Shop Around the Corner is a twice-monthly series where I share a variety of fan-tas-tic small business owners that I think you’d really dig. It’s very important to me to share the love with fellow small business folks – the welcoming community of entrepreneurs I’ve met is quite strong, and there is so much incredible talent out there! I look forward to introducing you to great photographers, designers, shop owners…the list goes on and on!
Welcome to the first Shop Around the Corner of 2014! I’m so glad to get back to sharing these businesses with you – and today’s is such a sweet one!
Fun back story: I first heard of Lena, the co-owner of Mattie Mae Designs, my senior year of high school. She had attended Governor’s School (remember that?) with two of my good friends, and they came back that summer talking all about the amazing friends they’d made, especially her! I’m pretty sure we all hung out at least once together after school had began. Fast-forward to last spring, when I attended Whitney English’s totally fab Authenticate workshop (learn more about the program Whitney has developed since right here), and when I saw that someone named Lena from the boro was attending, I thought – I bet anything it’s the same girl! (How many Lenas do YOU know? 🙂 ) It certainly was her, and I absolutely love catching up with people I haven’t seen in a long time! We’ve chatted and followed each other in Instagram since, and as I began to learn her heart and what she was all about, I knew I wanted to feature this wonderful gal and her shop on my site. Be sure to visit her Facebook page and the Mattie Mae Etsy shop!
Tell us about your business!
Mattie Mae Designs is a mama-daughter owned handmade business focusing on hand-appliqued onesies and t-shirts, pillows, hoops, tea towels, and much more. Each of our pieces are unique and one-of-a-kind; you won’t find two alike! We believe in creating pieces that are special and made with love. Mattie Mae is named for my two grandmothers: Mattie (Kathleen), who taught my mom to sew, who then taught me to sew. (Pellie) Mae, who was one of the kindest, most gentle women I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. These women were important, and they were treasured – it’s important that we continue their legacy through our business.
What made you decide to open your shop?
When my nephew was due to arrive in 2009, we were disappointed with the lack of creative and unique pieces , pieces that told a story, so we decided to create our own! Then, before we knew it, friends needed shower gifts, and we just kept sewing! We decided to take a leap last year and bought a website, as well as opened an Etsy shop. It’s been a beautiful ride, and we can’t wait to see where we go next!
Where do you find inspiration?
Oh, gracious! Where do we NOT find inspiration? We love to browse antique shops, looking for vintage pieces that spark our interest. We routinely get lost in fabric stores, buying stacks and stacks of beautiful and feminine florals, fun and funky geometrics, and we can’t forget vintage-esque quilting fabrics. The children we create for are oftentimes our biggest inspiration – letting them tell us the story of their favorite animal or color is enough to get our creative wheels turning!
Favorite item that you sell?
I love our pillows. It’s something that we just started creating, but I love them so much! Each one is so different, and I always tell customers that if they see one they like, they need to purchase it, because there will never be another one like it! We use lots of trims and even add a vintage hankie or doily to make it extra special. They are just so beautiful – I could really keep every single one of them!
Any advice for those just starting out?
My first piece of advice is GO FOR IT. if you have a dream or a desire in your heart, it’s there for a special reason. Don’t get caught up in the competition,; find what you do and do it well. This is a great big world we live in, and I truly believe we need more dreamers and doers out there!
Three words to describe you/your life: Blessed. Loved. (a little) Chaotic.
Story or moment in your business that was memorable or impactful?
We had a customer that had ordered some shirts for her two children previously, and she returned to us for a very special announcement. She emailed me to let me know that she was expecting and wanted to surprise her family with “Big Bro/Big Sis” shirts. She asked me if I was good at keeping secrets, because no one knew she was pregnant…only her husband knew! It was a super special moment for me – what a joyous occasion, and we got to be part of it from the start! I love that about our business!
Favorite tv show: Parks and Rec (when I actually sit down and watch television!)
Favorite ice cream flavor: my granny’s homemade peach ice cream!
Favorite vacation spot: Tybee Island, GA – seriously could move there tomorrow!
Favorite way to spend a Saturday afternoon: I spend most of my Saturdays at my daughter’s dance studio while she has dance class, and it’s almost a tradition to have Chik-Fil-A (or “Chick O Lay”, as she calls it) afterwards – Saturdays are my favorite because they are easy and fun and full of family time!
Favorite part of running your business: Definitely connecting with other handmade business owners, sharing tips on what works and what doesn’t. There really isn’t a better or more gracious community than the handmade community!
Thanks so much for sharing, Lena!
Readers, do you see that adorable Mule Day t-shirt above? They’re taking pre-orders now…hurry!