Monday, January 26, 2015

Moms on Mondays - Caroline from Itsy Gypsy

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Today on Moms on Mondays I am happy to feature Caroline from Itsy Gypsy!  This mama has the cutest shop full of fancy dresses, at affordable prices, for your little girl.  I love all of the stuff she carries and totally need to purchase something for Lemon, although I would buy and then when it came I wouldn't be able to ever get it off of her!  (Totally a princess for life around our house!)  Check out Caroline's post and then buy a dress in her shop, you will totally love them all!  And, she's making it even easier for you to shop today with 20% off your order using code MONDAY today only!!  :)

My website is Itsy Gypsy and I'm also on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

We sell children’s clothing (girls only for now), which are Vintage and Bohemian inspired. Our sizes average mostly between 2-8yrs. We love to mix vintage and modern and find the cutest and most hip items with lots of lace, crochet and other details that create a free-spirit look. We have everything you need to make your girls look as the cutest princesses, or coolest little chicks on the block!

My full-time job is and will always be to be a mother. However, as I watch my little one get older, I’ve started to feel the need to do more in other areas of my life as well. It was easy for me to figure out what I dreamed of doing because I knew I’d want to do it from home, and I also knew it had to be something I’m passionate about! That’s what ItsyGypsy is to me - I LOVE my little company, through good and bad times.

I’ve worked on the idea for a long time, but our shop is fairly new. We just launched our website in June 2014! We’re enjoying seeing it grow everyday.

I’m a certified Makeup Artist and have freelanced in that field for the past 7 years. I will ALWAYS love makeup, and will still work with it when the opportunity pops up, but my true love is ItsyGypsy! Aside from that, I’m honestly just happy to call motherhood my career.

I was born and raised in Brazil. I finished high school in Salt Lake City, Utah and eventually met my husband, who happened to be going to College in Utah as well. We had a pretty crazy story and met online (which was not popular back in 2003!) and distance dated for 2 years. We got married in 2005 and lived in Utah for a while. My husband is originally from Los Angeles, CA and so ended up moving back to sunny So-Cal : ) We have one little girl, our little princess Dara Vienne, who is 5, and my inspiration behind ItsyGypsy. We say we are a family of everything “online" . . . My husband owns an online business as well, so both of us are able to work from home and enjoy each other everyday. We love the beach and our life here in California!

This company first of all, helps me to be happy and feel more accomplished! I enjoy what I do, and anytime I see a child in one of our items that puts a smile on my face. That keeps me going. Having an extra income in the home is a great help too, but I consider this company to be my daughter’s “baby” just as much as it is mine. The money we make with this store can be a great help with our savings, and our extra expenses right now.

I’ve always had a dream to be doing something like this. My husband and I talked about my ideas many times, but I’ve always had a lot of fears and reservations. Once my husband took his online company from a “side job” to a real business, I realized I could pursue something I loved while working from home as well. I then found the courage to chase it!

My husband is my biggest supporter, and although he is very busy with his own business, he’s helped my a lot through the process of learning about my new online venture. I can’t forget my Dara, who is my happy little model whenever I need her, helps me pick and name new products and jumps with excitement when a new shipment arrives! She’s definitely my favorite little helper, but aside from my family, I do all the work myself.

It has been crazy and I’m still learning how to deal with everything that needs to be done at home and at work. I find that whenever I prioritize things and do what’s most important first, the day goes a lot better. Maintaining a strong Spirit is very important to me. I like to start and end my day with a prayer and read a little bit of my scriptures in the morning. It gets me ready for the day. My daughter is in Kindergarten now, so I use the mornings to get a lot of my work done, and then I make sure to spend some time with her when she’s home with me. I love to have my house perfectly clean and neat, but I’m learning to relax and just let it go when needed.

