Eco, makers

Sustainable Snack Bags That Make Lunch Fun – Meet Jane, The Creator of Snuppets!

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!

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Firstly, start by telling readers a bit about yourself!
 
I am a mother of three and have always been a maker at heart, even before I made a business of it! I have done everything from stationery to children’s clothing and even had a children’s boutique at one point. My kids have clearly inspired me and influenced my playful design style. I am motivated to continue “makin” and challenging myself to try new things. I am hoping to dive back into clothing eventually!
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Snuppets are SUCH a cute & unique idea. What was your inspiration for this product?
 
So, when my kids starting going to school I knew that I wanted to come up with eco-sensitive solutions for packing lunches. I made some simple little sandwich bags. When I was taking a walk with my son in his stroller I noticed that he was playing with his empty snack bag as if it was a toy. The idea struck me in that moment to make an interactive storage solution for kids so they weren’t left behind in the lunchroom and Snuppets™ were born! I immediately came up with the name when I thought of the snack puppet concept and decided to trademark my idea!
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After your first design(s) were such a hit, how did you go about evolving your product & adding more designs? Did you know from the start you wanted to continuously add new designs?
 
The evolution of the Snuppet™ has been quite a process! They started with hand stitched features and button eyes. Each one was so unique and one of a kind however I realized that if I wanted to grow the business, I needed to streamline my design process. I decided to draw the characters and have the fabric custom printed. I also started with a velcro closure and have moved to a zipper closure as I feel they are a bit easier to handle for little hands.
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Do you design & sew all of the Snuppets yourself? Do your children help with the design or creation process at all?
 
I design all of my products with the help of my built in focus group (my husband and three kids)! I sew all of my Snuppets™ with my own two tired hands! The making of a Snuppet™ is a bit laborious with the hand cutting and floppy ears so I have not had any success with finding a manufacturer that is up for the task (and I have tried!) I have recently enlisted the help of a local manufacturer to help sew my Reusable Straw Pouches. As much as I love the hands on sewing process, it is nice to have some inventory made so I can spend design time on the computer as well.
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As a mom of three, I imagine life can be pretty hectic sometimes! What are your best tips for time management and organization for maker mamas? 
 
Oh wow, time management is really not my gift. I generally have about 10 projects going at the same time (ask my very patient husband)! It is “organized chaos” around my house at all times! I have converted the corner of my garage to my sewing studio. It is nice to always have my machine out and ready to go so I will hop in there and bust a few things out while the oven is heating up for dinner! If I can steal a handful of productive creative moments throughout the day, I feel complete!
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All of your products make eco-friendly snacking such an easy option for parents. Tell us more about how you use Snuppets to create a positive environmental impact!
 
I really believe that being a true environmentalist is contemplating our impact with choices we make and always trying to do better. I challenge myself all of the time and admittedly have things I personally need to work on in my life. None of us are perfect, I certainly am not. We are all tempted by convenience in our fast paced world but it’s good to check in and challenge ourselves to make slight adjustments that can make a positive impact. The making of plastic bags have a negative impact on our environment and once used, they really never go away. They are virtually indestructible and will outlive all of us while wreaking havoc on our environment! Yes you can choose to recycle plastic which is certainly better than throwing them out however the chemicals released and energy used when recycling plastic is not a great solution. The best thing we can all do is reduce our use of plastic and choose to reuse! One Snuppet™ can last years and replace hundreds of disposable baggies! I have Snuppets™ that I have been using for 3 years. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.
You can read some staggering facts about plastic bags here…Plastic Bag Consumption Facts | ConservingNow
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You recently began to share some more politically motivated designs for your reusable straw pouches. Did you find that taking a political stance affected your business in any way? (would love to hear about your choice to use your influence as a maker to create change!)
 
I do try and stay consistent with all of my products having the purpose of reducing waste. It keeps me motivated when I believe in what I’m making and while the growth of my business has been slow, I do feel like people become loyal when they feel it’s authentic.
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What is your go-to self care routine to prevent burn-out and overwhelm as a small business owner? 
 
