The idea for Baby Celebration L.A. -- this weekend's second annual showcase of the latest fashion, products and services for babies, children and expectant moms -- came to co-founder Penny Domschot while browsing gossip magazines.
"When I was six months pregnant, I kept reading Star magazine, thinking, 'Where did these celebrities get these cute baby outfits?' " says Domschot, 43, a mother of three.
Most retailers Domschot found specializing in hip baby and kids clothing and products can only be accessed online. Armed with experience running an event production company, she and best friend and business partner Patrice Meluskey devised a plan to gather these companies under one roof so parents can shop and small businesses can be seen.
Held at the Los Angeles Convention Center, Baby Celebration L.A. is poised to attract more than 15,000 attendees with the lure of fashion shows, guest speakers and rows of booths selling specialty children's clothing and products, from a $3,000 stroller with iPod integration to Swarovski crystal pacifiers and skater shoes for toddlers. Many of the retailers exhibiting are stay-at-home moms turned entrepreneurs.
"It's nice to be able to support independent designers that are on the edge of breaking through," says Domschot. "They quit their jobs to make these products for moms like them. Every mom who purchases from a mom is supporting another mom."
This year, they also plan to focus more on the event's entertainment aspect. "L.A. moms have so many resources at their fingertips that they really want more entertainment," says Meluskey, 51. "Last year, we had a lot of mommy makeovers and they weren't interested in that."
A runway show featuring trendy designs for toddlers and expectant mothers is planned for both days. An eco-garden with a bio-degradable playhouse will be on hand for kids to learn how to grow plants. Speakers like celebrity baby nurse Dee Rule and a panel on child safety will also answer practical questions from parents.
"As much as we have fun, cool stuff, we still take serious matters to the heart," says Meluskey. "Safety is a hot topic. Parents are more conscious about having the best world for their child."
While consumer trade shows are often large and overwhelming, Baby Celebration L.A. takes steps to ensure that parents, grandparents and children are comfortable. Aisles separating booths are wider to make room for strollers, and rest stops with play areas and baby changing facilities will be scattered throughout. An extra perk is that gift bags will be given to the first thousand attendees.
"Plan to make a day of it," encourages Domschot. "Even though we have activities for the kids, it's really for the entire family."
BABY CELEBRATION L.A.
WHERE: Los Angeles Convention Center, South Hall K, 1201 S. Figueroa St., downtown L.A.
WHEN: 10 a.m-6 p.m. Sat.; 11 a.m-6 p.m. Sun.
PRICE: Adults, $10. Children 12 and younger, free.
INFO: (888) 970-3976; www.babycelebrationla.com