Many years in the making and I am elated to announce that I have finally found the perfect space to house my many ventures.
15 years of doing design in some form or another
10 years since I bought my first professional camera
6 years since I started my event styling company
3 years searching for the perfect space to house it all
This is our new little project, @thegreybarncollective is set to open December 2019 and will be the new home to...
-@marenandlou and @pixelnpine Photography Studio
-Small shop/Handmade design
-The Paper Prince Event styling
-@detroitglam Hair & Makeup studio
I am so excited and so grateful for this opportunity.
I am also so thankful for an amazing partner Jordyn Popour in all of this, we have big plans for this space and are working hard at making all of our dreams come true
Jenn's Crochet Creations is a small shop focusing on all things crochet.
Jenn says, "I specialize in baby and home items. I am born and raised in Oregon, where I'm a stay at home mother to five beautiful children and wife. I learned to crochet when I was around 11 years old, by my grandmother. I made a few items then put my hook away. It was not until the time my fourth child was diagnosed as being ASD that I picked it back up as a form of relaxation. I quickly realized that crocheting not only was relaxing but something i could work from home doing."
"In 2014 I opened my online shop on a whim, and decided to see where it took me. I truly believe that there is nothing better than a handmade item. Every hat, scarf, face scrubby or baby shoes I make is unique in its own way and shares my love for what I create."
I am so nervous to write this post, having to explain the many changes of Maren & Lou over the past year. I've always wanted something of my own, to share all of my creativity the way I wanted. It's hard having a passion for so many things and at the same time not know what your true calling is. I've seriously considered (and also pursued) Interior design, graphic art, photography, clothing design, and event styling. All to say that it is unfortunately impossible to offer all of these things as one person and in one business. My one consistent and ongoing love has been for photography and design but fear of not being good enough or stepping on toes of other photographer friends has held me back from pursing it seriously. I recently read an article about starting out and thought I'd share a few impactful words from it,
"Dear patiently waiting for your chance...
Don't be discouraged by your growth cycle.
You're going to do many things during this process, such as compare yourself to someone who has had years and years of experience.... and that's going to make you feel like total dog shit. (I know because I've done it.)
You're going to doubt yourself once you do this. (yep, I've done that too)
But I'm here to tell you not to quit!
Don't you dare do that to yourself.
You are just as capable of growing into those shoes that anyone else wears.
You see ... people don't just wake up successful.
They work to get there.
Successful people fail. a lot. and often.
Successful people try harder.
Successful people are determined.
Successful people get scared.
Successful people push past it.
The truth is, your success is going to happen. You just need to encourage yourself and know that all these feelings are normal.
So PULL UP those professional britches you now wear and START making a change in the way you think."
If you are still with me, this is what I needed to hear, to know it is okay to have these feelings and continue to pursue my passion. So with that, I am so incredibly excited to announce that Maren & Lou is now offering lifestyle photography and graphic design, two of my passions that I can't wait to share with you.
Sara is a 32 year old mom of 2 (5 year old daughter and 18 month old son). She loves to create items for babies, children, and the young at heart. Her company, Soph and Jake, makes the sweetest plush dolls!
How did you get your start?
"I actually started while also working full time as a preschool teacher. My husband and I were newly married and making small salaries. So to have a little extra pocket money for the upcoming holidays I started my little business. The idea of owning my small business was a fantasy for a long time although I didn’t know exactly what I wanted it to be all those years ago."
Sara is the sole owner, designer, creator, packager, etc. for her company.
"I usually start by drawing a small sketch of my idea and tweaking it a few times. The I'll make a pattern, try to settle on fabric and materials, and start the creating process." Sara explains that it is a constant process to strive to always create something better.
What are some of the biggest hurdles growing your business?
"I think the social media aspect that goes along with running a business is one of my biggest hurdles. It’s hard to stay motivated when things that are out of your control keep changing and you’re not able to connect as well with the people that love your product."
We all have days that we want to throw in the towel, and Sara is no different.
"I think this is a problem with any business owner or even just someone in day to day life. When the kids are sick and you have business matters that need your attention, the days can get very overwhelming."
Where Sara finds her inspiration:
"I gain a lot of inspiration from my mom to start. When I was very young my Dad was laid off from work, to help make ends meet my mom and her friend started a business making children's clothes and women's shirts. I look back and think, that’s the kind of person I want to be: doing what needs to be done to support her family." Sara also adds, "Trusting yourself enough to take the risk in starting your own business is a quality that not many people have and I admire everyone that tries!"
Having a support team is so important
"Right now I am mostly a one woman show, but my husband is definitely my biggest support (he is pretty much my tech guy when the printer is acting up and he even helps me package!) and I love bouncing ideas off of my sister when it comes to products and branding. My sister even designed my logo!"
