I have followed Jane of Snuppets for YEARS on social media and I am so excited to be able to not just introduce you to her amazing snack bag puppets, but also help you get to know the maker behind this fun, sustainable children’s brand!
Photo Credit: Michelle Wells Photography
Tell us a bit about yourself!
I live in Calgary (Alberta Canada), I have one daughter who turned 7 months September 1st. My hobbies include knitting, reading and going for walks with my husband. This is kind of my side gig, I’m a graphic designer by trade and have a small business for that as well since I don’t plan on going back to work outside the home once my mat leave is up in December. I would love to be in a place where I’ve got enough patterns designed that it’s a passive income I don’t have to worry/think about as well as doing the occasional custom/made to order piece. I enjoy working but not going to work if that makes sense haha. I like having control over my time.
Haha, fun fact about being fandom inspired in my work: I thought it was a great niche to get into but it turns out that for markets it’s actually too niche. I haven’t had much luck at markets the past couple years which is partly why I expanded to more “generic” looking pieces that are named for things. So while yes it does set me apart I don’t think my audience differs too much from other knitwear designers. People have varied interests and we’re in a time when I’m on the older end (32) of the Harry Potter Fandom and we’re having kids that we want to pass on our love of things pop culture on to.
Since you take a lot of inspiration from fandoms, I assume you have a love for geekery! What are your favorite TV shows/games/genres?
I do have a love of geekery, and it’s expansive. Favorite TV shows (some that I have watched multiple times) would be Buffy/Angel, Brooklyn 99, The Office (I have plans to re-create one of Pam’s cardigans), Gilmore Girls, Supernatural, Doctor Who and Firefly (and therefore Serenity). Games…I enjoy Sushi Go, Ticket to Ride, Settlers of Catan and the occasional game of Risk. Genres would be fantasy/sci fi mostly, but comedy, and pretty much anything that’s not horror.
As a mother and a maker, how do you balance running a creative business without getting burned out or overwhelmed?
Well I think not being too busy in my business helps. Like not doing markets this year and any deadlines I have are my own so I’m not having to get stuff out for other people. As much as it would be great to have yarn support, I watch one of my close friends deal with the deadlines she has and for me with a baby that would be more pressure then I would want. Also, my daughter is a very easy baby. She has been sleeping well since the get go and wasn’t ever prone to colic or anything like that. So I’m well rested and can get stuff done while she naps. My husband is a great support system for me as well.
I shower regularly, cause when my hair gets greasy I feel like crap so I make sure to shower when she’s napping. That way I can also guarantee some time to myself. I wear makeup almost daily too, and since it’s because I want to and it’s not that I feel like I have to, I feel more like myself. Also I go to a knit night once a week. I used to bring her so the ladies would get some baby time, but now that she’s mobile it would be more difficult plus my husband likes his daddy daughter time and I get my own time with adults without having to worry about her.
What does a work day look like for you, with a small babe?
I start my day with yoga, I’m doing the 30 days of yoga with Adrienne right now, then it’s breakfast for my daughter and coffee for me. Then while she takes a small nap I have my breakfast and go through emails/notifications. I do my household stuff the rest of the morning while she just hangs out/plays/tries to get into everything. After lunch it is another (longer) nap for her and I do some design work/work on my Pinterest board for my knitting or work on the pattern I’m designing at the moment. Once she wakes up from her nap I feed her a snack and we go for a walk around the neighborhood (which will be coming to and end soon since winter is coming and people don’t shovel their sidewalks) to get some exercise and fresh air. She plays for a bit after we’re back then it’s either snack time or dinner for her and while she’s playing I’m usually knitting while watching her. She might have another nap, nap quantity is very much a day to day thing, but my husband will come home from work and make our dinner (I’m lucky I know) and we’ll eat then not too long after it’s bedtime for her. I’ll knit the rest of the evening usually while we watch TV or a movie together.
Hi, Sarah! First off, tell us a bit about yourself!
Hello!!! My name is Sarah and I live in upstate New York with my husband and two small kiddos. I married my husband 6 years ago right after he got home from Afghanistan at 21 years old. Since then we have lived in six different places, hoping we stay put for a while now though!
