Tell me about your shop name. Bobaloo is my three-year-old daughter’s nickname (her name is Bridget). We have no clue where it came from – we just somehow started calling her that and it stuck. I was trying to come up with a name for my business one day and when I called for her to come downstairs, it clicked!
When did you first take an interest in sewing? My mom taught me how to sew when I was really little. I was an Apparel Merchandising major for a few years in college and took a lot of sewing classes, which really pushed me into making more complicated stuff, especially clothes for me. As I got older and my friends and I started having babies, I discovered that I really love making gifts for baby showers and kids’ biirthdays. When I got the urge to start my own business I knew that was what I wanted to make.
How long have you been in business and where are you located?
I opened my Etsy shop in September of 2010 and started selling through two local stores in the late fall. I also started a blog around the same time to document the whole complicated process of starting a small handmade business. I stay home with my two kids (I also have an 18 month old son) and run my business out of a big room in our house that used to be the game room. Much to my husband’s dismay, the pool table is now a giant cutting table!
What inspires you? I read a lot of design and fashion blogs and magazines for inspiration. I’m usually inspired by non-kid-related imagery – like couture fashion or modern interior design – and I love to translate that into fun products for kids. For instance, I saw this amazing tailored women’s jacket with a knife-pleated ruffle trim that ended up turning into the Ruffle Bibs sold in my Etsy shop.
Where else can our readers find your products? I sold at quite a few fairs and festivals last year and am in the process of signing up for this year’s shows. You can check the “Where to find bobaloo!” page on my blog to stay up-to-date on which shows I’ll be at this year. I decided to apply to juried shows this year and have a couple of applications in, so hopefully I’ll be announcing those dates soon!
You use such bright, beautiful fabrics! Do you have a favorite fabric shop? I mostly shop for fabrics online and am a serious fabric junkie. I buy a lot from fabric.com, Quilt Home, and Fat Quarter Shop. I also buy fabric from a lot of Etsy sellers – my favorite is the Fabric Shoppe. I’m finally at a production level that justifies buying wholesale fabric straight from the manufacturer and I absolutely cannot wait to have bolts of fabric on hand! Luckily I mostly use cotton fabric and it is just astonishing the number of awesome prints that are available.
What kind of sewing machine do you use? Do you have a favorite notion that you couldn’t live without? I use two sewing machines and a serger. I mainly use my Brother SE-400 for business sewing, but I have my old Brother CS6000i as a backup. My serger is a Brother 1034D. Can you tell I have a favorite sewing machine brand?
I have piles and piles of gadgets, but one notion I use every day is my tube turner. It’s such a cheap tool – my set of three sizes was around $7 – but it makes things SO MUCH easier. I use it to turn the little straps on my bibs and bunny arms and legs, plus it’s great for poking out the little corners on burp cloths and blankets. Buy one, you won’t regret it!
What are your hobbies? I am a big reader – I can’t fall asleep at night without reading something, from fiction to chick lit to business books. I also really like to cook and occasionally bake. Thanks to my kiddos I’ve recently discovered a new love of paint-with-water books – I’m always trying to talk them into painting with me!
Do you have any advice for people interested in starting their own Etsy business? Concentrate on making a unique, well-made product and try not to worry about sales numbers (easier said than done, I know!). Really do your homework on marketing your product so you can get the word out about your shop. Etsy may provide a venue and a big pool of buyers, but it’s up to you to get those buyers to come to your store. I have a degree in marketing, but I’m constantly reading books and blogs about marketing and small business growth. Two great books to read if you’re considering starting your own handmade business are Craft, Inc. by Meg Mateo Ilasco and Handmade Marketplace by Kari Chapin – both are PACKED with great info! Also, if you have a SCORE office nearby it’s a great resource for free business advice.
Is there anything else you would like our readers to know? If you’re on the fence about making the jump into starting your own Etsy shop, just do it! The worst thing that can happen is you’ll be out the cost of your supplies. Etsy is such an inexpensive way to test the waters of selling your own creations, and you’ll never know how successful you can be until you try!
Bobaloo! is offering a coupon to Bluesblossom readers for 20%! through April 30th. The coupon code is Blossom2011.