Handmade byMindy

handmade with love


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When faced with competition…

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.

#7. 7 Years of Good Reviews. Check them out here and here.

#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.

Cheers!

Mindy


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Oh baby!

I’ve been absent… for a while. I haven’t sewn much, I haven’t participated in shows, and I certainly haven’t written anything. But I did grow a human! If you follow my instagram, you know that she is 291 days old today.

Transitioning to life as a stay at a home mama has been more challenging much different than I had imagined. Before she was born, I had visions of her napping or playing quietly in her pack in play while I worked away. Ha! There’s a lot of things that I thought, that are not the reality of having a baby (a post for another day).

Anyways, now I’m back. I’m slower and have less time to dedicate, but I’m back. And I’ve changed. My product tester has taught me a lot about my business. I’ve seen what I use on a regular basis & what I don’t. I’ve learned what seams need more reinforcement and what materials need adjustments. I’ve seen what styles are more desirable and why. So just as I’m different now, so are my products. Not just different… BETTER!

I’m really excited to move forward with more knowledge & inspiration than ever. I’ve made improvements to quality & durability that are already in action. And I’m working on a capsule collection for autumn/winter 2016. Follow @by_mindy on instagram to be the first to know about sales and for sneak peeks of my new collection.

Meanwhile, I intend for my blog to become more mommy oriented. I want to share what my journey has been and create a safe space for all mamas.

Stay tuned…


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Rock the Vote! 2 Giveaways! Super Pre-Holiday Sale!

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The voting has started for the audience choice winner in the Martha Stewart American Made awards! You get 6 votes per day! you can use them all on one person if you like, or share the wealth! There are some truly amazing makers in this years competition & I am so honored to be one of the finalists. Please take a couple of moments to vote for me. Click on the picture above & it should take you exactly where you need to go. In the first few days I’m almost at 200 votes! Y’all are making me blush!

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ROCK THE VOTE GIVEAWAY!!! As some incentive, I’m having a giveaway!! If I hit 2000 votes by the end of the day on 9/30, someone will get a $35 dollar credit to use at byMindy’s etsy! TO ENTER, vote (honor system, I have no way of knowing if you actually did) and comment on this blog post! If I hit my goal, I will randomly select the winner from those who commented here!! Since I don’t want any of you to have to put any personal info in the comments, I will announce the winner on the blog, & they can get in contact with me to claim their prize!!

INSTAGRAM GIVEAWAY!! Don’t forget, I’m still running my instagram giveaway. When I hit 300 followers, I will randomly select a follower to receive a pair of Deco Shores shoes of their choosing!! Click on the word “INSTAGRAM” at the top of the blog & it will take you right to my page!

Did you know that there are only 98 days left until Christmas! GASP! UGH! It comes so fast every year! I’m usually so busy fulfilling orders (great problem to have!!) that I put off my shopping til the last minute. This year I have gotten an early start! I have already purchased several Christmas gifts (I don’t even know myself anymore). To celebrate this good feeling, I’m having a Pre-Holiday Sale in my etsy shop. This is the biggest discount I will offer all year & it includes all items! Now until 9/30 you get 15% off!  Enter the code “EARLYBIRD” at checkout and SAVE! and share in this awesome feeling that I’m rocking that I have a head start for maybe the first time ever!!

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Other than all this excitement, I’m just a busy bee (aka CRAZY PERSON) getting my shop ready for the holidays & hand-making a bunch of wholesale orders!!! (HONEST MOMENT) So you may not hear from me much over the next little while, except on facebook where I plan to totally harass you until you vote for me, just kidding, or am I?

Well anyway, I do hope you all are well & I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your continued support!

TTYL

-Mindy


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Major Etsy Update and More

Hi y’all!

I hope you have been well! I just wanted to check in & let you know about some exciting stuff that has been happening at Handmade byMindy.

We just returned from the Renegade Craft Fair in Chicago. The weather was perfect, our booth-mate was AMAZING, and we had a very successful sale. Also, I was so proud of myself for overcoming my fears post miscarriage. I was happy & engaging, not resentful or depressed at all. It was truly great & I have returned reinvigorated! I have tons of wholesale orders I’m working on, which is so awesome & exciting. In order to keep up with everything & to attempt to have a little balance in my life, I have decided to not do any more shows this year. So my online shop will be more important than ever!

