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Inside the Innovation Awards: Magic Beans owners Sheri & Eli Gurock judge for JPMA

JPMA judgingWhen the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA) speaks, parents listen: 95% of companies in the juvenile products industry belong to JPMA, from manufacturers to retailers, and they’re the ultimate authority on safety, value, and innovation.

So when our own Sheri and Eli Gurock, the co-owners of Magic Beans, were selected by JPMA to serve on the judging panel for their annual Innovation Awards, we knew we had truly arrived! The JPMA Innovation Awards are part of the industry-wide ABC Kids Expo, and judging is happening today (the day before the Expo begins).

It’s the fourth year that Magic Beans has participated in judging, so on Friday, I asked Eli a few questions about the process.

Q: How were you selected for the panel, and who else is on it?

A: Magic Beans is known nationally for our modern, innovative sensibilities and our strength in identifying new and trendsetting products. The rest of the judges come from parenting and industry media, and include experts like our friend Jamie Grayson. We’re the only retailers on the panel, which is a tremendous honor!

Q: How are the products chosen for the final round of judging?

A: Over the summer, I get a huge spreadsheet with over one hundred products, plus links to photos, descriptions, websites, and videos. I take many hours going over each product, and nominate the ones I want to be finalists. Each judge does this independently – Sheri and I don’t compare notes!

Q: I’m guessing that the final round of judging, happening this Monday, is pretty exciting! How does it work?

A: It’s so much fun for a gear nerd like me! We go to a room at the convention center where the 35 finalist products are displayed, and then we get to really dig in: we fold strollers, latch car seats, put on baby carriers, and view baby monitors. As we go through each product, we judge them on various criteria including marketability, innovation, and their relationship to parenting trends. After a few hours, we each submit our votes to the JPMA team, and the seven winners are announced the next day, which is the first day of the ABC Kids Expo.

Q: Among the winners you’ve helped to pick, which products are your favorite?

A: There are so many! The Clek Foonf Convertible Car Seat, the Cybex Aton 2 Infant Car Seat, the Naturepedic Lullaby Earth Crib Mattress, the Bubble Bum Booster, the Bugaboo Donkey Stroller, the True Womb Sleep Swaddle, and the Baby Jogger City Select are just a few. Of course, they go straight from JPMA judging right out to our stores and our webpage – and so will this year’s winners!

Speaking of this year’s winners, they’ll be announced tomorrow! We’ll be posting the winners as soon as we find out on our Facebook page, our Twitter feed, and our Instagram page.

Our team of gear experts will be at the ABC Expo all week, roaming the aisles and discovering next year’s hottest baby products. Keep an eye on the Spilling the Beans blog for more updates, and find out about the most innovative, stylish, and useful baby products here first!

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