Howard County firms have been capturing their share of the spotlight on ABC's "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition."
Baby Outfitters, purveyor of customized strollers for celebrities such as Julia Roberts and Britney Spears, was the latest to make its way onto the reality TV series.
For this past Sunday'sshow, the baby boutique, at 6490 Dobbin Rd. in Columbia, pooled together roughly $15,000 worth of products from its vendors and donated them to Jeff Novak, a 29-year-old widowed father of three in Youngstown, Ohio.
The products included a customized stroller, an infant bath tub and a safety gate with alarms. Kit Orloff, who started Baby Outfitters with fellow mom Michelle Boucher, traveled to Ohio to baby-proof Novak's new home and install the donated products.
"Baby Outfitters has been a labor of love for us since we started selling products out of our living rooms four years ago," Orloff said.
Baby Outfitters is not the first Howard-based firm spotlighted on "Extreme Makeover."
In October, Architecture Collaborative of Ellicott City helped the show design a house in Capitol Heights, just outside the District.
In general, "Extreme Makeover" builds a home for a family in need and chronicles the process in an hour-long program.
Host Ty Pennington and his crew typically rip down a dilapidated house and build a much larger one customized for the family's needs -- all while the family is vacationing on the show's dime.
Boucher said "Extreme Makeover" had heard about Baby Outfitters because of its popularity among celebrities and approached the owners about donating a stroller. When they heard Novak's story, the owners decided to do more.
Jackie Novak died in May of a pulmonary embolism just two weeks after giving birth to daughter Presley. She left behind husband, Jeff, a special education teacher, and two other daughters, Zoey, 6, and Harley, 2.
For Orloff, the story resonated. She had lost her 29-year-old husband to cancer when her daughter was 4.
Orloff and Boucher's work on the show is not finished. Their products will be featured on another show to air Sunday.
The products they donated can be seen at www.baby-outfitters.com.
Mexicana Expands to BWI
Mexico-bound travelers have a new option at the Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport.
Mexicana Airlines began daily nonstop service to Mexico City last Thursday. Mexico's largest airline joins six other carriers serving international destinations at BWI.
"The daily capital-to-capital service by Mexicana will connect our economies and create new opportunities," Robert L. Flanagan, Maryland's secretary of transportation, said in a statement. The state estimates that Mexicana's arrival at BWI will pump $54 million into Maryland's economy annually.
An Airbus A318, which seats about 100 passengers, will depart from BWI at 8 a.m. and arrive in Mexico City around 11:55 a.m. daily. A return flight at 5:40 p.m. arrives at 10:55 p.m.
BWI is trying to increase its international flights to better compete with other area airports, such as Dulles International. One of its problems is land constraints.
Dulles, built in open fields, has grown to 11,000 acres; BWI has 3,600. That leaves little room at BWI for runways long enough to support nonstop flights to the Pacific Rim because loaded jets cannot gain enough momentum for takeoff, said Neil Shpritz, former executive director of BWI Business Partnership Inc., a nonprofit development organization.
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