Yo Momma Monday: Maiden Jane

yo momma monday

Meet Jane, 51, a quiltin’ mama of four from Cleveland, OH. She sells her quilts, pillows, totes and repurposed items in her Etsy shop and posts tutorials on her blog – Maiden Jane. I found her blog while searching for upcycled apron ideas, and I instantly fell in love with her story.

Before she was gifted one by her husband before the birth of their first one, Jane had never used a sewing machine. She did, however, love to create things and sewed by hand when she was a little girl. Although her mom never sewed “not even a button,” she supported Jane’s hobby buy purchasing her craft kits.

“So I am largely self-taught. My mother-in-law helped me in the early days and I also attended classes at the Sewing Expos that came through town.”

For Jane, most her inspiration comes from her daily life. If she has a need that she feels is not being met by the products on the market, she will try to create a solution.

Photo from Maiden Jane

Photo from Maiden Jane

“That’s how my Oversized Tote came about. My husband and I tried all different ways of carrying all our supplies to the beach – plus the kids! We decided big bags would be the answer.”

She is also inspired by stuff that other people might be considered junk.

“I am a little sad when I go to a garage sale or the thrift shop to see all the stuff that we – first, buy, then, pitch. I hope that I don’t accumulate so much in my own life that will later be sitting on shelves.”

Her customers are also a source of inspiration, as they will ask her to make certain items that may end up spawning an entire line!

Photo from Maiden Jane

Photo from Maiden Jane

As a small business owner and mom working from home, Jane does not have a set schedule. She does, however, set goals for how much time she wants to spend on certain tasks. She will take breaks for housework and when her kids come home, and she sets aside specific days for her errands.

“…This year I am trying to be working by 7:30. So that means checking email early and then getting started working on sewing. I rarely work for more than two hours straight without doing something else…

I can fritter away a lot of time on social media, so I am trying to confine that to morning,
lunch, and evening. But it’s an important part of my business. So much of my work is custom and then the product ships out right away, so that means I have to photograph it within a day or two of being done.

When Jane and her husband built an addition to their home, they added a master bedroom. The designer wanted to add a glamorous bathroom or a walk-in closet, but it was Jane’s husband who offered up the idea of a craft room/office. And Jane couldn’t be happier with the decision.

Photo from Maiden Jane

Photo from Maiden Jane

“One of the best things I have is a mobile table. It is on wheels so I can move it around the room or out of the way. The height of the table can also be changed. Side flaps on the table change the table size
to make it narrow. So the entire table can slide under the counters. We also have several mobile file
cabinets – which gives us storage and extra seating for when the kids are working in here.

Jane bought an entire Singer sewing book set at a closeout sale years ago, and she still refers to them often. She also likes Simplicity’s Simply the Best Sewing Book, The Reader’s Digest Guide to Sewing and the Vogue Sewing Reference Book. For newer books, she likes A Bag for All Reasons by Lisa Lam and In Stitches by Amy Butler.

Jane says she has made and enjoyed a few patterns by Burda, and after she made some totes from Jennifer Paganelli’s fabrics – they all sold out!

“I get a little frustrated with the traditional pattern makers. It seems they have forgotten how to write a pattern for beginners.”

Photo from Maiden Jane

Photo from Maiden Jane

Not only does Jane share her love of sewing and quilting on her blog, she also shares tips on practical living. Since she and her husband are both engineers, they thrive on order and solving problems that arise in their growing family. They are constantly changing and organizing things to adapt to their evolving lifestyle – like simply storing plastic grocery bags in an old milk jug with holes cut on the top and sides.

“Do you know, we still use that jug after 20+ years? My husband jokes that it saved our marriage! Since I am practical in nature and some of my products were borne of the idea of being practical, yet pretty, I used it as a basis for developing my brand.”

Jane gets tremendous satisfaction from working with her hands and making as much as she can. She started sewing for herself and her kids and would make gifts for people when she could. She created t-shirt blankets for her nieces and nephews as High School graduation gifts, and after encouragement from a friend, she opened an Etsy shop. Soon after that, she started a website and her business has continued to grow in the last five years.

“I almost feel selfish because I enjoy it so much…I love doing it for the creativity but I am motivated by the financial gain.”

Photo from Maiden Jane

Photo from Maiden Jane

Even though her kids and husband help out when it’s needed – doing chores, make pickups and drop-offs, help with laundry and set the table – she remains an one-woman operation. Her oldest daughter, who has modeled on her website before, is now off to College so her other daughter, Annie, has taken over modeling. She also has her own Etsy shop called Pink in Mind.

Jane’s work and has been featured in quite a few websites, such as Craft Gawker, Craft Gossip, Totally Tutorials and All Free Sewing. She says that it has been a mixture of her submitting her work to different sites, and getting sought out by different bloggers.

