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Charlotte+Asher creates chic diaper bags for the stylish, modern mom.

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Parenthood related topics written by the founders of charlotte+asher.

National Infant Immunization Week

Laura Hahn

This week is National Infant Immunization Week (April 22-29), an annual observance by the CDC to highlight the importance of protecting infants from vaccine-preventable diseases and to celebrate the achievements of immunization programs and their partners in promoting healthy communities. This is an important week for charlotte+asher since we firmly believe in the importance of infant vaccination, as we donate a specific amount from each bag purchase to the Shot@Life organization. Through Shot@Life, we help fight against the world’s four most deadliest diseases for children: measles, polio, pneumonia and diarrhea.

While these diseases are the most dangerous for children worldwide, that is not to take away from the importance of other routine vaccines we get here in the US and other developed countries. For example, it is routine for newborns to get a Vitamin K injection right after birth, whether at a hospital, birthing center, or even at home with a midwife. This shot ensures that your baby’s blood will be able to clot properly, as Vitamin K deficiencies are extremely serious and may cause life-threatening bleeding. The Hepatitis B shot is also routinely given to newborns before leaving the hospital, though at a birthing center or home birth you may get this at the first pediatrician visit.

As parents, sometimes it’s hard to see our children crying when receiving their vaccinations. I particularly admire and am thankful for the nurses who are expert shot givers and administer the shot and band aid in one fell swoop with minimal bleeding in a few seconds. However, that momentary crying is absolutely worth it to protect them from life-threatening diseases that would otherwise cause us and them to cry. It's worth remembering that even if a child catches but doesn't die from a vaccine-preventable disease, she can still suffer tremendously and will likely need a lot of medical intervention to survive. The facts and studies are out there showing the efficacy and safety of the vaccines our children receive at their pediatric visits. Some children may experience side effects like soreness at the site of vaccine or a low-grade fever, but these are usually mild, short lived, and treatable. Vaccines save families time and money; no sickness means no hospitalizations or time off from work.

We should continue to discuss the importance of vaccines, raise questions to get a better understanding of them, and strive for the best concoctions. No vaccine is 100% effective, but many are 90% or higher and their effectiveness is increased by herd immunity. We support vaccines not just to protect ourselves and our children, but also as a public health contribution--to help protect each other, especially those who are immunocompromised and unable to get the vaccinations themselves. Our children are the future; they shouldn’t be held back by diseases we have been so fortunate to effectively fight. But we need to continue fighting so that we can win, together.

Growing Your Family

Laura Hahn

Neither of them is quite sure about the other.

Neither of them is quite sure about the other.

Family planning is no one’s business but your own. That's why when random strangers think they're being funny by telling you you have your hands full with 2 kids at the grocery store, or make any sort of comment when you're pregnant and wrangling multiple children, they can kindly shut their mouths. However, there's nothing wrong with asking other parents what their experiences were like and seeing if they have any relevance to you. In fact, sharing stories among parents is how we bond and learn!

Families who are thinking of adding another baby have a lot to consider. One of the logistical things we wonder about is spacing between children. How many years apart should your kids be? The answer: whatever works for you. Some families are simply too overworked between scheduling, sleep, and life in general and want some time to themselves before adding a newborn into the mix again. Others want lots of kids and know they need to get busy so they still have time to enjoy their retirement without kids in the house. One of the factors important to me when planning for another was how independent my son would be when his sibling came, so we waited until he would be 2.5. I knew that I would have my hands full, and since we lived in the city, I wanted to make sure he was somewhat decent at listening. That way when I was pushing the stroller with his sister and he was running down the street or on his scooter, he would stop when I told him to, or hold my hand while crossing the street, etc. I also didn’t want to be changing two sets of diapers, so I made sure to tackle potty training before his sis was born. Basically anything to make life easier for me! In the end, we like to plan as much as we can, but it's important to remember that some things are just out of our control.

