Ask an Expert"

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Me Time - a.k.a. Having your cake and eating it too

About a year ago I started spinning. Exercise class, that is – not going around in circles. (Sometimes I DO feel like I’m just going around in circles, but that might be a discussion for another time.) I’d always been terrified of spinning. I’d see those people emerging from their spin classes – drenched and wilted – and I thought, “That is not for me.” Well, I got over myself and came to love it. I did a spin class this morning in fact – a one hour class – and I felt so happily selfish. I was so aware of the fact that I was in that hot and sweaty room and I the only person I was there for was me.

When the topic of “me time” arises among moms, there is no shortage of eye-rolling. Whether we work inside the home, outside the home, or are trying to juggle a little bit of both, “me time” is in ridiculously short supply.

A few weeks ago my husband was at work – on a Saturday. I was home alone with my brood and felt caught in a seemingly unending cycle that looked something like this: Make breakfast, feed kids, clean up, break up squabbles, feed kids a snack, take kids to swim lessons, make lunch, feed the kids, clean up... I could actually feel myself rearing these people. No coffee break for mom that day.

That’s all fine and good – but I also know how much and need and crave “me time.”

But a good thing happened to me recently: My baby turned two. Now, I know, I’ve still got a lot of heavy-lifting years in front of me. But I also, gratefully, feel like our little family is making progress too. The two big girls are getting much better at amusing each other. The baby is becoming better at doing things on her own.

And me – I’m loving the dawn of a little more “me time.” I loved spin class this morning about as much as my baby – pictured above – enjoyed her 2nd birthday cake.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Fighting the good fight

Be kinder than necessary,
for everyone that you meet is fighting some kind of battle.......

These were the words at the bottom of an e-mail I received recently. It was a mass e-mail from someone at school about an upcoming meeting – and at the end was a message as a part of the sender’s automatic signature. These were the two lines that jumped off the page at me.

While we all know that kindness and compassion are what makes the world go ‘round, it can be awfully hard to keep it front and centre all the time. I for one, can honestly say that I struggle at times to see beyond the end of my nose – and I suspect I’m not alone in this. After all, it’s pretty easy for us to get caught up in our own worlds – our own insults and injuries, our dysfunctional relationships with people, places and things. What’s a lot harder is to keep in mind that everyone we meet has their own emotional bag of tricks.

So for days I had these two lines of text in my mind, and then life provided the illustration to the story. Driving around the city on errands a few weeks ago I pulled up at a stoplight. I noticed the cute little sports car to my left. I also noticed the driver - a really attractive woman about my age. And then I noticed that she was weeping. She was in the middle of a phone call that was obviously breaking her heart – and she was sobbing with genuine grief. My heart sank. I wanted more than anything to get out of my car and see if I could help this woman. The fact that I was in busy traffic in the nation’s largest city, in addition to the fact that I’m sure the last thing this poor woman wanted was the minivan driver next door banging on her window kept me from doing so.

I’ve thought about that woman a lot of times over the past few weeks and am hoping that a little good karma has come her way. I’ve also tried to keep in mind the personal battles that others are fighting- big and small – as I go through my days. Keeping this firmly in mind will be a battle of my own, but I’ll try.

In the meantime, here’s wishing you a little kindness and a reprieve from your battles today.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

What Kind of Business is for You?

So you’re ready to take the plunge into entrepreneurial waters. What do you do next?

Mom entrepreneurs run all kinds of businesses – from boutiques to book stores. We’ve met mom entrepreneurs who invented products such as bibs, barrettes and baby food. Some mom entrepreneurs start online stores, online newsletters or online communities. The list goes on and on, so how do you decide what business is for you?

While the possibilities are endless, there are ways to determine what business is right for YOU and you alone. In order to figure this out, start by asking yourself the following three questions:

  1. Can I convert my existing career into a new business? Many mom entrepreneurs draw on their past professional experience to launch themselves into entrepreneurship. Mom entrepreneur Debbi Arnold is one example. Debbi worked in marketing at several companies before striking out on her own. Today she runs her own marketing consultancy and balances work with motherhood. You’ve been putting your skills to good use for somebody else. Perhaps there is a way to parlay your knowledge into your own business.

