V.I.A.’s Home Grown features only the most awesome companies in Vancouver. From tiny, single-person operations to the big players, we profile our favourite businesses and interview their owners and operators.
Hip Baby is a dream of a modern kids store on 4th Avenue in Kitsilano. A friendly staff, a relaxing atmosphere and many great choices in safe and sustainable products from toys to clothing, meal time, bath time, and local designs. They also offer the largest assortment of in-store cloth diapers in Vancouver and offer monthly instructional workshops in how to use them.
I feel it’s important to note that our youngest blogger, Arlo, loves his cloth diapers as does Hip Baby co-owner, Michael Ziff, who runs The Cloth Diapering Dad workshop for parents considering this system of diapering but who might be daunted by the prospect and the commitment. Participants leave informed and ready for this healthy, environmentally friendly, economical and surprisingly easy alternative to conventional single-use diapers.
We caught up with owners, Jen MacCormack and Michael Ziff for a few questions…
If Hip Baby is known for one thing amongst it’s customers, what would it be?
For me, creating a sense of community is really important by providing workshops as well as a retail environment that is welcoming without being pushy so that a mom out for a walk can come in with her stroller and child and know there’s a change table and a comfortable nursing chair.
That we actually research the products we buy and that the criteria covers everything from safety, sustainability, functionality, usefulness, and of course style.
What’s your personal favourite product that you sell at the store?
Rody! Mostly because my daughter loves him so much. He’s an inflatable donkey made from a safe plastic and you can ride him around; basically a modern variation of the bouncy ball but in the shape of an animal. She grabs him by the ears and bounces around the living room with a huge smile on her face. The beauty of this toy, aside from the hours of endless entertainment, is that they get started on it around 18 months and it grows as you inflate it until they’re about 5 years old. How many kids toys can claim that?
I love Padraig cottage wool slippers. They are made locally in North Vancouver and my entire family owns a pair (as does Michael’s). The slippers are just about the softest, coziest thing you could put on your feet. The soft, crocheted wool shell and leather sole make them both breathable and durable, for inside or in the stroller… but it is the luxurious sheepskin found inside that makes you smile!
Aside from Hip Baby, what’s your favourite Vancouver business and why?
Too many to list! I guess I’m always firstly impressed, and proud, by what friends have accomplished. I watched Karri and Nico Schuermans build Chambar literally from scratch, with guts, smarts and sweat. And then watched my friend Robbie Kane do the same next door at Medina. I love the little Beatty street empire they’ve all built. And a nod to all the companies in Vancouver changing the face of business with their progressive ideas; business can no longer be just about the bottom line, there is too much at stake with our current environmental and economic climate.
I would have to agree with Michael on all of the above. Another favourite of mine is Collage Collage owned by our friend Erin Boniferro, who we love. Located on 15th (just West of Fraser), Erin offers both art classes and merchandise that encourage children (and adults) to explore their creativity. Her boutique is filled with unique, and many locally made, products. It is also a great place to hold your child’s birthday party. Fun!
What keeps you here? Like what’s the best thing about Vancouver?
I grew up in Montreal and had the opportunity to live for extended periods in cities around the world, then moved here in 1994. It was still a bit of a sleepy town but I’ve since watched Vancouver evolve into a world class city. 90 minutes from Whistler, 5 hours from surf, 4 hours from wine country, these are some of my favourite things! And a seemingly endless supply of great restaurants. And I love that my daughter is growing up here. And… (I have to stop now).
I was one of the few that was actually born & raised in Vancouver… which made me want to escape the first chance I got. After 3 years of traveling the world followed by 5 years in Whistler and a year in Montreal I returned home to find a city that had grown into it’s own (especially culturally). And when you have been surrounded by mountains and ocean most of your life it is just too hard to live without them. The best thing about Vancouver? I would have to say my family and friends.