Friday, June 25, 2010

Being In The Bed And Not At The Bedside

This is a very exciting day because, as Anna and I are sitting here in the hospital, we are actually back to talking about our business and the future of Annie & Isabel... a very good sign because we have been pretty much in a stress mode all week. Anna, if you didn't know, has been in the hospital with a severe case of pneumonia since Sunday. It has been a scary week, especially because we work in the hospital and we know waaaaay too much. I have to admit that there were times when I was really frightened for her. My great-grandma Annie's scary pneumonia stories from the "old days" would rise up inside of me blocking out all the logical reassurances of today's hope in antibiotics. Anna had a rough couple of days after admission... with high fevers, chills, and difficulty breathing. She is definitely turning in the right direction finally! The one thing she keeps saying is, "This is so surreal being on the other side of things." It really has been... for me as well.. She will have to write up a blog post on that subject in the future... we have laughed and cried over so many things in those late hours in this hospital room!!! For one, the stinky CARPETED floors and the hair found stuck to the "clean" sheets have been an ongoing conversation.....really gross!

The patient and the nurse:)

We sold our first gown to someone entering hospice care this week. We got a report back that the woman on the receiving end had a big smile on her face when she was presented with her gown, now that she will spend her days in a hospital bed at home. Since we have had time to chat here, we have been reminiscing about our Grandma Isabel who also received hospice care at the end of her battle with pancreatic cancer in 1989. Our mother, who is also a nurse, had become a hospice volunteer a year prior to our grandmother's diagnosis, and we all believe that this unknowingly prepared us all for our upcoming loss. It was such a heart wrenching time for all of us. Grandma Isabel was really the first person that was close to us that we lost and it affected us all so greatly. The time we spent with our Grandma Isabel that year, came with some unexpected blessings as it was when we learned about nursing as a career and about the benefits of hospice care. Hospice care, now frequently called palliative care, is a service that helps alleviate symptoms of a terminal disease process. It doesn't have to be for the imminently dying patient. The goal is to make a patient's last days the best days that they can be and a hospice team is organized to help attain that goal. When we dreamed up Annie & Isabel, hospice patients were in our vision as part of our projected desired client base.

Our Mom & Anna in The Evelyn Gown

When we were designing our Annie & Isabel Gowns, we talked a lot about Grandma Isabel in her last days. My mom had to take all of her nightgowns and cut them up the back, making it easier for my mom to dress her and so grandma wouldn't have to lay on them or soil them. In the end, she was confined to the hospital bed in her home. It was October, a golden time of the year, and a time when the house was filled with visitors wanting to see her for the last time. She was a beautiful woman, as many of you know if you have read the story behind The Isabel Gown. We wish we could have had something like our lovely gowns for her in those last days.

Anna with three of her four boys visiting

Anna, as she lays here in the hospital bed next to me, in The Isabel Gown, also looks beautiful... Earlier in the week, she said it feels SO good to have a gown from home. This hospital experience was so unexpected and, as we sit here and try to find the blessings in this time, we count this bonding time that we have had together, something that can be so illusive in our busy lives. We did not expect to be one of our own best customers but that experience, has been a little blessing that we count in all this as it has validated our feelings on what a great product we have:)

Anna has worn The Isabel, The Evelyn, and The Anita and we have washed all of them many times and they wash beautifully. She has had so many fevers and sweats that every time one of us leaves... we bring back a nice clean washed gown. Even when she was really pale and weak earlier in the week, seeing her with our gown on helped her and us feel better.

Anna has had so much love and support from our family and friends and her iPhone has been her lifeline... she throws it in our handy dandy pocket.. and she's that she is strong enough to go for a walk down the hall! On her walks.. she does not need a robe, as we've got your backside covered! (see below)

We have set up a discount code for anyone that is buying a gown for a loved one entering hospice care or that is confined to a bed. The discount is 15% and the code is "hospice". Please pass it on to anyone that you think might benefit from having their own comfortable, beautiful, and functional gown.