  2. Can I join an existing company? There are lots of ways to have your own “business within a business” and many of these are great options for moms. There are direct sales companies like Discovery Toys, companies that offer licensing programs like WeeHands, and franchising opportunities with a company like SupperWorks. Each of these choices involve different commitments, but joining an existing company can let you experience entrepreneurship without the legwork.

  3. Should I start from scratch? You might already have a great idea for a business. Maybe you want to invent the next Bumbo or Bugaboo. But what if you desperately want to work for yourself but you just don’t know what to do? Don’t worry, we know lots of women just like you, and in the coming months we’ll tackle this very issue: how to get to your big idea. You may not know it today, but don’t’ be surprised if your "aha!" moment is just around the corner.
Whether you’ve got a new business idea or not, start thinking about how you’re going to put your skills to use in your new venture. No matter what you’ll be doing, look at this like your favourite pair of shoes - it’s got to be a great fit.

A final word: The mom entrepreneur companies we’ve mentioned above all appear in our upcoming book (HarperCollins, February 2011). Watch out for their stories. We can’t wait to share them with you.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Spring Contest

It’s spring and we’re excited. To celebrate, we’re giving one lucky fan a free baby blanket!

All you have to do to enter is write a Haiku. That’s right, a Haiku – the Japanese lyric verse form with three unrhymed lines of five, seven, and five syllables.

Your poem needs to be somehow related to Admiral Road. It can be about blankets or warmth, kids or names, or maybe about one of the animals on our blankets. It can be funny, sweet, odd -- it’s up to you. If you can sell us on it, it counts.

Post your entry as a comment on our Facebook wall.

The contest will run from today until midnight on Sunday, May 9th.

Questions? Send us an email:

To get you started, we’ve compiled a few of our own:

Sheep leaps over fence
Child sleeping cosily now
Wrapped in his blanket

So tall and mighty

How I love that soft giraffe

On rust-coloured fleece


Oh, Admiral Road

Your blankets are very soft

And so cuddly too

Cozy, warm blanket

Does not shrink, fade, pill or fray

Throw it in the wash


I love the monkey

Sweet creature looks so happy

No nose or mouth though!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

To Friend or not to Friend?

In his runaway hit book The Tipping Point, author Malcolm Gladwell suggests that little things can spur major societal change. He goes on to describe three kinds of people who can precipitate this kind of change: connectors, mavens and salesmen.

I enjoy Facebook, I really do. It’s been a great way for me to connect with my friends, reconnect with old friends, and even rediscover people I may not have been able otherwise find again.

But make no mistake, I am not what Gladwell would describe as a “connector” – the people who link us to each other. You know the type – the people in your own Facebook network who have 500+ “friends.”

I, on the other hand, fall more into the “maven” camp. I love to know things: what’s the hottest new restaurant, where to buy the right pair of summer shoes, and which summer camps give you the most bang for your buck. I also love to know what’s going on with my friends and acquaintances on Facebook. (I just haven’t gotten into the habit of posting information about myself yet.)

Because I’m a totally passive Facebook user, I rarely invite people to be my “friends.” Assuming I've met the person, I will always accept a “friend request” though – until recently.

A friend request landed in my Inbox from someone I knew a long time ago. We were “friendly” then, but literally have not spoken to one another in two decades. I clicked on his Facebook page and found that he had changed a lot in twenty years. His Facebook profile told me about his very strong political and religious views – ones that were really, really different from my own. And I didn’t know what to do. I was reticent to “accept” this old “friend” as part of my network because I was concerned that including him in my network would associate me with his more radical beliefs.

So the question is: Is more really more? Do you want more friends on Facebook so that you can connect with others? Or are you happy as a maven – knowing a lot about just a few?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Companies we love

Company Name: Red Thread Design

Company Web Site:

Owner: Devorah Miller

What they do: Children’s clothing using Asian and retro-inspired fabrics. Red Thead makes clothes for girls aged 1-12 and boys aged 1-6 that are comfortable, practical, and fun.

