Mais alegria em Portugal! 0
Since last year alegria's crochet products have been talked about in the Portuguese market. Some mom bloggers have tried our products and written about it.
Here is another awesome blog, from a mom & blogger who values healthy eating habits as the name and content of her site illustrates.
The article is in Portuguese
- Flavia Augusta de Almeida
Unique Christmas Shopping in Basel for Children - Hello Switzerland 0
So the time of the year where we need to decide where to do the Christmas shopping for our children, family and friends is approaching. It is very easy to run out of options and ideas in a small town like Basel. But if we really look beyond the large stores we can find several interesting options. Especially if one is looking for fair, organic, and handmade products of unique design.
Hello Switzerland's last issue of 2016 has an article by alegria's mumprenuer (page 44) on some of the unique store locations in Basel for shopping for children's products.
Amongst her favorite are Merci Fair and The Change maker, as they have beautifully designed unique products but also their fare-trade ethos.
Merci Fair is all about fair products and is a member of Swiss Fair Trade. They import handicrafts from Africa, Asia and Latin America. It is a beautifully decorated store where one can find a great variety of exotic and unique accessories and items for the house, children, as well as food items. Missionsstrasse 21, 4055.
The Change Maker has seven different locations in Switzerland. All their products are fair, handmade, organic, eco-friendly, recycled, energy efficient, and made in Switzerland. Their products vary from household, electronics, beauty, fashion, and more. Marktgasse 16, 4051.
Announced for the first time in this article are the details of the alegria Christmas Sale!
- Flavia Augusta de Almeida
Scrubbing with plastic is not a good option! 0
There is an article by the dermatologist J. Matthew Knight, from the Knight Dermatology Institute of New York, which was published at the New York Post regarding the use of mesh shower poufs or synthetic sponges. He is amongst the 98% estimated dermatologists who will recommend against the use of a mesh shower pouf. This article reiterates concerns I had regarding the use of synthetic sponges for my children when they were babies.
As I have written before, my inspiration for creating the alegria wash cloths came from the wish to have for my children’s bath time, products which were natural, more environmentally friendly, gentle on the skin and more hygienic.
Dr. Knight explains that mesh shower poufs often hold our dead cells, which in the moist and heated bathroom environment can create a perfect ecosystem for the growth of millions of bacteria. The incubation of these bacteria can occur hours after the use of the pouf/sponge. He states that ideally these types of sponges should be disposed after a single use. Clearly the single use of these synthetic sponges is neither a good environmental approach nor does it make any financial sense. Dr. Knight discourages the use of synthetic sponges but notes that for those who want to use them it is good practice to wash them thoroughly and hang them to dry in a non-moist environment immediately after use. In addition, he recommends that plastic sponges are used only for a period of three months and then they should be thrown away.
I do understand the scientific reasons behind his clinical recommendation nonetheless let us be realistic, a three-month life cycle for a plastic sponge does not make any environmental or financial sense. Natural sponges are great for bathing children but the fact remains that they disintegrate quite fast thus not making them financially viable either. In addition, there are many arguments regarding the environmental practices for sourcing natural sponges.
So why not go back to textiles I thought as a mom and designer after considering all the above mentioned cons. After all, textiles can also be recycled! I took a look at the washcloths made out of towel fabric. There are many cute mitten type washcloths in the market for children. However, this thick textile takes quite a long time to dry in the moist bathroom environment. And even wet textile washcloths if not cared for properly may help to breed bacteria. However, crochet can be weaved in different styles and thickness allowing the design to shape the function of the product.
After experimenting with a few different weave patterns, yarns and design types three different generations of wash cloth were born in the alegria BATH family: Baby washcloth, Kids Washcloth and Mitten Washcloth.
The design and function of these products and the use of specific yarns and colors caters for the different stages of the little ones’ bathing journey from baby to independent child.
After 7 years of experimenting with different washcloth designs and two years of gathering and applying parents’ reviews to the alegria BATH collection I am happy to say the results have been positive and customers are happy. As a mom I am happy to share my findings, and as an architect and product designer I can say that this product is functional, and as an entrepreneur the reviews and customer’s experiences with this product have been very positive.