I love that it makes me learn everyday and gives me a sense of responsibility aside from my wife/mother responsibilities, but what I love the most – ARE THE CLOTHES! It’s such a joy sourcing the styles that fit our shop. Another favorite is getting new shipment from our manufacturers…I kind of “squeal” along with my daughter every time we get one! I LOVE working on my own designs as well, and my dream right now is to get that off the ground and launched as soon as possible.

Definitely the behind the scenes of keeping up with the website and its occasional issues. Doing everything yourself is really tough, so maintaining the quality control of every product and inventory levels can be really tricky and time consuming as well.

I can’t wait to see what the future holds, but all I hope for is to keep making our company grow. I want to let my creativity go free and always have fun in this business, no matter how hard the work may get. My goal is to keep it where it’s making me happy. I don’t ever want Itsy Gypsy to turn into a chore that takes me completely away from the regular joys of life, especially my family.

It will be harder than you think, and it will take patience and time, but as long as it’s something you LOVE, it will definitely be worth it! Never give up, be brave and push forward!

I’m definitely inspired by stores like Free People and Anthropologie! Some of the other online children’s shops that I follow and love, make “handmade” products like shoes by K & Elphy, accessories by Hip Chixie, flower crowns by Kenzie Jaws, booties by Threads and Arrows, clothing by Lunaflect Co. and Sly Fox Threads . . . too many to name! I love unique items!

Thanks Caroline!

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Monday, January 19, 2015

Moms on Mondays - Amanda from The Love More Shop

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This week I am so proud to feature Amanda from The Love More Shop.  I had the honor of meeting this mama in person, on our trip to Oregon this past fall, and she is just as incredible in person as she is on the internet.  She is doing something truly magical with her shop, with a portion of the proceeds going into the Love Fund to send a lucky couple out on dates, and she also features writers on her blog in her The Love More Letters series.  She is desined for greatness and I know she will reach it, she has a vision and we just love her (and her products)!  Go shop and support this lovely mama and her family!

I started The Love More Shop in mid July after coming up with the idea 6 weeks prior. I use Instagram as my main social media platform but we are also on Facebook and Twitter

I am a mama to a one-year-old wild boy, step mama to a wise 6 year old, and woman to an eccentric, often bearded man. We live in the little city of Portland, OR and plan to move back to my hometown to start a small farm and retreat center in the future.


Currently I am selling apparel, jewelry (a beautiful minimalist gold bar necklace that says "love more"), totes and a few digital products. However I know that the company will evolve quickly as it grows and I am excited to see what that means! I don’t imagine selling shirts forever – I imagine this turning into something bigger than that.

I started with the shirts because I wanted to create the Love More brand and thought apparel would be a simple place to start. It all happened quite quickly. I bought a small screen printer, learned how to print, and went for it. After my first few batches I realized that opening a business and handling all that comes with that on my own on top of taking care of a family and working two other part time jobs meant I should find someone else to screen print for me! So, now I have a screen printing company helping me out with the physical printing but everything else is all me. Time is a funny thing isn't it? Somehow we make time for what we need to make time for. I decided to start with one design so I wasn't constantly needing to create new art work. That's time consuming and my energy is better spent getting the word out than creating a bunch of different products and designs with no one to buy anything. Besides, I have a love affair with simplicity and the goal of this business is not to create more stuff but build a brand around an important mission and message.


The mission of Love More is to give back to parents so they can nurture their love. A portion of the proceeds from each item sold go into a Love Fund and each time the Love Fund reaches $100 we will have a contest via instagram and send the winning couple the money so they can go out together and nurture their love. Raising kind and empathetic humans starts in a loving home and with loving parents so we want to help - be it a small simple way. It’s easy to love your kids, but not always easy to love your partner. Am I right? When our baby boy was a few months old our friends gave us $100 to go out on a date. It was such a thoughtful and unexpected gesture that really touched our hearts. We were broke but (DESPERATELY) needed some time out together and were able to escape one evening for a couple of hours together. (We pretended we didn't know each other and drank too much.) This inspired us to pass the love on by helping other parents with a night out together. Single parents can enter too and use the money to nurture themselves with something special.

