Tell us about yourself
Right off the bat I need to clarify that I am a Mommy but my two sons are over 6 feet tall and I have two daughters-in-law and four beautiful grandchildren, so yes that makes me a little different (well a lot different) than the young business Mommies of today, but I have been creating for years so I do have an understanding of what it is like trying to manage it all.
I am retired from the corporate world and married to the most supportive husband ever and believe me, I test that daily. He is a “new” husband of just over five years so I am still “breaking him in” as far as what is involved with selling my creations, but he is always there for me. A few months back he said “I wish I could think of something to make that went along with what you make”, so I suggested doll beds as I make doll clothes. He set out and made “a lot” of doll beds so this Spring we will be doing a two day outside show featuring his items along with mine. I am very excited for him even though I had to do the painting and bedding part of his beds. I feel it is time to pay him back for all the time and support he has given me with him having the joy of seeing his things sell. I can hardly wait!
I sew, so give me some fabric and I will sew something! No don’t give me some fabric…I am a fabric-holic already! My etsy shop “Lil Missy and Bubba” is new as just opened in February but I have been on eBay for several years now. I made the decision when starting on etsy to just sell appliquéd baby bibs but that has already changed and I am adding some baby toys. I still, after all these years, have the hardest time sticking to just one item. I love to sew and there are so many wonderful fabrics and so many things one can make, so I just go along with my heart and make what makes me happy . Is that a good thing? I don’t know. Do I question why I jump around? Yes I do, but I know I am not a factory so I am not good at mass producing anything and I want to always enjoy what I’m doing so I feel if I stick to sewing, at least my items are in the same ballpark. Do my shop and store always look cohesive? I don’t know but is that perhaps something that only sellers think about? Do customers ever think “I’m not buying something here as this shop is not cohesive”? I doubt it. I also do several craft fairs a year.
For many years I created under the name “From the Heart”. While true then, and still true today, I wanted a new name. Well let’s face, I “needed” a new name. I had pretty much settled into baby girl clothes so Lil’ Missy was my husband’s choice of names. He even wanted the apostrophe. What a guy, right? So it was Lil’ Missy for a while, but then while doing shows, we would be asked “why are there no cute items for boys?’ so a change in items and a change in names was necessary and Lil Missy and Bubba was born. The apostrophe was dropped,. Hard to see it go, but it had issues.
When did you start creating? Why?
Its my Grandmother’s fault! She sewed, quilted, crocheted, embroidered, gardened, canned, butchered chickens, did laundry in a wringer washer , hung it outside to dry and yes ironed! I spent my days with her and my Grandfather when I was little so they taught me to do all the wonderful things they did. My Grandmother had the patience of Job and worked endless hours with me on the crocheting thing. I still have many items she made including a large crocheted peacock bedspread. I also still have her treadle sewing machine which has the most wonderful gathering foot ever made but I no longer use it as my youngest son was my bobbin winding person and he does not live here. I always made things for myself and gifts for others but then one day way back when everyone had geese in their blue and mauve kitchens, I started making geese and just couldn’t stop. That lead to many other decorating type items and I had to do something with them! Of course there was no internet then, as hard as that is to believe, but fortunately we had a couple of little consignment stores. I took some things there and they sold and I haven’t stop making things since.
My goal would certainly be different if I were still that young Mommy at home with little ones. I would do whatever I could do to stay in business. I’d never put my family second, but I’d keep going even during slow times because of that magical thing of the internet. The whole world is looking to buy something wonderful and handmade, not just customers in a tiny local consignment store (even though they can be a source of income). My goal for us now is to supplement our retirement income and to have something to do so we don’t sit around in our rocking chairs watching TV…well we do that anyway but at least not all day!
Does you family play a role in your business?
I have already mentioned my very supportive husband, bless his heart, but my children are still very supportive of what I do. They say I need a web page. I wish they’d make it for me.
Both of my sons are very creative, a family curse I guess, but I love seeing what they make and create.
Hang on ladies for those days when those kiddos help you with so many parts of what you are doing, even if it is just loading up things for a show. My youngest son was always willing to help at a craft fair. He was my cashier and a great help with setting up my tables both physically and aesthetically. We still laugh at some funny things he helped with around high school age. Again I will mention….there was no internet so I had to buy supplies at a couple of little local stores or if I wanted something different I had to order from catalogs which were mostly black and white. Yes, I’m that old! My patience with the waiting was not good so many times I had to use my own creativeness, especially with patterns. I worked for a couple of days one time trying to make crows. My son came home from school and let me know they looked like bowling pins. Sounds cruel but he was so right. He helped me redesign them and after being dressed up in sunflower dresses and bib overhauls complete with corn seed they sold extremely well. With a pair of gingerbread people, he suggested I needed to tea stain them. I didn’t do that particular pair and at my next show a lady said “I’d buy these in a second if they were stained.”. I looked and my son was under the table laughing. They didn’t sell that day so stained they became and yes they sold. I bet his mother taught him a lot of what he knows!…so believe me they are watching and learning so many things from you! Teach them the love of creating!
Organized? What’s that? Actually I am pretty organized but I’m one of those people who likes order and did I mention….I do NOT have kids at home. Sometimes I still can’t believe it when I reach for my sewing scissors and they are still there….as a matter of fact I have become over-ran with scissors. I think all those missing ones from years past are reappearing!…the socks never did though!
I am so fortunate, as someone who owned our home before us built a room on top of the garage. My sewing studio now! I just repainted it recently in turquoise and red. Love it! I have double south and west windows so lots of sunshine and I can look out over the world! It does have one issue. The stairs are homemade and spiral with a big step up. We ponder often how many more years I can climb them. But still going strong!
What has been the most difficult aspect of running your own business?
Well now don’t laugh…but once upon a time, I thought you just listed something and it sold quickly, and if it didn’t no one was ever going to buy it. I have learned there is a buyer for every item…well that is if you can afford to re-list it twenty times! I suppose there are some things that may never sell…but it is very rare so re-list and one morning when you get up, there it is ….sold in your inbox!
What has been the most rewarding?
Oh so many things over the years have been rewarding and you young Mommies will have those memories someday also. Do what you love and love that you can do it. I love that I can sew. Thanks Grandma!…and now I am able to make clothes for a Special Needs Granddaughter and last July I was most honored to make a baptism gown for my newest granddaughter. I guess I could do those things without having a business but out there in this world are lots of other little ones enjoying the things I have made! When I hear back that “my gift was a hit at the baby shower and the Mommy loved it”….It warms my heart!…and to know that some special little one is eating their first birthday cake with a bib on that I made, I am overjoyed!
Do you have any tips for other moms with a small/home business?
Tips! Treat yourself like you’d treat your best friend. Be encouraging and understand you can only do so much . Take a break when you need to. Not everything needs done today! If you and the kids are still in your jammies when your husband gets home…tell him you are having a pajama party and ask him to join in.
Utilize your crock pot…seriously…Nothing say I have it all together like the smell of supper cooking!…but mainly Don’t Quit! There are so many wonderful years ahead of you and it gets easier…well in 15 to 20 years….but it gets easier. Always remember there is NO ONE who can do what a determined Mommy can!
Thanks for sharing your wisdom, Rebecca!
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