Since I am SOOOOOO close to opening my little shop, I thought I would share about how the cotton tree came to be...
Two years ago my husband finished grad school, got a job in a small Kansas town, we purchased our first home, moved to the small town, and our son was born two weeks later. (Just a little stressful!) We'd always hoped that everything would work so that I could stay at home with our kids. So even though it all seemed to happen at the same time, things did work that Jake's job and small town living would make it possible for me to stay home with our new baby boy.
Ben was about 6 months old when I started doing a few hours of bookkeeping a week for a local company. A little extra income was great and it felt good to keep my mind going. The fact I could work from home when it was nap time or bed time was also great for my schedule, but this work only lasted for a little over a month. Later that spring and summer I had the opportunity to work for a local couple, helping with their flower and vegetable gardens. It was fun and I do love outdoor/gardening work, but I had to leave when Jake got home from work and I was often home after Ben was already in bed. It wasn't quite the right fit either.
That was a year ago. That was also when I realized if I was going to work and try to contribute to our income, I really wanted something I could do from home. I liked the flexibility of working when I wanted to, but I wanted to do something that was also rewarding and inspiring for me. Then I remembered a friend had introduced me to a friend of hers that was making items and selling them on a site called Etsy.com. I checked it out and became set on making my own shop. I've always enjoyed designing and creating, so the hard part came when I tried to decide exactly what I was going to make and sell.
My original plan was to dye and then applique baby items. This was a great idea at first. I bought supplies for everything and started working on the shop details. During this time I also started teaching myself how to use the sewing machine my mother had given to me several years before. My mom is quite the seamstress and sewer - not to mention artist - so I'd grown up around the sewing machine, but I had never taken the time to learn. I checked out books at the library, looked online for tutorials, and called my mom with questions. Turns out that I really liked the sewing aspect of my shop and started to find myself going in a different direction.
I had received some handmade gifts, including burp cloths, from one of Jake's cousins when Ben was born and thought they were wonderful. So I decided I would start with everyday items for little ones - bibs and burp cloths. It sounded really simple, but when I sat down to design my pattern I couldn't make up my mind. I kept drawing different patterns! Then it occurred to me that I didn't have to have just one design or style. So I have three - Oval, Modern and Curved. Each is unique and I find that I usually have a favorite for each fabric.
Once I had the three different bib patterns, I made corresponding burp cloth patterns. They look great together! I started making a couple of practice pieces and trying them out on Ben. He was about 15 months at the time. I realized that one size of bib just doesn't work for a baby and a toddler. This is when I decided to make two sizes - one for babies (under 12 months) and one for toddlers (12 months +).
After all the designing and sewing, I started working on the business of the shop and creating this blog. It all took so much longer than I ever expected, but it's been worth all the time. I have learned so much and hope to continue learning new things. I am very happy with where I am today and look forward to opening the cotton tree this week.