Do you know how to do appliqué? I thought that I did until I received a gift of this shirt from EA Appliqué for my little fella. I mean Eileen's work is perfectly perfect and so very cute! She uses the coolest fabrics to make these personalized shirts! I'd love to look through her fabric collection.
While I love the few shirts that I've made myself, this one is indeed my favorite one!
Eileen was kind enough to have a little question and answer session with me about her shop and how she got started.
How did you get started making children's clothes?
I have two daughters, Charlotte (3) and Grace (1.5). I stay home full-time with them, which is awesomely fun but incredibly hard at the same time. After Grace was born I felt an incredible need to be productive in a non-child rearing way. Sewing is something I've always been comfortable dabbling in, so I started playing around with some small projects, mainly appliques. I made Charlotte a shirt with a grid of hearts on it and her initial, and the first time she wore it I had people asking me where I got it. I started making shirts as birthday gifts and word spread quickly among friends and family. It sort of snow balled from there. I always knew I'd love to have a small business, and when this opportunity presented itself I just decided to run with it. So far so good!
What inspires you to make these adorable shirts?
My oldest, Charlotte, is a spunky kid. She likes a lot of traditionally "boy" things like trains, cars and dinosaurs. Her style often drives me to mix and match fabrics in more playful ways. The frayed edges of my appliques were a result of wanting to create something that fit with my kids personalities, which are far from "perfect". I also have a lot of parents tell me that the shirts I made for their kids are what their kids always want to wear. They feel special in them, which means the world to me! That definitely keeps me inspired to keep creating.
Where do you find your awesome fabrics?
Sewn Studio, an awesome fabric store here in Cincinnati, just being there makes you want to run home and make something. And when I feel up to the drive, I head to Fabric Shack in Waynesville, OH. It's got everything!
Who taught you to sew?
My mother :) Her main craft has always been quilting, but she's got a million skills when it comes to sewing. I've been around sewing my entire life, so it's something I've always been comfortable playing around with. For me, there's nothing quite like finishing a project and knowing you made it from scratch. It's addicting!
Do you have friends/family that you are crafty with?
My mom and my sister-in-law are both into sewing, but they don't live locally, so we don't share many projects together. I'm a sucker for a good DIY house project, and my local friends are more in to those than actually crafting. I'm happy doing anything hands on and creative.
How do you manage your time with two little girls running around?
It's tricky. Depending on the workload, I try to sew during nap time and then after bedtime. My older daughter doesn't nap, though, so she'll often sit at my sewing table and "organize" my fabrics for me while I sew. Remember, she's 3, so there's not a whole lot of organizing that happens...but it makes her feel a part of things, which I like.
I love house renovation projects too! What are you working on now?
I love a good house renovation project...particularly finding new uses for old things. We're refinishing our sun room now and I'm planning to make a wall mounted book rack for the girls books out of scrap wood that we previously took out of the room. And I've got my hopes set on making a new quilt for my bed. That's such a big project, though, that I find myself crippled with indecision when it comes down to picking a quilt pattern!
Your branding and tags are really nicely designed. Did you do that yourself?
Well, thanks! My husband actually hired a graphic designer friend of mine to design the logo as a birthday gift for me last year. I love how they turned out! I order the hang tags from Moo.com. Their cards are such a nice weight, and the mini cards are a perfect size to use as shopping tags. The fabric tags are from a shop I found on Etsy (Miss Label).
How do you like using Etsy? Do you sell anywhere else?
So far, Etsy has been good. It is flooded with products, but they have advertising options which have been nice and increase visibility for my shop. I don't currently sell in any brick and mortar retail shops, though I would like to explore that option.
Any advice for someone thinking of starting a creative business?
Branding has proven very valuable for me. People are always excited to get their order and see how it's presented. And with so many handmade goods out in the marketplace, branding your products is incredibly important if you want people to remember where they got your item...and how to reach you to order more ;) Also, make sure you stay true to the vision you have for your products. I polled a lot of friends for input early on, and I definitely put their feedback to use, but had to balance it with staying true to what I knew I wanted for my business.
I really want to thank Eileen for taking the time for this interview! I really hope all of you check out her Etsy shop EA Appliqué for gifts for your little one or someone else special!