After college I frankly was quite lost. Moving from place to place and therefore hopping from job to job I found myself struggling very deeply with anxiety and depression. One day after helping my aunt with photography for her book, I felt that creative spark again for a for a flickering instant. That night the name “Smelly Faces” popped in my head along with the idea for the potato shaped creatures. I had decided to take this randomness for what it was and move forward with it, setting all fears/emotions aside. The next morning, after messing around on a sewing machine, the original Smelly Face was born!
Lunch shaming is an embarrassing epidemic for children in America. When children have insufficient funds on their lunch accounts, most schools have policies where the child’s hot lunch is taken away and substituted with a brown bag lunch consisting of a cold sandwich and piece of fruit – or in some cases, they are forced to watch staff discard their tray of food into the trash, and are left with nothing at all to eat for lunch, a cruel form of punishment for a problem that they can’t control. You can read more about the sad epidemic of food poverty in American schools here.
I am passionate about creating change with this little monster making business of mine. I already make a monumental environmental impact by using only textile discards, which diverts tens of thousands of pounds of textiles from landfills annually, but I want to use Lu & Ed to directly create positive change in children’s lives as well. I’ve been working out the kinks for the Lu & Ed Lunch Program since January, and I’m so excited to launch it!
All through September, $1 from every monster adopted through my shop will be donated to pay outstanding lunch debts & load funds onto lunch accounts at *Riverbend Elementary in Clyde, NC, a school in a region with an incredibly high level of food poverty.
Members can submit their child(ren)’s school or a school in their community through the 7th of each month, then I’ll create a poll for members to vote for the next school to receive donations. Members can add family or friends to the group to use their voices to vote for their local school.
The same school won’t be chosen twice in one academic year, allowing for a total of twelve schools that will receive donations from the Lu & Ed Lunch Program to pay off student lunch debt & load funds onto low income students lunch accounts, and to help fund summer lunch programs for communities where children face hunger at alarming rates.
Spread the word about the Lu & Ed Lunch Program – share this blog post with your friends
Join my VIP group & nominate your local school
Add your friends and family to the VIP group to increase the impact we can make together
Donate directly to your local public schools
Today, we’re getting to know the creative maker and new mama behind the gothic inspired shop Bones and Guts! So excited to introduce all of you to Candy & her vibrant shop!
I am still that goth girl sporting black lipstick, and having a love for things that people might find “too dark” or a bit strange. Don’t let my exterior fool you, though! I am a huge hippie at heart, and also a pretty big weirdo (okay, a dork!). Life is an adventure for me, and I try to make the most of it at all times. However, a big part of me that I have worked in my 28 years to overcome is my anxiety disorder and depression. I can honestly say, I am very proud of how hard I have worked to be fully functioning and able to pull myself out of dark times. When I was a child, I had panic attacks quite regularly, and now I still have them, but quite random and far in between. If you’re reading this and struggle with mental illness, I hope you find what works for you, and don’t let it define you.
When I was 22 I met the man of my dreams who happened to be my new next door neighbor. At that time I was in college working on my second degree in Entrepreneurship (my first degree was in Merchandised Project Development from FIDM), and I was a bit lost with where my life would go. My now husband became my best friend instantly, and we were married two years later.
Our wedding was a fairy tale literally! I had rainbow hair and fairy wings! It was a wonderful day, and two years after that we had a baby boy. I absolutely love being a mother, and can’t imagine my life without him. It is wonderful seeing him grow and seeing my husband become a wonderful father. I am definitely not your typical mom. Being naturally weird has its benefits to parenting. For one, children do some strange things, and I am all for encouraging them or participating. With my tattoos, and when my hair is dyed, I guess I don’t fit the mold of what a mother is expected to look like, or at least what it used to look like.
Where are you located?
I have always lived in Southern California until this year – I will be an Oregonian! The hubby and I will be packing up our three dogs (our first children!), and our son to a new home!
How long have you been painting? How long have you sold your painted creations?