“I was thrilled to have a few projects featured on Craft Gawker because that forced me to improve my photography. But I’m clearly not “there” yet because I continue to get rejected! I haven’t made it into a magazine or book yet, but that might change soon!”

Jane is inspired and motivated by piano music, and since her oldest son is a jazz pianist, her house if full of music! She loves both classical jazz and New Age – like Jamie Cullum and George Winston. She will also listen to musicals and soundtracks while she sews.

Photo from Maiden Jane

Photo from Maiden Jane

Since Jane sells patterns for some of her quilts, she wanted her customers to be able to share their creations that they made with her pattern. So, she added a board on her Pinterest for all of her customer creations. If a customer puts their work on their own blog, she can also add that to her Pinterest board.

“If my customers send me a photo, I put it on my blog and then pin it. Then I have a reference board for other customers to see finished blankets.”

When I asked her what her advice was for new moms who are also starting their own businesses, she had this to say:

“First, enjoy your time with your babies. When they are young and on schedules, you can use nap time and evenings. That’s when I sewed a lot. Then again, I was only sewing for fun at that point. It was a wonderful outlet for me. I see so many amazing business women and bloggers and wonder how they do it all with young kids.

In my opinion, it gets harder when the kids get older. When my kids hit the teen years, my life turned into chaos. Suddenly, I was running kids to practices. No longer was the evening my own as the kids were staying up later. So my point is, life goes by so quickly.

Here I am, starting a business in my late forties. When I went to college for engineering, I realized that I didn’t really love it by my junior year. But I also decided that I would have many careers in my life. So I was open to whatever path my life would take. If you are starting a business at home, go for it. Dive in. You’ll learn as you go. It’s so easy to start an Etsy shop. But find what works best for your family.”

Customer Creation from Jane's pattern. Photo from Maiden Jane.

Customer Creation from Jane’s pattern. Photo from Maiden Jane.

Jane hopes to continue to grow her business and says that she always has new ideas for products if she has some time to design them, and she has also been percolating with products she could have made with a small manufacturing house or collective.

“I only have two hands and although I love to create with them – and I always will – I can’t see how to grow my business without additional help. I love collaborating with other makers and have some new bag fabrics in the works. Usually my mind is overflowing with ideas.”

If you would like to find out more about Maiden Jane, visit her here. If you or somebody you know would make a perfect feature for this series, share a link in the comments and on social media or e-mail me with the information!

Yo Momma Monday: Karen LePage

yo momma mondayMeet Karen LePage, 42, a sewin’ mama from Michigan. I met her through Oh My! Handmade and I instantly swooned over all of her work. She not only sews up a storm, but she also creates patterns, sells custom-made garments and shares tutorials on her website at One Girl Circus! Oh, and she also co-wrote a sewing book for boys, appropriately named Sewing for Boys.

Before she started working for herself, she sang at weddings, sold cars, managed a coffee shop, taught German and worked in Strategic Planning. To say she is well-rounded would be an understatement.

Karen started a blog after she read and loved blogs from other people. Initially, it started as a means for documenting her children’s special moments.

“I guess it’s not surprising that I’m not very consistent with it, however, because I was never a child who could keep a journal beyond “dear diary” for more than a few weeks.”

Photo from Karen LePage

Photo from Karen LePage

After her mother bought a sewing machine when Karen was five, she started experimenting and made every project in the booklet that came with the machine. From there, she spent several years making wardrobes for all of her dolls. As a kid, she started watching Sewing with Nancy when it came on PBS, a show she still watches to this day.

I always say Nancy Zieman taught me to sew…I still watch it.  I still love it.”

Karen still remembers her first sewing project – a drawstring bag – and she says there have been plenty of disasters along the way. When she first got started, she would wear her disasters; now, she tucks them away until she’s ready to try again. Her latest creation was a Japanese double-gauze newborn outfit that was in a box for six years because she couldn’t stand to look at it.

“I’m so happy I could rescue it!”

Photo from Karen LePage

Photo from Karen LePage

As a mom, Karen says that her children not only inspire her work, but also keep her balanced and admits that if she didn’t have her kids, she would probably just work all the time.

“I love making things, and having humans relying on me for comfort, food, and shelter ensures that I nourish myself with their companionship while meeting their needs, too.”

The creativity bug has definitely hit both of her kids, as her son likes to design the garments she makes for him, and her daughter is a quilter. Her son also shops at thrift and vintage stores, so he has become quite the master at button replacing, and he already has an eye for what can be fixed, and what cannot. Her daughter will often work up a patchwork when she’s in the sewing space.

“She has an amazing eye for color and pattern.”

Karen describes her workspace as chaotic yet comforting. While she is always moving things around in there, she still keeps an open space for her kids to visit while she’s working. She does like to take some time tidying up in between projects.

Photo from Karen LePage

Photo from Karen LePage

“But as soon as I have a clean space I’m inspired to start making again – immediately.

