So this blog post has been writing itself in my mind for about 6 months. I discovered that someone locally was directly copying my work… and selling for less. A lot less. And she’s built up quite a fan base (she entered the scene while I was away having a baby). So, after a lot of reflection and contemplation of legal action, I say “good for her!” I’m happy for her successes. But I believe, strongly, I have something better to offer.
First, you should probably know a little bit about me. I am an horrible introvert. I am shy to the max. I’m also pretty self deprecating. So it should be no shock that it is really, REALLY hard for me to talk about myself, let alone sing my own praises. But that is what I am here to do today. This is not because I need some ego boost (although that wouldn’t hurt, if we’re being honest); it is because I NEED everyone to know what to look for in a quality pair of baby shoes, or really any quality handmade product. There are so many AMAZING makers out there! Tons here in Kansas City & throughout the whole world.
And then there are those that produce lots of work for cheap. And sometimes that’s just what we need, but other times we are looking for something special, something that will last. 1
So here I go with my top 10 reasons that my baby shoes are great!
#1 Experience. I’ve been making baby shoes for 7 years! That’s 7 years of perfecting my craft & sourcing the best materials. It’s 7 years of designing patterns & fabrics. And it’s 7 years of making pattern & construction revisions to ensure the best quality & fit. It’s also 7 years of learning from my mistakes. 7 years of risk taking. 7 years of failures and 7 years of successes. They say it takes 10,000 hours to master a skill, so I’d say I still have a ways to go, but I’m getting there, right?!
#2 Details. I’ve never been a terrific “big picture” person. I get lost in the detail. But I believe that works in my favor when it comes to my craft. The “standard” seam allowance is 1/4″. That’s fine and good, but I think it looks “home made” & not very professional. So for all my top stitching I use 1/8″. I just think it looks better. I also think that it can have some practical applications, making edges sturdier and helping things keep their shape. I quadruple reinforce stitches where it counts the most. These little shoes can take quite the beating and I work to make sure they hold up. They are especially vulnerable where the elastic attaches, so I actually quadruple reinforce those areas twice! Overkill? Maybe. Do I care? YES! I want them to last! I am super careful with my pattern placement, making sure that each shoe captures the best a piece of fabric has to offer. I’ve noticed that many other shoe makers orient the fabric designs so that they are right side up when a kid looks down at their feet. I tried that for a while, but you know what? I don’t like it. It’d be like all our graphic tees having the designs upside down so when we look down at our torsos it’s right side up to us, but upside down to the rest of the world. I suppose personal preference on this one.
#3 Style. I’m really good at designing and curating fabrics. For many of my designs I even use fun fabrics on the insides as well! Why be boring? Anyways, the functionality, structure, warmth & breathe-ability come from the interfacing (that you never see) in between the layers.
#4 Craftsmanship. I studied fine art in college at the University of Kansas. I learned so much about the importance of good craftsmanship and many techniques that I use every day. I’m a perfectionist by nature and I choose to roll with that instead of fighting with myself constantly. I take my time on every pair of shoes. I make sure that every seam looks great & is doing it’s job properly. If I finish and they aren’t perfect, I start over.
#5 Added Personal Touches. If you buy a pair of shoes, or any baby accessory from me, I include a hand written note. It’s important to me that I say thank you properly for supporting my small business. When a customer indicates that the order is being sent to someone as a gift, I include a card with their note for free and even dress up the packaging when asked.
#6 Communication. I do my very best to respond to emails and inquiries as quickly as possible. I try to be an open communicator and give my honest answers. I will never lie or bend the truth to get business. If I can’t help someone, I will try to find someone who can.
#8. Consistency. I am 1 person designing the patterns, cutting the fabrics, sewing every stitch, pressing every seam, shipping every package. Since I don’t have a team of people working under me, I can ensure amazing consistency in my products. Every person has a different touch, a different sewing machine, and a different eye. This can result in same sized products fitting differently and frankly being of different qualities. You won’t find this problem with my products. It’s all my touch, my machine, my attention to detail. My work is an extension of myself.
#9 Passion. I LOVE making! And I believe that my love of the entire process shines through in my products. I take a lot of pride in what I do & it brings me great joy to make others happy! Seeing people smile because of something that I made is one of the best feelings in the world.
#10 Happy, healthy baby feet! My shoes are magic. I can’t share what my secret interfacing is, but I will say that it keeps feet warm in the winter & it breathes in the summer. It adds cushion, but is super flexible. These shoes are perfect for developing feet. There’s a great article about the benefits of soft soled baby shoes here.
So, thank you for hanging with me. Thanks for your support. Thanks for giving me reasons to make stuff. I really love what I do and it’s just not possible without all of you. To express my deepest gratitude I’d like to give you 10% off for the rest of the month. This discount is good in both of my shops (byMindy & Milkweed Baby) and on any of my products. Simply use the code “COMPETE” at check out.