Royal Baby to have one of our own Mally Bibs - and how YOU could win a matching one!

I truly do not believe luck exists, except for maybe the time when I was playing Texas Holdem (poker) on a family cruise we took last year when I got a Royal Flush (odds according to Wikipedia are 1:649,639). I think luck might have had something to do with that. But the kind of luck I don't believe in is when it comes to life and business, in which case I really don't think luck has anything to do with success. I've said it before and I'll say it again - I believe that if you combine an amazing product with a positive attitude and a whole lot of determination, good things will happen. They just WILL! It's a no brainer.

Now, speaking of Royal, one of those great things took place last week when we got a request to send one of our leather bibs to William and Kate, the Royal couple themselves, for the Royal Baby that is due any day now! We were so excited, and feeling a little panicked as we were not sure which design to send, we turned to our facebook page likers for support as we so often do! All I can say is that we were in awe at the responses. So many people offered such amazing advice. Our first thought was to send the crown or something Canadian, then so many people gave their input and we were so thankful, as we have come to the conclusion that we will choose 3 designs to send. Once we find out if they had a boy or a girl, we will reveal those designs and personalize them and send them off to the happy Royal family. Will and Kate are apparently very down to earth people and we want to make sure they are given something that many people would enjoy, so we will send them something popular - a top seller as the first design. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge also love Canada, so the second design will be something Canadian - we think they would love it and nothing says we're prouder to have a Canadian made product than that! Lastly, for the third design we will send them one of our new designs which has yet to be revealed - believe me we have a few new designs in the works that we know they will absolutely love! 

Here's a shot of William and Kate in Calgary on their last visit to Canada, where they were 'White-hatted'. The White Hat Ceremony is a long-standing tradition in Calgary, a symbol of the Western hospitality and good cheer they like to share with visiting guests to their city. 

William and Kate in Calgary

Photo Source: Bauer Griffin, July 7, 2011 from Zimbio.com

Now some people may be wondering how we got asked to do something of such great honour as sending our product to the future King and future Queen for their first born child?! Well, it turns out that one of the wonderful people at Children's Wish is also a big fan of Mally Bibs. They have connections with the Royal Couple from their last visit to Canada when they arranged for Kate to meet one of their children who had a wish, and they would like to gift them one of our bibs, on behalf of Children's Wish and Mally Designs. This amazing foundation has been granting wishes for children who are ill since 1987. They believe that each wish is as unique as the child who makes it. When William and Kate visited Canada last, Children's Wish granted a sweet little girl named Diamond her own wish to meet a real Princess. You may have got to watch this, as it was highly televised when little Diamond he got to meet Kate Middleton. My eyes water as I type this, because this is something that is truly amazing for this little girl to have experienced this in her lifetime and Kate was just so amazing with her, taking lots of time with her despite the windy weather. If you would like to read more about this little girl who stole Kate's heart, please click here.

Here's a shot of the precious moment when Diamond's wish came true and she got to meet Kate Middleton, a real Princess. 

Diamond meets Kate Middleton

photo source: childrenswish.ca from Canadian Press

A Royal Baby Contest:

Now, let's all wipe the tears away together and think about something super fun! What I thought would be really exciting is if we ran a Royal baby contest, baby pool style! So go on over to our facebook page and be sure to like it if you haven't already. Then check out the status update at the very top of our page (which will remain at the top until the Royal baby's birth has taken place and the details are announced). Comment on that status update with 3 guesses: the birthdate, gender and weight of the baby. Whoever is closest will get to choose one of the bibs for themselves, that we send to William and Kate, personalized if you wish!

*The contest ends as soon as the official details are announced on people.com, our favorite celebrity source. If there is a tie, we will draw 1 winner from those who tied. If not all details are shared upon delivery, we will choose the closest with just the shared details. William and Kate have an expected due date around Mid-July and the Royal baby could make his or her appearance at any moment, so be sure to enter before it's too late! Just for fun, you can include a guess at the name as well!