Although there’s no such thing as a normal day, there is one consistency in her morning routine – coffee (ain’t that the truth). Her daily activities are determined by deadlines, inspiration and commitments – and she does try to get some sewing in every day.

“I start to get twitchy when I’m away from my sewing machine for too long.”

Karen says that the best and scariest thing about running her own business is that everything – from what get made to what gets published – is all her.

Photo from Karen LePage

Photo from Karen LePage

“Sometimes it’s wonderful and sometimes it’s terrifying and sometimes it’s wonderfully terrifying.”

She started teaching classes after someone asked her to do it, and that is one of her favorite things about what she does.

“There’s something super-satisfying about nudging my students toward sewing confidence.  I love that it’s a skill they can use forever. I love holding their hands through the tough part and saying “Look how awesome you are!” when they make it through and realize they can make something they didn’t think they could make.”

When Karen is not teaching classes and making clothes –  or thinking about new classes and new projects – she loves reading, hiking with her daughter, yoga and cooking.

Photo from Karen LePage

Photo from Karen LePage

“Actually, strike that, I like reading cookbooks.”

And of course, she loves all forms of crafting. There isn’t a craft she hasn’t stopped, and thanks to Creative Bug and the craft section in her local bookstore, that won’t be ending anytime soon. She loves making anything from  baby clothes to formal gowns – all of it.

“If it goes on a body, someone will wear it and love it, and that’s something that makes me happy and keeps me going.  There’s always something new I want to try, whether it’s a technique or material I haven’t yet attempted; I incorporate my latest learning into each new project.”

She gets the majority of her fabric from local fabric stores and loves visiting new stores in any town she visits. When she cannot find a fabric she wants locally, she will shop online.

Photo from Karen LePage

Photo from Karen LePage

“I spend my dollars locally whenever possible.”

Karen loves being a part of the handmade community because she has always been just one of a handful of people she knows that love sewing. Of the four high schools she attended, she only found one friend who could sew. ONE! Now that she has a whole community of friends who also love the same kind of things, she counts it as a blessing.

“I feel so energized and inspired when working collaboratively; even when working on my own thing amongst fellow makers.  The handmade community is what has made my 30s and 40s the best years of my life.”

She currently has two patterns in the Stitch Magazine Spring issue and there will be another one in the Summer issue. She is also working on a handmade garment line and is hoping to hire some local people to help with the sewing and sales of her products.

“I’m really excited about it, but I’m also thrilled to have a steady stream of consultancy projects.”

Photo from Karen LePage

Photo from Karen LePage

Karen hopes to inspire people by being an advocate of all things handmade – whether its making, buying, spreading the word, or all of the above.

“I also hope I can inspire people to try something new every once in a while, and to really enjoy the process of making.”

Thank you to the lovely and wonderful Karen for participating in this series! You can find her blog here, buy her stuff here and read the book she co-wrote here.

If you enjoy this series and would like to be a part of it, or know someone who should, please leave a note in the comments or connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Pinterest and Instagram. Next month, I will be talking with Jane Skoch from Maiden Jane!

Fridays are for Favorites

fridays are for favorites

I have drastically limited my time on my personal Facebook page anymore. Sometimes I’ll post a photo of Cecilia so our family members who don’t get to see her often can get updates. Aside from that, I agree that it can be a major time suck, and I don’t get the fulfillment out of it that I used to. My blog page is a completely different story! I truly believe in the power of social networking now. If I see someone I follow post about a new place, page or community…I check it out to see if it’s something I’d like. And more of than not, it is. That’s just what happened when I found the Delta Workshop.

Photo from Delta Workshop

Photo from Delta Workshop

Delta Workshop is a studio located in Midtown, Sacramento, a city I frequent every weekend. They offer a variety of classes, like a knitting class for the next two weekends, and a blockprinting class in a couple weeks. There is an online gallery where you can see artists’ work, and a shop. Since moving to Stockton, I’ve been a little out of the loop with the art scene in Sacramento so I was stoked to see this! I’m definitely checking it out this weekend or next to see what it’s all about.

Another awesome find on Facebook…the Handmade Directory on Handmadeology!

Photo from Handamdeology

Photo from Handamdeology

Timothy Adam from Handmadeology  – a website dedicated to spotlighting different handmade shops and sharing creative business tips and resources. Awesome, right? –  launched the Handmade Directory. In the Directory, you can find crafty events and list your own event, you can shop by category and/or location, and you can add your own shop. Tim is offering a FREE listing for a limited time with the code 50OFFNOV. Get more updates on the Handmadeology Facebook. There are currently 75 listings and he’s shooting for 100 by the end of the day.

I was so inspired by what I saw, I got in contact with Tim and signed up as a Contributing Writer! Let me know if you post your business in the Handmade Directory and I will write a profile on you and your business to be posted on the Handmadeology site!

