Thursday, June 28, 2012

Not Your Grandma's Baby Blanket

Unless your Grandma is extremely hip.  +wink+ Following closely on the heels of my newly redesigned bibs (flannel, chenille with blingy pearl snaps) I received a request from one of my favorite shops ~ Could you make baby blankets, too?

Baby blankets have been on my project list forever, but I just never seemed to get around to them.  So when this special request came in I decided there must be a market for handmade baby blankets.  Why not give it a whirl?

I made my first blankets today.  I decided to start with the smallest size - what has been called "receiving blankets" in the past and, depending on the size of the baby, may work as swaddling blankets as well. These are the kind you would use to bring a newborn home from the hospital and bundle up in their first few weeks of life.  These are all 30" x 30" double-sided coordinating pre-washed, pre-shrunk flannel.  I am a huge fan of anything polka dot, so plan to make the coordinating flannel always polka dot.

I also plan to make some larger blankets.  They will probably be flannel and chenille or minky dot (a kind of close-cropped very soft chenille).  

They look easy to make, but I was surprised how careful I had to be to measure correctly and sew slowly to be sure everything lined up.  Even then they aren't perfect ~ but I tell myself I hope customers will appreciate the fact that they are handmade and no two will be alike.  I am sure - as with anything - the more I make the easier it will be and the more detail I will enjoy adding.

I've fallen in love with flannel fabrics.  The designs are endless and run the gambit from soft pastels for the more traditional to crazy skulls for the more adventurous.  My tastes in choosing fabrics for my blankets, bibs and burpies (burp cloths) also runs the gambit.  I'm drawn to some of the traditional soft and sweet baby designs and colors.  But I also get a real kick out of the loud and crazy designs and colors you wouldn't expect to see in a baby product.  I am finding that a majority of my customers seem to be young, hipster Mommies and they go for the unusual and unexpected.  But I will carry some traditional fabrics as well.  For you know, the traditional Mommies and Grandmommies.  I love 'em all!  

What fun I have designing new things!  I haven't abandoned my Whee Ones - there will be many coming soon for the next holiday season; but my imagination runs rampant with ideas for new products, new fabrics, new designs.  It keeps my products - and my work days - fresh and fun.

Speaking of ~ since my product line is expanding I'm thinking of doing some subtle changes to my logo, colors, taglines, etc.  Once I've made those decisions, I'll slowly roll out the new image.  
And I just realized - as I often do - I'm making future plans in my head by writing /speaking them as I do it.  My apologies.  Now carry on.  +wink+ 

Long live flannel.

And babies.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Slowly but Surely...

I had forgotten how difficult it is to get back into the routine after a little time off.  Probably because since I started my business 3 1/2 years ago I haven't taken time off.

But there is nothing like celebrating the marriage of a child that will remedy that in a heartbeat. So my husband and I spent a few fun-filled days in San Francisco last week.

And now I'm really working on getting that motivation thing going again.  I made my to do lists - for the rest of the year - today.  I emailed all 10 of my brick 'n mortars with my schedule.

Then I browsed thru a few vacation photos.  I called my Mom and brought her up to speed on the trip.  I spent a little time on Facebook (legitimately - staying in touch with friends who have been evacuated from their homes because of these wicked wild fires in my home state).  Ok, I stumbled on to Pinterest for a little while, too.  And now it's time to come up with something for dinner.

But I will be pulling out my knitting after dinner.  I'm thinking of adding some knit caps - baby, child and adult sizes - to my line in the fall.  What do you think?  (Cat not included - she's the quietest one in my house!)

Tomorrow it's back to the sewing machine.  Seriously.  I mean it.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Know Yourself.

I go in spurts when it comes to creative projects and I will [sometimes literally] get hooked on something and will obsess with it until the next tempting project comes along.  (Do you ever do that?)  Lately it has been a return to my knitting looms.

I had a request from one of the fabulous galleries I partner with for baby blankets.  That's all I need to set the wheels in motion.  I'll do the flannel/chenille and fleece blankets, of course; but I also wanted to try my hand at a knit blanket. (I knit on knitting looms.)