Advice on the social media game:
"I think the main thing is to be authentic and try to connect with people. I fall in love with a brand when I know the people behind it are genuine."
How do you organize your time and schedule?
"I definitely have to be flexible with my scheduling. Working out of my home with two young kids keeps me on my toes. Nap time is when I get most of my work done so I make sure to be as productive as I can. I also have quite a few late nights after my kids go to sleep."
What are some goals and aspirations of your business?
"I would love to continue to see steady growth this upcoming year. I live for the photos my customers send me of their babies with my products. It makes everything so worthwhile!"
Hello My love designs is an online shop offering silicone and wooden teething essentials. From teethers and pacifier clips, to mama necklaces that double as nursing/feeding necklaces, they offer as many remedies to teething as they can get their hands on and minds around.
Shop owner Danielle lives in Colorado with her husband and 2 little chicas, Olivia (3) and Adelyn (2).
Getting her start
Danielle was a middle school teacher and left after having her second daughter. "When I quit, I knew I needed to do something to keep myself busy and creative" says Danielle. "After buying a crazy expensive teething necklace for my crazy teething monster, I realized I disliked several aspect of it." This is when Danielle decided to find the resources to make her own and change the game.
Working your own business with toddlers
"Working with two little ladies who aren't in school is hard" explains Danielle. She does it by finding pockets of time throughout her day to work. "I know that I am nothing without a clear head so I always wake up early and get a workout in and then if time allows, respond to emails, dm's, and ensure posts for the day are ready to post in Instagram and Facebook. Then I'm on mo duties for the next few hours until nap." This is when the real work takes place explains Danielle. "I shoot pictures first if needed because I use natural light, work on any orders that came in from the night before, prep any new releases, make new items, etc. Then I'm a mom until after the girls go to bed." Danielle explains she is up working until midnight or 1am!
Some of Danielle's biggest hurdles
"Having to delegate my time is so difficult, constantly needing to split my time between my kids, husband and wife duties, and then being a boss on top of it all." Danielle says there were definitely times she's thought about throwing in the towel. "Most of last year was spent questioning if this is what I really want to do. I know it's what I want but is it worth it? This market has become SO saturated and I was putting so much effort and thought into this, away from my kids and husband, and was wondering if it was worth it. Then after lots of prayer for guidance, I read a quote that said..."Get out of your own way"....and I did." Danielle went on to explain how she separated herself from those other brands and make it as official as she could. She got a business account, checks, put a LOT of money into testing the products, and even make her own teether!
Who inspires Hello My Love Designs?
"I have TONS of shops that I am inspired by, particularly @young_apparel_co who I have worked with over the years and am inspired by her to be your best self and an amazing boss mom.There are many others but Sarah is my fave!"
Advice on growing your social media
"It's important to find a way of posting that makes you content" says Danielle. She explains that she tried several different ways of posting before she found what worked for her, which was to post 3 times per day and having one of the posts contain a quote. "Posting a quote has been really important to me because I can connect with others who are feeling that certain way" Daniell explains. By doing this, it also allows different hashtags that wouldn't normally associate with her other posts and reach new people. "I like posting the way I am because it shows the item for what it is, a quote, and then it shows the item in action. I also think it's important to make your captions more than just about the picture. You can only explain a pacifier clip or teether so many ways so instead of doing it twice, I explain the specific item in the picture that is by itself and then make an interactive post on the other one, engaging questions about their babes (which all moms want to talk about!) and some about myself." Danielle also runs a loop page that focuses on growing a tribe of small business, mamas, and reps. "It's been a great way to interact with others that might not find any other way" says Danielle.
Goals & Aspirations
Danielle is currently designing her second teether! She's also working on getting her packaging in order. "New items are always going out and my VA is working wonders on helping to get out on Facebook."
Advice to the new Entrepreneur
After having Maren I was on the hunt for finding a flooring option for our family room that would be good for a newborn, yet durable for my older boys. Since the family room is one of the first rooms you see upon entering our home I needed it to look nice and fit in with our colors and design.
I remember watching the Shark Tank episode featuring Little Nomad back in 2017 and thinking what a brilliant idea it was. These were truly the most beautiful play mats I had ever seen. They look like a stylish rug but are made of high quality non-toxic foam, perfect for our family room where we like to play, tumble, lay, and cuddle.
What's great about these mats is that you can make them any size you want, they go together easily and are easy to clean.
These mats are a bit of an investment but I am happy I chose to make this investment for my family. My daughter learned to crawl on this mat and took her first steps on this mat. My boys love creating obstacle courses on our mat and I know that if they don't make that lava jump from one cushion to the next, they have a soft landing below. It's also easier for my husband and I to get down and play with our children because it's more comfortable than any rug.