I always imagined I would be a predominantly stay at home mom and then when I got pregnant with my son I realized to make that a reality I would have to find another way to make money or live on solely beans and rice. I have a BA in women's studies and a BA in interior design and was working in the design industry when my son was born. I didn't want to go back into that world unless it was in a position where I felt like I was doing something good for the world. I'm not interested in wasting my time and I didn't want to take time away from my son and put all my energy into something that didn't have meaning to me. Not that design is not awesome and so very important – but it had to be the right job for me and I wasn’t finding anything worthy of leaving my baby. I am also a yoga teacher and wanted to put more energy into that instead of devoting 40+ hours a week to a desk job. 


“Love More” has been my mantra for a few years now - always a reminder when I am feeling angry, frustrated or overwhelmed. So when the idea for this business started to form it seemed natural. It's fairly easy to be kind and non-reactive when you are single or have few responsibilities - at least it was for me. But when you have a family everything changes and loving more becomes so vital on a daily basis for your family to thrive or sometimes simply survive.

Since I only opened shop in July this isn't really helping to support our family financially just yet but I hope it will down the road! It has however made the love more message a huge part of all of our lives and something we think about and try to live by daily. It also has meant that we, already introspective people spend a lot more time pondering the meaning of life, love, awareness, kindness, and truth more often. I would much rather be living frugally spending my time creating something good that both helps people and sends a good message than making a lot of money and doing something that didn’t make my heart happy. We are mainly selling apparel now but I hope it will evolve into something much bigger than that so that we can help more people, more families, in as many ways that we can.

It’s rough running a startup business alone while taking care of a family so I constantly have to remind myself to breathe deeply. I cherish nap times and have started to do babysitting exchanges with my friend to have some time to focus. Otherwise I have to wait until everyone is asleep at night to really focus. But it’s worth it because I love that I am running my own business and can make all the decisions. It’s so fun to imagine something and then make it happen. I feel so blessed to have so much support from the mama community on Instagram too. It’s awesome to see other people excited about this company and the mission. I can’t wait to start sending people out on dates regularly! That is going to be so much fun.

If I had to pick a favorite item from my shop I would say the necklaces. I collaborated with my friend and jewelry maker to create them and think they turned out beautifully. They are minimalistic and elegant and a staple piece in any fashion savvy mama’s wardrobe.

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If I gave advice to a mompreneur I would say to be authentic. I wanted to start a business that “gave back” but that wasn’t generic. I thought about my own life and what mattered to me. Making sure my family didn’t suffer because my partner and I weren’t loving each other enough was at the top of the list; so I thought, why not try and help other couples love each other during these (often broke) years of new parenthood. Oh, and find someone to watch your little ones for at least a few hours a week (I am still working on this) so you can work without someone crying, pulling on you, throwing food, needing a nap, pooping their pants every 3 minutes. It also helps you create work time and separate family time where you can be fully present with your little ones.

Thanks Amanda!  xoxo

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Monday, January 12, 2015

Moms on Mondays - Brooke from Swell Forever

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I am so happy to feature Brooke from Swell Forever today on Moms on Mondays.  This mama holds a piece of my heart and I have collaborated with her in the past on a write up for her blog and a giveaway of one of her Forever Birds, and we actually own two of them (go here or here).  She took her heartache and turned it into a business that helps other families - from people wanting to adopt, raising awareness about infant loss and also miscarriage.  She is just amazing and if you support any mama this month, please support her.  A portion of what you buy always goes to someone in need and the pieces in her shop are just beautiful.  Make sure you visit her blog as well, or direct someone there who has experienced a loss, it is a great place for guidence and solace.  I am so happy I found Brooke and just love what she's doing, now go shop!!

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What is the name of your shop and how can we find you?
​Swell Forever is my shop and I am also on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.

