Monday, July 21, 2014

art and process {blog hop}

My friend Courtney tagged me to participate in a blog hop about my current artistic endeavors, AND as usual, I'm totally late to posting it :) But better late than never? Here's my "art and process" for my baby carrier company, Umi:

1. What am I working on? 

Right now, I'm finishing up orders before taking August off-ish for self-imposed maternity leave. Baby 3 is due around the 5th-ish (isn't it crazy how -ish becomes the new normal in parenthood and life?) and I will definitely need a good month or two to get into a new groove as a mom of THREE.

The exciting part about these orders is that they are beautiful new 100% linen ring slings for two local stores - one in Portland and one in Ashland, Oregon, just outside of my hometown. Both of these came about this summer when I finally said, "hey, you know what, I'm going to put myself out there and see if they'd be interested in carrying my line." I was terrified but you know what? They said Yes. So that store/person/collective/whatever you've been wanting to approach? Just do it. The worst they can say is No, or even, Not Right Now.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre? 

There are a lot of great ring sling makers out there but I do think that I've been able to create a unique product with the handprinted designs. I also have some big creative dreams/ideas that will continue to set my slings apart from others' in the future while keeping prices affordable. It's easy to get priced out in this market and one of my goals is to figure out how to keep my slings affordable while still very high quality AND with the one-for-one concept. It's been a big learning experience and I continue to have to search and tweak what I'm doing. I think if I went on Shark Tank I would be totally annihilated, but thank goodness, that's nowhere in my future!

I've been coasting along this pregnancy and haven't felt especially creatively inspired but I'm excited to explore some design ideas this fall/winter further once we get into a new family rhythm. It's a process that continually evolves as you try and find what you're happy doing and what your customers are looking for.

3. Why do I write/create what I do? 

The social entrepreneurship aspect is incredibly important to me. Being able to give a sling to a family in need is the reason I initially started selling them and continually try to keep that the goal of my sales and outreach. After initially participating in supporting Project Baby Bilum through the ring sling drive, I realized that I loved ring slings enough to try and eek out a living (that's a relative term) from it while continuing to support PBB and in the future, other nonprofit babywearing organizations who are working to put carriers in the hands of families who will really benefit from their use, like Lift Me Up and Carrying On ProjectThe one-for-one concept in the babywearing world is something that only one other company that I know of is doing - I found out about them after I started and actually breathed a sigh of relief, because yes, it can be done! and our styles are very different and they're advocating in a different country, so I feel very content with where I'm at.  

Whenever I get overwhelmed about having entered into a HUGE market (the babywearing market is seriously giant) and I find myself frozen with doubt and insecurity, I take a deep breath and remember what I'm supporting - and that all I'm asked to do is tend to my own corner of life's garden. Remembering that even the sale of one ring sling may change someone's life for the better is kind of profound. 

In reality, this business is my #3 priority in life and it's important to keep that in mind when making business decisions. It may keep me small forever, but I've decided that I am 100% happy with allowing this endeavor to grow and evolve organically without me having to push and strive and stress out and worry about, for example, my lack of social media savvy. It allows me to admire other companies' work and appreciate that everyone has different tastes and are entitled to them! When I do get stressed, nothing good comes out of it and I've actually made some very poor business decisions while in this mode. 

4. How does your creating process work? 

Creating the ring sling pattern was trial and error as I started off making for my own use using a lot of different online tutorials and seeing what was comfy and what was not. The thing about any type of baby carrier is that it is completely personal preference. Some people prefer a pleated shoulder, some people prefer gathered, or a hybrid. Some love cotton, some only want linen. Some people just don't enjoy ring slings, period. So knowing that you can't please everyone is freeing, mostly, to create a product that I myself love and would be proud + happy to wear out and about.

Also, my best tool for keeping design inspiration and ideas coherent and together is a "secret" Pinterest board - anytime I see a design of anything that I like, or a new color combination, I pin it to the board and it's all there to be assimilated. It's like creating a huge electronic mood board! There are ideas from all over and I'm hoping that during a new creative phase it will lead to some exciting productions.