Also remember that our ethos is all about sharing alegria (happiness) and as part of that we collaborate with Save the Children in Switzerland via the Magic13 initiative. Which means that when you purchase an alegria product you are giving back to less privileged children.
Last but now least, our washcloths are fairly made by independent artisans in Brazil which helps empower women and moms to work from home and provide for their children. So it can’t get any better than having bathing accessories that are environmentally friendly, designed for different stages of your littles ones, has a long lasting life if cared for properly, it’s great for baby’s sensitive skin, and gives back to children in need.
- Flavia Augusta de Almeida
Halloween or Herbstmesse? 0
October is one of my favorite months of the year, it is the month of my daughter’s birthday and it starts to get colder, but the beautiful afternoon sun is still shinning. I love pumpkins, the falling leaves; and since moving to Basel I have fallen in love with Herbstmesse.
I used to associate October with Halloween, a tradition I learned to appreciate in the USA. But Anglo expats and others like myself, who have learned how to appreciate this celebration, know that Halloween in Switzerland is mainly an expat community event. Therefore, the amount of work and the excitement of preparing for the Trick-or-Treaters is significantly scaled down, but it certainly does not take the fun away from going Trick-or-Treating with the little ones.
Photo: © good Housekeeping
It came to my attention this year how hard it is to find Halloween costumes, party knick-knacks and decorations in Basel. The assortment is quite limited and it appears mainly on internationally known high-street shops. I ended up finding what I was looking for in Germany. I also found out that in Switzerland Halloween is a festivity most popular amongst young adults, who attend fancy dress parties in clubs or private homes, drinking and dancing the night away.
It is good to keep up with traditions and celebrations from where we come from, but as said before: ‘When in Rome do like the Romans’. So for us expats residing in Switzerland, especially in Basel and nearby areas, October also means time to celebrate a very old tradition in Autumn Fairs.
Photo: © visitbasel.ch
Here in Basel Herbstmesse is the largest and oldest amusement fair, a tradition dating back over 540 years which it is a part of Basel’s living heritage. According to Kanton Basel-Stadt Herbstmesse attracts around a million people to Basel from Switzerland and abroad and the opening of this awesome Autumn fair is signalled by the Fair Bell of the Church of Saint Martin at exactly 12 o'clock. This tradition always takes place on the Saturday before the 30th of October. You can find out more information HERE.
Photo: © visitbasel.ch
During Herbstmesse the atmosphere in Basel is great, the beautiful lights and tall temporary structures transform the city skyline. The city is buzzing with great energy from people of all ages and walks of life. Actually I would dare to say that the city atmosphere this time is better than during the Christmas market period.
Photo: © Panik75
So back to the question of Halloween or Herbstmesse? I would say both! Enjoy your Halloween, with its dressing up, Trick-or-Treat, pumpkin carving, face painting, and candies. It is not only great fun but also a tradition for Anglo expats that can be experienced by their kids residing in Switzerland and share with non-Anglo-Saxon friends. But this Saturday October 29, 2016, like the thousands of Baslers, join this 540 old year tradition and have fun celebrating Autumn in Herbstmesse. Discover the delights of Magenbrot and Beggeschmutz, be part of the crowd that shapes the vibrant city landscape and enjoy a fabulous time with friends and family.
At alegria we are celebrating October via a HALLOWEEN SALE. We got pumpkins that cannot be carved or eaten but they can certainly make lovely decorations and above all be part of some great pretend play fun for your children.
Happy Halloween & Schöne Herbstmesse
- Flavia Augusta de Almeida
What happens when a career woman moves to Switzerland? 0
When my husband and I decided to move to Switzerland it was a very calculated decision. From my part it was a wide open eye decision with a clear understanding of what would happen to my architectural career. It was clear to me from the beginning that without fluency in the German language and the limited market in Basel, compared to London, in corporate architecture I would not be able to continue my career as a Senior Project Manager in large high profile projects.