Our Process: Personalized Bibs, hand crafted with love and care every step of the way.

We love making personalized and bibs. It's always fun to see all the different baby names, and funny or quirky nicknames that are ordered and in case you haven't seen our personalized bibs up close or in person, we want you to know that we don't simply embroider the names on with a computerized machine. Embroidery can be a beautiful addition to some products, but we also need our bibs to be easy to clean and stain resistant. We actually cut each and every letter out of our scrap leather, with our custom alphabet die cutters one by one using our heavy duty hydraulic leather cutting machine, commonly known as a clicker:

Custom alphabet die cutters used for Mally Designs products:

custom upper case leather diescustom lower case leather dies

Clicker cutting of leather used for Mally Bibs personalized bibs and other Mally Designs products and applique:

clicker cuttingleather cutting

torch leather name

 

 

 

Next we carefully take each letter and examine it to ensure it was cut fairly clean and smooth and to double check and ensure there are no imperfections in the leather such as holes or other flaws. Each and every letter and part of the design applique is handled by us. Quality of each piece is something we take very seriously.

 

Here's a little secret, a trick of the trade if you will. Once we are sure all the letters are top notch, we turn them upside down and torch them with a small butane torch to 'de-fuzz' the edges. This might not get all the leather fuzz off, but it will get the majority off. This is also something we do with all of our design applique to make sure it has a nice clean, crisp edge. This does add time to our production process of course, but we feel it makes a big difference in the look of the final product.

Once all the letters are ready, we apply each one by hand onto the pocket of the bib, or elsewhere if the customer has chosen to do something else by custom request. We also do this very carefully, using a straight edge and measuring to ensure the name or word is centered on the pocket as best we can. We can fit up to 10 letters on the pocket of our bibs. For names longer than 10 letters, we have been able to manage to get some of the pocket of the toddler size only, depending on the name. Tip: if you wish to order a bib with a name that is more than 10 characters, just send us an email and we can let you know if we can accomodate. 

align and glue namealign and glue name

Next, it's time for our skilled custom bib seamstress to start stitching the name on the bib. For all our sewing, we use a heavy duty nylon thread that won't rott or stain in colors to match the leather we use. Each letter is stitched on by hand with one of our industrial sewing machines. If a stitching error is made, we start the process over to make sure it is just right. This is rare though, as our custom bib seamstress is very good. :)

sewingsewing

Lastly the pocket is applied to the bib and the final sewing is done around the perimeter of the bib. I hope this post shows how we really take care in every step, as we know our bibs are expesnsive, especially when they are personalized. We want nothing more than for our customers and gift recipients to open their new Mally Designs items in the mail and be thrilled with what they see. We actually hope that it's better than they imagined it would be. 

Finally, the finished product is trimmed of any leather overlap and excess threads are trimmed. The perimeter of the bib is also lightly  torched so that it can be 'de-fuzzed' around the edges if needed. After that part is complete, it's time to package it up and send it to a happy recipient! 

FUN FACTS: final inspection

*the most popular bib designs for personalizing are: #1 giraffe, #2 puppy, #3 butterfly, #4 dragonfly, #5 bunny

*Celebrities Moms who have our personalized bibs for their children include: Niki Taylor, Sandra Bullock, Jennifer Garner, Jenna Elfman and Trista Sutter, to name a few

*Of the above celebrity Moms, Jenna Elfman claims it was the best baby gift she received!

*Some of the more unique requests for personalization include: 'Mushroom', Baby Bird, I'm with the band, J-Bone Jr., Sundance, Baby 2, Child 002 (on a robot bib), Pandaddy (on a panda bib), Cupcake (on a cupcake bib), and Arrrr (on the pirate bib)

*Customers have the option to choose their name to be stitched in upper case, lower case, or a combination. They also have the option to choose their name color

*Our custom bib seamstress much prefers to sew upper case. :)

*Besides first names, some people have ordered to have the baby's last name or family name so that it can be passed down or ordered before the name is known

*We can also add a birthdate on the bib by special request.

