This week I am excited to tell you about Chrysti from Dandy Lion Co. (she is also on Instagram). She is a fellow Oregonian, like me, and we actually grew up in the same small town - what a small world! I love that she supports and hypes other Portland-based businesses and her stuff is to die for. Check out her website for kids' clothes that are "the epitome of casual cool and moveable for any adventure!"
Lemon in Chrysti's lemon print shorts!
I started Dandy Lion Co. in October of 2011. My inspiration behind opening was the fact that I absolutely loved to make my daughters' clothes. My oldest was 3 and my youngest was only 4 months. So, it was a slow start to say the least. I loved to shop for and coordinate fabrics for their outfits, and because I was getting several requests from friends and strangers inquiring about my girls precious clothing, I decided to turn my creative outlet into a shop on Etsy in hopes of selling a few pieces a month. I named my shop Dandy Lion Co. Dandy meaning very good, and Dandy Lion being a play on dandelion, something every little one loves :). It just sounded fun and playful, like a child.
Before I had children and started DLC, I worked in the mortgage business as a Loan Officer. I loved the fast pace nature of the job. And, though it was great before kids, when our first was born I realized that unless I was willing to put my daughter in full time care, I wouldn't be able to sustain my work load and be successful at it. So I quit. I became a part time notary for closings to earn some extra cash for our family, but it was never something that I planned to build on, and I quickly burned out on the evening and weekend trips to meet clients.
The most challenging part of running a business is juggling it with motherhood, it can be tricky. My youngest is in preschool 2 full days a week. So I have two days, plus nights, to keep up with orders, emails, and networking. I want my girls to see that working hard and staying dedicated pays off, and to also teach them to have fun and love what they do. Owning a small, handmade business allows me to be flexible with my schedule. And, having this creative outlet has been so good for me during this time in my life.
Outside of our regular routine I am an avid runner and lover of the outdoors. I have completed marathons, an Ironman 70.3, and a couple ultra marathons. That might sound intense, but it is absolutely one of the most calming and relaxing things I do. Training runs allow me time to meditate, be creative, sweat, etc. And, when it comes to race day, competing is a great reminder that hard work and dedication pays off. For me, doing these runs coincides with success in all areas of life. When I'm feeling tired or burned out I remind myself that life is a never-ending marathon. There are moments when it's easy and smooth, and moments when you feel ready to throw in the towel, but you don't.
We love to get outside as a family. Whether it be hiking, biking, backpacking, walking to the park or a beach day; it is so important to my husband and I teach our girls to love and appreciate all that nature has to offer. A typical night in our home involves us putting on a record and my husband whipping up something delish, he is a phenomenal cook. I'm spoiled in that area. At the end of the day family time is so important. We sit down at the dinner table every night and catch up on everyone's day. It is my absolute favorite part of the day.
I have learned so much about myself over the last couple of years running DLC. I think I have always been the type of person to choose the road less traveled, to explore new paths, and to really find my way. DLC has allowed me to hone that creative bone. Designing, creating, and working with my hands is extremely therapeutic to me. Since starting DLC, I have enrolled myself into the Pacific Northwest College of Art where I am learning all kinds of new tools that I hope to apply to my business in the near future. I see no end in sight for my growing, creative business.
For fellow mom-prenuers the best advice I can give is to enjoy and accept where you are in life while still following that burning passion. This has been one of the hardest lessons for me--and something I have to remind myself of frequently. As much as I just want to devote a full time work schedule to DLC, I have to acknowledge that my youngest just turned 3 and it is only 2 years before she is in school full time. I want to soak up these years the best I can, because I think I would regret doing it any other way. I know my time is coming, and I'm prepping myself and my business the best I can for it. :)
Some of my favorite handmade brands:
Jen Shank of Swanky Shank makes the cutest, original, and custom appliqué tops. You can tell that there is so much love and passion behind her one of a kind pieces. And they are very well made.
I was recently turned onto Camp Wolf on Instagram. They use Pendleton Wool for a lot of their products, which is what initially caught my eye (I love Pendleton!). But, they are also a Portland company. I'm so impressed with what they are doing. The pieces are classic, yet hip and original.
I love Anna Joyce Design (this is for the mommas!). Anna is a fellow Portland artist. She is a textile designer and applies her designs to pillows, bags, linens, etc. Her stuff is so lovely. I own several of her pieces and they make excellent gifts.