I am 46 and still feel like I have so much growing to do as a person. Over the years, I have learned the importance of self-care & how it impacts me if I don’t make it a priority. I make time for exercise most days and try hard to make time in my life for people I love. I have recently carved out time in the mornings for some quiet yoga and meditation before my house wakes. I am feeling the value in this and while I have a long way to go in the meditation department, I can sense that this is going to become a habitual part of my daily life.
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Your branding is so on point – did you design your logo & product packaging yourself?
 
 I love the marketing side of making my products. I design all of my packaging materials/tags and coming up with names for new products is so fun. This past year I have added Happy Cloths and Seaside Straws to my collection.
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Where would you like to see Snuppets in the next 5 years?
 
My business has been a slow build but things have picked up the past year. Snuppets™ appeal specifically to children but the recent addition of products appealing to a broader market has helped grow my business. I do have some ideas on the horizon for new eco-sensitive solutions that I hope to launch in 2019. I would love to increase my retail sales online but overall, I am happy with the pace of growth for my business since I only have two hands!
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How many of your Snuppets do you personally use in your household? 
I really can’t say how many Snuppets I have in circulation right now in my house, probably around 20? A lot of them are older models or samples, I actually have very few of my latest designs!
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What is your advice for makers who want to begin acquiring wholesale accounts but aren’t sure where to start? 
 
I currently have 6 wholesale accounts. I am working on display ideas as I think this will possibly help grow my business in this department. I have found that stores like to be given a simple way to display. Space is typically an issue in the retail world so I feel that if I make it easy, they will be inclined to buy! I will keep you posted on this theory and let you know how it goes! (:

If Snuppets inspired you to make snack time more sustainable, pop over to visit Snuppets on Facebook or Instagram! If you can’t wait to get your hands on a Snuppet of your very own, head to Jane’s shop and pick out your favorite!

makers

Meet the Maker: Laura of White Willow Wearables – Fashionable Geeky Goodness!

I am so excited to introduce my amazing readers to creative fiber artist Laura Clark! She creates knitwear for fandom lovers – a way for you to stay stylish while flying your geek flag high! So let’s dig in and get to know the maker and mother behind White Willow Wearables!

The Baby Buddy Nursing Pillow

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.

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Photo Credit: Logee Photo
A lot of your creations are fandom inspired, and I love that! Do you find that it helps set you apart from other knitwear designers, or that your audience is significantly different from other knitwear designers?

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.
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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.

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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.

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What is your best organizational tips for keeping your yarn intact with a small child around? 
Ah yes, yarn and the small child. We’ve got some of those 2×4 cubby cabinet things from Ikea and my yarn is separated between stock (stuff I sell on my Etsy site) and non-stock (personal projects/stuff for patterns I want to design). When she wasn’t standing it was perfect but she’s starting to pull herself up now so yesterday I bought a couple of the boxes that fit into the cubbies for the lower shelves so she can’t pull individual strands or balls out. Once my stash goes down a bit it will be easier as I won’t have to fill as many of them with yarn.

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What is your favorite self care habits to keep your identity as a woman now that you are also a mother?


 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.

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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.

Go visit Laura on Facebook and Instagram & be sure to check out her shop!

makers

Meet the Maker: Candy of Bones and Guts

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!

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First off, let’s get to know you a little! Tell us a bit about YOU!

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.

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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!

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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.

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What inspires your art?

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.

 
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Your shop was open before you became a mother. Did becoming a mother affect how you ran your business, or alter your art style in any way?
Becoming a mother has certainly changed a lot. My first concern was for his safety, and since my shop made a lot of beaded jewelry that I made myself, I decided to stop making necklaces with them. It is much simpler now but works out because the main focus is more on the painting. Selling my art was considered to be my full-time gig, and now as a mother of a one-year-old, I definitely feel like I am a mother first. Don’t get me wrong I am never late on orders or responding to customers, but he needs me more. He does occasionally try to help me paint, and I hand him a paintbrush to play with. I’m still trying to find the work-life balance everyone keeps talking about, and I’m sure it will come soon where I have more of a harmonious flow, but for now, I am okay with it being a bit muddled.
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Who has been your biggest cheerleader since embarking on your creative journey?