I found some super soft chenille yarn and started with the only two skeins my craft store had.  I fell in love with the yarn immediately and ~ of course ~ needed at least two more skeins to finish it and couldn't find more anywhere!  So I turned to the trusty ol' Internet and YAY - found some.  The yarn arrived today in some beautiful colors.  So now I can finish my blanket and start another.  :)  And another.  And another.

{See what I mean about the slight obsession problem?}

But while waiting for the yarn to arrive I needed to feed my knitting loom obsession in some other way.  So I brought out another smaller loom and decided to make a scarf.  I started one with ordinary yarn and it was fine, but it wasn't really anything special.  I felt like experimenting ~ I wanted to work with something unique.

Then I remembered I had picked up two skeins of what I can only think to call "ribbon yarn" on sale at Hobby Lobby a couple of years ago.  I remember thinking ~ I have no idea what (if anything) I will do with these, but I like them.  They are funky and different.  So I popped them into a storage bin and promptly forgot about them. (Do you ever do that?)

What possessed me to remember them the other night ~ and even more surprisingly ~ remember where I had stashed them, I will never know.  I was pretty excited to find them and dove right in making a scarf.  It kind of looks like one hot mess, but that's the idea.  I stayed up till midnight last night knitting and I'm having a blast.

I am (of course) already thinking two things:
*1 - This would  look so funky and cute with a black outfit.  (Spoken as someone who's primary wardrobe color is black.)  I've got a special occasion coming up soon and thank you to Pinterest for the pin I found on 40 ways to tie/wear a scarf, this may just be the accent I'm looking for!

*2 - I wonder if I could sell these...
I am always looking for something fun and different to add to my product line and if I perfect these funky scarves and my fabulous shops show an interest, I may give it a whirl.
And I'm already scouring the Internet for more ribbon yarn....

I am reminded once more why when thinking and thinking of what to name my business, I kept coming back to something simple and somewhat generic ~ because I know me.  And I knew that my little business would be ever-changing, ever-evolving.  I thrive on new ideas so I didn't want to limit myself.

So cmh design was born.  And it continues to grow and change and - at times - look like one funky, hot mess.  But that is the fun part.  My advice to anyone starting a business?

Know yourself.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Hey Baby (bibs)!

I have played around with baby bibs in the past, but now I've stepped it up a notch and am having a blast!

Flannel comes in so many whimsical and adorable designs ~ they lead my imagination in all sorts of directions!  I've added chenille for the backing to add not only to the functionality (it's thicker and more absorbent), but adds to the texture and the all over design and fashion.

And to set them truly aside from the thousands of baby bibs out there, I always applique something on the front.  That's why I love the flannel designs so much ~ they inspire my appliques.

The crowning touch (almost literally) ~ I have discovered how easy it is to use pearl snaps and they add a touch of class to the bibs.  I had a real lesson when it came to the snaps...  I bought an expensive ($26) tool to attach the snaps.  After a very frustrating experience ~ they wouldn't attach and I ruined several snaps ~ I logged onto Pinterest (my new Google for all things crafty!).  It didn't take long to find a couple of awesome (and easy to understand) tutorials on how to attach snaps.  The real treat?  I found links to a fabric website (I thought I knew them all but I'd never seen this one) with super cheap pearl snaps (in colors no less!) and a little metal tool to attach the snaps.  It cost $2.50, all I needed to add was a hammer!  Easy peasy attaching.  And I've only hit my thumb once with the hammer.  (wink)  Needless to say, I returned the $26 "tool."

So here's hoping my customers will like my new products as much as I do. :) You can find some in my Etsy shop ~ with more to come!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Remembering Beginnings...

Although it seems I live 24/7 in my studio, I do get out occasionally.  Yesterday the Whee Ones, the mister and I participated in an Earth Day event, with one more to come on Monday.  (We are invited each year because I use [all new] fabric remnants to make my little critters. A lot cuter than clogging up landfills with bits of fabric.)

