Monday, July 28, 2014

Moms on Mondays - Lauren from Feather and Filly

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This week I am featuring Lauren from Feather and Filly.  I met Lauren a year ago, when I started stalking her mocc page, and finally connected with her last fall.  I did 3 mocc reviews, featuring almost 20 different pairs, and Lauren's are by far one of our favorites (and if you ask my husband, they are the only ones I'm allowed to buy from now on!).  She has great prices, awesome customer service and when you buy a pair of her moccs you know that it definitely helps her family.  She is amazing and I don't know how she finds the time to do all that she does, and raise the two cutest kiddos on the planet, but she does and her moccs are awesome.  I have found a friend in Lauren, through Instagram, and you can tell that she has met and connected with many mamas on there, building a network of support, collaboration and positivity - I just love this girl.  You must try to snag a pair of her moccs, it will be well worth it I promise!!  Lemon in some of her moccs:

What is the name of your shop and how can we find you?
My shop is Feather and Filly and I'm also on Instagram and Facebook.

Tell us about what you make/sell in your shop. 
Currently, I mostly make genuine, leather moccasins and ballet flats. I opened, originally, as a full fledged children's clothing boutique, but the moccasins were my best seller so I focused on them and that is when the business grew! But, I am longing to work with beautiful fabrics again, so I hope to have a few of my own boutique pieces available again some day. [Oh my gosh, if this girl makes clothes, I'm buying them!] 

How/why did you start making these products and open this shop? How long have you been in business?

I started out in 2009 making children's clothing and backpacks out of their parent's uniforms. My husband was deployed, I had a newborn, and a lot of time on my hands while waiting for those 12 months to be over! The very first item I made was a little pink Army ACU dress for another unit wife who was due with a little girl. Then I made backpacks and diaper bags for some other wives, out of their parents' or spouse's uniforms! 

In 2011, I was pregnant with our second child, and was SICK OF CAMO! So, I finished up my pending orders, took a break to focus on preparing for a new baby, and started rebranding. In late 2012 I officially  launched Feather and Filly - with the plan to continue making a variety of children's boutique, handmade clothing and soft, huggable, Native American inspired dolls (the boy dolls being named Little Feather, and the girl dolls being named Little Filly!).

I started making a lot of moccasins when my new baby, a girl, Logan Elizabeth, was 8 months old and walking. NO SHOES FIT HER FEET! She has not only fat feet, but her great grandmother's very high insteps. The moccasins got a lot of attention and I couldn't keep up with orders! So, I slowed down on the other boutique items and started popping out moccasins. That's when my business really took off, I had found my niche! 

What is your background (college/career/etc.)?

I have an Associates Degree in business management, and had started one in the medical field.

Tell us a little bit about your family. How does this company help your family?  Or you?

I married the love of my life in August 2007. Our first child, Maksym, was born December 2008 at Fort Lewis in WA state. When Maks was 6 months old, my husband, Micheal, deployed to Afghanistan with the US Army Infantry for a 12 month deployment. He returned to us in one physical piece, but he now suffers from neurological deterioration that, they can only assume, was from some sort of brain injury and exposure to toxins. 

They have spent the last 4 years doing extensive testing and evaluations trying to determine the cause of his neurological disorders, and have come to no conclusions. His symptoms mimic, almost exactly, those of Huntington's disease (do a quick YouTube search of someone with Huntington's, and you will see we what we have been learning to deal with)!
Our second child was not planned, and honestly I was terrified of the idea of caring for my now 3 year old, my disabled husband, and a newborn!! But, Logan was the best thing that happened to us that year and she continues to be a blessing to our family. 

This company has helped us in so many ways. The two major impacts has been on my sanity and in our wallet. Sewing is my escape, I feel at peace and I am happy when I sew. My husband could be in the ICU again and my kids finally fell asleep at 1am and I am exhausted, but all I want to do is sew. And I do, and feel sane again! And, of course, the income has been a huge help! My husband is considered 80% disabled - meaning he is only able to perform a work level of 20% the normal man his age. So the military "compensates" by paying to us 80% of that possible income. However, 80% is only about $1700 a month for us which is not at all enough to live on, and right now he really cannot work another job yet. I could go back to work full time, but then would need to pay for child care and sometimes for someone to help him at home! So, my working would just barely cover the cost of their care, it isn't worth the little bit of money that would be left over! Being able to work from home is what has kept my family on its feet.

Did you ever think you'd be doing this?  What did you think you'd be doing instead?

While I am amazed at how far I have come with this business, I couldn't see myself doing anything else!

Does anyone help you with your shop?

I am a one woman show! I occasionally do hire a friend, or my sister, to do some tracing and cutting, but I do all the sewing, designing, packaging and shipping, email and IG interaction. But, my sister and a good friend run my Facebook page for me - since I don't use Facebook myself!