Happy 8th Business Birthday to us! Enter to WIN a $100 Gift Certificate for you AND a friend!

To celebrate our 8th Birthday, we have tons of deals, steals, contests, promotions, freebies and surprises in store, but we also have a pretty awesome contest going on too! You could win a 2 x $100 gift certificates for you AND a friend! It's easy, only takes a second and there are multiple ways to enter, so what are you waiting for?! Click through our Raffle Copter contest link below for your chance to win! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

For the Pinterest part of the contest, please use any of these images below: 

So smart! A bib that sticks to the fridge between meals! LOVE!Oh my gosh, best baby gift idea! Personalized LEATHER bibs! Brilliant! A leather bib that is easy to clean and stain resistatant!

Giraffe leather bib from mallybibs.com - awesome neutral baby gift!Sweetest baby gift I have ever seen! Plus it's leather!!! from www.mallybibs.comoh my, NEED this leather bib for my baby! from mallybibs.com

 

Your baby could be a Mally Bibs Star! Send a photo, we send a $10 e-gift card!

We love nothing more than spotting Mally Bibs on babies out and about, or receiving happy photos from fans with their adorable little ones wearing Mally Bibs. We are looking to create some fun new marketing material here at mallybibs.com - some for print, some on our website and some for our social media use. If you have some adorable photos of your wee one wearing Mally Bibs, please send them to us! Your child may be pictured on our website, print material, or even end up in a magazine (we get media photo requests all the time!) = bragging rights for you! We're happy to receive any photos, but currently we are especially hoping to create a few fan galleries with certain themes in mind:

  • Mally Bibs and Birthday cake: Pre or post cake smash, we'll take it!
     
  • Mally Bibs around the world: Got a shot of a Mally Bibs picnic with the Eiffel Tower in the background?! We will take it - or a shot of Mally Bibs on your child in any other part of the world for that matter.
     
  • How we store our Mally Bibs: Do you store it on the fridge, dishwasher, stuck to a highchair? We don't care, we're just nosy and want to see! Got a big collection of Mally Bibs?! Even better! ;)
     
  • Mally Art Cards framed in my child's room. Don't be shy, we want to see what you've done with them! We know it will look good no matter what, so please share!

Send photos by email to: info(at)mallybibs(dot)com As our thank you to you, we will send you a $10 e-gift card for use at mallybibs.com that you could use yourself or pass on to a friend! If you are a professional photographer, we will even include a photo credit if you wish. :)

*please note, by sending us your photos, you are allowing us to post them on our website or through our social media outlets. We will never post your name or contact information unless you would like us to.

Here's a sampling of some adorable fan photos we have received in the past:

mally bibs fan photos!

 

Make It Happen! How to Succeed in the Handmade World

You know, I always say everyone deserves and should do what they love and love what they do. Why do I say this? Well, really the answer is as simple as it gets: YOLO! You only live once, and you should make the most of it, doing what you love! I'm sure you have seen people in your life who don't enjoy what they do, and perhaps you wonder why. Or perhaps you yourself have been or currently are stuck in a job that you don't like, but you just don't know a way out. Maybe the money is too good, or it offers you the security you need, or maybe you just can't imagine doing anything else because this is what you've been doing for years. I see people complain on facebook about their job, or how they can't wait for the weekend, and I truly feel for them. I just wish they could see that they have options in life. Before starting this business, I was lucky enough to have a job that I loved. I have always been interested in interior design, and lucky me, I got to create displays at a retail store with a team of people that were fun to work with. Then when I had kids, I longed to do something that gave me the flexibility to be with my kids more. I didn't like having to call in sick when my child was sick because I wanted to be dedicated to my work, nor did I like missing out on those special moments, and I knew as they got older it would be even harder. I was torn, because I loved what I did, but I also loved my kids. I could see my Son didn't like when I sent back to work after my year off, and when it was time to go back after I had my daughter it was twice as hard. Thankfully, nearing the end of my maternity leave with my daughter, I came up with an idea that I knew I could turn into a business, doing something I loved as well. Less than a year later, I quit my job to pursue my business, and a year after that, my husband quit his job as a pipe fitter / gas fitter to join me. Now, fast forward 8 years and my husband and I are both running our business full time from our studio in Mission, BC, doing what we love and loving what we do. Don't get me wrong, it's a lot of work, but the key is, it's work we enjoy!