I was reminded why it is good to step out of the studio now and again...

Not only is it rewarding to be on the receiving end of a lot of warm fuzzies (figuratively speaking) ~ "Oh these are so cute!"  "You make all these?"  ~ but I usually gain some insight, some wisdom.  And sometimes in the most unexpected ways...

One man stopped and inspected the Whee Ones sitting on the table.  He smiled and said, "How did this all come about?  How did you get started with this?"

I thought quickly and gave him a short answer ~ something about loving stuffed animals as a kid and I never really outgrew that.

He seemed to be ok with that answer, but later I was still pondering the question.  I have been designing and making Whee Ones (and the occasional Cuddle Bunny, Security Bunny and Plush Pillow) for 3 years; but how did this all come about?  Why has it become a passion and how am I able to sustain not only the passion, but the business?

It did start with an affinity for stuffed animals.   As a little girl I grew up on a farm with no friends for miles.  So my limited little group of stuffed animals became my friends.  A large teddy bear (who knows where that came from, but it had been around the block), a squirrel, a dog, a snake (yes a snake) and a couple of other assorted rag tag critters were my best friends.  I read to them, I took them on grand hikes around the farm and every night they were lined up on my bed, heads on pillows and blankets up to their chins.  I can still see them ~ and it's been a couple of years, folks.

So even into adulthood I still had the occasional teddy bear on my desk or next to my bed.  In 2009, tired of beating my head against the wall with my photography (which was going nowhere - it's a tough industry) I felt a great need to do something tactile.  It took a few months to find my niche, but falling back on sewing skills I learned as a girl I did find a niche.  And once I did there really was no turning back.

 I honestly can't remember (and I wish I could) but either Piper the Penguin or Simon Owl was my very first original design.  I realized it didn't take much fabric to make these guys (they are about 6-7 inches tall and about 13 inches around) so I could use fabric remnants.  Another win/win - saving the planet one Whee One at a time.  Using fabric remnants that would normally have been discarded meant less fabric clogging up landfills.

The Whee Ones were met with smiles, so I decided to open an Etsy shop and try out a few additional designs.  I actually made a couple of sales - much to my surprise and delight.  Which, of course, just fueled my interest and my imagination and before I knew it I had over 100 products in my Etsy shop.

Then my Etsy Shop began to gain the attention of small boutique owners ~ locally and across the country.  Not really having a clue what I was doing, I signed consignment contracts, took orders, designed, sewed, merchandised, packaged and shipped ~ to several shops.  As of this writing I am in 9 charming brick 'n mortar shops (6 of them local in the Denver Metro Area, as well as New York, Chicago and Seal Beach, CA), another online shop and my Etsy shop.

I have discovered that I love the "thrill" of the sell - not the sale (although sales are always lovely, too).  But not exactly being the most outgoing person (you do recall that rather isolated childhood ~ I talked to stuffed animals for cryin' out loud!)  it is a challenge to sell my product.  Or so I thought.   I'm always just a little nervous walking to a new shop, armed with just a brochure and one Whee One, but I have yet to walk out without a contract!  The Whee Ones have given me a confidence that has escaped me my whole life.  And that is exhilarating!

I have shipped Whee Ones to newborn babies, to Hollywood elite, to children dying of cancer, to little boys saying their "see ya' laters" to Daddy going off to war; to celebrate birthdays, to be hung in Christmas stockings and to fill Easter baskets.  It is all incredibly rewarding and humbling.

So thank you Mr. Man for asking me "How did this all come about?"  Because it is important to remember beginnings and to take time to be grateful for all that has ensued.

Thank you!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Celebrate Your Mother!

It is that time of year again!  Earth Day celebrations are upon us.  These Whee Ones, my mister and I will be hanging out in the lobby of the Regency Plaza, 4643 S. Ulster Street in the Denver Tech Center on Friday, April 20 from 10:30am - 1:30pm.  Monday will find us at 303 - 17th Avenue  in Denver (80203) ~ again holding down a table in the lobby of that building from 10:30am - 1:30pm.