I’ve been asked and wondered if it was harder going from zero to one kid, or one to two (can't speak for more than that yet!). This definitely depends on the person, and differs in what you define as hard, because for me having a baby was something I felt kind of prepared for since I took care of my two nieces for a summer and saw both my older sisters caring for babies way before I had children. The other reason going from 0 to 1 child was not so bad, especially in hindsight, is that you’re only dealing with one baby schedule. Once you have 2 kids, you’re probably dealing with a child who either doesn’t nap or naps at a different time from your baby. Physically I felt like I bounced back a lot easier the second time around, but this probably depends on your labor. It was also easier because you’re not as clueless this time with a newborn, but you’re twice as tired, have twice the noise in the house, and are now facing new sibling challenges. I remember texting my friends soon after my second was born, “why did I think this was so hard with just one?” This is why moms of twins or more get a million kudos in my book!

The good thing is, things get better and hardships oftentimes come in waves. As your children age, it’s less physically challenging--you’re getting more sleep, they walk and feed themselves, and they become independent beings. However, other worries pop up with them navigating school and relationships, social interactions, and the real world. A wise mother and friend once told me that the early years of children is your time of sowing--you give a lot and don’t get much back from them. However, as they get older, that is your time of reaping--all the hard work, sweat and tears you have poured into them come to fruition to form the type of person they are. Whatever your family looks like in the end, there’s no question about it--raising children is hard, but extremely rewarding.

How to survive when baby arrives

Chantal Standafer

Baby Boyd resting peacefully at the hospital. 

Baby Boyd resting peacefully at the hospital. 

When we had our first child 3.5 years ago I didn't have a bunch of seasoned moms around me. Most of my friends were not yet having children. I had ideas of how things would happen, and had read some blog posts. I felt prepared in terms of what to purchase. But I really wasn't sure what I was getting into. 

On one hand I thought I'd be able to do it all, while on the other I was totally freaked out and wasn't sure how I'd get anything done. But mostly I was under the impression that I could, and therefore should, take care of everything. I had planned to have our freezer stocked with meals. But we moved a couple of weeks before my due date and it was crazy hot. So I didn't feel like turning the stove or oven on to cook. And Gaby was born a week early. Needless to say, we weren't completely unpacked and we didn't have meals on hand. 

And then my mom came to the rescue! She moved her flight up a week, and helped us finish unpacking, fed us and helped with the baby. She even stocked our freezer with meals for us to have after she returned home. Like I said, mom for the win. 

But once my mom left, I still had to figure out how to get meals on the table. And get the laundry done, and shower, and sleep, etc. Basically I had to figure out how to do it all on my own. And I didn't know how to ask for help. It took a while, but eventually I made simpler meals, and cooked extra so we didn't have to cook every night. 

 

Just when I thought I had found a safe space for the baby to rest, the toddler figured out how to climb into the crib. 

Just when I thought I had found a safe space for the baby to rest, the toddler figured out how to climb into the crib. 

Fast forward two years and I felt way more prepared when we had our son. I knew I would have extra demands because it wouldn't be just me and the baby. With a toddler on hand I wouldn't be able to nap as easily during the day, I'd need to get out so she could run around, plus our business had launched. I knew that I would need help! 

One of the best ways that the help came was in the form of a meals from friends. One close friend offered to set up an online meal schedule where people could sign up to bring dinner. For a couple of months we received a meal or two a week from some wonderful friends. It definitely took pressure off my plate--not needing to plan meals and figure out when to make them made a huge difference! 

So my key to surviving after baby's arrival: have a friend set up a meal schedule (we used Meal Train). No matter if it's baby number one or two, three, etc., having this checked off your list for at least a couple times a week will make a huge difference! 

What is your top suggestion for helping new parents? 

 

Sibling Rivalry: Dealing with Jealousy

Laura Hahn

Despite occasional jealousy bouts, they do really love each other. :)

Despite occasional jealousy bouts, they do really love each other. :)

My kids are almost exactly 2.5 years apart, with my son now 3.5 years old and daughter newly one. While my son’s jealousy and behavior was probably the worst at the very beginning--lots of crying and acting out--I'm noticing now that he's older, his jealousy comes out differently. For example, he regresses into baby talk, does the same things that his little sister is doing in that moment that we think is cute, and verbalizes that he wants something "just like Hadley." When we notice him regressing, we identify it so he knows he's doing it so he can stop. He doesn't need to act like a baby to get attention. There are great things about being older and being an older brother that he couldn't do when he was a baby. Conversely, now that my daughter is turning into a toddler, she actually knows what she wants and even gets jealous of her brother, whether he's sitting in her chair or in my lap and she wants him to move. Still being so young, for Hadley, redirection is key.

