Monday, April 13, 2015

Moms on Mondays - Lauren from Vivi's Jewels

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This week I am super excited to feature Lauren from Vivi's Jewels!  This mama is a full time teacher (like me!) and makes the CUTEST clothes, they are all really unique too, I just love them!  She sent Lemon a crop top for Crop Top Summer! so I will add a picture of her in it, as soon as she feels better (we are battling a cold at our house).  Check out Lauren's post below and then go shop, you MUST buy something, it's all soooo cute!

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

My shop is Vivi's Jewels and you can also and you can find me on Instagram and Facebook

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

Vivi's Jewels offers a variety of clothing for infants and children.  I make both boy's and girl's pieces, and many unisex pieces too. Some of my items are dresses, tops, pants, shorts, bloomers, etc. 

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

I began Vivi's Jewels when Vivien (my daughter) was about 6 months old.  I started making her some bows and headbands, as I was having trouble finding ones that I liked.  Our Instagram world of handmade shops hadn't quite taken off yet, so I didn't have many (or any) small, indie outlets to browse. From there, I moved on to customizing onesies with felt and fabric. If you scroll WAAAYYYYY down to the early days on my Instagram, you can still see my first pieces.  As I began selling more onesies, my super talented, crafty, and creative great aunts began to cheer me on.  My Aunt Sherry gave me her sewing machine and serger, my Aunt Darlette gave me MANY sewing lessons, my Aunt Barbara raided her attic and closets for all her vintage fabric, trim, and buttons, and my Mamaw did the same.  So, I was literally thrusted into the world of machine sewing.  I started with some bunting flags and other simple projects, then finally tried a dress.  Which turned out to be adorable, and super rewarding.  I was hooked. 

How long have you been in business?

I "opened" Vivi's Jewels during the summer of 2012, so almost three years ago. (Whoa!)

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

I attended the University of Arkansas, where I received a Bachelor's in History and a Master's in Teaching.  I am currently a full-time high-school history teacher and have been for 5 years.  {Shut up, I teach high school English!  You are only my second full time working mama that I've featured!  Fun!}

Tell us a little bit about your family.

I have been married to Justin for four years, and we dated for five years prior to that.  We have one three year-old daughter named Vivien Jule, and her namesake is Vivi's Jewels, of course.  We are planning/hoping to have another child . . . but not until we can afford two daycare payments.  I mean, it's outrageous.  {Girl, I hear ya!}  My husband works for UPS, so he can snag my incoming fabric orders and bring them home before they go out on the trucks. Woo! My parents are both creative and talented - my dad builds beautiful furniture, and my mom can do just about anything. Seriously.

How does this company help your family?  Or you?

This company literally helps to pay bills and put food on the table.  So, it is not only important financially, but also provides me with a creative outlet, hobby, and overall, something that is MINE.

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

I NEVER thought that I would be doing this in a million years.  I saw myself as a teacher until retirement, a reader, a wife, a mom- but not a crafter, and CERTAINLY not a small-business owner.  I will most likely continue to teach until retirement, but I'm glad I have something to take my mind off of teaching when it becomes extremely frustrating and overwhelming.  {So important!}

Does anyone help you with your shop?

Right now I have one seamstress helping me. Her name is Karen. She is the mother of a close high-school friend, and she has basically helped to raise Vivi, who attended Karen's in-home daycare until very recently. 

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

I think the better question for me is "How do I find time to run my shop, create new products, teach full-time, be a wife, and be a mom?"  And the answer is, "I have no freaking clue."  I don't really think my schedule right now is sustainable.  And honestly, thinking about it on a long-term basis makes me feel exhausted.  Maybe because I am exhausted, all the time.   I have found that I've basically given up television, and reading (although audio books are my best friend), and even hang-out time with friends.  But, I'm not quitting yet.  It's way too rewarding and there are so many benefits.  {You can do it!  Summer is coming!}

What do you love about this businesses?

I LOVE the ability to create! I love the feeling of a finished product that came from my own head and my own hands.  I love the opportunity to connect with other moms. As I've already mentioned, I love the fact that it is mine.  I get to make the decisions.  I get to be the boss (of myself really - and I do need to be bossed around a lot). I get to be the designer/creator.  

What is the most challenging part of this business?

Time. There is not enough of it. Hiring a seamstress has definitely helped, but I'm such a control freak that I still send up doing a lot of things I don't have time for. Another challenging part is negative feedback or a disagreement with a customer. It doesn't happen often, but when it does I can end up making myself sick. #chronicpeoplepleaserhere 

Where do you see your shop in the future?

I would love to continue growing, hire more seamstresses, and eventually get to the point of delegation and design. I get wholesale inquiries often, and I'd like to be able to fulfill those requests as well.  I would love to be represented in local boutiques in my area.  I would love for my pieces to be used in more styled shoots for magazines and blogs.  I'm open to wherever this journey takes me!

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

That is a super tough question.  I don't think I can answer it.  It's like when students ask me what my favorite color is . . . I want ALL the colors!  Each piece comes with a history of inspiration, try-fail, try-fail again, hate-it, love-it, etc.  A LOT of time and energy.  So each piece is really special to me. I'll try to narrow down the SS15 collection: I think my favorite piece would be the Penny Lane blouse.

Do you have any advice for future mom-entrepreneurs?

Oh goodness, I could write a book.  As I'm sure all the "Moms on Mondays" moms could. There are so many facets to this type of business: Design, marketing, management, shipping, professionalism, keeping records, etc. I could discuss each one at length.  I think the one lesson that I have learned through all of this (and am constantly reminded of), is that sometimes you have to say "No." You cannot do it all.  And, you need to recognize this before you have taken on too much. Your brain is constantly being pulled in a MILLION different ways, and it sometimes needs a break. There is no sense in setting yourself up for failure, or being disappointed in yourself, for letting others down. Pace yourself.  

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

So MANY!  I am definitely inspired by Duchess and Lion Co and Carly Megan Shop. Their design aesthetic and creativity just blows me away.  I also love Threads and Arrows moccasin boots and all Zuzii footwear. I love tees from Kid and Kind, Passive Juice Motel, and Tribe Is Alive. I love AshleyG prints. And many, many more!

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