I’ve done some major updates to my etsy page. First, I have a ton of inventory listed right now!! I have a great wholesale linesheet through etsy wholesale, if you are interested in carrying byMindy, check it out!

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I’ve lowered my shipping rates! Wahoo!! And added options to upgrade your shipping or to rush your order; all great things!

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And I’ve added some new sections to the shop! Now I have ready to ship options that are already made & ready to go! Great for someone that needs an order fast! And notice the SALE section! I’m still working on adding items to the sale section, but keep your eyes peeled for great deals coming soon!

I’ve got tons to do! Talk to you soon!

-Mindy


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Thank you

I want to thank all of you for your kind words & for sending happy healing thoughts & prayers. We are so blessed to have so many amazing people in our lives.

Each day has been different, but overall I do feel that we are healing. The final hurdle for me to get over is byMindy. Over the last several days I’ve been trying to ease myself back into hand-making baby shoes. Needless to say, it’s been emotional & slow-going. This weekend I have to fully rip off the bandaid. We will be at the Renegade Craft Fair in Chicago next weekend, so that’s a pretty hard deadline.

I’ve been nominated for the Martha Stewart American Made awards & am gunning for a wild card. The winner gets $10000 to put towards their business. If you want to help out, visit my page (link below) and click on either the facebook or twitter share button. Ask your friends to do the same! The 200 people with the most shares will advance to the finals. Some pretty exciting things could happen if I had that kind of moolah to put into byMindy (ahem … bigger sizes, maybe even some hard soles).

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I hope you all are well! And thank you again for your love & support!


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A personal note from me

I’ve been gone a while.  We did a couple of shows in California & had a great vacation in the middle.  Amidst all of that, however, we have had some very real sadness in our lives & I want to share it with you. I feel it’s important that I have an honest relationship with my readers. So here it is…

My miscarriage

Why are there certain topics that we just don’t talk about?  Is it a self-imposed silence? Or are we hesitant because we don’t want to bring others down? Is it that we don’t want to have to respond to a million questions? Maybe we don’t want to receive sympathy?

But sometimes you just want to say what you’ve been going through, without any responsibility to respond to people’s comments, just because you feel like you aren’t being your true self if you don’t put it out there. You want to dump your feelings on everyone else, so they can know & understand why you are the way you are right now. But you definitely don’t want to talk about it.

Do I sound conflicted? I am.

Last Tuesday Kyle & I went in for an ultrasound to get our due date. We were so excited! We were going to see our little nugget for the first time. The technician came in & started.  She showed us the fetal sac & that it had implanted where it was supposed to. Because I have a tilted uterus, she had to switch to a different type of ultrasound to be able to see the fetus & get the needed measurements to determine our exact due date.  At this point everything was fine. We were even more excited! We were about to see the little collection of cells that next year would be a baby & even more excitedly we were going to see it’s microscopic heart beating.

Once the tech started the 2nd ultrasound, she got very quiet. There was not a heartbeat, and we were definitely far enough along that there should have been.  The fetal sac was measuring 3 weeks smaller than it should have been. Our nugget had died… and my body had not recognized this.

The next 10 minutes felt like days.  They had to continue to take so many pictures & measurements. Then we had to wait for a doctor to come talk to us. I don’t know how long it was, but it was an impossible amount of time.

I don’t remember Wednesday at all. I know I was at home & dealing with hospitals & insurance & HSAs, but I simply don’t remember any of it.

Thursday I had surgery to remove the tissue since my body wasn’t taking care of it on its own.

After the surgery & the following day, I felt pretty good. I had this great sense of relief & only very minor physical discomfort. I kept thinking, “Oh, this is going to be easier than I thought”.  Ha! That was short lived.  There is nothing easy about this. These are waters I could have never imagined having to navigate. Even though I had read the books, the articles, the stats, I never really thought this would be me. I thought for some reason the universe would spare me from pain like this. From the moment I knew I was pregnant I had begged & bargained with the universe to not put me in this situation. It was one that I just knew I could not survive.

The universe betrayed me. My body betrayed me.