Now, if you too are longing to get out of your job, and you happen to be an artsy, crafty, designer type like myself, there is an answer! Seriously, you can turn your passion into a business. I did, thousands of others have, and so can you. Thankfully, I have met some amazing artists and entrepreneurs along this journey who also have these beliefs, and Jenna Herbut in particular is on a mission to help others to see this as well. Among other business ventures, Jenna is creating an amazingly inspirational documentary, along with her partner Neil Mangan, which will study handmade craft businesses around the globe. What they are doing is amazing, and I would by lying if I didn't say I am in awe over Jenna's passion for changing lives. Watch the video, and I'm sure you will agree:

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!

Mally Designs Celebrates Valentine's Day on Etsy

I love Etsy. I've always loved browsing Etsy for unique and beautiful handmade made items. It's such a great resource for inspiration and seeing the success of so many craftspeople just makes me feel all warm and fuzzy. We decided a few years ago to create our own Etsy shop. We really didn't give it a whole lot of effort to be honest. It's just that it seemed a little silly to me, when we already have a gorgeous and perfecly functioning website, to have an Etsy shop as well. We started selling a few items and I thought, okay, here I am paying Etsy a fee to sell my items that I have no problem selling on my own wesbite, so I decided to save Etsy for just our slightly imperfect sales in the beginning. Please note that NOW we only have our slightly imperfect sales 2x per year, in the Spring and in the Fall, and we generally announce it on our Facebook Page a day or two before. It is a great way for us to quickly sell off our still functional but slightly imperfect items at a discount, while maintaining the image of our website. It worked very well, and if you've ever seen one of our slightly imperfect sales go live on Etsy, then you know I'm not exaggerating when I say that it's always a HUGE success! You have to be quick. The items sell out in seconds and as a craftsperson / business owner, it's pretty thrilling. We only do these slightly imperfect sales twice per year (in the Spring and in the Fall), and the rest of the time our Etsy shop has sat empty and unattended to. 

This was not smart and here's why:

We have the perfect products to sell on Etsy! It's handmade in Canada, in our studio. We do custom work, personalization and work with all kinds of themes and color combinations that appeal to various people and age groups. Our items are very gifty. We design each product with design and function in mind, as well as uniqueness. All of that really describes how we are so very Etsy! What I didn't realize at first is the entirely huge community of Etsy shoppers, designers and artists that are constantly browsing around on etsy, just waiting to be exposed to products just like ours! A few months ago I decided to post EVERYTHING that we have on our website, on our Etsy shop as well. Etsy sales have trickled in here and there, and we have definitely gained new exposure.

Now it's time to take it a step further. Let's give credit where credit is due: I have been entirely inspired by a little company on Vancouver Island called Bamboletta. Bamboletta is run by Christina, who I was lucky enough to meet a few years ago. She is Whaldorf Doll maker extraordinaire, and in my opinion, Marketing Genius. She has created such an amazingly beautiful and sought-after handmade product that is one of a kind. They have thousands of fans and followers who wait each week for their highly anticipated pre-announced uploads of their unique Whaldorf Dolls, which they perfectly describe as companions for little ones. When the dolls go live for sale, they sell out FAST, much like our slightly imperfect bibs do! The entrepreneur in me loves this. In order to keep doing what I love, I need to make money. The artist in me LOVES this even more because uploading unqiue one of a kind items means I get to be creative. So, we're experimenting with this model, and I really hope it works for us like it has for Bamboletta. We just launched our first ever upload, a lovely collection of one of a kind Valentine's themed items on our Etsy shop! I hope as we learn and grow that we can create a similar enthusiasm and anticipation for our own uploads. I realize it might take a little time. 