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.

 
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What has been the most difficult hurdle you faced since launching your small business?
If you have ever run a business, you know how many ups and downs it can have. It can be quite heartbreaking at times because you put so much effort, late nights, and being all consumed in it, and there is no guarantee that it will be enough. My main hurdles in trying to grow my business have definitely revolved around getting my business out there to the right customers. As I spoke of before, my anxiety can be a real b*tch (hope that’s okay for me to say). Sometimes it seems like a business now is a popularity contest, and if you don’t have plenty of friends who will share or comment on your products all you get is crickets. It’s hard for me to be vulnerable with what I’ve created and pushed it in other people’s face that they need it. I know it is something I will always be working on, or at least networking to get support from fellow artists.
 
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What does success mean for you?

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.

 
You have a really interesting shop name, tell me more about it!
A lot of people ask me about my shop name. Since I was a kid I always knew I wanted to run a business, but not until high school did I think of the name. Bones & Guts comes from a phrase I would say to people I loved. I would say, “I love your bones and guts.” See, it’s not that scary, right? I wanted to use it as a shop name since a business is a labor of love, and a way to tell my customers and supporters the love I have for them for helping me make my dreams come true.
 
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While we’re talking about names, how did you choose your child’s name?
My son is a little over a year and is the perfect unicorn, faery Prince, and sometimes a monster that anyone could have hoped for. My husband and I went to Ireland back in 2016. It was an amazing trip, and when we returned I realized that the trip was so much fun that I came back pregnant. Our son’s name is inspired by Irish names and my love for rain, which is why we named him Rainn.
 
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What kind of music do you listen to?
I am really into metal, alternative rock, punk, folk music, some dubstep, and random songs in other genres as well. Some of my favorite bands are Avenged Sevenfold, Atreyu, Awolnation, 21 Pilots, Meg Myers, and Mumford and Sons. I’m sure I have a ton more that at this moment I can’t think of.
 
What are your favorite ways to unwind & keep your identity as a mother?

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.

Be sure to check out Candy’s store Bones and Guts, and give her a follow on Facebook & Instagram!

 

Business, marketing

Community over Competition – Low Cost, Effective Marketing for Makers – Lu & Ed Swag Bags

If you are interested in applying to be a part of Lu & Ed Swag Bags, hop over here and fill out this short form! If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at cody@luanded.com.

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.

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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:

  • I won a giveaway The Gnarly Whale Shop had 6 years ago, and after trying their lip balm from that giveaway, I became a loyal customer. I exclusively used their vegan lip balms and shampoos for years, thanks to that one sample lip balm!
  • I recently got a swag bag from Mommy Con, which had a sample of a face wash & lotion in it. We now use that brand exclusively for my son, because it is the only face wash that helps with his break outs!
  • I was recently drawn to test a product for Mandelin Naturals. Long story short, I just spent $40 in her shop & my mom now exclusively uses their soap, rollers and lip balms as well.

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.

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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!

If you are interested in applying to be a part of Lu & Ed Swag Bags, hop over here and fill out this short form! If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at cody@luanded.com.

Gift Guides, life, Parenting, Uncategorized

Hey Mama: 8 Great Gifts to Give Yourself This Valentine’s Day

With Valentine’s Day quickly approaching, I wanted to put together a little self love gift guide for my fellow mamas with some of my favorite “treat yo’self” goodies to indulge in this month – though, personally, I indulge myself at least once a month. Because motherhood can be difficult, and self care & appreciation for yourself is so important as a mother – we have to be at our best to be our best for our children! So feel free to bookmark this post to come back to through the year for self love inspiration & spur of the moment self care shopping sprees!

Hair dye (or a hair cut!)