How do you find time to run your shop and create products?

Nap time and bedtime. Just don't look in my closet at the growing pile of laundry or ask what/when I ate last!! While little hands pulling a me annoy me at first . . . them asking me to play reminds me that I work for them, not for anyone else. So everyone else and their orders can wait!

What do you love about this businesses?

I love sharing a final product with everyone! Being able to hold a finished product in my hand and post a photo. It makes me feel so accomplished!

What is the most challenging part of this business?

Customer service is tough! It is very hard trying to tend to all emails and social media, and still live my life. I want my children to know my face, not the back of my phone.

Where do you see your shop in the future?

I would like to be able to increase inventory so more is available! I am so blessed to always be sold out - but I don't want some customers to miss out! It's hard keeping up with demand, as one person doing it all. So, I would have to expand and hire. First, will be to hire my husband when he is able to help me but I' not sure yet what he will be able to do, but giving me back massages while I sew is a good start!

Tell us your favorite product or your most favorite thing you've created?

My children. Duh! But they aren't for sale. Sorry! :)  I love everything I make, if I don't love the product - I don't even offer it! It's my name on the item so I am picky about what I make and sell.

Do you have any advice for future mom-entrepreneurs?

Set your priorities first - you will go further when you remain true to yourself and your family!
Find your niche - when you do, that's when your business will take off! You can't push a sale on something that isn't right for you, be true to yourself as your product. 

Don't spend the money you made before the item is in the customer's hands. Do not rely on preorders or customer's money to start your business - you need to save up your own money for the starting costs. Relying on customer's money as your start up money is dangerous. You will then need to take on more orders to afford to complete previous orders. You will struggle to stay on top and may never be able to pull ahead. I have watched so many small business go belly up, and then disappear, because of this mistake, and they left behind a trail of customers without product because they ran out of money to produce that product. 

You may not see any income for a good full year. You will be "in the red." You have to spend money before you can make money. I highly suggest a account to track your income and spending. It will show you your monthly income and expenses, and lets you watch yourself pull out of the "red zone" and into the black! Also, it will show you if you are going to owe any taxes for that quarter or year. But, I cannot stress enough, do not spend the customer,s money until the customer has their purchased item!

What are some of YOUR favorite shops/products, besides your own?
I love buying handmade and always post my daughter in handmade goodies from other mom-run shops, these are some of my favorites:  Nooks Design, Swanky Jems, Lucky Sage Shop, Wise Birds Co, A Bow for Teagan, Little Big Fabric, Grace on Tuesdays and Spirit Bee Woodworks [awww!].
 Thanks Lauren, glad to have you here, we wish you TONS of success!!

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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Spirit Bee Woodworks Flash Sale!

Tomorrow night, our woodworking business, Spirit Bee Woodworks, is having a Flash Sale on Instagram for some of our rings and teething/nursing necklaces.  Our prices will be discounted to sell, since most of these rings were made in the wrong size or have imperfections.

Join us on Instagram for our sale tomorrow night at 8:30pm MST, and help support two teachers at the end of summer break!  Thanks mamas!

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Monday, July 21, 2014

Moms on Mondays - Leila from Little Ladies Bowtique

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Leila actually made Lemon and I our matching lemon print rompers that we wore to the beach on her birthday!  I love them!!

The name of my shop is Little Ladies Bowtique.  I also just opened an Etsy shop under "Vintagelittleladies" but it is currently under construction.

My daughter was my main inspiration for everything I make.  You can see my shop name has "bow" in it and I chose the name when I first started selling bows.  I became a bow fanatic, after I had my daughter, anywhere we went my daughter and I would have matching bows - girls are so fun! She was known for her bows and now that I think about it, it was quiet funny.  

But, bows were never enough for me, my mind is always going a 100 miles an hour with new ideas, so I started sewing clothes for my daughter when she was just a baby.  I never thought to sell clothes, until my family and friends kept suggesting it, so I finally did and I absolutely love it! I started off selling shorts and leggings and ventured to rompers.  I also make several styles of vintage and modern twists on styles, and high-waisted shortie sets with matching bandeau tops or bubble tops. I get to meet amazing moms and get to see these beautiful babies in items I made, it really makes me feel extremely special. I love selling on Instagram, it isn't only a place to sell to me it has become such a beautiful community, such as a support group of mothers. A place where you can feel free to joke and laugh, and give or get advice and not be so serious all the time; it makes having a business on there even better. I actually haven't been in business long, just a few months.

I was a lost soul and went to the military about a year after I graduated from  high school, just on a whim and became a health care specialist. Unfortunately, the military wasn't for me (for many reasons) and I finally got out during my 9th month of pregnancy with my son. [Wow!] I got married to my husband while I was in the military, but he stayed near home.  I joined him and we had our son. I took two semesters of pre-nursing and found out I was pregnant my second semester, so I finished up and still have yet to finish Nursing school. Hopefully when my kids start school I will, right now I just feel that they need me at home more than anything.  