Why we love 'em: The clothes are beautiful and cool with an aesthetic that’ll appeal to you as well as your kids. Better still, everything is made ethically in Canada.

What you can get: Red Thread’s famous caterpillar dress named for its ability to transform from a baby dress on a one-year-old to a shorter dress on a two-year-old and then a swing top on a three (or sometimes four)-year-old. And, you’ll love it so much you’ll want it in the closet for 3 years!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Life's Surprises

One bonus of having a school-aged child has been the unexpected boost to my social life. I never anticipated that when my daughter started school, my husband and I would be exposed all these parents - so many new and interesting future friends.

One family we’ve befriended has touched me deeply. Their smart and quirky son is in my daughter’s class. And their younger son is, quite simply, a miracle child.

Jonathan is this amazingly sunny kid. But Jonathan is also a really special kid. He was born with a roster of health issues. He spent the first nine months of his life in hospital. His parents traded nights sleeping at the hospital so that their newborn son would never be alone – all this while juggling the needs of a feisty toddler at home.

Over the past three years I’ve watched this family go through way more than their fair share of challenges. They were told that their son would never walk. (But he did.) Then they were told their son would never talk. (Their response? “We’re going to prove them wrong.” And they did.)

One time Jonathan’s mom was telling me about another little boy they knew from the hospital. This kid’s health issues were even more devastating that Jonathan’s. And do you know what Jonathan’s mom said to me? She said,

“I can’t believe we’re so lucky.”

Lucky? You could have knocked me over with a feather. That she perceived her family as lucky despite everything that they had been though just blew me away. Were I in the same situation, I feel certain that I would have just fallen apart.

This has been a big week for my friends. You see, Jonathan experienced so much trauma in his early months that he was never able to swallow on his own. He required a feeding tube for all his nutrition. He needed it to survive.

Well, yesterday, this kid who has been told “no” so many times had his feeding tube removed.

For the first time in his life, he’s truly on his own. This family IS lucky to have had the medical help to get Jonathan to this point. And Jonathan IS lucky that his loving parents have brought him to where he is today, standing on his own two feet.

And I’m lucky too. I’m lucky to have these amazing, new friends.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Why Moms Become Entrepreneurs

We know that moms are starting businesses in droves, but what is it about self-employment that makes entrepreneurship such a compelling choice?

We’ve given this question a lot of thought, and we’ve asked around. Ultimately, the reasons women opt to juggle motherhood and business are as varied as the women themselves. We have, however, observed some general categories of reasons.

  1. New Boss vs. Old Boss: All moms know that the “real boss” is the child at home. The problem is this new, little boss is making the old boss hard to manage. No workplace boss is going to love that you show up late because you had to change your puked-on suit, miss days of work for ear infections, or nap under your desk Costanza-style from sleep deprivation. The tension between the two “bosses” ultimately drives many women to strike out on their own.
  2. Fulfilling a Dream: Many women tell us that they started their businesses in order to fulfill a passion, or because they had a great idea, or because they just wanted to work for themselves. In all cases, these women have used mom entrepreneurship as an opportunity to fulfill their dreams.
  3. Big bucks or Pocket Change: Some moms want to make a zillion dollars and believe entrepreneurship is the best way to do it. Many others are would-be stay-at-home-moms who need (or want) to supplement their family incomes. Any entrepreneurial venture is going to be a lot of work, so getting into it for the money is a pretty solid motivation!
  4. Identity Crisis: As much as some women want to be home with their kids, many fear that a total immersion means the loss of their own identities. Having a business is an opportunity to remain engaged in the adult working world while still being available to your children. With a foot in both camps, mom entrepreneurship can provide the perfect middle ground.
You probably have your own distinct reasons for contemplating mom entrepreneurship, but odds are that at least one of the above motivations applies to you.

What we believe is that your motivations only need to work for you. Want to make gobs of cash? Excellent! Want to engage in a business project while the kids are small? Also great. It really doesn’t matter what brings you to mom entrepreneurship. But here’s the caveat – and we can’t stress it enough: Know what your own motivations are. Mom entrepreneurship is too hard to juggle without clearly articulating to yourself why you’re doing it.

