The Baby Guy
We catch up with Jamie Grayson, gay, single, and childless and the expert on what to buy for baby.
Jamie Grayson is a fast-talking, charming New Yorker, who claims to be the world's only male baby planner. With a background in theatre, he's a self-confessed attention-seeker. He became a product demonstrator at the large retailer, BuyBuyBaby and, before long, was proving as big a draw card as a 75%-off one-day sale. The female customers couldn't get enough of him.
His day would start at 9.30am, taking five or six couples on a group shop around the store, then doing a product demonstration. Customers would be packed up the stairs and on the mezzanine listening enthralled as Jamie explained the virtues of this model of stroller or baby carrier over that.
"The pregnant audience would eat it up," a grinning Jamie says. "The hormones would take them to a different level of emotional response."
But what he calls the "retaility" of the situation wasn't all jovial - the worst customers were first-time parents who brought along both sets of grandparents, an aunt-in-waiting and the best friend who'd been there before and knew it all.
Jamie at this stage was working part-time as a product demonstrator but babies were creeping into his other life too - pregnant women kept messaging him via Facebook while he was on tour with his theatre group. His personal shopping trips were booked out two to four months in advance.
"I would spend my weekends yelling to groups of 30 to 50 people at a time about the merits of a $750 stroller. Obnoxious? Yes. Hysterical? Yes."
Eventually, Jamie decided to swap treading the boards for informing the hordes of "Manhattan mommies" full time. He went out on his own as "The Baby Guy", a full-time baby planner. He spends time with his clients, then recommends products to buy that best ft their lifestyle.
"New York parents don't have the square footage to put heaps of stuff, so I help streamline what they buy," he says.
He has appeared on The Martha Stewart Show, The Today Show and was named Best Baby Gear Guru by New York Magazine. He's even taken lessons to become a certified doula and acted as his sister's birth assistant at her birth.
He's a single lad without children, so you can imagine how popular he is among his friends who are starting out on the journey to parenthood. His apartment is a mini showroom of the latest strollers, portacots and baby carriers on the market. An endorsement from Jamie is potentially worth huge money in the hotly contested world of baby consumerism.
Jamie and his sister were raised by a single mother in Arkansas, where the state's most famous son, former US President Bill Clinton, used to play Silent Night on the saxophone on Christmas Eve at the local church. When Jamie was in high school his mother remarried and two younger sisters joined the family. So, with a big age gap, he had a lot do with his little sisters and has always loved babies. His sister now has twins and a newborn, so they provide plenty of opportunity for testing out products.
He says new parents do tend to buy too much stuff. By the time they're on to baby number two or three they realise they didn't need it all.
When Jamie was in New Zealand earlier this year at the invitation of Phil and Teds, OHbaby! wracked his brains for advice on top products.
While he says any recommendations really are based on the lifestyle of the family, he's a firm fan of a few New Zealand-made products, including the Phil and Teds Nest portacot for newborns, the Cariboo Folding Bassinet and the Mountain Buggy Duet Double Stroller.
As for the one baby product not worth wasting a cent on? An electric baby wipe warmer! Only in America!
Above: Martha Stewart and Jamie Grayson as seen in the production of The Martha Stewart Show in New York on Tuesday, February 14, 2012.
Photo: Rob Tannenbaum/The Martha Stewart Show