Shop Feature: MimiTENS

It’s that time of year again where the baggy sweaters, thick socks and warm mittens make their appearances.  Getting myself dressed is enjoyable as I love bundling up in layers.  Getting my kids geared up and ready to go is much harder.  Over the past month I have been testing out and dressing my daughter up in mimiTENS mittens and it has made the job so much more enjoyable.  mimiTENS are handmade with nylon, thinsulate and bamboo/organic cotton to keep your child’s hands ‘oh so cozy’.  I have discovered that my mimiTENS mittens stay on my daughter’s hands way better than any other mittens that she owns.   She doesn’t make a fuss when they are on either! Win Win!

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Photo Shoot: Tiny Threads, Fox + Rebel, & From the Seeds

It was such a pleasure to get together with these awesome handmade Canadian shop owners.  We got to spend the morning in the park chatting about ourselves and our businesses with a purpose to capture some great shots of our littles enjoying their beautifully crafted handmade items.  Let me introduce you to these lovely ladies and their little shops.

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Small Business: Numpfer

These organic multi-use bibs by Numpfer make me wish I had a newborn again, they are exactly what they say they are, a ‘Must-Have.’  Their super soft and absorbant terry cloth fabric is perfect for the delicate skin of your newborn baby.  Numpfer also makes loveable blankets out of an organic bamboo-cotton blend jersey fabric, similar to their bibs.  Their all white fabric is designed with a hint of your favorite color around the edge making their pieces so modern and timeless.
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A few months back, I came across Numpfer on Instagram, it didn’t take much browsing to fall in love with this local brand.  I very much enjoy following Sarah’s feed and discovering more about the Momma behind the business, as well as, the darling girl who inspired it all.  Sarah’s feed is filled with beautifully photographed shots of her products, her gorgeous daughter, and little bits of her everyday life.  Recently, I got in contact with Sarah and got to learn more about who she is and her motivation behind Numpfer.
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When I asked Sarah to tell me a little bit about herself, her response put a huge grin on my face.  I loved how much I felt like I could relate to Sarah, her honesty and openness is admired.  Sarah likes to be busy, she is constantly multi-tasking and can’t stay still for too long.  Though after a busy week Sarah looks forward to the weekend, the time that her little family gets to spend all together.  Sarah described a favorite past-time, she said, “I love going on very long walks around the city with a coffee in my stroller cup holder, that spills unless the cup is half full, and a croissant in my hand, that I usually share with my daughter.”  With Sarah’s busy body personality, love for the outdoors, and desire for simple, classic, and linear design she created a brand that truly represents who she is.
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The birth of Sarah’s daughter gave her motivation to start her unknown dream job.  Sarah said, “When my daughter was born, she was in the nursery for her first few days of life where she started feeding on a bottle and preferred the bottle. The hospital nurses always used washcloths as bibs, though very absorbent they didn’t reach all the way around her neck, resulting in a very wet outfit.”  After getting home from the hospital, Sarah looked around for a bib appropriate for bottle fed newborns, she found the market lacking.  Sarah decided if she was in need of this, than other parents probably needed it too.  It didn’t take her long to purchase some organic bamboo terry cloth from a local supplier and design a pattern that would tie around the side, while bunching around the chin for extra absorbency.  With this, Numpfer was born.  The Multi-Use Bibs were first, and the next logical step was blankets.
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Sarah opened her online shop in February 2014 and has also placed her product in a number of shops and boutiques.  It was a combination of stores seeking out Numpfer and Sarah seeking out stores that allowed Numpfer the store presence that it has today.  It’s true to say that introducing your product to a new business can be intimidating, but it is important to not be discouraged by a no or no reply.  “I look at it like photography,” said Sarah, “every photo you take is not going to result in the perfect shot, you have to take many to get one great one.”
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Sarah is very proud of each store that her products are placed in, and would love to continue to grow her brand through wholesale.  Sarah is currently promoting her brand by using Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.  Sarah said that she finds Instagram to be the most effective as the community is incredible, she has met so many amazing and inspiring people through this forum.  I am encouraged by these words from Sarah, “I know that you need to love and believe in what you do and keep going regardless of the road blocks you may encounter.”