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Does anything make you feel as good about yourself as freshening up your look!? It is always a huge boost to my self esteem when I touch up my hair, get a hair cut or get my eyebrows done. Been dreaming of #mermaidhair for months but afraid to take the plunge? Mama, treat yo’self! I personally use Manic Panic or Arctic Fox hair dye. Both are vegan, and deeply conditioning so they don’t damage your hair.

A New Mug

I drink a lot of coffee & cocoa, as well as use mugs all around my house & studio to hold pencils, pens, markers, mail, nail clippers & baby combs – basically everything I don’t have stuffed in my own Mon-stors, haha! A ton of my mugs come from thrift stores, but I also have a huge collection of mugs from makers & artists. This Strong as a Mother mug by Callie Garp is on my treat yo’self wishlist!

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Bath Bomb & A New Book

I love bath time. I always have. It is like pressing a reset button on the week, a simple escape. Wouldn’t it be dreamy to sink into a steamy, rose scented bath with this sultry Roses are Red Bath Bomb from Sun Basil Soap, a good book & your favorite beverage (whether it is a glass of wine, chocolate milk or a beer – you do you, mama). Be sure to post the submergence of the bath bomb on Instagram, or it doesn’t count, though.

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Decadent Handmade Soaps

I love supporting other makers, but honestly, I buy handmade soap because it is so decadent, moisturizing & typically smells sooo much better than generic brand soaps. Thumbprint Soap has some amazing scents, like this Pink Sugar soap, but the reason I especially love buying Katie’s soaps is because she donates a portion of all proceeds to animal rescues! That keeps me coming back, time and again. Additionally, Katie has offered an exclusive discount to Lu & Ed fans so they can treat themselves to something special this season: MOMMY18 – 18% off any order of $15 or more through the end of 2018. How rad is that?! Go on, mamas, treat yourself to some amazing handmade soap, lotions, lip balms & more from Katie’s shop!

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New Jewelry

I have a huge collection of handmade earrings and necklaces, and my latest obsession is basically everything Lin of Turquoise T-rex makes. I have two necklaces from her that I wear pretty much all the time!

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A New Shirt

I recently treated myself to a “Support Your Local Mama Gang” shirt from Punky Moms and I feel like an ultimate bad booty mama rocking it! Adding a new item to my wardrobe is always a thoughtful process, because I don’t often buy myself clothing, so it is a slow process picking which item to add!

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Their “Kicking Motherhood in the A**” shirt is another one on my wishlist, and a perfect one to treat yourself to during this season of self love, because that is just what you are doing, mama!

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A Custom Baby Wearing Portrait

I am so in love with these custom baby wearing portraits by Taynee of Grrl Gang Art. If your baby wearing or breastfeeding journey was exceptionally special to you, you can message Taynee about a custom portrait of you to commemorate that beautiful bond! Nothing makes me feel more beautiful, strong & confident as a mother than looking through my images of me baby wearing or breastfeeding, and I just think this is such a beautiful way to reward yourself for the hard work, sleepless nights, and special moments of motherhood!

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Artisanal Coffee or Tea

For a lot of mamas, that first cuppa coffee or tea is our greatest form of self care every day, so the occasional brew of the finer variety is it’s own form of self lovin’! For the coffee drinkers, Burial Grounds Coffee has a wide flavor variety of small batch roasted artisan coffee with fun fandom themes & Angie (the mama & brains behind the beans) offers a subscription service – so you don’t need to remember to reorder your favorite blends!

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If tea is more your jam, Albion Tea Company also has a fun fandom themes for their small batch, loose leaf teas, like their Magical Collection which is based on Harry Potter or their Sherlock collection!

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I could go on & on with goodies I indulge in for self love, but I want to turn the handles over to the readers:

What is your favorite self care goodies & go-to habits? Share your self love advice in the comments & let’s chat about how we, as women, can take better care of ourselves so we can take better care of our loved ones!

makers, Uncategorized

Meet the Maker: Mindy of Milkweed Baby – Creator of the cutest high fashion baby shoes & teething accessories!

