Monday, December 8, 2014

Moms on Mondays - Rochelle from Little House in the Orchard

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It is my pleasure this week to feature Rochelle from Little House in the Orchard.  She is really living the dream in her orchard in southern California, being able to stay home with both her husband and her daughter - seriously I am so jelly.  She is the sweetest mama and has so many talents, please go and check out her shop and support her!  (And, she even donated to that little girl I posted about her lost her mama, this mom has a heart of gold!)  I NEED her palazzo pants and that stuffed ghost, Lemon would die for it!  She also sent Lemon a lemon shirt, which is also her logo, how could we not love her company?!  :)

What is the name of your shop and how can we find you?  

My website is Little House in the Orchard and I am also on Facebook, Tumblr and Instagram

Tell us about what you make/sell in your shop.  

We make goods for babies and kids. Everything is handmade in the "orchard," with the exception of a few screen printed tees, which we source locally. Building a socially responsible company is really important to us, so as we grow, we will continue to keep production as local as possible and in USA. We donate a percentage of our sales to various non-profits benefiting domestic and wild animals. I hope we can do more someday.

{I die for these shirts!!}

How/why did you start making these products and open this shop? 

My mother was a professional seamstress, so her love of sewing trickled down to me. I sewed my first patterned blouse when I was seven and altered/adapted my clothes from then on. Naturally, my first job was working in a fabric store. I bounced around in different industries and most recently was in a very demanding position that left little to no time for my creative senses. I yearned for the freedom sewing and design gives me. After much reflection and a loose business plan, I took a leap of faith and quit my job. Little House in the Orchard designs preserve the playfulness and innocence of childhood. And we draw inspiration from the beauty that surrounds us everyday. Weaving stories about our environment into our products is all part of the process.

How long have you been in business? 

We are relatively new to the marketplace - we launched June 1, 2014.

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

I have a BFA in Painting/Printmaking from the Academy of Art University, but have bounced all over the map career-wise - Registrar at an art gallery, Personal assistant, Executive assistant, Office Manager, and Director of Productions at a documentary film company to name a few {wow!}.

Tell us a little bit about your family. 

My husband, Brian, and I have been together 12 years and married 8. We were burned out on city living, so 6 years ago moved from San Francisco to a sleepy, lemon and avocado orchard in Santa Paula, CA (just south of Santa Barbara). My husband is native to the area and living near the ocean is important to us, since we are both surfers, so it was a no brainer. Our daughter, Autumn Belle, was born in 2012 and she’s an absolute joy / pistol.  We keep things interesting with two cats and a dog and I volunteer at our local animal shelter. We enjoy taking day trips to explore the area and spend as much time as possible outside enjoying nature.

How does this company help your family?

Little House in the Orchard, and my part-time consulting work as a film/video production manager,  enable us to both stay at home with our daughter. We realize how fortunate we are to have this time together. Autumn is turning 2 in September and I know she’ll be graduating high school before we know it. Having a home business also means she sees first hand the hard work and love we pour into it. I think that sort of exposure is invaluable.

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

I always knew I belonged in some capacity designing and working with textiles. Sewing was my first love. I’ve strayed from the passion path a few times before, but this time I’m staying the course. 

Does anyone help you with your shop?

My husband, Brian, is Co-Owner and acts as valuable support in both business and creative concepts. He also keeps me grounded and most importantly cares for our daughter while I’m managing production, orders and marketing. We work as a team.

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

Fortunately, I’m a night owl and creativity often sparks in the evenings. In no way have I mastered the balance of being a mother, a part-time consultant, and a full-time business owner, but I do my best. Sometimes my “best” means we eat pizza for dinner. There aren’t enough hours in the day to do it all and I’ve accepted that fact.

What do you love about this business? 

I love the process of making. There’s nothing more gratifying to me than taking a simple sketch and turning it into a wearable garment or object. It’s magical. And although I have no formal background in photography or graphic design, I thoroughly enjoy taking product shots, drafting our ads / maintaining our branding. I realize doing it all is not sustainable, so I will have to make the decision to give up some of my responsibilities down the line (which will be a good problem to have!).

What is the most challenging part of this business? 

We are a minnow in a vast sea of children’s products. Social media is a gift and a burden; you have access to people all over the world, but so do 46739 billion other shops. Visibility has been the most difficult aspect to date - a dynamite product is worthless if no one knows about it.

Where do you see your shop in the future? 

I imagine we will organically grow as our daughter grows, since we make products to suit her first and foremost. She’s our muse. I can see us moving into the tween market. I hope we will have enough business to expand into the wholesale realm, eventually partnering with the brick and mortar set.

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

Hands down, our Chumash shoes, which are a tribute to the Chumash Indians native to our area. My daughter loves them too, so I know we’ve done something right! They are functional, timeless and unisex. When utilitarian meets fashion, it’s always a good thing.

Do you have any advice for future mom-entrepreneurs. 

I believe there is enough business for everyone. Don’t let your competitors discourage you, rather join forces and collaborate when possible. We can all learn from each other. Focus on producing authentic products. If you believe in what you are creating, people will catch on. And don’t cut corners - you’ll pay for it in the end!

What are some of YOUR favorite shops/products, besides your own? 

I love Ink, Print, Repeat - her linocut prints are playful and enchanting. She gives you a peek into her process too, which is great. I see lots of shops using her fabrics; she has a very distinct style. And I have recently fallen for James Vincent Design Co., a one-woman show making the most precious rompers and bloomers using beautiful fabrics. I appreciate a business that takes risks with their designs and focuses on quality.

Thanks Rochelle, great having you!  :)

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