Get to know this "mompreneur" whose sewing hobby turned into a business that she's passionate about.
What were you doing career-wise when you decided to create your own business?
I was on maternity leave when I pulled out the sewing machine that had been hiding in my closet for a few years. I started by making a bib, then a burp cloth, then a blanket. Before I knew it, Hugs & Kisses Designs was created! After my maternity leave ended, I did return to my nine-to-five job, but I continue to find time for my business -- mostly after the little guy has gone to bed and on weekends.
When did you start your business?
It became an idea in July of 2009. It became a reality when people started showing interest in my items later the same year.
When did you know that you could really make a go of this?
Honestly, I say a lot of prayers about this little business venture. Each time I make a sale, I'm still grateful.
What inspired you to do this?
My son. When I realized that I could create these things for him, I wanted to share these gifts with everyone else.
What was your start-up cost? How did you get the money and what did you use it for?
It started with gathering some fabric here and there, then saving every penny that I could find to buy other materials that I needed. Once I started getting sales, I put that money back into the shop.
Did your friends and family support your dream?
Yes! My husband is my biggest supporter (and also my photographer and mailman).
How did you learn and acquire the skills you use to make your business successful? How do you continue to grow and learn?
My mom sat down with me one day and we made a shirt together. I didn't really know what I was doing, so pulling that sewing machine back out on my own was a little intimidating. But I stuck with it.
How did you maintain your confidence when doors were closed in your face or when people didn't get it or said "no"?
It's hard. I still question what I'm doing sometimes. But I think that's part of what this business is all about. I'm very confident in Hugs & Kisses Designs. I know I create great things. But there are still little things that cause me to stop and question myself. That's why I'm so thankful for my supportive family. They always get me back on my feet!
How long did it take you to get everything off the ground?
Several months, once I got all my branding done and felt good about what I was offering, it was go-time. Listing that first item for sale in the shop caused a little bit of anxiety, but hearing the feedback was heart-warming and inspiring!
What's the hardest part of what you do?
Finding time is tough. But when you love something this much, you make it work!
What's the most fun part of what you do?
Coming up with new patterns and then seeing them come to life! I was having the hardest time with my diaper clutch idea, and then one morning, I woke up and I just knew how to create it. It's one of my favorite products! The custom silhouettes are a lot of fun, too. People share their family photos with me and I get to create a piece of artwork that they'll cherish for years to come.
Where do you work?
The "shop" is in my bonus room at home. We recently moved, and I haven't been able to set up properly yet. So for now, my sewing machine and I share a place on the floor. It's pretty comical actually.
Do you have entrepreneurial role models? What's so inspiring about them?
I'm very inspired by Christiane Lemieux, the genius behind DwellStudio. From the products they create to the fabrics they choose, I'm just in awe of all of it.
What's the best piece of business advice you ever received?
This may sound obvious, but I've always been told to be readily available and to constantly communicate with customers. (Duh, right?) But seriously, when you get an e-mail, respond! Even if it's a short response to say that you'll send something more detailed later. The same goes for a phone call. Be there for your customers. And they'll be there for you.
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