Anna walking the halls in The Isabel Gown, named after our grandmother Isabel

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Second time around.. this new Mommy was comfortable and stylish!!

We just received an amazing testimonial from Stephanie about her experience in our Annie & Isabel hospital gowns! Sometimes, you have to experience being in the hospital once, to realize how much better labor can be in your own A&I gown the second time. Every gown we send out, we wonder if it helped someone and what their experience was.. if it is for an upcoming birth or for someone battling illness in the hospital. So much love has gone into the creation of Annie & Isabel, that when we get a testimonial like this one... it makes all our hard work to get this company off the ground worth it. We feel so complete that we helped someone feel more comfortable in a place that sometimes is anything but.

Click here to read her testimonial and see her beautiful pictures. Thank you Stephanie for taking the time to write to us, especially with your new life of being a Mom of two! We appreciate it SO much~

Friday, June 18, 2010

Our Milk Money...

It is almost July, WOW! We have fortunately been very busy bees packaging up our gowns and sending them out all over the country! In a little over 2 months, we have made over 70 women stylish and comfortable in the hospital! We already have our second shipment of fabric en route to our manufacturer in San Francisco, including the Susan Gown... this gown will be ammmmazing!

We have enjoyed connecting with other small businesses through social networking... mainly Twitter and Facebook. I guess I should have known about the power of these sites from my husband Bryan,who does social networking for the San Francisco Giants. I have been surprised to see 200 people comment on a Facebook post in just 5 minutes!...but, when people are actually finding us and reaching out to us... we've been amazed. We know we have a wonderful product and we believe in it so strongly... but, when someone comes to us with the same feelings.. we just fill with excitement!

We have discovered in ourselves a desire to support other women and men who are doing what we are doing, starting a home based business. We are so blessed because we both LOVE our day jobs as RN's... so, A&I has been a side business that we love, and if it can help us support our families, then great! We wonder if our fun business could turn into something more?? Maybe Annie & Isabel WILL help us put our 6 boys through college, yea! Ultimately we are blessed because we have the ability to work in the hospital, run Annie & Isabel, and raise our children as we want, and get a little sleep here and there:)

This desire in us to support others is much more present now that we are trying to succeed ourselves. I have found wonderful companies and people doing fantastic things. I bought a beautiful cuff from Ruby Roxanne Designs, a cool looking peanut allergy alert bracelet from Allergy Apparel for my son Henry, and oh boy.. I just discovered Stella & Dot! We've even found local people doing great things, like Kelli Wheeler, who wrote the hilarious book "MOMSERVATIONS, The Fine Print of Parenting". But in supporting these people, just like us, I was thinking it would be wonderful to have a registry to find a local business you would want to support if you needed a service or good? Well, I ran across one called Our Milk Money.... isn't that a great name? I connected with the owner, Ally, recently and what she has started is pretty awesome. is a online organization dedicated to supporting self-employed parents and it has inspired a nationwide movement of families who are working together to gain more control over how much time we are able to spend with our children. Unfortunately, in our current society many families are unable to support themselves on one income alone, resulting in both parents working. Most of us desire for someone to stay home, but sometimes that just isn't an option. The great news is many parents are starting small home businesses so they can be their own boss and be home with their families. Our Milk Money is an organization dedicated to supporting parents in their personal and financial goals.

The goal is to try and use the directory and support each other, creating a "mini-economy" that will allow us the choice to stay home with our kids. OurMilkMoney has been successfully growing across the country in cities such at Los Angeles, Phoenix, and now they are trying to reach Sacramento.

In just a couple of weeks, Ally Loprete, the founder, will be appearing on our Channel 10 news on Sacramento & Co with Melissa and Guy. She is asking all local parent owned businesses in Sacramento to join her on so she can adequately promote it to the community on June 30th, when the segment airs.