Saturday I entered the darkness of the situation emotionally. Tuesday I entered it physically.

I have serious self-doubt. I can’t stop this feeling of failure. From the minute I saw the 2 pink lines, it became my job to provide a hospitable environment for nugget. It was my job to protect it. I failed at this. It doesn’t matter what anyone says to me. You cannot convince me otherwise. I know that it was something chromosomal, out of my control. But I still failed. I will know this for the rest of my life.

I am pissed at the world! It is unusually cruel that the girl that makes baby shoes, is not going to have this baby of her own. This ordeal has made me HATE my business. Resent it even. I can’t go in my studio. I can’t face it. And I have a large amount of orders to make. It is cruel. I used to have so much joy in that studio, and this has robbed me of that. It makes me sad. And it makes me so angry. Universe, I’m pointing at you. Everything that had joy just over a week ago, doesn’t right now. Music, the sun, the gorgeous weather, my dog, a good meal. It all is just overcast now. I’m living in the shadow of my former self. And damn it! I’m mad about it.

I am alone. I mean, not really, my friends & family are very much there for me (those that are in the know). Kyle is definitely blowing my mind with HOW there for me he is. What I really mean by alone, is that I am not finding the type of resources/support that I am looking for. In all of that big world wide web, no one has put out there what I need. I desperately wanted to find a charitable cause that is a source of support for others that are going through what I am (as well as support women with any type of fertility issue, who have had a still birth, list goes on), so that I could donate money from the sales of all my baby shoes. It’s the only way that I can conceive of to start making them again. Everything I find is all about angel babies, or getting a piece of jewelry to commemorate, or having a memorial.  This is not my style. This is not comforting to me. I completely understand that it is for many people, and I am not in any way knocking them or their methods for grieving. All I’m saying is that seemingly there is no one else out there like me. This is why I feel so alone.

I am afraid. I am so afraid. I’m scared that I did something to deserve this. I’m scared that I can’t think of what that thing was that set my karma so far astray, but if I did it to you, please know I’m sorry. I am afraid to try again. Terrified really. What if this happens again? Am I strong enough to get through it? I certainly don’t feel like I am now. I have this constant feeling that this is ruining my life. Temporarily it is true, but I’m afraid that it is forever. I am afraid of failing again. I am afraid of the million other possible outcomes that trying again could present. I am afraid of how this is hurting my husband. He is being strong for me & supporting me, but when will enough be enough? Will his loving patience run out? He assures me it will not. I trust him. I am afraid that seeing other people’s children will always cause me pain. Please don’t take that the wrong way, I am so overwhelmingly happy for other people, nothing could change that. Please hug your small ones tight! It’s just that in this season of my life I know that I cannot hide that it hurts that I’m not where I thought I was. My train has derailed. I’m afraid of what is happening to me physically right now. I was afraid of the surgery. I’m afraid of my next craft fair. You wouldn’t believe how many people have chosen me to be the first person to know that they are expecting as they excitedly choose a gender neutral pair of shoes to be the first thing they buy for their upcoming addition. Will they sense all of the emotions it will bring up in me? Will they steer clear of me because I’m exuding some sort of I can’t be as happy for you outwardly as I truly am? Will I just be a puddle of sloshy crying mush the entire time? Will every stroller that enters my booth send me into a fit? Will I sink to a place darker than where I am now? Is there enough alcohol in Chicago to get me through it? (Joking! Sort of) It’s terrifying! I’m afraid that I’m letting people down while I’m grieving & healing. I’m afraid that I will never be happy again. This sadness feels so deep & unending. And honestly, I’m afraid of feeling better. I can’t explain this one. I guess I just know that this has changed me & feeling better will never be feeling how I felt before any of this happened. IT will be different & I am afraid of change.

I am in pain. Physically, spiritually, and emotionally. Sometimes only in one area, other times all 3 at once. It’s a build your own entree combo right now. I’d rather have a cheese enchilada, a chicken soft taco & a flauta, hold the beans please. Oh, you’re out of that? Fine, shit soup sounds fine. That’s what I’ll have. Who cares! I don’t really think I need to explain this one. Most of the painful things are covered in other paragraphs. It’s mostly just an honorable mention. I’m sure the pain will subside as the other areas are sorted out.