I believe that jealousy in kids most often stems from insecurity, especially in regards to siblings. They want attention, and are jealous that their sibling is taking away from that. Obviously as parents, we would love to give each child undivided attention all the time, but unfortunately that is physically impossible as long as everyone lives under the same roof. Some ways to deal with it include taking a clue from our good friend Daniel Tiger: talk it through. "When you feel jealous, talk about it...and we'll figure something out." How wise he is! Getting your child to express him or herself is the first step, and helping them form those sentences can be really helpful when they're not sure why they're feeling the way they are. I remember one morning when I had brought Hadley into our bed to nurse her, Darian had come in shortly thereafter and was having a fit about us opening the blinds. We did not get it at first, but I figured it must have stemmed from him feeling jealous. When I talked to him about it, I was trying to guess what it could be--and it turned out that he still wanted it to be like night time because he thought Hadley had slept in bed with us and he wanted to be included. After I said that and affirmed him, he calmed down immediately!

Some other ways to help deal with jealousy between siblings is to take turns. If both of them can't fit on your lap or the cushy chair at once, then taking turns helps give some order. Another great option is to take your kids out on individual “dates,” or at least have one-on-one time together so they can get dedicated time with you without the other sibling. At the very least, we can make them feel secure with lots of hugs and our words by reminding them how much we love them and by giving examples of how they can know we do. Whenever Darian gets a special treat from his grandparents, I ask him if he knows why they gave it to him and he knows the reason now: because they love him.

We all get a little jealous sometimes--adults included!--but all we need to do to feel better about it is to talk about it and not just hear affirming words, but to feel them too. Kids act out most often not because they (surprise!) want to ruin our lives, but because they probably have an underlying issue. Jealousy is also not just a phase for kids, since adults fall victim to it too. Helping our kids cope with it can help us too.

What are some helpful tips you've used to help ease jealousy?

Mom goals: from chaos to order

Chantal Standafer

Gaby making sure mommy doesn't forget a crucial part of her day: coffee. 

Gaby making sure mommy doesn't forget a crucial part of her day: coffee. 

I am not one to make resolutions. In fact, I cannot remember a time that I made one. And really if I started now, what would it look like? Make my life calm, organized and relaxed? Complete my seemingly never ending task list? 

As 2016 came to a close,  I was inspired to create goals for the changes I wanted to make in the year to come. One day on Instagram, I stumbled upon what looked like a great planner. It had monthly overview calendars,  as well as weekly calendars with each day blocked into sections. Plus it had dedicated spaces for goal setting. Perfect, I wouldn't have to create something myself! 

Fast forward a few weeks and 2017 had begun. With that, I started using the planner. I realized that at the beginning of each week there is a page for writing weekly goals. So I thought about it a bit and wrote down a few things that I wanted to accomplish that first week. Easy, right? Well, turns out that I forgot to look back at the goal list during the week. This meant that I didn't complete all of the tasks. The same thing happened the next week. So then by the third week when I sat down to make the goal list, I realized that I needed to come up with a plan to actually accomplish them. 

As I sat down to write my goals, I also looked at the week ahead. And then I had an idea. That night I looked at the goals and then at the schedule for the next day. I chose a goal or two (or tasks needed to accomplish them) and wrote them at the top of the column for the next day. When I looked at my planner in the morning, I knew exactly what needed to be done. At the end of the week the goals list was complete. By breaking the goals into smaller chunks, I was not overwhelmed by a long task list. Plus, in taking time to plan for the next day before going to bed, I felt prepared for the day ahead. 

So now a month into the year, I feel like I have accomplished tasks. It feels great. Which makes me want to continue on this path. This is the year I say good-bye to the ridiculously long task lists. Hello order to this mom's life (well, at least in one sense)!

How are you going about accomplishing your goals? 

 

  

Parenting in the Holiday Season

Laura Hahn

His completed chart and the return of his games!

