Thursday, December 23, 2010

Looking for

Dear Readers,

If you're looking for, please click here!

Auntie Melanie

Thursday, August 5, 2010

This is Why I Haven't Been Blogging....

Dear Readers,

Thank you for your patience while I've been all consumed writing The Savvy Auntie Guide to Life: The Ultimate Source for Cool Aunts, Great Aunts, Godmothers and all Women Who Love Kids. (William Morrow / HarperCollins)

The book will be 304 pages! I'll let you know when pre-orders are available, in the meantime, it will definitely be on shelves on March 22, 2011!


Auntie Melanie

Friday, July 9, 2010

Two Year Auntieversary

Dear Readers, Today is the two year 'auntieversary' of, the first online community for cool aunts, great aunts, godmothers and all women who love kids. So much has happened in the last two years since that fateful day. In fact, I don't hesitate to say my life has changed dramatically.

I truly found my passion with Savvy Auntie. Being an 'auntrepreneur' was always a dream of mine. Writing a book was also a dream, so when Debbie Stier of HarperCollins reached out to me and invited me to her office for lunch last November, I could hardly believe it. The result of that meeting is: The Savvy Auntie Guide to Life: The Ultimate Source for Cool Aunts, Great Aunts, Godmothers and All Women Who Love Kids. The manuscript is due at William Morrow, the imprint at HarperCollins publishing the book, at the end of this month! Look for it on and every where books are sold on March 22nd!

I also never dreamed I'd be on TV as often as I have. Or write a piece in The New York Times or had the unbelievable amount of amazing press for Savvy Auntie. I designated a day for Aunts. I've gotten to meet and/or interview women and men I look up to. I've had photoshoots with acclaimed photographers and hairstylists. I've had the opportunity to work with incredible clients who sponsor this dream of mine. And I've learned so, so much.

I could not be here - in this moment - without you and all the Savvy Auntie members, fans, followers and friends. I am deeply humbled by the support and love you have shown me and Savvy Auntie. This magic carpet ride of mine has taken me places I never imagined I would visit. And we're still going strong.

"If a man knows the harbor he seeks, any wind is the right wind." - Seneca.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you for being the wind on my sails.

Auntie Melanie

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Excuse Me, But That's my Privacy You're Stepping On.

UPDATE: In just a few hours after I posted this, I found the photographer on Twitter and asked him to remove the photo. He did and apologized and promised never to take a photo of me again. My faith in people has resumed. Thank you all for your support - even you "Anonymous" commenter.

Dear Readers,

One of the things I do in order to let Savvy Aunties know about all the coolest new toys they can consider giving their nieces and nephews is attend various toy showcase events. This morning I attended the Time to Play event in New York City. It was a fantastic event and I will be spending a good part of the week sharing my favorite toys from the show with Savvy Aunties on

The only disturbing part of the event was the gentleman who took a photo of me while I was looking at some toys. I told him that I didn't want to be in his photo. He shrugged me off. I said: "Excuse me, but you don't have my permission to use my image in your print publication or post it on your site." He shrugged me off again as if to say "Oh well, tough luck" and continued to walk away.

I pressed on.

"Excuse me sir, but you do not have my permission to use my image." He told me it was for internal purposes and I left it at that. I shouldn't have. I should have gotten his credentials and notified his company. But he was walking away and I didn't want to create a scene. I think I made a mistake.

I was steaming mad.

I am fresh off of being notified by a friend late last night that there is a photo of me on Flickr that I had never seen before. It was taken last summer while I sat at an outdoor cafe working on my laptop and on my cell. I remember what I was working on that day and how happy I was to be getting so much work done at my neighborhood cafe on a lovely summer day.

The photographer boasted on Flickr that the photo has been used in numerous blogs and poked fun at me stating how he had taken a number of photos of me from just a few feet away but I was too busy on my phone to notice him (like I'm in the wrong for not being aware some creepy guy is taking pictures of me while I worked.)

