From small business to 'BIG' business, back to small business again... and loving it!

Almost 8 years ago my Husband and I started this business based on an idea to create the best baby bib, inspired by our Daughter Malia, who was less than a year old at the time. I remember dreaming about what could be and wishing I could take a peek into the future to see what life would be like once our business was off the ground. I remember dreaming of maybe one day having a lofty studio where we could make our leather bibs on our property with floor to ceiling windows to let in the natural daylight, our own modern office kitchen, with plenty of space to set up our various stations layed out perfectly for efficient production. I envisioned it would be a place we were proud to show our friends and family, a place that we loved to be, and a place that both staff and visitors would enjoy being in as well. It would be our happy place, where we could do what we love and love what we do and reach our full creative potential.

That little dream took a turn when we got a call from a big retail giant offering to carry our products in 1100+ stores in the United States. Yes, Target called, and we answered. For most Mom Entrepreneurs, I believe, a call like this would be a dream come true. My first response to their offer was, "Thanks but no thanks." It was a huge compliment that they loved our product that much, but our gut feeling said no. Nothing against Target, it just didn't feel right for us. They called again, and again, and finally convinced us to go to their head office in Minneapolis to learn more about their program. We did, and the team at Target's head office was so great and so enthusiastic about our product and the program they were offering, that we decided to go for it. We figured if nothing else, we would learn... and learn we did!  

The next thing we had to do was find a warehouse. I recall speaking to our representative at Target on the phone and his words scared me, "So you operate your business out of your home. That's fine, but can you imagine a freight truck rolling up your driveway to load up 30 pallets of inventory from your home?", and I could tell in his voice that he thought I was pretty naive. I just wanted to play safe and make sure it was working before we moved the business. I agreed we were thinking too much like the small business that our hearts wanted to be, and had to step beyond that to take this step. The very next day we started looking at warehouse spaces. We found one about 25 minutes from our house that was ideal for our growing business. At the time I rememeber feeling a little sad about it. It wasn't that lofty studio that I had envisioned, but with a few coats of paint and some TLC, I figured we could make it work. To get the warehouse space, we had to sign a 5 year lease. The space was 4000 square feet, which was more than we needed, but the way Target was talking, we would eventually need that and more. We signed the lease on the warehouse, and the 6-figure PO's from Target were rolling in. It was an exciting time and our learning curve was pretty steep to say the least! Then, just 6 months later the deal with Target didn't continue. We were not able to drive our prices down to what they wanted and keep some profit for us, and in order to keep up with their volume and lower our price, we would need to move our production overseas. Again, this was not following our hearts and as a result, we decided to no longer sell to Target. The bad news: we were stuck with a 4000 square foot space for another 4.5 years and our dreams of that loft studio seemed a lifetime away. We managed to survive, and we paid what was a ginormously large lease for a small business, and by some miracle, we made it without folding. (Thank you to all of our loyal customers who really got us through that time!!!!)

Now, we are at a place that feels prcicely right. Our lease is up and over the past 6 months or so, we have built that dream studio on our property! Our commute is just a 2 minute walk down our driveway. We have this beautiful and spacious lofty studio with modern kitchen and floor to ceiling windows that fills the space with natural daylight. We love being here. Plus it's ideal for our kids, now 8 and 10, who are home from school in the afternoon. Perfect is really the only way to describe it. Perfect for us that is.

Do we have regrets? Hmmmm, I guess not. I mean, I'm thankful we went for it because I'm thankful we learned. If we didn't, we would maybe be wondering what could have been. For us, it confirmed that we should always follow our hearts and now all we see is a beautiful future ahead of us. But man, we built a pretty awesome studio and for what we paid for our lease, we could have built 3 of these beautiful lofty studios. I'm just thankful we got through it, we survived, and now we can move forward with our business like we always envisioned it. I'm not sure everyone could make it through that and still be standing on solid ground with their business, but when you have the passion, drive and amazing customers that we do, amazing things happen. 

The moral of our story: Follow your heart and listen to your gut. Stick to your plan. Bigger is not always better, and don't sign a 5 year lease if you can help it. :)

Stay tuned! We will include a blog post with photos of our new studio very soon!

From Our Blog

We're retiring from shows plus, a shipping update

The title says it all, and it's true. It's time, and it feels right. After 14 seasons, we have decided it's time to wrap up the Craft Show and Christmas Market chapter in our lives and really start to enjoy the holidays. Our kids are getting older and through the years we have loved doing these shows, but the only downside it that it has also meant being away from our kids for a few weeks and for a very fast paced December served with a side of exhaustion for us all.

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