Knowing the limitations, I faced in my professional field when we moved to Basel in 2013 I still took part in a program via Global People Transitions offered by my husband’s employer to spouses in order to assist professionals finding a job in Switzerland. It was in my process with Global People Transitions that I went from focusing on finding a job in architecture to getting advice on how to become an entrepreneur in Switzerland and kick start alegria.
I have now been in Switzerland for three and a half years and I have invested 2 years building my company from scratch, and I went from a corporate professional in a male dominated field to mumpreneur. I have met several diverse and interesting expat women who came to reside in Switzerland. So what happens to a career woman when she moves to Switzerland as a result of her partner’s employment?
Well, that depends of age, having children or not, and the ability to continue to work in their field of expertise. However, one common denominator we share is that we all have to reinvent ourselves.
When relocating to Switzerland some women start a new chapter in their lives by having their first child or more children and for a few years they dedicate themselves to the most important and demanding full time career they will ever have, that of being a mother. Many of these ladies who I have met end up being the ones totally running the household and becoming more fluent in German than their partners. As they have to deal with the daily administrative issues concerning the entire family.
For some young professional women without children who I have met took some time but eventually they found a job in their area of expertise, others went to work on something entirely different on a temporary basis whilst they improved their German with the objective to move on with their career in Switzerland.
Older career oriented women with children, like myself, who I met in expat professional women forums have either turned their hobbies or different professional aspirations into entrepreneurship. Others who were not fluent in the local language but eager to continue to work adapted their professional expertise to servicing an industry geared towards expats. Other women found corporate jobs like their partners and start working 100% like them.
The list of possibilities and roads taken are numerous, and though I speak from a small spectrum of the Swiss reality of expats I think some general considerations apply regardless of borders or language.
I have lived in five different countries and relocated as an adult professional to three different ones. Two of each I did not speak the local language at the beginning. So here are some of my humble tips.
- From the beginning face the known facts surrounding your relocation with clarity and objectivity. Do not ignore what may be challenges or obstacles to continuing your career abroad such as language, the local business market in your professional field, professional registration requirements, diploma recognition, etc. I believe that most relocation experts would agree that the sooner one deals with the known facts regarding their new life the easier their settling process can become. That is not to say that there will be no ‘growing pains’ regarding the relocation process.
- If you are not willing to be flexible the relocation and adaptation process will be a long and exhausting experience. Part of being flexible is the ability to reinvent yourself. After all, no one is the same during and after an international relocation experience regardless who is the professional being relocated. Reinventing yourself can mean many things, finding a new field within your professional realm, turning a hobby or dream entrepreneurship, becoming a full time mother and house keeper, dedicate yourself to volunteer work, take a step down your career to continue to be able to remain in your professional field, go back to university and the list goes on.
- Allow yourself to ‘change identity’. One should not abandon or cut off from their professional identity, professional membership groups or related events. But one should be able embrace a new professional identity and ‘title’. After all, this is the new road being travelled.
- Whether you change from full time working mother, to full time mum, or part time worker to full time mum, the demands of motherhood remain sturdy and no matter how you skin this cat it does not get any easier. The work life balance when one has children is a constant workout which challenges our knowledge and experience continuously.
- Family support is key. The adults relocating have to support one another in their process of adaptation, career change and decision processes. This is a journey that was taken together and without support and team work the ‘boat will sink’. For those with children the support focus is often to the little ones, but the adults also need support to keep all afloat.
- Take the support of relocation experts, often offered by corporations; you may not always agree with their input however, they have been giving career advice for the local market and have a knowledge that you, the new comer, does not possess. If you are not happy with their work you can request for another career relocation expert. I must highlight a knowledgeable relocation professional is key, otherwise it will be time wasted.
- Networking is key to adapting to a new culture and equally important to enter your professional field in a new country or to create a new clientele for your new enterprise. There are many organizations in Switzerland for female working professionals. One of my favourites is The Powerhouse.