His completed chart and the return of his games!

I love the holidays. I would celebrate Christmas all year if I could. I was especially excited for this year since my son is 3, and he can start to form real memories of the holidays. There are so many fun things to do, yummy treats to eat, and I of course wanted to share all of these things with him. However, I was finding that the more I wanted to do with him, the greedier he became. This, of course, is the opposite behavior I wanted him to exhibit since the holidays are all about giving and thankfulness.

After crying fits because he couldn’t have more candy or do more holiday activities, on top of not cleaning up his numerous toys, I had it. While he went upstairs to sulk in his room, I cleaned up his games, promptly put them away in a bag, and left them in the basement. Surprisingly, it wasn’t until the next day when he asked where all his games were. I told him I took them away because he wasn’t listening or being kind to me, and if he wanted to get them back, he had to earn it. I then set up a chart with two rows and eight boxes. He would get a sticker for each time he listened well to his parents, by saying yes or ok right away with no complaining and a good attitude; and another sticker for each time he did something kind for someone else. So after 8 good listening instances and 8 kind acts, he could get his games back.

At first, it was hard. He even cried when I was explaining how he could get his games back (this is the first chart we’ve done so he still had to get the concept). He got one sticker right away for thinking of something nice he could do (he gave me a hug). Then when he didn’t listen or had a bad attitude, I pointed out to him that he could have earned a sticker had he listened and obeyed right away. Slowly, day by day, he earned more stickers and came up with ideas for kind things to do on his own, like setting the dinner table, and offering one of his forks to his sister to use since hers were all being washed. His kind acts were outpacing his listening opportunities as he found joy in doing them. I also tried to get him excited when he was halfway there, only had x number of boxes left, etc. I found that as these concepts kept getting ingrained in his head, the tantrums stopped and there were many instances where he could have gotten a sticker but didn’t ask for one--meaning this behavior was becoming more natural to him and wasn’t focused solely on the reward. I would remind him of the stickers occasionally to bring him back on track or to praise him when he was especially kind or responsive to us and others.

Sometimes, even as adults, we need a little kick to turn good behavior into habits so we don’t even think about it anymore. As we fully enter this holiday season, may we be thankful for things both big and small, and remember and help those less fortunate than us. Parenting is already so challenging, and navigating it during the holidays is its own beast. But as we try to teach our children to become kind and responsible adults, we must also exhibit the behavior we wish for them.

Happy holidays to all, and may your 2017 be filled with love and kindness!

 

Holiday Gift Guide: #purchasewithpurpose

Chantal Standafer

Nothing like having a little shopping helper.  

Nothing like having a little shopping helper.  

We’re now well into the holiday season and if you’re anything like me, you’re still on the hunt for gifts for many (or all) of the people on your list. No need to worry! We’re here to help you find some great gifts. Plus, each gift does a little more than brighten the spirits of the recipient. With giving back close to our heart at charlotte+asher--each bag purchase provides five life saving vaccinations to children in need--we’ve rounded up some of our favorite socially conscious companies. For simplicity's sake, we listed them in alphabetical order:

Apolis is a lifestyle brand that gives back through their model of “Advocacy Through Industry.” By co-designing products and connecting artisans to a larger market, they empower global communities.

BLOOM + GRACE works with designers and artisans in developing countries to create unique jewelry. In addition to supporting the artisans, each piece purchased also provides life-saving vaccinations to children in developing countries through Shot@Life!

Bloom2Bloom is a flower company that offers incredibly fresh bouquets of flowers grown in the US. Each purchase helps decorate a teen’s hospital room through Wish Upon a Teen.

BOMBAS developed "the best sock ever" in different styles and colors. With each pair of socks sold, one is donated to a homeless shelter.

COCO & MANU hand-makes vintage inspired baby and children’s clothing. Purchases with this company help support families with foster kids.  

GiveScent offers unique wearable scents. Each bottle purchased helps support women through Every Mother Counts and Women for Women International.  

Hand in Hand Soap offers a beautiful selection of soaps, lotions and candles that are made in the USA. With each purchase, a child in need receives clean water and a bar of soap.