Whatever your business, it will involve a lot of work and sacrifice. You will come back to your reasons time and time again – so know why you’re making the leap.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Glass is Half....

I have a confession to make.

I have a tendency to be a glass-is-half-empty kind of gal. It’s true. I can imagine the worst in any situation. I’ve tried to change it, but I think it may be in my programming. Nonetheless, I’m trying hard to model a more optimistic approach to my children (particularly my pessimistic kid). I’m going to try and believe that I’m fooling them with my sunny ways.

This would all be well and good, except that I’m also an entrepreneur. Now that’s a bad combination! Self-employment can be….how shall I put this delicately… a slog. At least that’s how one mompreneur described it when I caught her on a bad day a while back. As in, “I just never imagined it would be such a slog.” For all of the incredible rewards of going it alone, we all have days when things don’t go as planned. We all try things that fail, or experience the typical frustrations of any job. So add to the sometimes sloggishness of it all a measure of pessimism and things can be tough! If we have a slow day I worry about our business – or heaven forbid a slow week or two – I’ll be utterly convinced that we’re washed up. Amy and I even have a joke about it – when things look bleak we just shake our heads and say, ‘Washed up!’ – then we laugh. (If you know our business you’ll know that we are certainly not washed up! Heck – there’s an endless supply of new customers – there’s one born every minute!)

I however, have a secret weapon. I jumped into mompreneurial waters with an optimist! How smart was that? When I think we’re done for, Amy sees it differently. She frames situations differently and helps me to see the temporary nature of whatever predicament I’m fretting about. And of course she’s right. Things are never that bad, and we’ve survived every challenge we’ve faced. Truth be told – I’d have never made it 8 years (and counting) without her filling up my empty glass.

There are lots of things you should look for in a business partner. Ideally you’ll find someone who complements your skill set and personality traits. But if you’re thinking about making the leap into entrepreneurship and tend toward the pessimistic, make sure you grab an optimist to jump with you.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Parenting the Hippie Child

My middle daughter is a hippie. This is all fine and well, but for the fact that it is very different from the person that I am.

I’m concrete, she’s abstract. I’m literal, she’s visual. I move quickly, she moves at the speed of snail.

All this is compounded by the fact that my first-born daughter is so much like me. I totally “get” her. If she’s upset, I understand why. If I ask her to do something, she quickly and efficiently complies. But with Daughter #2, the things that set her off are often a mystery to me. What’s important to her – and what she couldn’t care less about – frequently surprises me. (She has no interest in broadening her social circle, but is loyal to a small group of friends. And when faced with any form of competition, she backs right off.) So, I feel like it is my middle child who is really teaching me about being a parent.

It is my four-year-old who is teaching me to see things in a new light. When I lament the pouring rain, this is the kid who looks at me and says, “But Mom, the rain is what makes the flowers grow.”

One day last spring when we were walking to school I found myself a few paces ahead of my middle daughter. As per usual, I (strongly) urged her to hurry up. But when I turned around I saw her crouched down, her dress pooled at her feet, sunlight catching her blond hair, literally stopping to smell the flowers. No amount of rushing was worth having her – or me – miss that moment.

As spring approaches, my little hippie continues to teach me: There is more than one way to approach a situation, you don’t always have to travel in a straight line to get where you’re going, and there is no reason not to wear sundresses year-round.

Maybe it’s time I stopped to smell the flowers too.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Win a Free Blanket on Facebook

Admiral Road has the best fans in the world. Because they're so great, we'd like to give one lucky fan a free blanket.

All you need to do is go to our Facebook Fan Page and comment on this post. Tell us what your favourite Admiral Road baby blanket style is and why you love it.

You can find all of our styles on our website at

We'll randomly pick a winner this week from one of the commenters.

Good luck!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

And the winner is...

As I start to hit my stride as a parent, I find myself pondering balance: When do you let your kids ‘win’ in certain situations and when do you step in and curb inappropriate behaviours?