Tell us about what you make/sell in your shop. 
We sell ever after heirlooms that are created to be uniquely personalized with loving words that linger. We have Forever Blankets in throw size and baby sizes, Forever Dresses and Forever Suits, and our Forever Bird line that was inspired by my experience with miscarriage and grief. Every thing is Made in USA, even most of our fabrics and packaging. My mom and I stitch all the personalized tags in my home studio. Our baby line of Forever Blankets are handmade in Atlanta.

How/why did you start making these products and open this shop?
I received my MBA from Duke and just could not let go of this feeling that I could do something very meaningful with my skill set. I wanted to find a way to fuse my love for pretty things and my desire to do something for foster children. I have always loved babies and sought opportunities to volunteer or make life better for children in crisis. A Swell Forever is defined by us as a "life filled with all things joyful, vibrant and beautiful." By giving our gifts, you wish a Swell Forever for the person who receives it (and is blessed by the message you inscribe on the gift) and the children who are in need of Forever Families and benefit from our Adoption Fund.

How long have you been in business?
I did a very soft launch with just our Forever Bird gifts and three limited edition Forever Blanket designs for the home in December 2013. I had my daughter in March 2014 and got back to work over the summer when we launched our Forever Blanket {baby} and Forever Dress lines.

What is your background (college/career/etc.)?
I went to Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina then transferred to the University of Georgia and graduated from the Agricultural Communications program. It was the only way I could transfer in time and still take classes in their famed Grady School of Journalism but I did learn a lot about sustainability. I was a sustainability consultant with a large firm for four years. In 2008, I read a book about women entrepreneurs that my dad gave me one Christmas and decided I would join my husband for grad school at Duke University. I received my MBA and was a Donald R. Draughon Scholarship Recipient. That scholarship was everything. I knew I would never go for a big corporate career so finding a way to afford my MBA was huge. I did work for Orbit Baby and BABYBEARSHOP Organic, both amazing baby brands, that really taught me a lot about the baby products industry and entrepreneurship in general.

Tell us a little bit about your family.
I am married to someone who loves me enough to do all the day-to-day hard work of paying the bills so I can pursue something that has been tugging at my heart for several years. We went to graduate school together, studied abroad in Switzerland together, took two cross country trips across the United States and still liked each other, and have lived in NYC, San Francisco, North Carolina and now our new hometown of Sandy Springs, GA. We went through several miscarriages before having our sunshine in March 2014. Isla has been a very motivating force for me each day. I want other kids to have the love and support she has.

How does this company help your family?
My husband and I work hard to pay off all of our student debt so that I could be free financially to work on this venture. I don't have regular childcare so Swell Forever is my chance to bring in extra income and save money for my daughter's future. It is also something we both get excited about and have worked at together.

Did you ever think you'd be doing this?  What did you think you'd be doing instead?
I always thought I would work in an orphanage or be a neonatalogist. I realized when I was in college and worked in a NICU that the doctors did not get a chance to help these babies when they went home. It opened my eyes to the social side of things. I think I always knew I would own my own business. It was just a matter of what and how I would help others through it.

Does anyone help you with your shop?
YES!!! I would never have been able to do this without several key people. My husband took the pressure off me financially and let me try it. My mom has a home economics degree and brushed up on her sewing skills. She is also a floral designer and great business person. She can do about anything she decides to do. We have spent countless hours experimenting and perfecting as much as we can. Her best friend is also my neighbor and she has helped me tremendously. She was my first customer and also helps sew tags when I am in a pinch. I named The June Forever Blanket after her. My cousin launched her shop Swell Caroline a few years before me and has always been willing to share her lessons learned. I am very, very blessed to say the least. My mom also introduced me to Susan, the lady that helps hand make my blankets and brings ideas to life because I can only do so much on my own.