Headbands of Hope has you covered for your headband needs in all sizes from baby to adult. For each headband sold, one is given to a child who is fighting cancer.

Local+Lejos offers home goods created by artisans. Purchases provide sustainable work, livable wages (higher than wholesalers pay), as well as training and resources to the artisans.

LSTN Sound Co. uses reclaimed wood to create premium audio products, including earbuds, headphones and speakers. Each purchase helps provide hearing aids to a person in need through the Starkey Hearing Foundation.  

One Hope Wines has a wide selection of wine, coffee and gifts. One Hope supports ten different causes, including providing global healthcare and ending childhood hunger.

Plan Toys creates eco-friendly, non-toxic toys that are simple and attractive (both to kids and parents!). They give back through a reforestation program, as well as children’s programs in their community.

Prosperity Candle sells a variety of handmade candles, made by female artisans. Their goal is to help end poverty by employing women who have relocated from refugee camps to the United States.

SOLO makes sunglasses from recycled bamboo. Each pair purchased provides funds for eye care for people in need.

Soma offers stylish carafes and pitchers with sustainable filters. With each purchase, a donation is made to charity: water to provide clean drinking water in developing countries.

Happy shopping!

Giving Tuesday: Why We Give Back

Laura Hahn

Kiddos admiring their thankfulness tree.

Kiddos admiring their thankfulness tree.

There are so many fun things happening around the holidays. With Thanksgiving and Black Friday shopping coming to a close, many of us look ahead to December celebrations where we focus on thankfulness and giving to others. With kids, it's easy to slip into commercialism and focus only on our nuclear families, which is why Chantal tries to teach her kids about giving to others. This week, we wanted to highlight the focus of our giving, which you've hopefully heard about before if you've seen our site.

When we started our company, we knew that we wanted to incorporate giving back as a main part of our business. We wanted to join the other for-profit, socially-conscious companies that sold quality products while simultaneously thinking of others at every point of sale. We were inspired to make our own diaper bag to fit our needs, and knew we wanted to help children in some way. It was during this time that the anti-vax movement was really reaching its peak, and childhood diseases we hadn't heard about in decades started popping up again. Since Chantal and I were both in LA, we were right in the middle of the "trendy, wholesome" parenting style that many were implementing in cities all over the US--which unfortunately meant some parents were hesitant about or opposed to vaccinations. 

With all the negative, and in many cases, false claims about vaccines that were popping up all over the internet and misinforming parents, we found that there needed to be more positive and educational voices about them. We knew that this was the right cause to back for our company. Not only did we want to tangibly help children who needed these vaccines that parents in developed countries were taking for granted, we vowed to help promote scientific research in support of vaccinations so parents could be better informed, without being shamed. 

We donate 5 vaccines per bag purchase via Shot@Life - a United Nations initiative. They help promote vaccinations in both a tangible and educational standpoint by administering vaccines to the children who need it, as well as educating supporters or "champions" who can fundraise and be a voice to Congress. You may have also heard about Shot@Life through Walgreens' "get a shot, give a shot" campaign. 

Today on Giving Tuesday, we urge you to think of those who you're helping through your purchases--but who could also use your help throughout the year. What other ways can we help those in need on a daily basis and not just once a year?

Giving back at all ages

Chantal Standafer

Gaby showing her jar of "money for the kids"

Gaby showing her jar of "money for the kids"

One of our family values is to be outwardly focused (and part of our company mission). Last year I shared how we were starting to teach our daughter Gaby about being grateful for what she had. And we continue to read books with those themes. But now she’s three and teaching her has grown beyond talking about being thankful. She has started giving to others intentionally.

One of the biggest instances of her giving began over the summer.  We bought floaties to use with the kids in the pool. When we opened up the packages, my very curious little girl asked me about every single piece of information that came along with them. As we were looking through it all, she became fixated on one piece. It was a glossy picture of kids. Unknowingly we had purchased from a company that partners with Operation Smile, an organization that provides free surgeries for children around the world who have cleft lip and cleft palate and other facial deformities.  

Gaby was so fascinated. She kept asking about the kids, who she referred to as “the kids whose lips hurt.”  This was the best way I thought to explain their condition to her. And when we told her that people donate to Operation Smile so the doctors could fix the kid's lips, well she wanted to give to the kids.