If you’ve ever been in line for a bouncy castle you know what I mean. For reasons unknown, it seems that all human decency goes out the window when the bouncy castle appears. Kids jump the line, push others out of the way, and overstay their turn in the castle. What amazes me are the parents who say and do nothing. If you’re one of those parents, apparently you have no trouble letting your kid “win.” And I actually envy you a little. (Although I worry that karma may be coming for you in the teenage years.)

My friend Jill introduced me to the concept of letting your kids “win” when our children were toddlers. We were at a local parenting centre and my two-year-old daughter had patiently been waiting her turn for one of those plastic cars (the ones you get in and drive around with your feet, Fred Flintstone style). When the driver exited the vehicle, a bigger kid came out of nowhere and jumped into the car before my daughter could get in.

Not to be deterred, my daughter ran after the car and literally hauled this twice-her-size boy out of it before getting in and driving off. I stood on the sidelines about to jump in and tell her she couldn’t physically remove this other kid when Jill, who had seen everything, said, “Sometimes you have to let your kid win.” She was right, of course, and my little girl drove that car to her heart’s content that day.

You see, when it comes to a social situation, I’m usually more comfortable letting the other person “win.” I’m apt to let people in line, deflect a compliment, ask my kids to let their friends play with the toy in question – you get the picture. It’s the way I’ve been conditioned – I’m female, innately friendly, and Canadian. I’m no doormat, you understand, but like many of us women, I will defer to keep the peace.

I’ve also been known to excessively apologize for my kids. As they get older, I’m trying not to – but it’s hard to resist the urge. Last week my son kicked his best friend while they were engaged in a play wrestling match. As the other mother tended to her son’s injury, I found myself wanting to apologize for my son’s actions. My inner dialogue went something like this:

Me: Say sorry. The kid’s eye is swollen shut.

Other side of me: Screw that. This was a consensual wrestling match. All’s fair in playdate wrestling.

In the end, I apologized (and of course my son did too). Fortunately, the boy’s mother was extremely gracious. I did note, however, that I hadn’t managed to let it go and leave it between the kids.

I know we’re supposed to let kids work out their own issues – to let them win and lose. But I also know that I’m here to teach my kids how to get along with others – how to be in the world. And, I’m trying to get along in the playground too. With all of these are competing demands I find that I’m still searching for the balance myself. What about you?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Is Mom Entrepreneurship for You?

Since we started our personalized blanket company, Admiral Road Designs, we have been approached for advice by many moms wanting to start their own businesses. It’s no wonder – women entrepreneurs are one of the fastest growing segments of the Canadian economy. In fact, four out of five businesses are started by women these days.

Mom entrepreneurship, by definition, means you will juggle the (often competing) demands of career and motherhood. As such, the path of the mom entrepreneur is not a straightforward one. Just like with any other major undertaking, there is so much to think about before taking the plunge, both about what you want and can expect from your business, but also how you see your business meshing with the rest of your life. Before even thinking about what kind of entrepreneurial venture you’re going to take on, you need to first determine if you’re set up to launch.

A few examples of the kinds of questions you’ll need to ask yourself are:

Can I live without a paycheque?
You might need to forgo an income for a long time while you’re getting yourself established.

Do I have a good support system in place?
A husband, family members, friends and mentors are all-important because you’ll need help with your business, childcare or both.

What’s the family plan?
If you’re thinking about having more children, try to imagine how this will affect your business. Do you have help at home? Is your partner in a secure job?

What’s my tolerance for risk?
Think about how much money you’ll need to start up, and how you’d feel if you lost that money.

Am I suited to work on my own?
Imagine how you’ll feel without the camaraderie of water cooler banter and the socializing that goes along with working in an office.

These are just a few of the issues that you’ll need to consider off the bat. But what about your personality? Are you the ‘entrepreneurial type’? If you’re game, try this quiz. (Granted, it’s not tailored to the specifics of “mom” entrepreneurship, but it will give you some food for thought.) But don’t despair if you don’t have a stellar quiz score. You wouldn’t ditch your guy over a Cosmo quiz – and you shouldn’t give up your entrepreneurial dreams for a quiz either.

But here’s the good news: Choosing mom entrepreneurship does NOT mean that you need to have prior business experience. We know piles of moms who have achieved enormous success simply by working hard and learning as they went along. You don’t even have to have a great business idea yet. You just need to make sure that you’re in a position to take on something as consuming as starting a business.