I have tremendous guilt. I feel guilty that any of this happened. I feel guilty because at times I find myself wishing that none of it had happened. I feel guilty because we let some of our family know about the excitement, and now their hearts are broken too. I feel guilty because those closest to me want desperately to be able to fix this, and they can’t. I feel guilty because I am treating people coldly. It’s not them, it’s me. I promise. I just can’t be me right now. I can’t smile at you in the hall. I’m sorry. I feel guilt because there are so many other people who I care about deeply & who care for me too, that I hadn’t let in on this sooner, that are finding this out via my blog or social media (or wherever I have chosen to finally post this). I wanted to let everyone know, but it was too soon. Please don’t take it personally, it in no way reflects on our relationship. It really is me, not you.

I am grateful. I am grateful that those in the know have shown an amazing outpouring of love & support to Kyle & I. The friends & family that know what has happened have been patient with me & have given me as much or as little space as I have asked for. They have loved me & prayed for me and sent me positive healing energy & said a million right things & a million wrong things, but I’m just grateful that they are talking, because I can see how much they care. I am grateful that Kyle has been my everything through this. He keeps reminding me that everything will be alright. He has sat with me in bed for days & days so I wouldn’t be alone. He has cooked for me & cleaned & bought me cookies. He has been so patient & kind & gentle. He’s listened while I’ve said anything & everything that I needed to. He’s let me cry on his shoulder, for hours if I needed to. He’s given me the biggest warmest hugs I’ve ever felt. He has been strong, even when he was feeling broken too. He’s shared his feelings with me, openly & honestly. It’s nice to know you aren’t the only broken one. And I’m grateful that he encouraged me to write this. I feel myself heal just a little with every word that I type (I have also felt what a sloshy tear soaked keyboard feels like under my fingertips). I am grateful that the outcome of all this wasn’t worse. My surgery went well, and I will heal both physically & emotionally (not as quickly as I would prefer, but it is what it is). And if you are taking the time to read this, I am grateful for you. Having someone else in the universe know what I am experiencing makes me less alone. It makes anyone who has been through this less alone. Thank you. When I feel like seeing people again, I have a big hug waiting for you.

Why am I writing this?

I am writing this because I think that people shouldn’t feel that they cannot share the negative in their life. I am writing this because 1 in 4 known pregnancies result in a miscarriage, which means you undoubtedly know someone that has been through this (whether you are aware of it or not). Wouldn’t you want to know if you someone you cared for was suffering this? Wouldn’t you want the ability to hug them & tell them something/anything/even if it’s the wrong thing? Wouldn’t you want to be able to grieve with them/for them? I know I would. 

I’m breaking this silence. Silence is too lonely. Silence is isolating. Silence infers some sort of shameful secret, which there is no shame in this. There should never be shame in this. I am a statistic. I am 1 out of 4. There is no shame in that. And I know that I am truly not alone (hello to every other 1 out of 4 out there). 

I am also sharing this because I feel that I owe it to the people in my life to let them know openly & honestly why the next time they see me, I will be different. I am forever changed from this experience. Hopefully I will not dwell in the darkness of this for much longer, however I am there now & if you encounter me now, you will certainly know that something is wrong. I’m not ready to talk about it (please note writing & talking are two very different things), so you won’t know why. I will try to pretend that everything is fine. I am, in fact, a terrible actor.

I hope that this will reach someone & help them. Let them know that all the things they are feeling are ok & nothing to be ashamed of. I hope it gives someone the courage to openly express something they have been made to feel should be a secret, or private, or kept to themselves.  We are all in this life together (regardless of race, religion, or lack thereof). We share this experience & each bring our own unique “us-ness” to it, changing the overall experience in some small way for everyone else we encounter. We should stand tall & be exactly who we are in the most honest form possible. We owe it to ourselves & we owe it to each other, especially in this highly staged instatweetedfacepalmed life we are living. Let’s share our ugly, our tired, our sadness, our pain, our successes, our happiness! Let’s share it all! If you feel safer using the Nashville filter to do so, do it! SO long as your message is 100% you! Life is too short to waste time making sure that everything is staged perfectly before we share it! Let’s share our messes! And let’s support each other while we clean them up, no matter how long it takes.