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Small Business: From The Seeds

I am so pleased to be able to share this lovely handmade business, From The Seeds, with you.  After discovering them on Instagram, I was instantly blown away by the creativity behind Amber and her loving husband.  Their inspiring, captivating, and unique creations had me wanting to learn more about how From the Seeds came to be.

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Settled in British Columbia, Canada, Amber keeps busy with her two year old boy, two silly pugs and a chubby kitty.  While on maternity leave, Amber created her first lovey bunny for her teething son, it was a hit.  The feedback Amber received from family and friends was very impacting.  With these kind and motivating words Amber was motivated to use her creative spirit and passion for sewing to start a business of her own.

Amber’s husband, Barry, became more involved in the business when one of her dear friends requested he make a toy camera.  Barry is self taught in woodworking, however, Amber knew he had the skills to produce something wonderful.  Barry carefully crafted the wooden camera and lens cap, while Amber sewed a strap, painted the wood, and coated it with a finishing oil, made from a combination of homemade beeswax and organic grape seed.   The finished product was phenomenal, and without question, From The Seeds added another item to their inventory.

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During nap times and after Amber’s little man goes to bed she is able to continue to work hard at making From The Seeds a successful small business.  Each item in their inventory is hand crafted with so much love and care.  Her top seller, the lovey bunnies, are so soft and cuddly and made from high quality linen and stuffed with organic cotton.  With great attention to detail, Amber brings her lovey bunnies to life by embroidering on their loving faces.

Amber’s teething bunnies are also such a pleasure for her to make.  Each teething bunny is made perfectly  for tiny hands to grasp around the body and get a good grip. Originally the teething bunnies were specifically created for a local shop, although recently Amber has decided to list them online.  Creating and completing each unique order brings so much joy to Amber.

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Since starting out Amber has learnt a lot about what keeps her business successful.  Consistency has been the key for her success.  Amber has recognized that if she focuses too much attention on filling orders for her local shops her online shop has suffered.  Her business strives when she is consistently posting new listings online, while balancing orders for local shops.

Amber also has found a lot of business success through Instagram. She feels that Instagram has been the kindest to her in terms of marketing. Amber said,  “The ability to connect and interact with your customers and other small businesses is so fulfilling.  There truly isn’t anything more rewarding then seeing snapshots of children snuggling and interacting with my little creations.”

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Mikaela Ruth Photography

Find From The Seeds at the following locations:
Brick and Mortar Living – New Westminster, BC
Spruce Collective – Abbotsford, BC

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Small Business: VONBON Apparel

It was love at first sight with VONBON.  Their non-traditional color palette, soft organic cotton, and original designs had me smitten.  It didn’t take me long to place my first order and once it arrived I was beyond impressed.  I am continually blown away by VONBON; their high-quality unique products, passion for environment, and positive brand image.

Recently I contacted Jennifer Wilson, owner and designer of VONBON apparel, to learn about her journey with VONBON, discover what makes her brand unique, and gather tips for up and coming small business owners.

A91Q3328The VONBON team: Jennifer (middle) is blessed to have her sisters and best friends work along side her, Kristin (left) as her Web and Graphic Desgner and Amber (right) as Head of Business Management.

Jennifer previously worked full-time as a Dental Hygeniest, as VONBON began to grow she took a leap of faith and decided to quit her job to devote all her time into the business.  Her background in sewing and strong passions in design, color, decor and fashion has allowed Jennifer to strive in her business and love every moment of it.

“Being able to put all my time into my business has been a dream and allowed me the creative freedom to be truly happy in my career,” said Jennifer. “When you get to do something you love that involves your interests and passions, it doesn’t feel like work!”