In the months to come, we look forward to sharing with you tips and strategies to get your mom entrepreneur business off the ground as well as some tales from the trenches – the good, the bad and the sticky.

Further reading:

The Business Development Bank of Canada offers this self-assessment tool along with lots of other resources for the budding entrepreneur.

This Wall Street Journal article raises additional questions to ask yourself to see if you’re up for the challenge of entrepreneurship.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Games We Play

I love the Olympics. I always have. Each time they roll around – whether it’s the Winter or the Summer Games, I look forward to them. I can easily get sucked in to viewing sports that I’ve never even heard of before. Skeleton? Sure! The Nordic Combined? Heck, yes!

I grew up on figure skates, so skating has always been my Olympic sport of choice, but really, I love it all.

When it comes to the topic of the Olympics, I know there are naysayers – especially about the figure skating! (“It’s not a sport – it’s a performance!” “The costumes are ridiculous!”)

But I don’t care.

There has been a lot criticism about the 2010 Games in the media. Some of it, like complaints about technical issues, and costs, are valid. But other comments are just plain mean-spirited, like this one from the Russian newspaper Pravda: “Vancouver is not fit to hold the Winter Olympics. It is a surprise that any Russian athlete would wish to remain in that sort of environment for a second longer.”

Frankly, I’m not interested in political battles and cynicism. I’m interested in the athletes – in their abilities, in their stories, and in their achievements.

Sadly, one athlete was killed on the first day of the Games. And a top-ranked figure skated unexpectedly lost her mother. These events are tragic, and sadly, in life, tragedies occur.

But I am inspired by Joannie Rochette and the athletes from Georgia and their desire to go on. Because to me, the Olympics are truly about the triumph of the human spirit. It is about people doing their very best, despite enormous pressures, and sometimes under adverse circumstances.

In the two weeks of the Games, you get an inside look at the lives of Olympians and all that they have had to overcome in order to stand on the world stage, representing their countries. You learn about what it takes to be the best in the world at something.

The Olympics are a microcosm for all of human experience – there is failure and there is success; there is tragedy and there is glory. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. How could anyone not find this kind of drama compelling?

The Olympics – it’s the best reality TV out there.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


I’m a big believer in superpowers. I sincerely believe that we all have them. Now, this is not to say that we have useful, helpful superpowers like the kind we see in the comics or movies. No, I think each of us has an everyday life, often totally bizarre and completely unmarketable kind of superpower that just accentuates our individuality. Let me give you a few examples…

Amy’s eldest daughter can spot a rainbow anywhere. That kid has seen more rainbows in seven years than most of us will in a lifetime.

For her part, Amy can fill up a kettle with water to the EXACT DROP for how much will be required for tea, regardless of how many people she is serving.

My husband can swat a fly like no one’s business. I’ll bet flies have legends about him. Then again, maybe not, as so few have lived to tell the tale.

As for me… wait for it… I see hawks. Yes, you read that correctly. I can barely look up in the sky without spotting a hawk. Perhaps I worked with birds of prey in a former life, I don’t know. I do know that my superpower is useless in every conceivable way. Even the obscure superpowers that Amy and my husband have are at least marginally useful to every day life.

Which leads me to think about what kinds of superpowers I wish I had. Sure, I wish everything I touched turned to gold (good one), or that I had supernatural strength. In my business life I’d love to have the power to accurately predict the success of new products or marketing initiatives, or heck, even the power to keep my Inbox manageable – but sadly these skills elude me.

But the superpower I most wish I had is an unending well of patience. I would have the ability to endure hours of bickering children. I would welcome the endless stream of people knocking on my door to sell me a product or solicit a donation. I’d be delighted when the driver in front of me turned on his left turn signal at the very last minute. I’d look forward to diving into QuickBooks each business quarter. Can you imagine?

What’s your superpower? Or which one do you wish you had?

As for me, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I can trade HawkGirl for SuperPatientLady.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Celebrating Canada

This week Admiral Road is celebrating Team Canada and the Olympics with some great One Day Sales.

