Made in New York: Nina Z.

Brooklyn-based clog designer Nina Ziefvert lets us into her Crown Heights studio and her pregnancy experience.

Made in New York: Nina Z.

If you teleported yourself back to your college years, I’m sure you could pinpoint more than a few fashion blunders. Hey, it’s a time for experimenting, so if fashion is the only mistake you made, well done. But for Brooklyn-based shoe designer Nina Ziefvert what could have been a major fashion faux-pas became a signature moment.

Originally from Stockholm, Sweden--where she lived until she was 18 years old--Nina moved to New York in 1999 to attend the Fashion Institute of technology. “I have always worn clogs in different stages of my life. At a young age, I was really inspired by how my mom and her friends wore their traditional 70’s braided clog sandals all year round with socks, which is something I continued to do once moving to NYC,” says Ziefvert.

At that time, clogs were not creating the sartorial moments they are nowadays here in NYC. Zieifvert had to leave the city to find them. “I would look for vintage pairs when visiting Sweden, and at some point, around 2008 or so, I realized that my friends in fashion in NYC actually started to catch on and were asking me to get them pairs while in Sweden,” she says. That’s how it all got started. Still working as a curator at Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation, Nina Z. the brand was slowly born out of Ziefvert’s Crown Heights living room and at her booth at the Brooklyn Flea.

Six years after founding Nina Z., Zeifvert is gearing up for a new venture as a mom. Here she tells us more about her obsession-worthy brand and what she’s really grateful for this pregnancy.

What inspires your designs?

I found a lot of inspiration from basic, traditional and ethnic design. Also, from traveling and exploring craftsmanship in rural regions, as well as the heavy urban concrete settings and aesthetics one can find in NYC and Brooklyn or any other major city. I love farm life, but, I also love walking on Flatbush, and the two combined pretty much makes up the feel and aesthetics of the brand. I get a lot of inspiration from a variety of female creators who stood before me, and I am hoping to continue to pass that creative force onto my customers through the brand and its products.

How do you think Nina Z clogs stand apart from others?

I think that the handmade quality gives them a “rawer” look and design than other existing clog brands. Our color palette is very natural, so all our models easily work with most wardrobes and seasons. And with our “Made in Brooklyn” studio program, our customers can now order their own individually made pair with leather that we source locally and in small batches, so one pair is never really the same as another. I think that’s a pretty unique experience and program that I am very excited to keep on expanding.

How does NY/Brooklyn influence you as a designer?

Brooklyn is very inspiring in that way that everywhere you turn there are like-minded creative startups, which might not have the typical “business structure,” but that somehow keeps on thriving and pushes through. The immense cultural variety in Brooklyn (and in consequence its fashion) just is such an influence and inspiration for any aesthetically inclined mind, I think. It offers such variety.

Why do you look forward to raising a kid in NYC/Brooklyn?

Growing up in the inner city of Stockholm, Sweden, which is a less culturally diverse environment that NYC/Brooklyn, I look forward to my child growing up here with its immense diversity. We can go for Chinese Food in Chinatown on Monday, Jazz in Harlem on Wednesday, a walk on Flatbush on Saturday and Fort Tilden Beach on Sunday. I also think that NYC offers a tremendous amount of free cultural activities for kids at the museums and libraries, and I am looking forward to exploring all those with my daughter as well.

What has your pregnancy experience been like?

I think I had a pretty easy pregnancy (except for the first 3 months, which was a seriously emotional hormonal rollercoaster). I have, of course, been having the regular symptoms of tiredness etc., but been able to work up until now (8 months), so I feel lots of gratitude for that.

Tell us about your pregnancy style.

I’ve been wearing most of my regular clothes throughout my pregnancy. I just added a few high-waisted American Apparel tights, which have been great. I’ve been wearing lots of oversized shirts with tights, and long dresses, which I would do anyway. My need for natural materials has been intensified during my pregnancy ,and I‘ve been wearing lots of silk, cotton and linen.

What have been some of your go-to pregnancy brands?

I only really shopped at American Apparel, which is not really real pregnancy clothes, but their stretchy materials and high-waisted tights have been the basics and savior of my pregnancy wardrobe.

When you're not wearing clogs, what's on your feet?

