Monday, February 22, 2010

A Creative Life: Carrie Howell

Tell us a little bit about yourself

My name is Carrie I am a stay-at-home mother of a 2 year old girl (Lily) and I am currently pregnant with our next. I have been crafting most of my life and currently I run my own small business on, Lily & LOU, where I sell my handmade goods. I have a Fine Arts degree from Kent State University, where I studied Ceramics. It was a wonderful experience studying what I love. Looking back a bit it probably would have been more practical for me to follow a different line of study now that we are facing today's economy, but I am making it work none the less. Balancing motherhood and working on my own line of goods from home has it's challenges at times, but it is very fulfilling to me. I get the opportunity to watch my little one's grow up and I get to fill whatever time I can slice out making things, which definitely feeds my soul.

What inspired your Gown-2-Go and Swaddle Pod?

I started my business after motherhood, mostly by accident. I was always crafting things for my little girl and posting pics of my creations the social networking sites I belong to... building up a reputation among my small group of internet mom friends for craftiness. Last year my friend Kristen, asked me if I would design her something to wear for the birth of her third and final child, the girl they had been waiting for. So I got to sketching and working on a mock up for my first "hospital gown". She told me she wanted something with all the function of a traditional hospital gown but she wanted it to be more tailored to her like a dress, in beautiful fabric.
When I was finished I posted pictures of the hospital gown I made on my social networking sites as I did after any project. I got such a response from other mothers-to-be that I quickly had other orders for more. So I opened up shop on etsy and my little business was born. My hospital gown design has had several evolutions over the last year but that was the day that The Gown-2-Go came to be.

Over the last year I have added other things to my shop, I have a growing line of children's toys which started with my "Heirloom alphabet puzzle blocks". I am expanding my toy line this holiday season with a new set of environmentally friendly building blocks, stained with non-toxic soy based stains as well as a line of hand sewn toys for baby.
My latest creation is the "Swaddle Pod". It is a swaddling wrap blanket that takes the guess work out of swaddling. Necessity is as always the mother of invention and as I nest and prepare for the birth of our second child I have begun creating things I know we will need for her. My first child loved to be swaddled but the art of the perfect swaddle alluded my husband our baby daughter would get so upset if it wasn't done correctly so the swaddling fell into solely my hands. To combat this problem I thought I would just go out and buy some of the many brands of swaddle wraps available... but I just wasn't happy with any of them. So I decided to make my own. I wanted cute, trendy fabric and most of the ones available at the store were plain, solid, pastels. I also wanted something a bit warmer that I was finding, my baby will be born in the winter and our house is rather old and drafty. So I decided to line it with a soft plush "minky" microfiber material. I added large strips of Velcro to keep the swaddle snug and secure and so became the Swaddle Pod. I will be adding a lighter weight version, lined with organic cotton flannel called of course, the Swaddle Pod lite.

What inspires your creations?

Most of my inspiration comes from my daily life, my children, my husband, my friends, my home. As I said before necessity is the mother of invention most of my designs have been answers to the the needs of all of those listed above. I am just answering to the problem solver and little inventor I have inside myself.

What's a day-in-your-life like?

Most days I get up around 5 am to answer emails, and get started making orders. I like to try to get as much work in the small amount of time have to myself before my daughter wakes up. It is very difficult for me to split focus between working in my studio and rearing my daughter. I am always trying to find the perfect balance, but perfect does not exist in my home. Once my daughter is up, most days I am in my full-time-mom-hat until nap time when I go back and work on orders in my studio. Then it is back to singing and dancing and coloring with my daughter until my husband gets home. Some days I get a bit more time to myself in the sewing room to work, but other days the exhaustion of keeping up with a year old and this pregnancy sets in and I collapse on the couch with my husband.
It is a continuing struggle to do it all, not to mention a lot of hard work, but everyday is a new one and a new start to do it better.

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