Stop by and adopt a little guy.  :)

And in other news ~ stay tuned as the Whee Ones have just signed with three new very cool Denver boutiques!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


Only 12 days till cmh design's 2nd Quarter selection of 26 products is unveiled!

Raspberry is here to let you know that she is one of 10 new fun products ~ stay tuned for more!

The cuteness train is just starting to roll...

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Happy Anniversary to Us!

Three years ago ~ March 17, 2009 ~ I opened my cmh design Etsy shop and my life will never be the same!  Thank you to all of you who have supported me with encouragement, kind words, kudos, sales and all around love!  My Wee Ones, et al and I wouldn't be here without you!

Cheers!  And maaaaawah!  We heart you all!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Head Over Heels

Fancy Nancy Pants is head over heels with the news that the awesome brick 'n mortar Denver shops CaboodleShow of Hands and I Heart Denver are all partnering with My Wee Ones and me on a really meaningful local charity.  Bravo!  More news in a few days!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Surprises in Store!

Fancy Nancy Pants has some big news.

She will make her announcement next week!  So stay tuned!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Hippity Hop

Hop on over to my Etsy shop where it's all bunnies all the time.  Well, except for the tigers and raccoons and dinosaurs and owls and mice ~ oh, you get the idea.

But there are a lot of bunnies.  My Etsy shop and all of the fabulous brick 'n mortar shops I work with are excited to see Easter and Spring just around the corner!

So if you are in New York City, check out Stoopher & Boots; if you are in Chicago, stop by hanger 18; lots of shopping opportunities in Denver ~ CaboodleShow of Hands Gallery and I Heart Denver; traveling to the San Francisco Bay area ~ pop into Modern Mouse in the East Bay, Alameda and if you are looking for sun and surf and great gifts, travel down to Hapa Collective in Seal Beach, California!

Hippity hop!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Breast Cancer Support ~ Keeping It Local

When I started my business almost 3 years ago the one thing I knew for sure is that a major component of my business plan would include giving back.

I have a handful of causes that are important to me, but one that has touched my life personally is breast cancer.  Two maternal aunts were diagnosed back in the 60's when treatment options were slim and procedures drastic.  Because of that they both suffered with life-changing side effects for the rest of their lives.

My Mother ~ who miraculously was spared the disease and is still living a healthy life at age 93 ~ seeing what her sisters had gone through, volunteered to be part of a clinical trial for a drug that could help women predisposed to breast cancer.

Over the years I, too, have escaped that scary diagnosis, but I've come close a couple of times.

So obviously, breast cancer awareness and finding a cure is very important to me.  The most well-known breast cancer awareness organization, of course, has been Susan G Komen for the Cure so in 2009 that is the one I chose.

I decided that every September and October (the typical BC Awareness months across the country) I would feature a few pink Wee Ones (like Trixie above) in my Etsy shop and donate 10% of each sale to Susan G Komen for the Cure.  Once I started branching out and doing consignment with stores across the country almost all of them generously carried several of the critters in their stores ~ again with 10% of each sale (some even matched my 10%!) going to Susan G Komen for the Cure.

Months ago I started hearing some rumblings about things within the organization that seemed to go against the grain of what I thought Susan G Komen was all about.  Petty things like lawsuits against any other charitable organization adding "for the cure" to their fundraising efforts.  Really?  They have the time and the money to do that?  The money that my trusting customers paid and donated was being used for petty lawsuits to insure their organization was exclusive?  That bothered me.

So when I learned yesterday that Susan G Komen (for the Cure!) was pulling funding from Planned Parenthood - funding that enabled low-income and uninsured women life-saving exams - well, that was the last straw for me.  I disagree with the decision.  And my customers deserve better.