Photo from TrashN2Tees

Photo from TrashN2Tees

Jenelle Montilone, the wonderful woman behind TrashN2Tees, has started something new. It’s called Take Action Tuesdays, a series where Jenelle will share one way to take action – tutorial or tip, sharing a campaign, or a clip of pure human awesomeness – every Tuesday. If you haven’t checked out TrashN2Tees yet, then this will be the perfect opportunity. It’s a handmade line made completely out of recycled clothing, plastic, and pretty much anything she can recycle. She also features a Clothing Recycling Program and a Create Change app.

This find was from the wonderful handmade community that I am so happy to be a part of – Oh My Handmade Goodness.

Photo from Out of the Dark

Photo from Out of the Dark

Out of the Dark was founded by brothers Jay and Jade Blades as an extension to their charity Street Dreams that they founded 13 years ago. According to the website, Out of the Dark is a charitable enterprise that recycles, restores and revamps salvaged furniture as a means to train, educate and employ young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. Their projects are all about supporting young people achieve a better life and steer away from crime, and this project brings in the element of craft, DIY and work skills. Not to mention the development of self esteem and confidence. They also offer workshops and they feature an online store.

What are your favorite things that happened this week? Share them in the comments and on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter with the hashtag #fridayfavorites to simply tag me in the post! Find more Friday Favorites inspiration on my Pinterest!

Fitness Fest: MyYogaPro

Me and the little one doing our yoga

Me and the little one doing our yoga

Today, I’m taking a little note from Elizabeth on Delightfully Tacky. She shared her experience with yoga on her blog the other day, and it totally rang true with me. I also started taking yoga when I was in College and needed some kind of fitness class. I’ve always been relatively active but unlike Elizabeth, I was never big on doing anything too strenuous. So when I saw that a yoga class was available, I snatched it up immediately.

I went back and forth on taking yoga classes around town but it never really felt right. Since the yoga community in Sacramento is so small, everyone in my classes always knew each other and even if I took beginner classes, they all seemed to be more advanced than I was – which was probably true. I know I shouldn’t be comparing myself to others – especially in a yoga class – but it’s hard not to do that. So I just stopped going. I wasn’t feeling it anymore.

I started doing yoga on my Wii Fit when I moved to Stockton, but that also just didn’t feel right. Yoga is a lot more than just doing the moves – it’s an experience. A spiritual journey, if you will. So I looked online for yoga classes. It wasn’t until I stumbled upon Erin Motz and DoYouYoga.com that I finally felt a connection. That’s why I have always promoted what they are working on, and love what they are doing.

Image belongs to DoYouYoga.com

Image belongs to DoYouYoga.com

Erin is so down-to-earth and does not have that “I’m more in touch with my body” attitude that I get from a lot of yoga teachers. Not to mention, DoYouYoga.com is a really fun site that is user-friendly and also houses articles on yoga and the lifestyle behind it. The articles are all written by normal people, and anyone who has a connection yoga and healthy living in general can sign up as a contributor.

So when I saw that they were launching a Kickstarter for their new site – MyYogaPro – I got on board immediately. I signed up as an Ambassador and started spreading the word. I have been following the journey of Andreas Zolton (DoYouYoga founder) and Erin Motz – and I am excited to announce that the Kickstarter has officially launched!

As I’m typing this, the campaign has only been live for 2 days and they already have 664 backers and have raised an astounding $33.341 of their $20,000 goal. That’s insane! The campaign will be live for 38 more days so there is still time to pledge, and if you pledge $15 or more, you get a sweet soundtrack!

Image belongs to DoYouYoga.com

Image belongs to DoYouYoga.com

My Yoga Pro will the first-ever social online yoga platform that combines online yoga classes with a social network and a video game-like rewarding system. Andreas and Erin are hoping that this new concept will change the way people view at-home yoga sessions – making it fun an rewarding. For some of us, at-home sessions are the only way we can practice.

This idea was born after Andreas and Erin launched the 30 Day Yoga Challenge, which was also backed by Yoga Trail and  had over 20,000 participants in just a few months, myself included. With MyYogaPro, there will be 16 yoga courses and over 200 exclusive HD videos of yoga classes. Yogis can sign up for Challenges with friends and earn badges together, or can update their status to let everyone know that they’ve been practicing for a week straight.

Needless to say, I’m really excited to see what’s to come with MyYogaPro. I’m a huge fan of both DoYouYoga and Erin Motz and I think that the yoga world needs a website like this. If you are looking for a new yoga site and you have not gotten yourself acquainted with DoYouYoga, then I think that you should check it out. You can start the 30 Day Yoga Challenge at any time, and can learn more about MyYogaPro.

Follow DoYouYoga on Facebook and Twitter to get all the scoop and updates as they happen. Connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest for more healthy inspiration!