I have been painting for as long as I can remember. Around six years ago, I wanted to start selling my art, and see if anyone would buy it. I used to only paint on canvas then, and still do occasionally. I wouldn’t say that right away it was a business. it definitely took some time for me to decide that I wanted it to be a serious venture. My love for art led me to want to build my business around what I could create and it is a full-time business (besides my other full-time career as a mother). It has been my dream come true to be able to work from home on what I love and see other people ecstatic with what I make.
My aesthetic is quite eclectic, so it’s no surprise that my inspirations are surrounded by many different things. My fondness for nature is more than just a passing appreciation, and by the many art pieces I have created it is pretty apparent. I sort of stem the majority of inspiration around it and put my own perspective on it. For instance, I love mythical creatures and adding whimsical nature elements into it. Some other things that inspire me include gothic art and literature, bohemian styles, other cultures, and many different works of literature.
My husband has always been my biggest cheerleader. He pushed me to start the business, and that he would be there with me to help. He has stood by his promise, and always encourages me to push more. He is an amazing man and best friend.
Success to me is really two concepts. Stability, and passion. If I can pay my bills, and have enough to still travel, or have some fun with my family that is amazing! Now if I can keep my passion for it and have that stability, that is success to me.
Let’s be honest being a parent, a wife, and a business owner can sometimes feel overwhelming. I’m glad I have several hobbies. Some I like to share with others, and some I need some me time for. If you can imagine the one thing that makes you want to do a happy dance when you get to do it, well, reading books would be mine. Reading is a huge passion of mine, and writing is as well. I suppose my love for reading caused me to want to write at an early age. I started writing poetry first, and now I hope to have a second career of being an author one day. I have self published one book, but I hope to get published by a company in the future. I also love nature, and hiking to be close to it! It calms my very being and is one reason why we are leaving California. I need trees around me and not just palm trees! Of course, art, more specifically painting, is a love of mine. It’s more than a hobby for me especially now that my business is just that. My love for art led me to want to build my business around what I could create and it is a full-time business (besides my other full-time career as a mother). It has been my dream come true to be able to work from home on what I love and see other people ecstatic with what I make.
As an owner of handmade business, I am always looking for creative ways to reward my customers for supporting my dream and allowing me to stay home with my young children. As an advocate for the handmade community, I’m always looking for ways to introduce people to shops I love. So, several years ago, the Lu & Ed Swag Bag program was born! If you have ordered from my shop in the last 6 years or so, you probably received a sweet little swag bag with your order, full of coupons & samples from other small shops, like the ones shown below.
I’m always looking for new shops to collaborate with, and so I wanted to talk about the program’s benefits, effectiveness & perks of sponsoring the Lu & Ed Swag Bag program.
If you’re just discovering Lu & Ed and aren’t sure about my reputation – hi! My business has been featured in Parents Magazine, on Buzzfeed, in top parenting blogs around the world including Hello Wonderful, Mindful Mavericks, Destination Nursery, Punky Moms and more! I’ve been making monsters for almost 9 years and have a highly engaged audience that frequently makes purchases from the swag bags!
It sounds a little strange, right? Send me your products to send to my customers? I was worried it might, but I know for a fact putting products right into the hands of your target audience works. Here are a few real life examples:
For further testimony directly regarding working with Lu & Ed, I have heard from people who won prizes in my multi-vendor giveaways I’ve held on my blog over the years who have emailed me to tell me that they purchased from the vendors many times after receiving a prize from them.
A lot of Lu & Ed Swag Bag participants receive multiple sales from the bags + some makers have gotten up to $1000 total combined first wholesale orders with repeat orders from participating in the bags over the years! Most makers participate in 2-5 rounds of the swag bags because the ROI is so high. Yay!
In addition to purchases through the bags, a lot of buyers show off their swag on social media, tagging the sponsors, which in turn offers even more exposure from the bags!
Participating in the swag bags is low cost, direct, effective marketing that isn’t costly and uncertain, like online ads, and has a much higher ROI (return on investment).
