Our first Moms on Mondays mom is Wyatte from Caged Bird Blog (who also blogs here). She is a hard working mama of two, Josephine and Hayden, who makes the cutest accessories for kids and mamas. She has a great spirit, started her business for a good cause and loves connecting with her customers and other mamas who own small businesses. Thank you, Wyatte, for sharing your story with us, I LOVED reading this (and the jewelry you sent)!!
Lemon sporting her Caged Bird Blog bracelets.
What is the name of your shop and how can we find you?
The shop is called "CagedBirdBlog" and is hosted through Etsy. I started with a blog, and have kept the "blog" in there for continuity through social media. I am currently on Instagram and Pippit, but spend the majority of my time on Instagram.
Tell us about what you make/sell in your shop.
I sell accessories for mommies and littles. Modern color block bracelets and whimsical necklaces, as well as ombré tassel necklaces. I've ventured into hair pins a bit, but have a running theme of working with wood and tassels.
How/why did you start making these products and open this shop?
I first started with a blog. Our sweet girl Josephine was diagnosed with autism, unofficially, at about 13 months. So, I started a blog to help raise awareness, and to help myself process and document some of the emotions I was experiencing. I still blog a little, but have found myself neglecting the formal blog and posting more about our girl in Instagram updates. After her diagnosis we started early intervention. Therapists were coming in at least 3 times a week. Each one would leave us with a list of items to help us facilitate therapy for Jos. Expensive items. REALLY expensive items, not covered by insurance. My husband is in school full time finishing his Master's program, and we just couldn't make the items fit in our budget, no matter how hard we tried. To help take some of the stress off of my hardworking husband, I began painting contrast portraits to help meet Jos' needs. After a month or two I decided to sell color blocked bracelets that were a hybrid of a few ideas I had seen on Pinterest and in stores. And, the shop kind of blossomed from there. Bracelets segued into necklaces, and then hair pins, and it's been kind of a crazy ride ever since.
How long have you been in business?
I have had an Etsy shop for about 6 months.
What is your background (college/career/etc.)?
I am actually a nurse. I was a young, single mom and put myself through school when it was just me and my son, Hayden. I felt like I needed an education to support us if it ended up just being the two of us for the long haul. I met my husband in my last semester of nursing school, and worked for a couple years. When we got married, my husband and I both decided that it was more important for me to be home for our children, and we would make it work at any cost. And we've stuck to that.
Tell us a little bit about your family.
We are a family of 4 living in Northern California. Our son is 10 and the sweetest little guy around. Although I think he might take offense to my calling him little. Our daughter Josephine (we call her Josie or Jos) is 2 and the spunkiest girl I've ever met. Her personality is emerging more every day, and it's a such a joy to watch as a parent, especially as a parent of a child with special needs, who was told her personality may never emerge. We are all huge soccer fans (Go Team USA!) and love watching as a family. I tease my husband that Kyle Beckerman from Real Salt Lake is my first true love, and he's a close second. He's a good sport and is even rocking a Beckerman jersey during the opening matches of the World Cup this coming week.
How does this company help your family? Or you?
This shop has literally been a dream come true for my family. I cannot even begin to express the effects it has had, and continues to have, on my family. With my husband in school and working full time, combined with all of the hidden costs in raising a child with special needs, we were facing huge gaps in our budget. This shop has literally saved my family, and each purchase helps my family meet my daughter's needs. Whether it's compression suits or feeding tools, therapeutic music, or chew tubes - we have been able to provide for Josie and see her progress without having to sacrifice my desire to be a stay at home mom or my husbands ambition to finish school. It's hard work- don't get me wrong. Both my husband and I stay up late nights and wake up early mornings, painting each bead by hand, filling orders, or spending hours trying to get Jos to model. Ironically, she hates my bracelets and won't keep them on, even for the split second it takes to snap a photo.
Did you ever think you'd be doing this? What did you think you'd be doing instead?
I honestly thought I would be loving life, being a nurse. But it just wasn't for me. And I'm so grateful I had a husband who encouraged me to do what made me happy, rather than what brought in money.
Does anyone help you with your shop?
My husband is my biggest fan and supporter. He is up to help with anything, and literally spends every spare moment he has that isn't occupied by work, school, or homework, helping me out. The unisex faux wrap leather bracelets? All him, all his design, all his working. I don't even know how to make those, because they are 100% his brain child.
How do you find time to run your shop and create products?
It's tricky. I chat with my girlfriends, saying, "If I could have one super power it would be the ability to not need sleep." I'm constantly wishing I had more hours in the day than everyone else. But, we are all allotted the same 24. I just have to remind myself why I do this. Josie has made such amazing progression in the last year, and it motivates me to keep pushing. Some days are hard, really hard. Like I'm wearing too many hats and feel like I'm trying to be all things to all people. But hearing my sweet babe start to talk, and interact with me pushes me to make time. To prioritize and make it happen.
What do you love about this businesses?
I love my customers. Because my reason for starting is so personal, I truly feel like each person that purchases from me is part of my family and is cheering me on. I love connecting with people, and seeing something created in my home find a home in theirs, with their littles, making memories in it. It's also been a great creative outlet. I consider myself a creative person and there is something therapeutic about creating something from nothing. It's empowering.
What is the most challenging part of this business?
Time management, time management, time management. Did I mention time management? Running a shop has meant that I've had to say no to other things. Go out on less girls' nights, go on less dates, cut back at the gym, and find more ways to spend time as a family while simultaneously working. As I'm typing this I'm in the bath. It's like a vacation. (Sorry for the visual!) [Love this!! - Allison]
Where do you see your shop in the future?
Hopefully I can continue to create products that my customers will love. I'm not looking to get rich, I just want to continue to connect with people and share our story, and hopefully help others see it's possible. Autism isn't a death sentence, and there is joy in it and the sacrifice that surrounds it. Really I think most of what I say talk about in my posts and blog applies to parenting in general, but the lessons we've learned have come fast and hard with our situation, and it's been a beautiful, tough journey that I love to share.
Tell us your favorite product or your most favorite thing you've created?
My bracelets are my classic products, the thing I am most well known for. But the new ombré tassel necklaces are probably my favorite thing I've created. I just love the colors and the way the fall when on. I have lots of fun, new ideas brewing in this sleep deprived brain of mine, so be sure to stay tuned!
Do you have any advice for future mom-entrepreneurs?
Find a product you love. If you don't love it, you won't get very far. I started making custom sugar cookies, and it was more of a hassle than a help. I then jumped to portraits, and found myself saying, and feeling like, it wasn't worth it. When I started making accessories I just took off running and haven't looked back. Don't be afraid to keep trying things. Some things will be successes, others won't. But if you don't try, you won't know. There is no shame in failure.
What are some of YOUR favorite shops/products, besides your own?
I have met so many amazing people through this journey, it seems unfair to just name a few. We are big supporters of handmade, and love buying from other families like us. We love Duchess and Lion Co, Little Bow and Arrow, Minalovesbows, Lwphsews, A Tiny Arrow, and Thief and Bandit. Really, do I have to stop? I could go on forever. The love and support we've received from all of the women in the handmade community has taken total strangers and turned them into family, and that is priceless.