Here's what he wrote on Flickr:

"I took several pictures of her, from different angles, and from only a few feet away. Amazingly, she never seemed to notice me at all; I guess she was concentrating too hard on her cellphone conversation and whatever was on her laptop (which, I'm guessing from its physical appearance, was probably an IBM Thinkpad, running Windows - so she was probably forced to pay close attention to it). "

I wont tell you his name or post the photo page link because he doesn't know who I am and I'd like to keep it that way.

But I'm creeped out.

Just like I was when I noticed that the Huffington Post shared what articles I was reading "with my friends."

Just like I was when I found out that anyone can see what I "liked" on Facebook.

And don't get my started on FourSquare, Gowalla and other "Here I am! Come take photos of me without my persmission" geolocation technologies.

By the way, this Flickr guy didn't need to use geolocation technology to tell everyone where I was. He just posted the address of a cafe I frequent often to the world. Oh well, looks like I won't be going there anymore.

Here's the thing. I'm a public person. I am on TV and have photos of me all over the Web.

But these appearances are my choice. They are me in my professional status as Savvy Auntie. And it's not like this guy took photos of my because I'm Savvy Auntie. He took them because I was a vulnerable to his camera, sitting minding my own business. It was a violation of my privacy.

Do we really have to shrug it off like the photographer at Time to Play and say: "But this is the world now, get used to it?" Was George Orwell just 26 years too early?

Privacy should not be owned by those who violate it.

Is becoming free subjects of stock photography just the coolest new toy of the season? Because man, I feel played.

Auntie Melanie

Monday, April 5, 2010

What If & Why Not?

Dear Readers,

When the idea for Savvy Auntie came to me in the summer of 2007, I gathered a number aunt friends of mine in my living room for cake to share the idea and get their feedback. I wasn't looking to hear whether or not it was a good idea (that much I believed and was committed to). I wanted to get different perspectives to help inspire my next steps in creating this brand.

Now, almost three years later, I'm still friendly with these women and they all one by one have told me they can't believe... "You actually did it! And look where you are now! I'm so happy for you!" Of course, that night, they weren't all that supportive. Some who had started businesses of their own were busy telling me what I hadn't done yet (the idea was days old). Others said that identifying as an aunt wasn't important to them (and hey you can't please everyone). But most drank their tea, ate a homemade cupcake, wished me luck and went home.

What if that was it? What if that night was a lovely night of women getting together to debate an idea and leave it at that?

What if I hadn't kept up the momentum but gotten lost in organizing more informal focus groups or gotten mired in a writing a 100 page business plan?

What if I got lazy? What if I decided the summer weather was much too nice to sit indoors and work on this business? What if I got scared about investing my life savings in this business?

What if I listened to 95% of the men I shared the idea with that early in the game who came back with ego-laden questions meant to stop me, not encourage or help me? (The women didn't do this by the way. The men were focused on the exit strategy. Exit strategy? I hadn't even started yet!)

What if I let the naysayers get to me?

What if I didn't actually do it?

What if?

Well I wouldn't be the woman I am today. I wouldn't be connecting with hundreds of thousands of women and connecting them with their inner-Savvy Auntie. And I wouldn't have met some of the most amazing people I have ever met in my life.

One of the amazing people I met during the course of this journey is Jen Groover. Jen is the creator of the Butler Bag and a branding and innovation expert. She recently published a book entitled: What if & Why Not?

Jen changes the lexicon in her book from "What if you fail?" to "What if I succeed." And "Why not do it when the time is right?" to "Why not do it now; there's no time like the present."

Jen says that with all the tough things it takes to get started on a business, it basically comes down to four vital assets:

A Great Idea
Absolute belief in yourself

She's built a number of successful business around this and I couldn't support her thinking more. Her book goes on to help you get over all your fears that make you hold off on your dream including: job security, money, knowledge, branding and marketing, sales, profits and of course, failure.

The other night I went to a party and one of the women who had been at my gathering that summer in my living room said to me: "I see all the amazing things you are doing! I can't believe all this came out of that simple idea you shared with us that summer night. What if you hadn't done it? Could you imagine?!"