And although word is just coming in now that Susan G Komen for the Cure has dropped their plans to cut funding to Planned Parenthood, they aren't guaranteeing funding in the future; so for me the damage is done.  As my friend commented, maybe this whole incident was a good thing.  It encouraged people (like me) to investigate other options to give back.  And I fully admit, had this not happened, I never would have found the wonderful organization I have chosen to support.

After some thought and research, I have chosen a grass roots breast cancer organization to support.  I realize it will narrow my customer base as it is a Denver-based organization serving patients in Colorado.  But just as I believe in shopping local, in this case, I believe in giving back local.

Sense of Security supports moderate to low income patients in Colorado undergoing treatment for breast cancer. They provide financial support for day to day needs such as housing, child care, food, transportation ~ the essentials of life never more needed than when one is ill and struggling to recover. 

I feel really good about helping a small, local organization who saw a need and are doing everything they can to fill it.  I plan to contact them to see what their "color" is (Komen's was always pink) and I will be making some Wee Ones soon in the chosen color for Sense of Security.  I will list a few in my Etsy shop and I hope that my wonderful customers will join me in supporting them.  

With gratitude,

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Going to the Dogs. And Our Service Men and Women!

Although I only know one soldier personally I have wanted to give back to our service men and women for a long time now. The sacrifices they and their families make to insure our safety and freedom is such a gift.  I wanted to give a gift back.  I just wasn't sure how to do it.

So I talked to some friends, I did some research and I came up with some ideas.  My Wee dogs are pretty popular so I decided perhaps a Wee Military dog would be a good representative.  Then I started thinking about the correlation between dogs and the Military.

So meet Sgt. Woof.  He is here to support two wonderful organizations combining our U.S. military and dogs. America's VetDogs provides service dogs, guide dogs and military therapy dogs to veterans and active duty personnel in need. Nowzad is an organization that rescues stray and abandoned dogs in Afghanistan particularly to reunite dogs who were "adopted" by service personnel during their deployment and brings them to the U.S. to live permanently with the "adopted parent" soldier. 

If you adopt Sgt. Woof 20% of his purchase price will be split between these two organizations.

So if you love dogs and if you are grateful for all our service men and women and their families, I would love to send a Sgt. Woof (or two or ten) your way!

Monday, January 2, 2012

One Girl Show

If you pop into my Etsy Shop and the inventory looks depleted - never fear. There is a reason.

I am really fortunate to have my products in seven stores across the country as well as a handful of online shops.  When I started on Etsy almost three years ago, I never would have predicted that.  But I learned - without even realizing it - "if you build it, they will come."  A couple of awesome shop owners came knocking and soon I found myself doing consignment on both coasts.  That gave me the courage to knock on a couple of local shop doors, email a couple of awesome shops in other parts of the country and I discovered something about myself ~ I enjoyed "selling" and sealing the deal!  (I'm rather shy, so this aspect of my personality still astounds me!)

So with all that going on ~ and I'm planning to add to my brick 'n mortar roster ~ it's a lot to keep up with on my own.  I am determined to -  for as long as I can -  keep my business personal ~ with every product being handmade, handcrafted, stories written, merchandised and shipped by me and me alone. I really don't ever want to lose that personal touch.

So with 2012 upon us I am looking into the new year and I realized if I'm going to keep up (and still have some semblance of a personal life which sadly has been lacking) I needed to restructure a bit.  So here's my plan ~~

*Every Quarter (every 3 months) I will offer a select group of 25 products.  This will be consistent across the board ~ all the brick 'n mortar shops and Etsy. (Etsy may have a couple of extra products if I have things already made and sitting on my studio shelf.)

*Every Quarter (every three months) those 25 products will change to a new offering of 25 products.

From a production point of view this makes sense as it allows me to work more efficiently and get my product out the door more quickly.  Working "assembly-line" style really speeds up production.  Of course I have to indulge my creative spirit and take time to develop new designs, so those will be popping up from time to time. Some of these new designs will be offered as Limited Editions for a short time only and then retired.

So that explains why my Etsy inventory went from over 100 products to 33.  I'm still here. Here. There. There. And there.  And maybe someday ~ everywhere. :)