Usually, there is a 25$ annual membership fee when you apply to be on the registry, but she is offering to waive it for any "self-employed parent" who signs up before June 29th. Annie & Isabel is on it and the process was a breeze!

Below is more info from Ally on how to join~
We hope if you are local and have a business you will join us and we can all support each other.

We are doing it for these "guys"

To learn more about the site and the mission of OMM
To apply for a free spot in the national business directory
Application instructions: 1. Make sure you select Sacramento as the major market and your town as the sub-market 2. In the notes section of the application write in
3. Do not select any additional markets- you will be automatically entered in the national directory. 4. After you accept the terms and conditions, you will be taken to a paypal page. You do not need to enter any payment information. Just exit out. You
r application will be reviewed within 24 hours. If you would like to check on the status, or if you have any additional questions, the membership director can be reached at

Friday, June 11, 2010

Appel & Frank Babes & Babies Shopping Event

We were so honored and excited to be approached by Karen Appel and Jody Frank to be one of the 50 designers at their Babes and Babies event in San Francisco on July 18th. They put on "seasonal shopping events that bring together hip, fashion-forward shoppers with stylish, emerging designers" (us!!!)

We hope all our bay area and northern cali girls will join us! We think it will be a great time and all the designers will be offering their merchandise at discount prices.

Here is a little description and if you RSVP as our friend, you will have free admission.

Appel & Frank's 'Babes & Babies’ Shopping Event

Modern moms are invited to shop at Appel & Frank's 'Babes & Babies' event because their little ones should look as stylish as they do! The event will feature over 50 designers and companies offering merchandise including baby and toddler clothing, accessories, gear resources and much more. In addition, there will be complimentary gift bags, a raffle, and an on-site photographer offering mini photo shoots. The event will be held on Sunday, July 18th from 9:00am 2:00pm at the JCC in San Francisco (3200 California Street @ Presidio). Tickets are FREE by entering the discount code DESIGNER at All tickets will be $5 each at the door.

Who will be there???

Friday, June 4, 2010

My Birth Story in Pictures

Remember what it was like to anticipate the birth of your child? Maybe some of you are doing that right now. Maybe some of you are waiting for your first baby and you are a little scared? For me, I can think of nothing better than those last days before my children were born. They were days that were filled with such excitement and uncertainty. My mind always swirled with so many unanswered questions. When will I go into labor...morning, noon or night? Will my water break in public? Will my baby be o.k.? I wonder how much he weighs..I think a lot!! How long will my labor be? Will I have my little one tomorrow? Oh please, I am so ready!!!

Childbirth is the one thing in life that leaves such a vivid indelible memory in most women's life experiences. I have had four boys and I remember each birth so clearly. You can ask any woman who has given birth to a child or has adopted a child and they can tell you every little detail of their delivery experience or their experience meeting their new child for the first time.

When I had my fourth son I knew that this baby would more than likely be our last child. I had always wanted to have pregnancy pictures done and for some reason I never did it. I think, ultimately, I felt too embarrassed to have someone take pictures of my naked belly. With my last pregnancy, however, I knew it was something I would do. I didn't want to regret never having done it and I wanted to remember what I looked like with a pregnant belly. Luckily I had met a wonderful photographer, Brenda Bisharat, before I became pregnant with my fourth boy. Sometime in my last trimester I had the pregnancy pictures taken and I truly cherish them today. If you have ever thought of having pictures done while you are pregnant I would strongly encourage you to do it. The pictures are not only wonderful to have for yourself but your children will love looking at them when they are older.

After doing pregnancy pictures, I made the decision to also have my birth professionally photographed by the same photographer. This was a big decision because giving birth to a child is a very private experience and one in which I knew I would be completely exposed. What I discovered was, that by having Daniel's birth photographed professionally, I received such a precious irreplaceable and amazing gift! So, while many people like to share their birth story in words, I thought it would be fun to share mine in pictures and maybe you might decide that this treasure is one that you also have to have when you give birth to your child some day. I personally will never regret it!!! Thank you Brenda Bisharat for capturing my birth story so incredibly well and for putting together the wonderful video of my pictures below!!!

