The Bay Area is home to many intriguing small businesses. Still, color us surprised that we've found in Juno Baby a local purveyor of high-quality children's educational products that manages to encapsulate what we like best in a company.
It's got the "mom & pop feel" of a local company. Juno Baby has a smaller, focused product base than like companies. And, yet, it can still stand shoulder to shoulder with the big boys like (Disney-owned) Baby Einstein and similar. The product strikes us as "honest," for lack of a better descriptor--its leverages Belinda Takahashi, Ph.D.'s expertise to arrange orchestral music rather than canned electronic tunes. Her husband, Adam Adelman, contributes his directorial know-how. They started the company based on their opinion that there was a lack of good, quality educational products for their own daughter.
Awards? They've got 'em -- tons of 'em, most recently two of the company's DVDs earned 2007 Parent's Choice Awards--which means that now all three of Juno Baby's DVDs have won this award. Impressive, to be sure, but the true test was sitting down, watching a number of the Juno baby videos and listening to the music CD with our toddler.
We (that's SFist Jer and his wife) agree that the music has more to it than other baby videos we've seen and most kid-oriented CDs we've listened to. We're not music experts ourselves, so we can't pin it down in technical terms. We can say that there are more, varied instruments and the singing patterns seem more varied as well. The characters participate in different parts of songs -- sometimes singing simultaneously, sometimes apart, often creating a rich, layered effect.
In our estimation, it isn't that Juno Baby is such a huge departure from the other quality kid's stuff out there. It's appealing because it's local and not oversaturated. Sure, the Baby Einstein (and similar) stuff looks great and has its cute touches, but it's EVERYWHERE--almost to the point where it seems mandated that your child MUST EXPERIENCE THIS PRODUCT. (Sub-message: OR YOU'RE NOT A GOOD PARENT).