ast December, Cecilia Sayre went to a shower for a single mom who had recently adopted a child from China.
Though she wanted to find a gift that held personal meaning and cultural relevance, she was stymied by the lack of selection.
“Though Chinese pajamas are gorgeous, a person only wants so many,” she said.
What really inspired her, though, was love.
“I couldn’t help thinking how fortunate these babies are to have families who want and love them,” she recalls. “But on the other hand, it’s really these adoptive families who are so truly blessed.”
So Sayre, a 40-year-old South Tampa mother of three, and a former lawyer for Carlton Fields and Marriott Hotels, took on the cause.
She began combing the Internet for everything from crib bedding to artwork to diaper bags to teeny tiny T-shirts. Her Web site, Ittybittyladybug.com will offer a range of nursery, clothing, stationery and gift items for adopted Chinese children assimilating to American culture.
“I can’t tell you how passionate I’ve become about this,” she explains. “Sometimes I’m up at 2 in the morning just looking at Chinese brocade on the Internet because I’m so excited. Although I loved, loved, loved my work as a lawyer, this is really energizing. Even my husband has been excited.”
The items were out there, she decided, many made by grass roots business people like herself. They just needed to be lassoed and sold in one place. Sayre’s Web site, which will be officially up and running by mid August, features truly unique gift items for adoptive parents of Chinese babies.
The stylish diaper bags are made by a San Francisco mom who adopted a Japanese baby.
Tiny T-shirts proclaim “I’m at peace being a princess” and come packaged in dim sum containers complete with little Chinese brocade slippers. The beautiful Chinese water buckets are great for toy storage; traditional children’s jumpers can be monogrammed with delicate dragons; and unusual crib bedding features lotus flowers.
“I could never have had a brick-and-mortar store for this type of thing because it’s so specialized – there’s no city that’s big enough to support it,” says Sayre, who jokes that before launching the business she was “computer illiterate.”
The Internet marketplace has opened doors for a business like Itty Bitty Ladybug, as well as for other similar businesses for her Tampa friends, including Wendy Garraty, co-owner of www.tonichome.com, and Elizabeth Lambert, who designs Web sites, including Sayre’s.
“My friends have all been so supportive and helpful. I couldn’t have done it without them,” Sayre said.
She chose the name Ladybug, she says, because the pretty spotted bugs are a symbol of good luck and good fortune in the Chinese culture. The red thread meandering across the Web page symbolizes the relatives and friends who hold the child close.
Well, that has to do with Sayre’s own children, Spencer, 8; Gabriella, 6; and Baisler, 2; all incredibly interested in their mom’s new venture.
Explains Sayre: “We use the term ‘itty-bitty’ a lot when we’re playing.”