How do you find time to run your shop and create products?
I have a million ideas. I am a fly by the seat of my pants type of person. I sketch out ideas and pull together concepts on Powerpoint slides. Because I do not have child care full-time, my mom helps me fulfill orders. I stay up until 2 am numerous nights and work through my daughter's three hour naps. It takes a ton of discipline and I am really having to work hard to make every minute of my day count, but also put my work down and focus on my family so it doesn't bleed too heavily into my time with them. It's hard to put it away. I really love doing this. I get a rush being creative and thinking of how I can brighten someone's life through something I design and sell.
What do you love about this business?
It's all about heart. I have met some wonderful strangers who are now friends. All of my gifts are pretty much named for people. I named one of our Forever Dresses for a precious little baby girl named Millie who passed away in June. It broke my heart. I have never met her parents in person, but we chat on Facebook messenger often. Her mom is helping me with my efforts to raise awareness for Pregnancy and Infant Loss. I now have a whole new world of mompreneur friends and get an insane amount of joy helping them with their businesses and seeing the way they support mine. I also have friends who are not yet moms who I spend a lot more time with thanks to our shared interests running start-ups.

What is the most challenging part of this business?
Fear. I want to make people happy. I want everything I send to be perfect. No flaws. I like to think my blankets have a little bit different aesthetic than a lot of the ones available. The personalization piece is very unique but it took a lot of effort to figure out. I have worked countless hours with my mom trying to problem solve and make everything as wonderful and long lasting as possible. The nature of handmade is that it can't be perfect. That can be a great thing, but it is an adjustment for me and I have to learn not to nit pick everything or I will drive myself crazy. I also put my heart out there a lot. I mix my personal life with my brand. There are pros and cons to that.

Where do you see your shop in the future?
I put a lot of effort into my brand before I even finalized my products. I purposely do not sell on Etsy only because I want to focus on using the brand as a strong element to raise awareness for children in need of Forever Families. I think big, but I also love the idea of having a business that is always made with love and not too big for it's britches. You lose the intimacy and connection with your customers if you don't scale it carefully. I think I see it as a family business and hopefully people will cherish our products and one day look at them as collectible heirlooms made just for them. Completely irreplaceable.

Tell us your favorite product or your most favorite thing you've created?
I designed one of the first Forever Blanket throws and named it after my mother's mom. It is called The Carolyn Forever Blanket. She was a very kind person. She always made me feel loved. I lost her when I was in fifth grade and it was very difficult to adjust to her absence. It changed our entire family because she was our matriarch and I am a fiercely sentimental person. Her blanket is a classic color palette with taupe and cream patterns on wool fabric and has layers of various ribbons. The ruffled ribbon and lace trim really do her justice. What's interesting is Carolyn also loved hummingbirds and had glass birds in her breakfast room windows. That is how they became so intertwined with my brand. I designed my own line of lamp glass hummingbird ornaments (Forever Birds) to give to someone needing a touch of hope in their life. They seemed like something that would have brought me joy after suffering from my several miscarriages and feeling heart broken.

Do you have any advice for future mom-entrepreneurs?
Align yourself with someone who is business savvy and will mentor you. It will save you time and likely a good bit of money. Look for any programs or seminars you can attend that help you with business start-up basics. Even with an MBA, I am still trying to figure out basics. You learn a lot about strategy in business school, but a lot of marketing is intuitive and opportunity driven. I'm still learning accounting and how to do the books. Put out requests with local college or design school programs for interns. I had a lovely intern from Savannah College of Art and Design work with me on developing the baby blankets. A lot of students need experience and want to build up their resume. Don't assume they won't want to work with you! I met the founder of BABYBEARSHOP Organic while looking for an MBA internship. Sometimes I worked for pay. Sometimes I didn't. What I gained in experience was invaluable and the time was totally worth it. Value yourself and what you have to offer. Realize that being fulfilled in the work aspect of your life can make you into a better mother and teaches your children about confidence and self-worth.