We'll be featuring a new Canadian-themed blanket every day, today through Thursday -- at 50% off the regular price! That's enough to make anyone cheer.

Check our website and Facebook page daily for the details on this fabulous sale.

Get one while supplies last -- once they're gone, they're gone.

Stay tuned for another Olympic One Day Sale tomorrow.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Customers We Love

We wouldn’t be anywhere without our fans, so we’d like to take this opportunity to say, “Thank you.” And please make sure to stick around – we’ve got a special offer just for our fans coming very soon. If you're not a Facebook fan yet you can become one here.

Today we’d like to give a shout-out to one Admiral Road customer in particular:

Name: Richard D.

Hometown: New York, NY

Customer since: 2005

Became an Admiral Road fan after: he received an Admiral Road gift for his new baby.

Likes Admiral Road because: "an Admiral Road blanket is my go-to baby gift for clients and friends. Whenever we hear about a new baby, I get in touch with Admiral Road. Their customer service is excellent and their blankets are always well-received.”

Admiral Road customers come from far and wide. In this ongoing feature we profile some of the Admiral Road "Customers We Love." Do you love us too? Let us know at We'd love to hear from you. Any customers featured in our blog receive a very nice coupon toward their next order.

Thursday, January 28, 2010


As my kids get older, they’re starting to make some pretty interesting observations – and they’ve got me thinking. (Don’t misunderstand me; most of what gets said around here is sheer and utter nonsense. No, seriously – silly is HUGE at the moment, with nonsensical responses to my questions being occasion for screams of laughter from both of them.)

But in the odd moments of sanity, they’ve made a few very astute comments lately. Here’s a conversation that went down the other day between Charlie (six and half) and me.

Me: did you return your (school) library book?

Charlie: Yes, I dropped it in the box in the classroom.

Me: If you drop it in a box in the classroom how do they know that you’ve returned it?

Charlie: Ms. A (the librarian) has it in her computer.

Me: I see.

Charlie: In fact, Ms. J (classroom teacher) keeps telling me that I have a book called Mind Your
Manners, which I don’t.

Me: Oh. So what do you tell her?

Charlie: I say I don’t have it.

Me: And what does she say?

Charlie: She says I’m in the computer for it so I should look for it at home. You know, I think that’s brainwashing. Trying to convince someone of something they know not to be true.

I laughed hard at this. Why? Because he’s absolutely right. If you’d met my son, you could be pretty sure that he would never voluntarily check out a book about manners from the library (!) – and in fact he doesn’t have it. But what got me thinking is that most of us grown ups would have had the exact same response as Ms. J. It’s the same line of reasoning as telling a kid, ‘You can’t possibly be hungry, you just ate your lunch!’ I, for one, am definitely guilty of this.

So is all child-rearing a form of benevolent brainwashing? As humans we don’t innately want to share, say ‘excuse me’, keep our thoughts and hands to ourselves, etc. These are learned behaviours. How many times have we said to our kids, ‘and what do you say?’ (looking for the elusive please or thank you)? Brainwashing! Wash your hands after using the washroom – brainwashing! I’m starting to think that parenting is inherently unethical.

On the other hand, maybe it’s retribution. After all, they do torture us with the sleep deprivation and mental anguish….

Thursday, January 21, 2010

In Praise of the (Admiral) Road Trip

The road trip is not part of my family culture. So, any length of time in the car over an hour counts as a very big deal. As a kid, a serious road trip meant driving from Toronto to Ottawa to visit my relatives. I remember the trips clearly. Ahead of time we would carefully plan which cassettes we wanted to listen to in the car (Leonard Cohen for my parents, the soundtrack from Fame for me) and we packed a travel fridge filled with drinks and sandwiches – for the four hour trip to Ottawa, you understand.

Needless to say, the first time that Danielle (a huge fan of the road trip) proposed a road trip in the name of Admiral Road I was horrified. Why would anyone drive to New York City when it is a mere one-hour flight away? Well, as it happens there were a number of very good reasons. So I acquiesced, but felt a little queasy about the whole idea.