Keds or NIKEs.

Photography by Sarina Cass of Red Anchor Photography

My village lives far away—but my Target baby registry helped them support me from afar

Virtual support was the next best thing to in-person hugs

They say you shouldn't make too many major life transitions at once. But when I was becoming a mama for the first time nearly five years ago, my husband and I also moved to a new town where we didn't know a soul, bought our first house and changed jobs.

To put it mildly, we didn't heed that advice. Luckily, our family and friends still made it feel like such a magical time for us by supporting our every move (literal and otherwise) from afar. They showered us with love through a virtual baby shower (expectant parents nowadays can relate!) featuring the unwrapping of gifts they were able to ship straight to me from my Target registry.

Here's one piece of advice I did take: I registered at Target so I could take advantage of the retailer's benefits for registrants, which include a welcome kit valued over $100, a universal registry function and more. Fast-forward a few years and Target has made the registration perks even better for expectant parents: As of August 2020, they've added a Year of Exclusive Deals, which gives users who also sign up for Target Circle a full year of savings after baby is born on all those new mama essentials, from formula to diapers and beyond.

Honestly, even without the significant perks of a free welcome kit with more than $100 in coupons, additional 15% off coupons to complete the registry and a full year of free returns, registering at Target wasn't a hard sell for me: Even though the experience of shopping for baby items was new, shopping with Target felt like returning home to me… and the comfort of that was such a gift.

And of course, Target's registry plays a vital role right now, as expectant parents everywhere are being forced to cancel in-person baby showers and navigate early parenthood without the help of a hands-on village. A registry like this represents a safe way for communities to come through for new parents. If you're anything like me (or any of the other mamas here at Motherly), you certainly have emotional ties and fond memories associated with Target.

What to register for at Target was also an easy talking point as I began to connect with moms in my new community. I will always remember going on a registry-building spree with my next door neighbor, who had young children of her own. As we walked the aisles of Target back in 2015, she suggested items to add… and we laid the foundation for what has since become one of my most cherished friendships.

Even as I made connections in my new hometown, I was nervous that expecting my first baby wouldn't feel as special as if I were near family and friends. But my loved ones exceeded all expectations by adding the most thoughtful notes to gifts. They hosted a beautiful virtual baby shower and even encouraged me to keep the registry going after my baby made his debut and new needs arose.

In the years since, "community" has taken on a wonderfully complex new meaning for me… and, in these times of social distancing, for the rest of the world. I've come to cherish my newfound friends in our local community alongside those long-time friends who are scattered around the county and my virtual mama friends.

Now, as my friends' families grow, I'm so grateful that I can show them the same love and support I felt during my first pregnancy. I sing the praises of Target's baby registry—especially in light of the pandemic, since I know mamas can do everything from a distance thanks to Target's website and the added benefit of getting trusted reviews and helpful registry checklists.

And now that I'm on the gift-buying side of the equation, I've found new joy in picking thoughtful gifts for my friends. (Because goodness knows Target has something for everyone!)

For my friend who is a fellow runner, I teamed up with a few others to give the jogging stroller she had on her registry.

For my friend who is a bookworm, I helped her start her baby's library with a few books that are also well-loved in our home.

For other friends, I've bundled together complete "sets" with everything they need for bathing or feeding their children.

I know from my own experience that, yes, the registry purchases are so appreciated, but the thoughtfulness and the support they represent means even more. Because although my village may have been distant, the support they showed me was the next best thing to in-person hugs.

Start your own Target Baby Registry here to experience a Year of Benefits including a Year of Exclusive Deals through Target Circle to enjoy for a full year following your baby's arrival, a year of free returns, two 15% off completion coupons and a free welcome kit ($100 value).

This article was sponsored by Target. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.


Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!


Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.


Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.


Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.


Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.


Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.


Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.


Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.


Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.


Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.


Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.


Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.


Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.


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10 photos to take on baby’s first day that you'll cherish forever

You'll obsess over these newborn baby pictures.

Bethany Menzel: Instagram + Blog

As you're preparing for baby's birth, we bet you're dreaming of all of the amazing photos you'll take of your precious new babe. As a professional photographer and mama, I have some tips for newborn photos you'll want to capture.

Here are the 10 photos you will want to take on baby's first day.

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