What are some of YOUR favorite shops/products, besides your own?
​ I have been eyeing Emily Jeffords' stunning art. It's just my taste and style. Sweet Littles Handmade makes dolls that are beyond beautiful. ​Emerald August is an Atlanta baby and kids clothing line made by a very talented mama. I actually came cross a really unique designer at Jenny's Dresser the other day. She doesn't sell them, but she hand makes angel burial gowns out of vintage and embroidered pieces so families have something beautiful to bury their sweet babies in. I definitely cried scrolling through her designs knowing how special they are.
Thanks Brooke, it was a pleasure to feature your shop today!

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Saturday, January 10, 2015

New Years 2014/2015

Over New Years we headed up to Sedona to see the snow.  It was a creepy drive (so much fog and snow!) and Ian was nervous of ice the whole way but we made it and I was SO happy, it was so beautiful!  Take a drive to Sedona if it's snowing, you won't regret it.  This was Lemon's first snow (there was none last year and the year before she was too little to go) and I'm so glad we went, we all had so much fun!

She was nervous at first and wouldn't go out in it but after a bit she warmed up to it and loved it!

It snowed almost all day/night that first day (New Years Eve).  I can't tell you the last time I was in snow where it was actually snowing like this, so much.  It was so magical.

We of course had to build a snowman!  Someone talked about it all the way up, the minute she saw snow, and wanted out of the car the whole time.  She finally got her wish when we pulled into the hotel!

Miranda, Jason and Jonah and their friends met us and stayed the night too.  After a day of playing we were off to dinner together!

Lemon looked so cute in her cold weather outfit when heading out to dinner.  Then her and Jonah had tickle fights at Picazzo's - so yummy and fun!

We were all so tired after dinner, we couldn't wait to crawl into bed in our warm hotel room.  The Days Inn outside of town in Sedona rules, they even have one bedroom suites so we could put Lemon to bed and stay up for a bit.

At around 10, Ian and I toasted with our apple cider and whiskey drinks and then went to bed, we couldn't make it until midnight!

At around midnight I woke up in our room because Lemon's sound machine was off and it was cold.  Outside I saw flickering like someone built a bonfire but when I looked outside I saw just a fire and sparks but no people, it looked like a power line came down, in the snow.  I tried calling the front desk and no one answered so I threw on some clothes and went out to see what was going on.  A car was shining its headlights at the fire and police pulled up and told the car to back up, because the ground was wet and it was an electrical line.  Then, as I was standing there (after I texted Miranda and she came down to see), a firetruck pulled up.  They were all standing around and no one knew what to do so we went inside and decided to go back to bed, thinking someone from the power company would come and fix it.  It was just so close to our room, I was afraid they would knock, wake us all up and tell us to move rooms.  I couldn't sleep the rest of the night because I was nervous about it, the power kept going in and out (and Lemon would wake up every time her sound machine came back on) and it was cold then hot then cold then hot.  I slept really badly and so did she but she was ready to go the next morning at 6:45, wanting me to put her snow clothes on to go back out and play!

Ready.  I can't believe moms get their kids dressed like this all the time, that live in snowy places, no thanks!  It's a lot of work!

Lemon loved the sled (that Christine let us borrow) and after everyone went inside to pack up, we found a little road to sled down and it was SO MUCH FUN.  I went with her, we both fit, and we had a blast.  We, of course, forgot our phones, so have no picture/video of this, but I will always remember sledding down this hill with her.  It was one of the best moments of my life.

Ian was knocking the snow off the branches and the kids were loving it!

As Lemon got colder, hungrier and more tired we got a lot of "hold you."  I think after two days she was kind of over the cold and ready to get warm and go home.  It was also pretty deep and snowy, I would imagine that we be so strange for this Arizona baby of ours!

Such fun with friends!

On our way out of town we stopped for lunch at a vegan restaurant but after hearing their gluten free options I was a bit nervous (especially with a 2 hour drive home) so we skipped it and headed to Whole Foods for snacks instead and then we were off!

We were so tired when we got home we put Lemon down for a late nap, watched a movie and then woke her up to eat dinner and then put her back to bed.  It was a super fast, fun, and successful trip!  I hope it snows again next year so we can do it again!  

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