As for the day to day, it comes in fits and bursts and mostly while my kids are sleeping. The girls are getting used to seeing me at the sewing machine and as they get better at independent play, I'm able to squeeze in work in small chunks throughout the day, whether it's sewing or packaging or shipping. I do have a sewing area set up in our loft/bedroom area but the summer heat has forced me down to the dining room table, so that's my new workspace and it's been a pleasant change. As a mom of littles I definitely do not adhere to a set schedule...which is also the reason why I have a 2 week shipping window. I'm hoping to whittle that down someday, but fortunately most people used to custom work are also used to waiting a little bit longer for the product. With a new baby on the way...well, we'll see!

I'm tagging two lovely ladies if they'd like to share!

Kira from Rain or Shine (and her Etsy shop)
Erika from A Tiny Rocket (and her Etsy shop)

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Local Giveaway: BOYHOOD tickets

I haven't done a giveaway in a while, and when the promoters behind BOYHOOD contacted me, I thought, "why not?" This film looks really interesting! It's only open to Portland residents for the 7/21 advance screening, but entry is easy for you local folks. Just send an email to PORTLAND@43KIX.COM with the subject line “BOYHOOD – BohoMama” with your name for your chance to win tickets to the July 21st showing!

The film's synopsis: 

"Filmed over 12 years with the same cast, Richard Linklater's BOYHOOD is a groundbreaking story of growing up as seen through the eyes of a child named Mason (a breakthrough performance by Ellar Coltrane), who literally grows up on screen before our eyes. Starring Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette as Mason's parents and newcomer Lorelei Linklater as his sister Samantha, BOYHOOD charts the rocky terrain of childhood like no other film has before. Snapshots of adolescence from road trips and family dinners to birthdays and graduations and all the moments in between become transcendent, set to a soundtrack spanning the years from Coldplay's Yellow to Arcade Fire's Deep Blue. BOYHOOD is both a nostalgic time capsule of the recent past and an ode to growing up and parenting. It's impossible not to watch Mason and his family without thinking about our own journey."

Good luck! 

Friday, July 11, 2014

how nesting looks around here.

I've hit 36 weeks and the nesting bug has finally hit! So much so that I have a million projects going and all are half-finished, and which also causes me to text Andy frantic things during the day like "let's have a yard sale on Saturday! I need a folding table!" (it was Thursday afternoon). We are NOT having a yard sale this Saturday.

Here's a peek around the house yesterday...note that all four of these photos below are happening in the same 10' x 19' room.

Sorry, if you'd like to come in the front door, you'll have to wait while I push the changing table piled with books and our burgeoning birth supplies, portable air conditioner (PNW heat waaave!) the girls' birthday crib/high chair/sink combo, and moses basket piled high with all of Afton's "stuffs" that you'd better not move or else!

Across the room, the living room area is picked up BUT I abandoned vacuuming for another project.

To the left of the front door is my 1 of 3 boxes of ongoing consignment sale items that need to be entered into the computer system and tagged. The sale is in August. The baby is due in August. Yup. 

In front of the moses basket walking into the dining room is a bookshelf that I decided shouldn't be there - the changing table will eventually go in its place. But then there are books that need to be sorted and relocated or boxed into the basement. But that takes decision making and it's not my strong suit right now! 

Walking past the bookcase into the dining room is my makeshift sewing area, because our loft is really hot right now and I can't work up there for longer than 20 minutes without breaking into a sweat. Jesus sits patiently waiting for his new home somewhere in the house, along with random frames and things that came off of the bookshelf that will go somewhere else. 

We had s pancake breakfast 4 hours ago and the butter is going soft on the counter...

And my to do list looks ready and willing but sits blank. It feels futile.

Other things on my mental to do list: 

Make and pack freezer meals for the first week or two after the birth (my goal is 14)

Finish getting everything off of our home birth list (we have more than half done!)

Purge the basement further and take some trips to Goodwill and SCRAP

Put up some shelves or a shelving unit in the hall closet

Move the girls' dollhouse from the living room to the loft in the sewing area

Make a bassinet liner for the moses basket using this tutorial from Sew Can Do as a rough guide but I'll probably just mostly wing it. 

Make a Boppy cover using this tutorial from Vanilla Joy.

We'll see if I can get this all done!