P.S. Just think how much cuter those hospital pictures would have been if I was in an Annie & Isabel designer hospital gown. Unfortunately this was before the idea to make our gowns became a reality :-(

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Bump It Up - Mom's night out at the W San Francisco

We attended our first business networking event as "Annie & Isabel", the Bump It Up Mom's night out at W hotel SF. This event was a book launch for Amy Tara Koch, who wrote the book "Bump It Up", which is a style guide for women with baby bumps (or not if you ask me!) We first learned about this event when we stumbled upon Megan Calhoun, who founded In our quest to be more present on Twitter, we have connected with so many amazing women and moms....who knew??!! Megan, who is also a NorCal girl, founded TwitterMoms allowing there to be a place for moms everywhere to network and connect. There are over 25,000 members! We were really excited to meet Megan, as we are really new to this whole world of social networking! What an event she put on for her friend Amy! It was at the W Hotel in San Francisco. There were wonderful hors d'oeuvres (mmm.. mini burgers), pampering stations by Bliss Spa, Sprinkles cupcake (they honestly had our RSVP at Sprinkles!), a fun fashion show with Amy, and a raffle with amazing prizes, two being
Annie & Isabel Designer Hospital Gowns;)

Here we are with Megan Calhoun, founder of TwitterMoms

Here we are with Amy Tara Koch, author of Bump It Up
If you haven't already, check our her YouTube video below.. even if you aren't pregnant, she has some great style tips!

Some of the raffle prizes with our 5 gowns in the front

At the beginning of the event as the baby bellies began wandering in!

Sprinkles Cupcakes

Our friend Katie getting pampered at Bliss

Our friend Stephanie and Anna filling up on Bliss goodies

Amy doing a fashion demo on how to "transform your pregnancy into the ultimate style statement"! Her first model was Victoria who was due in one week! She was really fun to talk to, as she was about to have her second son. We loved talking about boys and how much fun they are. She even has the same OB as Selena when she lived in SF. I'm sure she had her baby by now and hope she is home doing well with her boys! Check out Amy's YouTube Video at the end of our post and learn about the pregnancy "uniform".

Britax was a sponsor of the event and gave away a car seat and stroller system as the grand prize of the raffle. We were so excited that our friend Stephanie was able to join us just 3 weeks after giving birth to her son Constantine (testimonial coming soon;). She was able to feed the baby and escape for about one hour...she even put on mascara!!!! We were all so impressed! Well, she had a great one hour.. she stocked up on Bliss products and other goodies....and then won the grand prize!!!! We couldn't believe it! She grabbed her loot... loaded it into the car.. and jetted off to feed the little guy!

This is Smruti, one winner of our Annie & Isabel hospital gowns. Smruti will look amazing in our Anita gown in just about a month!

OK, we are ready to eat our Red Velvet Sprinkles Cupcakes... Saved up all week for this!!!

Our dear friend Katie, who taught Selena the "stance"... which she clearly needs some work on that posture! Thanks Katie for all your networking skills:) One day we will hire you!!!

Our friend Cindy relaxing before the drive home in her fun coat! Cindy owns InVision 3D/4D Ultrasound in Folsom. She is so lucky because she gets to peek in on little ones all day long. She truly loves her work and if you want to have a really special experience when you are pregnant, you should call her! On our drive to SF, she received a frantic call from a mom-to-be who had just left her 20 week U/S and they could not find the gender. She called her employee and they fit the woman in 30 minutes... it was 5:30pm!!! I would totally be that girl calling frantically! Cindy is also starting a great line of clothing called Strong Mama.. more to come about that later!

Here is Amy Tara Koch
Do you have the uniform?