It's Child Passenger Safety Week, and as moms ourselves, we know from experience just how overwhelming choosing a car seat can be. From figuring out how to install it correctly, to which one is best for your child, to weight limits to rear- vs forward-facing, there's so much to learn. Because let’s remember your car seat and crib mattress are your two most important purchases when preparing for baby. We're here to let you take a breather from the intricacies of selecting a car seat and introduce you to the people (& our friends) behind the award-winning Clek, Inc.
Nook: First things first, how many kids do you have and what are their ages?
After contemplating the addition of a third child for several years, we settled on the two amazingly awesome kids we had, Cooper (boy) 11 and Paige (girl) 8. I think, in a way, we consider Clek our third child.
Nook: How have your children given inspiration to your color assortment and product line?
Truth is, we weren’t happy with the seats on the market when we had our kids. They all looked and felt the same. With the automotive heritage that Clek was founded on, we were able to improve upon what was currently in the market by incorporating safety and performance features that already existed within the automotive sector. That, coupled with innovative fabrics and modern design aesthetics that appealed to parents like us, allowed us to bring safety and style to your (and our) back seat!
As my kids have gotten older, they've had suggestions with both colours and patterns. Cooper helped with adding some of the characters in our tokidoki space pattern—he was adamant on having the Ninja added to the mix. Paige really wanted a purple seat. I held back on adding this colour for quite some time, but we finally did a limited run this season and it is almost sold out! We have to take into account what the parents want!
Nook: We love that Clek is a family-owned and operated company but we also know that not everyone would be able to work alongside their significant other. How do you two make it work?
First and foremost, we are each other’s best friend. Accordingly, we don’t hold anything back. If there is an issue, we talk about it and then move on. I would definitely say we bring completely different skillsets to the table—ones that complement the other—very similar to that of our marriage. Besides the skillsets required to do our jobs, our personalities are also very different. Chris is very reasonable and analytical while I tend to be more emotional and am the creative side of the business.
What we do share, however, is a strong work ethic, respect for each other’s strengths and weaknesses and the desire to have a good time! We both have a work hard, play hard mentality and can go from serious to silly regularly, which, in the end, that helps keep us moving forward positively.
Nook: What advice do you have for other husband and wife entrepreneurs getting started?
Be the best partners at home first! We really look at the big picture and how we work as a team. It isn’t who does what (and when), but that it gets done—and by the right person! Knowing your strengths and weaknesses goes a long way in a partnership, whether in your professional or personal life. Efficient communication is everything! If you can’t be completely open with each other or are always tip-toeing around things because you are afraid that it will hurt the others feelings, then it's not going to work.
Nook: Clek is not only headquartered in Toronto, Canada but all of your production is in Toronto too. We love that Clek is North American made just like Nook! With so many other car seat company’s produced overseas, what drove your decision to keep production in Canada?
Yes, our Foonf and Fllo convertible seats are manufactured in Canada. Not only do we feel good about contributing to the Canadian economy but we also see it as the best way to provide world-class quality. The Canadian automotive manufacturing sector is world-class, which means we are adopting a proven process on the international stage. It also allows us to stay on top of quality, and learn how to design better quality into product updates or into future products. For consistent quality, the manufacturability of a product is as important as the product design itself.
Nook: Looking back, what advice would you give to yourselves before starting the company?
I don’t think there is much you could have told me that would have prepared me for what was to come, but I would definitely say enjoy your vacations and time off!! Our Foonf launch was delayed so many times that we cancelled and rebooked our vacation plans on a monthly basis. I miss the days of really checking out and not having to worry, but it does get a little easier with time and having the support and hard work of staff.
Celebrate the highs because they don’t come that often. Chris prefers not to get too high when it's good, and not to get too low when it's rough, because tomorrow is always unpredictable. Specifically, we were going through a few weeks that were mentally exhausting between home and work. I remember walking into his office and saying “I am so tired, I can’t do this!!” He looked at me and said “You got this!” When I was visiting one of our retailers, Little Seedling, they had a mantra bracelet that had “you got this” inscribed on it, so I bought it! It serves as a friendly reminder in those moments I need it most!
Nook: Clek and Nook share a love for Color. What is your favorite Clek Color? And, while we’re at it, what is your favorite Nook Color?
My favorite colour to date would be the Capri colour we launched last year and it is almost sold out! Chris’s is Dragonfly because it merges a modern look (white frame) with a retro green. He refers to it as party couch. Funny, our Nook selections would be Peacock, Blossom and Lawn! I am a huge fan of neutral rooms with a pop of color for fun + style.
Nook: What advice do you have for expected parents shopping for their car seat?
Two baby essentials that you don’t want to skimp on are a mattress and a car seat. Just like mattresses, not all car seat are created equal. Remember, this is what is protecting your most precious cargo in the worst possible situations.
Nook: Not to get too technical or serious, but what is the biggest mistake parents typically make when installing their car seat?
First, a lot of people don’t want to spend the time to read the manual. Over the course of the child’s life in that seat, whatever the age/stage, it will need to be adjusted. So just reading or skipping to a specific section is a terrible idea. Understand how to use it properly because it's intended to save your child’s life in that one moment you need it to.
If you are looking for highlights, here are a few:
- Stay rear-facing until at least 2 years of age.
- Check if your seat is too loose in the car. With both hands, grasp the car seat at the base, near where the vehicle's safety belt (or LATCH belt) passes through the seat. You shouldn't be able to move the safety seat more than one inch to the left or right, or forward.
- Make sure the harness straps are properly adjusted. Harness straps need to be at shoulders or below (when rear-facing); and at shoulders or above (when forward-facing).
- Check if the harness is too loose on the child. The Harness is tight when your fingers glide along it (above the chest clip) and you are unable to grab any harness.
- Don't get out of a booster seat too early.
Nook: We love that Clek is always coming out with something new, whether it’s a new color or a new car seat. Can you share if there is anything new we should be looking out for? Even if it’s just a hint. ;)
If you look at our product line up currently there is a pretty big void, one that gets parents into our brand from the very beginning.