What if indeed.

Over the last couple of years I have helped a few friends get their business ideas going. Each one unfortunately stopped. What if they had kept going? I am buying each one of them a copy of Jen's book.

You can buy Jen's book at Get one for yourself and one for anyone who ever told you their big idea...

What if this is the book that helps you get your business off the ground?

What if...

Auntie Melanie

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Future of Publishing

Dear Readers,

As you may know, I have a book contract with HarperCollins experimental imprint, Harper Studio. I signed the deal over the Holiday season and began writing The Savvy Auntie Guide to Life soon after.

You may have heard the news today that the publisher of the imprint, Bob Miller, has left HarperCollins and Harper Studio. My book is still in contract and there is no doubt that it will be published as scheduled.

The news however gives me the opportunity to talk about Debbie Stier, SVP and Associate Publisher at Harper Studio. Debbie and I met on Twitter, having heard about each other from mutual social media industry friends. I think we bonded over the amazing kids from Tanzania on Twitter. Within days of our first tweet, I was having lunch in Debbie's midtown office and after about an hour, we decided on our book.

It's our book indeed. Debbie has been mentoring me, guiding me and inspiring me since the day we met. While I am relatively new to the publishing industry, I am confident that I have partnered with the best possible publisher for my brand and more importantly for my audience - you dear readers.

The publishing industry -- like many industries housed in spectacular buildings stacked next to each other row by row in New York City -- is very set in its ways. And like most industries, publishers have been challenged by fast moving digital media technologies. And many folks who were just about born into the publishing industry have to ramp up quickly to these new technologies and work with the significant changes they bring about.
And for many, my guess is that those changes are hard. After all, after years of working in publishing, there are few major surprises. The new media age is changing the publishing industry forever. It's not just a surprise; for many its a shocking shift.

I am confident that Debbie Stier is - if not the most - certainly one of the most capable of not only coping with the shifts in strategy, but actually being on the front lines of what those new strategies should be. I have no doubt that today it takes someone with a true entrepreneurial heart to take full advantage of new digital landscape - and Debbie is that person.

Debbie is present and presents at digital and social media events and conferences all over the country. She's highly active in social media. She consumes new technology like most New Yorkers drink coffee. She's inspired by movers and shakers. She's motivated by motivated people. She's actually passionate about the changes in the industry. Harper Studio may stay the same. It may ride the new waves as they come about. It will always be modernizing, taking risks and being what it was designed to be: an experiment in new publishing.

No one is sure what the future holds for Harper Studio right now. But I have no doubt that Debbie is the future of publishing.

Dear readers, our book is in the best hands in publishing. But who else would I dare share you with?

Auntie Melanie

Friday, February 19, 2010

Tropicana Supports Savvy Aunties!

Dear Readers,

One of the goals with creating Savvy Auntie was to showcase how aunts are part of the American Family Village - that not being a mother didn't mean we don't love children or want to nurture them, but rather that we love and nurture lots of children.

The challenge at the beginning was helping marketers realize that there were other women aside from moms who they should be focusing their messaging to. So far, many household-name brands have done so, and we're so proud of our sponsors, which include brands like Hasbro / Playskool, Sprout, Scholastic, TNT, Disney, and many others!

The newest sponsor to really understand the influence of aunts in the family is PepsiCo's Tropicana. Tropicana recently launched its Juicy Rewards program and came to me to help them let aunts know about it. They are letting moms know too - but really see how aunts are an important part of the family as well. I have to say, I am so appreciative of how sponsors as amazing as Tropicana value us. We're making headway! Marketers are listening!

Tropicana was so honest about wanting to include us, that the team flew me out to Chicago to meet them and shoot this little video about the Juicy Rewards program:

It means so much to me that Tropicana wants to reward aunts for all that we do for the children in our lives. It makes me so happy that you are being recognized, Auntie!

Cheers to you - and to brands like Tropicana who support us!

Auntie Melanie