How are they so effective? Being a maker with a tiny budget for marketing services myself, I knew from the start that I wanted to make this program truly beneficial to swag bag sponsors as possible, and in doing so, I only accept swag sponsors that I know my customers would adore so that everyone will benefit greatly from it. Our target audiences need to be similar in order for the samples to convert into purchases. I have spent almost a decade getting to know my amazing customers & what they like, so I only accept swag for kids, parents & women that fall in line with sustainable, alternative brand.
For my first initial bags, I received items from hair clips made with upcycled fabrics, eco-friendly greeting cards and bookmarks to coupons for 30% off for over ten brands for the trial bags. As the first few swag bags went out, I remember that I was a so nervous – I really wanted my customers to enjoy this extra reward and I hoped that each artist involved would benefit immensely from it. As the first bags arrived to my customers, I received instant feedback – people loved them and adored the products from the sponsors! Armed with newly inflated confidence, I set about collecting applications for round two of the swag bags – and I have now sent out swag bags with samples and coupons from over 250 different makers!
I *wish* I could do the service for free but the bags add about a half pound to every order, which greatly increases shipping costs, so I charge $5 per 25 items (or $5 per 50 art prints, as they are much lighter) though I do not make money & still lose quite a bit of profit in shipping fees, assembling the bags & in time spent communicating with sponsors, promoting the makers on social media, etc. but it is a labor of love and I adore using my established small business to help other makers grow their business!
As I have developed and refined this program, I have learned a lot about the handmade community and it’s unique needs – especially that it can be really difficult for niche shops to find effective ways to get their products in front of new consumers, and I want to bridge that gap. I want to help make it easier for like-minded businesses to be discovered and loved the way they should be for their unique offerings! I am excited to see where this swag bag program goes and how people benefit from it!
Earth Day is fast approaching! I initially planned to have a post a day in April with environmental facts, sustainable life hacks, and eco-friendly product gift guides, but life happened & I was busy helping mom every day after work so I didn’t have time to blog, as her cancer treatments have been really rough on her and she had some exceptionally tough past few weeks, requiring a lot of additional care. ♥
But today, I’m present & prepared to share in a series how I have been cutting plastic waste out of our life daily & how a few simple little changes to your daily habits can have a huge impact on the environment, starting with the foodie edition!
Over 500,000,000 plastic straws are used each day in the United States. That is enough straws that if they were put end to to, straws would wrap around the world two and a half times – EVERY SINGLE DAY of the year. You can read more facts about plastic straw pollution, The Last Plastic Straw and the #banthestraw movement here.
I ordered my gorgeous rainbow Stainless Steel Straws from Pretty Candy Pin Co – look at how flipping beautiful they are! They turn every beverage into an instantly Instagram worthy #unicornlife photo!
There are several distributors of stainless steel straws, and you can buy accessories like PUL lined zipper pouches to keep them in your bag on the go! Care for them is so simple, too – a bit of soap on a pipe cleaning after each use, rinse well!
Instead of grabbing a to-go or a kid’s drink with a plastic lid, go topless – and put on your own!
SipSnap has silicone lids that stretch to fit over any cup, in either sippy top form or to hold a straw. They are usable for decades, easy to clean to prevent spills! Here is a video demonstrating their spill proof tops!
In addition to ditching the plastic lid, don’t forget to bring your own reusable cup to get coffee or beverages in when getting take out!
Heading to a restaurant you know uses plastic ware, or out to a picnic? Skip the plastic and bring your own portable & sanitary cutlery from To-Go Ware! Each set is dishwasher safe, has it’s own carrying case and you can order a single set, a family pack of 5 or a kid size set! Kid size set shown here.
Portable cutlery? Not gross at all! Bamboo is naturally antibacterial, antifungal and odor resistant, easy to clean & safe for children to use! Plastic ware – including plates, straws and cutlery – make up the majority of the 269,000 TONS of plastic waste in the oceans. More than 100,000,000 plastic dining wares are used in America alone every year, and switching to bamboo cutlery can drastically cut down that number! You can even make the switch for parties & buy biodegradable bamboo cutlery in bulk!