It turns out that road tripping is not so bad – Admiral Road tripping, that is. It’s actually kind of fun, (apart from the 5 a.m. departure Danielle insists on) and can be productive in lots of ways. For one thing, road tripping with my business partner means dedicated time for talking about the business. We joke that road trips are our “off-site” meetings. It’s not so different, really. Time in the car is time away from our usual routines to devote to talking about the biz – and if we squeeze in a little unrelated chit chat, well, that’s okay too.

Then there are the pit stops! The bittersweet last Tim Horton’s coffee (the ones in New York City which call themselves something like ‘Tim Hortons coffee and pastry shop’ hardly count), and there’s the experience of an all-American Denny’s (Friendly’s, Perkins) lunch. There are navigational triumphs and disasters (more of the latter on this last trip, regrettably), and memories made. We’ve laughed every time we’ve recalled the pea soup-like fog we encountered in Pennsylvania - it was like something out of a Stephen King novel – much funnier now than it was at the time, but forever burned in our memories.

The road trip also offers the gift of time. Time suspended between home and work. I’m freed from the distractions of managing my two full-time jobs (mom and business owner). On the road trip, I don’t have to make dinner or take anyone to the bathroom. I also don’t pay bills or manage suppliers. It’s a magical in-between space.

And they say that it’s about the journey and not the destination. Well, it’s certainly true that the journey is great, there’s also something great to be said for five days in Manhattan. I do love New York City. And I’ll admit, it’s fun to put on my (fancier) jeans and hang out with other grown-ups while we’re away. I’m not sure when the next Admiral Road trip will be, but I’m looking forward to another chance to recharge the batteries and come back ready for both of my full-time jobs.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Warmth, Delivered

If you're a dedicated Roadie, you may have noticed our 'warmth, delivered' tagline. It is our hope that with every blanket we put in the mail we're sending a little love and comfort and a whole bunch of good wishes on behalf of the gift giver.

This week we're thinking about the hundreds of thousands of victims of the earthquake in Haiti who could use a little warmth delivered just about now. While we can't wrap each one of them in a blanket, we'd like to help where we can. We'll be donating proceeds from orders placed between now and Sunday to Humanitarian Coalition, a group of Canadian NGOs (Oxfam, Care, Save the Children) providing relief in Haiti. So, if you could use a blanket, now is a great time to get your order in.

If you don't need a blanket just now but want to help, visit to donate. (And FYI, the Canadian government is matching all private donations to the relief effort.)

Go on, deliver a little warmth of your own.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

New Year's Resolutions

“Think you have self-control to keep resolutions? Then you won’t.”

That’s the chipper headline that stared up at me today while drinking my morning coffee. Not buried in the “Life” section (that I love), but on the actual cover of our national newspaper. It’s not enough that I’m peeling kids out of bed in the dark and rushing them to school after a blissful two week respite? Apparently not, because now I seemingly over-estimate my own self-control too. Well, Happy New Year to me.

I tend to be a glass-is-half-full kind of girl. So this article reminds me that,

1. This is why I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. They’re set arbitrarily on the calendar with a false sense of urgency. Other than the fact that I’ve eaten my face off for the past month, January 1st doesn’t herald in anything worth changing my life for.

2. I am a creature of habit. I make myself the same breakfast every day. I like to work out on the same days at the same time each week. My kids have a set bedtime. Routine breeds comfort. I don’t need to go shaking it up just because the calendar has changed.

3. No one I know makes New Year’s resolutions. We were at a dinner party on the weekend and our host asked if any of us were making resolutions. Other than the host himself (abstention from alcohol for the month of January – fair enough), no one had anything to contribute. I took it as a sign that everyone was pretty happy with where their lives were at – not a bad thing at all.

But IF I did want to make a resolution, I feel confident that I’d be able to keep it. And if YOU make New Year’s resolutions, I’m sure you’ll do great with them too. Why not? It’s a new year and a new you. We all have the power to make changes (that are within our power, of course).

So, national newspaper, please don’t suggest that I over-estimate my self-control. In fact, I’m exercising it right now by not sharing fully what I think about your article this morning.

Here is to a very Happy New Year. And Happy New Year to you too, national newspaper.