- Remain critical and open minded you never know what will come your way. Living in another culture and country will present you with a new realm of possibilities and different opportunities unknown to you before. By remaining critical and open minded to your decisions, options, and future professional perspectives you can only benefit and not miss opportunities.
- The grass is greener on the other side syndrome will not cease to exist. I think this is part of the human condition. I have friends who are mothers and full time corporate professionals who dream of part time working or just devoting their time to being a mum. I was there once and today as a mumpreneur I can say that I miss my corporate life. But the great part of it is that we can always jump from one side of the grass to the other.
- It is not because you have done it before that it will be easier this time around. Lessons learned are very valuable and applicable to reoccurring experiences but relocating to another country and culture is a different fantastic experience with unique challenges related to the local culture and yours and your family’s stage in life. So the ‘been there, done that, bought the T-shirt’ approach will not help.
I see myself as a multi faceted individual not just a mum. Being a mother is the most demanding and rewarding ‘job’ I will ever have and the most important one to me. But I am also an Architect, a mumpreneur, a wife, a citizen of the world, a designer, and above all a woman. For working mothers there is this constant struggle between work life/career and motherhood no matter where we are; being an expat just adds more spice to it all.
I hope this blog helps, inspires and it is good food for thought for the women that have already or will relocate to Switzerland. I also invite the mums and mums to be to learn more about alegria and our fairly made products for children. alegria collaborates with Save the Children in Switzerland via an initiative called Magic13.
- Flavia Augusta de Almeida
The alegria Children Lavender Pillow and the importance of a bedtime routine 0
New parents tend to get their hands on most material that will educate themselves regarding topics unknown to them about parenting. One topic that is amongst the most popular is the importance of sleep for babies and children.
I remember I was given quite a popular book on the importance of good sleep for babies and children, recommended by an architect friend. Unfortunately, the book was so technical and full of graphics that I soon lost interest. As a new mum I was interested in facts but also in a lighter and funnier reading material. But aside from the books and webpages I read, scientifically or experienced based, the exchange of information with other parents was extremely valuable to me as a new mum. Interestingly I observed that my friends from southern European countries would put their babies to sleep much later than the ones from northern European countries. Clearly this is related to climate and culture, but no matter where around the globe the fact remains that children need to have enough sleep and that regular bedtime routines are essential. Most children between 5 and 12 sleep require about 9.5 hours a night, but experts note that most children need between 10 or 11 hours each night. There are two websites which I find quite holistic in terms of providing tips and info about children and teenagers sleep: National Sleep Foundation and NHS Choices
So aside from going to bed at a time that allows the child to have the required hours of sleep, having a cuddling toy, blanket or pillow may also help the child get into a structured sleeping routine mode.
Since my daughter was a baby she had a well-structured bedtime routine which included a nice bath to relax, some nice winding down time in the bedroom with dimed lights, classical music and feeding time. At times when I was breast feeding I often let her fall asleep whilst feeding. As she became older we removed the music and introduced reading books to her.
It was during that time when she was a baby that the idea of the lavender pillow came about. My mother made my daughter’s first lavender pillow when she was a tiny baby not yet using pillows to sleep, but I used to place it next to her in the cot. Isabella loved the pillow! The creation of the alegria Children Lavender Pillow has been inspired by a grandmother’s gift and the soothing properties of lavender.
Lavender has been used as a sleeping aid for many years. As a mum I used lavender scented bath products for my baby and 7 years later the lavender pillow is still present in her bed. Now, her alegria Children Lavender Pillow, is more of a cuddly pillow as it is small in size for her to sleep on.
The design of the alegria lavender pillow was extensively developed to arrive at what we have today. Many mums who been given prototypes to our lavender pillows at the different design stages have contributed greatly to what is today the most popular product in the alegria SLEEP collection.
I invite readers and parents to check the parents' reviews about the alegria Children Lavender Pillow. Under TESTIMONIALS there is also more information about what other parents have to say about this product.
- Flavia Augusta de Almeida