But the girl doesn't make money yet. So where did that leave us? My husband and I got to thinking and came up with a couple of solutions. The first is whenever we go out for a treat, we give her the option to get her own or to share. If she splits it, she gets to give the money we would have spent on the treat to the kids. She has a special jar to keep the money in. And so far every time we bring it up, she jumps at the chance to share and give the money away. Our other thought is to come up with a list of extra tasks around the house she can do to earn money. But we have yet to come up with a chores vs extras list. That will come soon though.

Giving resources is not the only way to give to others. Sharing our time can be just as valuable as giving money. There are many opportunities to prepare and serve meals at shelters. Or spending time with an elderly neighbor who doesn't have family around. The act doesn't have to be huge. Need ideas? Check out this month long calendar with a small way to give back to others every day.

How are you sharing with others this season or throughout the year?

 

Worthwhile Investments for Motherhood

Laura Hahn

For city life this stroller was a life saver: two kids in tow with space for my diaper bag and a bag of groceries.

For city life this stroller was a life saver: two kids in tow with space for my diaper bag and a bag of groceries.

Becoming a mom is both exciting and overwhelming. A lot of us can’t wait to start nesting and getting all our baby gear because it makes the impending arrival of our little one start to feel real. That being said, it can get expensive really fast! With so many options available these days, it’s hard to know when to get a cheap but perfectly functional option, or when to spend a little more and get an item that will last and save you a headache--and prevent spending even more money. Here are a few things that we think are worth investing in during pregnancy and motherhood:

  • Haircut

If you think you’re short on time now, you will probably have even less of it for yourself once your baby comes. Taking a break from your baby once in awhile is good and healthy, and can save your sanity. But when you’re in the thick of it, mornings will probably be hectic more often than not, and you won’t have as much time to get ready. That’s why I think it’s totally worth it to get a good haircut. Make sure it’s something that keeps you styled enough and is easy to maintain, but will also grow out well. Find a hairdresser who will listen to you but knows how your cut will look in several months from now, or until your next appointment.

  • Maternity jeans/leggings

I’ll be the first to tell you that I hate pants. I would live in sundresses if I could. But if you’re pregnant in the winter and don’t live where it’s summer every day, you’ll probably have to wear pants. Buying a maternity wardrobe can get expensive, so definitely share clothes with your friends if you can. It can be hard to feel good about your changing body and lines even though you have a pregnancy glow, so I definitely think it’s worth investing in a good pair of maternity jeans and/or leggings. Make sure they’re comfortable (enough) and flattering, and you’ll end up living in them when nothing else seems to fit, in addition to those early post-partum days. Plus, if you have multiple children, they will more than pay for themselves.

  • Stroller

When I was making my registry, I had a pretty good idea about what I wanted and needed. However, choosing a stroller was probably one of the most stressful decisions I had to make. There are so many options and so many good brands, and I think that’s what was overwhelming. However, really taking the time to think about your lifestyle (city vs. suburban), how you’ll be using the stroller and your weather (commuting vs. occasional walks; mild weather vs. snowy winters that need big wheels), and whether you think you’ll have kids close in age (having the potential for it to turn into a double) can help narrow things down. A lot of families have a couple strollers (a main stroller and a travel/umbrella stroller for example), but being informed can prevent too many stroller purchases or stroller remorse. It’s worth investing in a quality one now so it can last through multiple children, or can at least be sold pretty easily.

  • Diaper bag

One of the reasons why we started our company was because we couldn’t find a high quality diaper bag to last through everyday wear and tear (and multiple children!), that was also organized and a perfect statement piece. When going out with the kids, your diaper bag is a life line--it holds all of your and their essentials. There’s nothing worse than fumbling through your bag trying to find a snack or toy while your baby has a meltdown. Not only is the Gabrielle classic and chic so it goes with every outfit, it’s also organized and bright inside to prevent black hole bag syndrome. We donate to Shot@Life with each bag purchase too, so kids in need get the life-saving vaccinations they need to stay healthy and happy. We call that a win-win!

What other things do you think are worth investing in for motherhood?