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The name VONBON originated from Jennifer and her husband having a conversation about baby names.  Jennifer and her husband had been married for a year or so and were talking about baby names for the future.  They fell in love with the name Vaughn and created the nick name “VONBON” for their future child.  The name was thought up before the company was.  Jennifer realized it would make a perfect children’s brand name, short, sweet and has a ring to it!

VONBON’s products have always been designed and ethically made in Vancouver.  When Jennifer first launched VONBON her and her sister were hand-making all of their products, however as the company grew they could not physically keep up with demand.  Jennifer decided to partner with a local production company to start manufacturing their products, though she continues to be closely involved with the entire process.  Although it is more expensive to have their products produced in Canada, it is very important to Jennifer to keep her products as local as possible.  Jennifer says she feels good knowing that her products are being produced in an ethical environment and enjoys supporting other local small businesses.

Jennifer describes her customers as style savvy moms and gift givers, who are conscious about the purchases they make.  She said, “They have an eye for simple yet stylish pieces and are looking to support ethical and sustainable companies trying to make a difference.”

VONBON has great attention to detail, from their product line to their hand sewn packaging and recycled paper mailers.  Every detail is important to Jennifer and makes VONBON unique amongst other children’s apparel brands.  They even take the time to personally hand write a special note for each order.  VONBON takes the time to care!

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Starting your own business is scary and it isn’t always easy.  Jennifer felt that the hardest part for her was taking that initial leap to get her product in the market.  “We all have this idea that our brand, website,  products/services all need to be PERFECT before we share them with the world.” Jennifer said.  “I have realized that a successful company evolves each day and needs to change constantly. We have already updated our site numerous times and made changes to products and packaging since our launch just over a year ago.”  The best advice Jennifer felt she could give is to not stress about making everything PERFECT, get your brand/product into the world and be open to evolve along the way.

After the initial step of launching VONBON and introducing her brand to the world, Jennifer has continued to grow and evolve her business while still pleasing her customers.  Jennifer has shared five  important characteristics that have helped her to accomplish a successful launch and growing business:

Perserverence – You need to keep pushing on even when you feel like you can’t go on. It’s easy to hit a road bump and get discouraged. Keep going!

Hard Working – Owning and running a small business is a lot of hard work and long hours and if you don’t put in the work, you won’t get to where you want to be. You must have a strong work ethic and so must your team members.

Evolving – Your business must be constantly evolving and changing to keep up with your customer and business needs. Change is good and essential to your success.

Positivity – Stay positive! It is really easy to get down or discouraged when things don’t always go as planned…which is really the only thing you can count on happening when you run a small business. Every situation has a silver lining, no matter how hard it can be to see at the time. A positive attitude can make all the difference!

Supported – I have been empowered and supported by so many other small business owners since I started my company. I am very lucky to have a strong network of like-minded women who have supported me along the way. Although you may want to, you can’t do it all on your own. Ask for help when you need it!

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“As a business owner, you want to do everything yourself. You can’t! You need a team to help you and the sooner you do, the easier it will be. As Susan from Freshly Picked has said in the past, “Do what you do best and hire out the rest.” It is so true and something I wish I had done sooner! It was really hard for me to stop hand-making our products and trust in a team that could do it. Once I did, it allowed me the freedom to do the things I do best, promote and market my company,” exclaims Jennifer.

Jennifer has exciting plans for VONBON and its ever evolving future.  Within the year she is introducing new prints in her product line and plans to also launch an organic bedding line.  With her first baby set to arrive in November she is also launching a new blog series from her e-commerce site, www.vonbon.ca.  It will be all about life, style, baby, and documenting her journey to motherhood.

You can also find VONBON at the following locations:
The Cross Décor & Design – Vancouver (Yaletown)
Meadow Gifts and Apparel – Vancouver (Gastown)
Chapters / Indigo – Online

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