As a mother to a preteen AND a baby, I can honestly say it is super exciting to see how much the children’s fashion industry has evolved since my son was a baby/toddler! There is still a huge fast fashion market, but you can also build a lasting wardrobe for your child that is fun, fashionable & ethical through independent designers, makers & creatives! Today, I am so excited to introduce Mindy of Milkweed Baby & share her shop (plus a sweet discount code!) with you! She makes the most adorable, high quality and durable baby shoes I have encountered – Milkweed Baby are the only baby shoes we have ever bought for Zoey Rose, and the only ones Zoey will actually keep on her tootsies! Mindy is mama maker driven by quality & great design, and below, you can get to know her & see a sampling of her work!
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Tell us about yourself:
Born & raised KC… and still here. But I think it’s great here! The only thing that would get me to move is a beach on the west coast! I had planned to be a golfer, I played in high school until an injury stopped all that. So instead of a golf scholarship I went to art school. I majored in painting at KU and dropped out with 3 semesters left because I was afraid of a “do you want fries with that?” degree. I worked a variety of jobs after that. The last was 9 years as a marketing coordinator for a seminar company. While working there I started my first business, by Mindy. I was laid off while on maternity leave 2 years ago and it was during that time that Milkweed Baby was born.
 
When did you first find your love of creating?
I don’t remember a time when I didn’t love creating.
 
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Have you always been a textile sewist?
NOPE! I learned to sew when I was 27. I wanted to make a gift for each of my bridesmaids, so my mom helped me sew them each a bag. And that was that! I was hooked!!!
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When did you begin to create baby products/How did this become your central
focus?
I started making baby shoes in 2010. I’d been making a variety of things, coffee cup sleeves, totes, bow ties, knit ties, clutches, aprons and so on. Nothing felt right.
I was at a pop up and saw how people couldn’t control themselves with baby items. They are just so cute! So I decided it was the market I wanted to get into.
I did a bunch of research and found the soft soled shoes that I thought looked cool were really hard to find. So that’s what I was going to make. And through a bunch of trial and error, I worked it out.
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What sets your baby shoes apart from the rest?
1. My style (I don’t do ugly). 2. My quality (read attention to detail & perfectionist nature).
 
The baby & children’s market is heavily saturated and highly competitive –
what is your advice for makers in this industry to help them stand out &
grow their client base? Find your style identity and stay true to it. It’s really easy to pander to the audience, but it’s not satisfying. “YOU DO YOU”. Get your product in front of as many people as you can. If you are passionate and make a good quality product, people will buy.
 
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How did having your first baby impact running your small business?
This is complicated. Having my first baby almost killed my business and made my business my full time gig. I basically took a year off when I had my daughter, and during this time a local gal hard core ripped off my designs, undercut my price by a mile (she uses lesser quality materials) and moved in on all the local shows. Also during this time, I was laid off from my full time job of 9 years… so this became my full time job. I have to say, I thought it would be easy to work and take care of a kid! HA!!! Only someone without a kid would make that assumption!
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What can makers & small business owners expecting a baby do to prepare
their business – and themselves! – for such a big change?
You know, so much depends on what kind of kid you have. Mine rolled over at 6 days old, so she could never be left alone. My best advice is to prepare your finances to have some down time. Amp up as much stock as you can before baby comes so you can still keep up with shows and online without needing to make much (prevent people from moving in on your “turf”).
Expect the unexpected.
 
