Eden Heinsheimer left behind a career as a diplomat to return to Rolling Hills and raise a family, and then started her business, Max Daniel Company. Photo

Max Daniel Company’s Eden Heinsheimer gives PV a hopeful, fresh turn on the classic baby blanket

Eden Heinsheimer left behind a career as a diplomat to return to Rolling Hills and raise a family, and then started her business, Max Daniel Company. Photo

“What’s new at Max Daniel?” Eden Heinsheimer says and smiles, opening the door to her sunlit office on Deep Valley Road. “I just love it when people ask,” the former United States diplomat, now founder, owner, and designer of Max Daniel Company says, lifting the company’s new luxury baby blanket, Black Jaguar.

Heinsheimer launched Max Daniel Company in 2003, a year after she gave up her successful diplomatic career at the US Embassy Tel Aviv in Israel and returned home to Rolling Hills to raise a family. The company, named for her first-born son, employs a horseshoe logo to anchor the products to Heinsheimer’s own childhood in Rolling Hills.

Max Daniel Company designs blankets inspired by patterns in the natural world. Black Jaguar bolsters the sweet rosettes of two recent additions to the San Diego Zoo, the first jaguar cubs in over thirty years. Heinsheimer, whose inspirations stem also from California’s lush creative world, grew up in a houseful of animal prints. Her mom had a serious affection for cheetah prints and Heinsheimer believes “If you do it right, it’s very classy.” The company “played around with polka dots,” Heinsheimer notes, “but we became known for animal prints. And we kept it.”

Each throw, available for both children and adults, is produced and assembled in Los Angeles from the highest quality polyester. Downy patterns flow along the blankets’ double-sided softness.

The fabric’s dreamy, sponge-cake feel is hemmed by a buttery charmeuse satin, a delicate weave where the warp threads cross over three or more of the weft threads (this means the weave’s composition skips interlacings, causing one side of the fabric to have luster and the other to be dull). High-end nightgowns, the lining of men’s tuxedo jackets, and Donald Trump’s handkerchiefs all boast the forgiving use of this satin, and Heinsheimer chose it without vanity. Rubbing the satin between her fingers, she says even the sound, that rain-like swish swish, comforts babies.

Think back to your first baby blanket. Probably some pseudo chenille number with a plastic satin border that had to be replaced three times – but you kept it, right? Heinsheimer understands that.

“A baby blanket is a keepsake,” she said. “It is really special. It is timeless.”

The velvet lure of Max Daniel’s throws has created quite the stir among Hollywood celebrities and global luxury trendsetters from Los Angeles to Japan, Taiwan to Dubai. Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Lopez, Jennifer Garner, and Taiwanese-based Foxconn electronics Chairman Terry Tai-ming Gou have all been spotted using Max Daniel blankets to carry their tots from playtime in the park to high gloss evening events.

Heinsheimer’s diplomatic career began after she earned two master’s degrees – the first in international relations from Boston University and the second in political policy from New York University – and continued at embassy posts in South America, Egypt, and Israel. This career trajectory helped Heinsheimer develop a savviness that enabled her to fashion a product the elite would love like Peg Bundy loves a leopard print leotard.

Heinsheimer’s social finesse coupled with the effectiveness of her social media team – local South Bay Arcanorum Labs and photographer Taso Papadakis – have helped to expand the small business that began in Heinsheimer’s garage to a company with six showrooms worldwide and a lucrative online store.

The beginnings of the business could not have been much more humble. Heinsheimer began by selling blankets from a kiosk in a mall and steadfastly worked her way up to the California Market Center.

“Literally I would do everything, drive down to the factory, fold the blankets, do the invoices, figure everything out,” Heinsheimer says.

Now the company fills orders for over 1000 boutiques and department stores worldwide.

“It’s really been a lot of people coming together to make [Max Daniel] happen and make it grow the way it has,” Heinsheimer says.

The company weighs high quality fabric standards and local manufacturing as the cornerstone of their business. “Customers have come to rely on that,” Heinsheimer says. “We stand behind the quality. That’s number one. Number two we have really good, positive customer service.”

Heinsheimer and her team walk a delicate line.

Max Daniel must balance two seemingly opposing forces; that of funky forward fashion and that of classic, timeless, reliable products for child rearing. Although current elite trends and the market demands such trends entreat figure into Heinsheimer’s work, one could argue animal prints have been trendy since designer Norman Norell put the leopard print under the spotlight of 1940s-America.

“I would say we try to be more monochromatic in our style,” Heinsheimer says, dismissing seasonal spurs, “Sometimes skulls are in or sometimes tie-dye. Batik comes in and out. We try not to get too caught up with short-lived trends.”

Creating products for the ancient niche of child rearing allows Heinsheimer to steady the dog-race world of fashion in the supple sensibility of childhood.

When Heinsheimer was expecting her first son, a friend gave her a very dear blanket. It came to represent the immediate bond of a mother and child, of a family, of an infant with their first material objects. She knew then that she wanted to create a product that took part in that relationship, in a baby’s beginning attachment to the world.

Two boutiques in the South Bay – Pampered Tot on Pacific Coast Highway in Hermosa Beach and Lollipop, a children’s boutique on Catalina Ave in Redondo – sell Max Daniel throws, but many people swing by the Max Daniel office in Rolling Hills to purchase baby gifts.

“Here [at Max Daniel] people are always welcome,” Heinsheimer says, noting that though she does not maintain a retail storefront she makes herself available. “Shoot me an email or text.”

Deep Valley Road is a family affair. Heinsheimer’s father Tom Heinsheimer has served extensively on the Rolling Hills City Council and runs a consulting business up the street from Max Daniel. Julie Heinsheimer owns and operates Blue Door Gardens, a landscaping and outdoor design company.

Heinsheimer stresses the importance of a sense of home to her business – living and working within a community of family and friends is part of what makes Max Daniel Company so successful. “To be close to my parents again,” Heinsheimer says.“To be near one another.”

In the future, Heinsheimer hopes to open a flagship store – in Palos Verdes, of course – where she would sell her luxury blankets right alongside leather goods, horse saddles, and high-end gifts. She envisions a place where different parts of the community could sell their wares, where the warmth of the tack shops of generations ago would prevail; an old fashioned meeting place with a big ol’ horseshoe above the front door.

“It’s nice to now take my skills and put it towards something else,” Heinsheimer says, speaking of her switch from international diplomacy to living and working in Palos Verdes, where she is allowed “the freedom to be at school five days a week. I volunteer. I’m a referee in AYSO. Both of my sons are in PV Little League. That’s really important to me.”

Heinsheimer remembers her diplomatic career as an exhilarating period in her life. But she is glad to be back home.

“I wouldn’t trade this – living in Palos Verdes, raising two little kids – for anything in the world,” she said. “Every day I think to myself, ‘My kids don’t even know how lucky they are to live in a peaceful, democratic country.’ When you’ve lived overseas, or come from a country that’s war-torn, or maybe isn’t so free and you don’t have the rights that you have here as an individual, as a citizen, you can’t take it for granted. Every day I think to myself that I’m grateful. The sky’s blue, I’m in California. The kids can play in the backyard, walk to school. I really couldn’t ask for more.”


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