I have a husband and two kids.  My husband is such a great father and amazing supporter.  (We met on MySpace - how funny is that?) [So funny!] He messaged me, striking up a conversation because he saw my name written in Arabic, and from what he saw said I was beautiful - and our relationship went from there!  I have a 3 year old son who suffered many medical conditions since the day he was born, (it was a really rough time hearing things from "fatal" to "surgery, blood in the brain" and so on).  He had severe acid reflux, and we were lucky that the blood in his brain went away.  I didn't get more than 30 minutes of sleep at a time, up until he was about 6 months old when we moved in with my husband's family for help.  It was a very hard time for me, I gave my all to my son and lost myself in PPD for an entire year until I went to see a doctor.  

He is the strongest boy I've ever known and is amazing, he is so strong and the only problem he has now is lactose intolerance (which leads to tummy aches and allergy induced asthma).  It still can be hard but is nothing compared to what we went through the first two years of his life.  So for that, I thank God. In the midst of taking medicine for my PPD, my hormones were being controlled and literally a month after taking them (and with a 1 year old son), I was pregnant again! This time it was a little girl so it just couldn't get any better.  Unfortunately, we got bad news 4 months into my pregnancy that my daughter tested positive for Downs Syndrome, and we went through ultrasounds, specialists and were even offered an abortion.  I knew I'd never do that and knew that whatever God had planned was best for us. I continued to love my pregnancy and waited to see if our baby was healthy when I delivered her and she was! She is now 22 months old and has a BIG personality, but is very shy. [Sounds like Lemon!]  I love it! 

This company helps my family quiet a bit, I feel more confident in myself and am so proud doing something I love and am enjoying other people loving it as well.  Happy mommy = happy kids and a happy husband.  But, it's also great because my husband was struggling at work and was stressed, so I am glad to have this business to help him with the bills, be happier and more relaxed.  He is a car salesman so there are both good and the bad months in our house.  

I never thought I'd be doing this.  I always loved to sew growing up, but never expected this! I actually planned on being a SAHM, and then going back to college as the children started school (kind of what I'm doing now!).

I don't get any help with my shop as far as sewing and designing, but I do have a great support group of people and customers who share my work and bring me more business! Since I am a SAHM mom it is very hard [to balance work], I either sew at nap time, once my husband gets home or when kids are in bed; but I love it because it is my "me time" (other than the gym). I love everything about [my business], especially my customers and supporters! The late night sewing can be a little challenging but I don't mind it!

I hope [my shop] grows and that I finally get on Etsy and to have my own website soon! My favorite thing to create is all custom orders, I absolutely love it when moms ask me to surprise them because it's my chance to have fun and make something amazing that I haven't done before. 

[My advice is] you can do it.  You need confidence in yourself and your business, and if you need support I am here to answer any questions that you have.  Yes, there are many shops, but yours can be great too! Don't give up too early, as it doesn't happen overnight, and find time to separate being a mom and working properly.  

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Sunday, July 20, 2014

Lemon's 2nd Birthday Party

Just like last year, we got a bit carried away, and this party ending up being much bigger than we anticipated, and more expensive.  But how could we not invite all of our friends/family to such a fun celebration?!  Next year, my mom and I agreed, we are doing a party out somewhere because it is a lot of work hosting it at our house.

But, we had the best time and I want to thank everyone for coming out to celebrate with us!  Lemon had a blast, she was a super good girl, despite all of the people, and I don't think we've ever had that many people swimming in our pool at once!  Thanks to my mom for all of the party prep help, buying all the food and for the moral support, my husband for making the yard and pool look awesome, my twinsies for letting us borrow an umbrella and cooler, my sis-in-law for helping us set up (and blowing up the swan!) and Brittany for making the cute cupcakes!  We had a blast!

Aunt Kiki came a day early and we all went out to dinner with my mom.  Lemon loved riding in the back of the car with the two of them and singing along at dinner!

Saturday, party day!  She didn't know what to think in the morning when Aunt Kiki was asleep on the couch:

We took a trip to Urban Cookies for donuts and gluten free cupcakes for Lemon and I to have at the party:

And then to the mall where Aunt Kiki bought Lemon Buzz, Woody and Jesse and she hasn't let them out of her sight since!

Party time!


Sneaking licks of the non gluten free cupcakes.  I had to actually put the blue frosting on one of the cupcakes we got her so it looked like the others!

(Lemon dress handmade by DJ's Handsies.)

Didn't understand why the dogs were locked up.


Summer birthday parties are the best in Arizona!

Eating dinner while the party continued!

A Bubble Guppies party is hard to leave!

Good camera pics:

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