They also offer the sweetest little toys and room decor.
Shop Little Nomad
See some of our favorites
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Little Nomad is an online destination for beautiful foam play mats and stylish play space decor! We asked owner Elizabeth what it's like owning her own business and some of the hurdles that go along with it.
Getting their start
Elizabeth started as a PE assistant, working at LA red carpet parties. She explained, "my bosses were tough but I learned to just figure it out because in Hollywood it's sink or swim".
"I have always been an entrepreneur at heart and have tried out several business ideas over the years" says Elizabeth.
From Conception to Creation
"My best friend invited me over to see her brand new home. She is one of the most stylish moms I know so I was surprised to see primary color foam mats all over her living room. That's when I had my a-ha moment to 'make foam beautiful'."
Elizabeth was a full time working mom and didn't have the funds to start a company, so she decided to take the idea to kickstarter and successfully pre-sold 1000 units in 30 days! Once she had the funds in hand, she began manufacturing and the rest is history!
"Everyday I am learning new things. The online world is ever changing and you just have to learn to roll with the punches and figure out what is resonating with your audience. The key is to listen to your customers feedback! Make adjustments and move forward. The biggest hurdle is knowing which opportunities to pursue and what's best for your company."
Elizabeth explained that of course there were times she wanted to throw in the towel but continued to push through. "They say that being an entrepreneur is like jumping out of a plane and building a parachute on the way down. Quitting would be so much easier and there have been so many days where I have asked myself why I am doing this. I credit my father for giving me encouragement to stick with it when the going gets touch. It's so worth it!"
We gain inspiration from Little Nomad, but where do they find inspiration?
Elizabeth gains inspiration from so many, but to name a few...
Susan, CEO of Freshly Picked
Ali, CEO of Nena & Co.
Rachel, CEO of Rags to Raches
Jamie, CEO of Salt Society
"Who run the world?! GIRLS!"
How to stay organized and other advice
Elizabeth uses The Self Journal to stay organized.
Advice to entrepreneurs just starting out? "Winning starts with Beginning!"
Slumberkins are soft, cuddly creatures that help promote positive life skills in children.
Each bundle comes with a cuddly character and board book which uses an interactive story time approach and skill-building exercises to promote positive skills for young children.
Slumberkins mission is to empower parents and caregivers to teach little ones social-emotional life skills, which in this day and age, we could use a lot more of. I feel like the expectations of children are far higher than in past years and we are losing ground on managing social and emotional skills which are so important in young children.
Each collection talks about a different life skill and has a character to fit with each. These collections include family change, mindfulness, family bonding, self-esteem, stress relief, relaxation, conflict resolution, growth mindset, and their newest addition, grief and loss collection.
We ended up with the slumber sloth, 1. Because I love sloths, and 2. Because we could all use a little less anxiety and healthier bedtime habits in our household. Slumber sloth’s story promotes sleep and anxiety, children learn to relax their bodies and minds before bed. Even at a year old the story helps Maren calm her mind and body before bedtime since the poem is like a lullaby.
She also loves cuddling with slumber sloth and has been part of her routine since she was a baby. The characters are well made, durable and very soft. They have 2 fabric options, fur and fleece, both of which are soft and cuddly. They do not have plastic eyes or noses which makes them safer for young children.
Overall we are very happy with our Slumberkins and know it will be something that will last as Maren grows. Our little guy may look a little different since he was accidently put in the dryer. Washing and laying flat to dry is recommended.
More about Slumberkins characters:
· Slumber Sloth is made out of the softest ultra-plush or silky fabric, a soft fur face, and stuffed with hypoallergenic polyester fiberfill.
· 100% Polyester Material
· Some of our Slumberkins have a soft fur face while others have a cozy fleece face.
o Soft Fur: Silken Rose, Silken, Violet, Silken Hazel, Ultra Plush Meadow, Ultra Plush Kona
o Cozy Fleece: Ultra Plush Ashe
· Our Slumber Sloth measures 14 inches long and 9 inches wide at the feet.
· We intentionally designed our Slumberkins without any small, detachable plastic pieces.
The small shops guide is a curated digital catalog of baby and children's products. We've created this catalog so that you may find other shops with the same intention as Hygge Baby Co. We strive to make a positive impact in this community, where we value quality over quantity and community over competition.
Click HERE to download the Small Shops Guide FW 18 Edition
This Fall, Hygge Baby Co. will launch something called T-shirts with a cause. Each season we release a new design and new organization to give back. This fall we are offering our vintage sunflower bicycle design.
A portion of proceeds from our bicycle tees will go to 'Bikes for Kids' - an organization who's mission is for every child to be able to experience the enjoyment of owning and riding their own bicycle