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What is your favorite method of self-care as a mama & a maker?  
Walks, Sleep, Wine, meal planning (it’s the only way we eat healthy), and every 3 weeks I get my eyebrows waxed
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Do you bring your baby to events you vend at? If so, how do you balance motherhood & face-to-face business transactions with customers?
Mostly we have my mother-in-law watch my daughter while my husband & I run my booth at shows. However, we are about to do 2 big ones where childcare is not going to be an option. So we will see. I think the plan is to get a cheap tablet and load Daniel Tiger on it. And coloring books and crayons. Probably, my husband and I will take turns chasing after my daughter and making sure she doesn’t break any ceramics or topple any displays. And my husband will have to leave me for a couple hours each day to handle her naps.
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Mindy’s daughter rocking some Milkweed Baby shoes!
How many pairs of your handmade baby shoes does your own sweet little baby
have? 
She has 1. I know, I know. Everyone always gasps when I tell them that. Here’s the deal…
I love all of my fabrics, so choosing is impossible. So I just pick 1 or let her pick 1. I make a pair & that’s it. I need to be making these shoes to sell because I need the income.
I recall something about the cobbler’s child has no shoes?
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What is your favorite color?
Green (many shades of green… aqua, seaglass, olive, mint, kelly, emerald… just not hunter)
What is your drink of choice while you sew?
6am-5pm COFFEE
5pm —> WINE (shiraz or rose)
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Television or music while you work?
Music (TV is too distracting and I really need to be looking at the sewing machine)
 
Lastly – Have you ever made yourself an adult size pair of slippers?
No. Maybe next year!

I hope you enjoyed getting to know Mindy of Milkweed Baby! Be sure to visit her on Facebook & Instagram, and you can use code LUANDED to save 20% of baby shoes in her online store!

code valid 2/1 through 2/28/18

Business, marketing, Tutorials

The Power of Polyvore – Why Makers Should be Collaborating with One Another + Other Tips

For today’s tip post, Beth of Wilde Designs is sharing how important collaboration with other makers & brands is, and how simple it is to increase your range & traffic to your shop by using Polyvore!

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We all love pretty things. Shiny things. We like to imagine that whatever we make will be part of a stunning collection of goods in a magazine someday. alongside larger known brands. 

The beauty of the internet is that we don’t have to wait and wonder what these beautiful collections might look like! There are so many ways to do gorgeous product collages, also known as “flatlays”, on the internet on our own, and so many ways to collaborate with other makers, designers & brands to make these collections go viral!

Why create a product collage? Not only do they allow our audience to see what our products might look like as part of a cute outfit or in a trendy room, it also lets us put ourselves alongside other larger known brands & makers that compliment our own products. Want your bohemian necklaces to be associated with Anthropolgie styles? Pair them with products from Anthro, headbands from your favorite hair accessory maker, a succulent planter from your favorite sculptor, and so on. Make sense? 

Why collaborate with other small shops? Small shops need each other. We can work together to get extra social reach, to find new customers, and to build each other’s brands and communities! Most importantly, the more brands you collaborate with, the greater possibility of your products going viral! Product collages are a fantastic way to encourage this! Not only do you build up other small shops, when you select items from big companies, you get extra exposure by tagging them in your posts and helping their audience find you & associate your products with that brand as well.

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My favorite avenue for creating quick, attractive product collages is Polyvore. Setting up an account is free, and you can add your products quickly and easily by installing the Polyvore Clipper button onto your browser. Navigate to the page of the item you want to add, click the button, and input the details.

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While you’re at it, add items from some of your favorite shops. You can even create a team of shops to create & share products from one another in various product collages, saving you a lot of work! For instance, if you sell necklaces, maybe you know someone who makes fantastic handbags or designs shirts that compliment your jewelry. Find a way to involve other sellers, and you both end up benefiting from the collection. When you’re building your product collage, you can search the items you’ve added or search all of Polyvore to find new things that match your brand’s style.

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Once you have selected your shops you want to work with & big brands you want people to associate your goods with, start building your collection and making it lovely. Polyvore lets you add text, borders, and other flourishes to spice things up. Even better? It works fabulously on desktop or mobile. Once you’ve created a flatlay, you can publish the set. You get the option to share it simultaneously on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Blogger, and a lot of other platforms. Instant reach with minimal effort!

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Do yourself – and your brand – a favor and go play. You’ll never look back once you see how easily you can boost the visibility of your productss and collaborate with both the small and big box shops you’ve always wanted to work with!