Here's a sampling of what you can find on our first ever one of a kind themed upload: 

heart keychain toddler heart bib heart card

hearts card xox change purse Valentine's Gift Set

heart toddler bib heart passport holder heart luggage tag

Each item is a one of a kind item, so once it's gone it is GONE! 

We have to keep doing what we love in order to love what we do and this love themed upload for our first one seems more than appropriate doesn't it? We hope you love our first custom themed upload. We have so many fantastic ideas in mind, and I'm confident that in time we will get better at this. Our next upload will be in about 2 weeks and if these themed uploads prove successful we will start doing them weekly! The future is exciting at Mally Designs!

Our Craziest Season Ever

This is just a quick blog post because I feel it's a little silly that my post from 5 months ago is still the most recent, and showing on our home page. Let's just say, blogging is not my forte...right now. I love blogging, it's fun and I love to update our readers, but I just haven't had the time lately. Here's why: in the past 5 months, we have moved out of our warehouse, designed and had built, a gorgeous new 1700 square foot detached studio / Mally Headquarters on our property (which is near completion just now), temporarily moved our business back into our home with all kinds of temporary departments set up for shipping, production, cutting, inventory, office, storage, etc. and we've been on a combined total of 27 flights in the past 7 weeks (21 me, 6 Ron) while we hopped all over the country to see our fantastic customers at our amazing annual retail shows! Oh, and to top all that off, we're raising 2 kids. Forgive me for not blogging? It has been a whirlwind. We are beyond thankful that it's almost done, and just as we wrap up our busy season (yes, orders are still pouring in), we will finally get to move our business into our dream studio and have our house back!

Okay, that's it, that's all I have time to blog. There's orders to get out and emails to respond to before the kids get home from school! Stay tuned, I promise to blog in the next few weeks to show you our new studio! :)

All about our Bizcation

Last year around this time we set off on a 34 day road trip with our 2 kids, 6 month old lab Sadie, and trailer packed with business and personal essentials. We drove through the United States, as for those who don't know BC -> ON is faster when travelling through the states, not to mention gas is cheaper! Highlights of the trip included shopping and playing at the Mall of America in Minneapolis where our daughter fell in love with the American Girl Store, visiting our good friends in Chicago - extra special shoutout to Annie Steele, a talented up and coming photographer who just launched her brand spanking new website, anniesteele.com, took our kids to Niagara Falls with said Chicago friends, and visited / had fun in the sun with our family near Toronto and Cottage Country north of Toronto. It was a long but fun trip, all funded by our 2 summer shows. We exhibited at arts and crafts shows in beautiful Cobourg and Bracebridge Ontario. 6 days of work easily paid for our 34 day vacation. Small family business living can be so rewarding and fun! While we were away, orders shipped as usual from our shop in BC. 

This year, we set off on a 30 day trip, again with kids and dog and a jam packed trailer, and this time we are doing 3 shows: Muskoka Arts and Crafts in Bracebridge (again), Haliburton Arts and Crafts Festival and Barrie Kempenfest for the first time. The majority of our trip will be spent relaxing at the cottage, enjoying the company of family - swimming, eating, playing games, drinking, jet-skiing, eating some more, fishing, and drinking some more. This time while we are away we are holding off on shipping orders until we get back to offer YOU a little incentive since orders will be delayed for up to a month. Each order placed during our family 'Bizcation' will receive a $20 gift certifcate in the package, valid towards your next order! 

mally bibs coupon

 

We hope you have a summer that's as action packed with family fun and memory making, just like ours! :)

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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