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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

May's BOTM

You ever see pictures of an outfit and you just have to see where it came from? Well, that's how it was for me with Kinder Kouture. So much so, in fact, that I just KNEW she had to be our May Boutique of the Month and I am so glad we chose her! Read her amazing interview below and then go check out her Facebook page and be completely inspired by her clean and simple photos and her gorgeous designs.

Create Kids Couture: Congrats on being the CKC Boutique of the Month! We love your work and the creative designs that you come up with! So, how did you get into sewing and what got you to open your own boutique?

Kinder Kouture: Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your blog and this great CKC Boutique of the Month post.  

I grew up with a mom that sewed.  She did not sew all time.  Instead she would sew "special items" for us.  Christmas dresses, costumes, Homecoming dresses and whenever we would see something "outrageously expensive", my mom would copy it.  LOL.  She is very German, and always wanted us to look our best, and if she could not afford it, she would find some way to copy it.  I loved that.

The funny thing is that I never came anywhere near a sewing machine until I got married. My husband worked for the government, and we were always moving.   I started sewing curtains as my very first project.  I remember never hemming them, and instead just making these huge balloon type hems, so that I could take them with me wherever we went.

Once the curtains were finished, I ventured into tailoring.   After about two years, and a few classes, I was tailoring my own pants, jackets, and dresses.  It was a lot of fun, but I remember that these projects took me forever.  LOL.  Then eight years ago my son was born.  I did a lot of shopping for him in Germany.  Boys clothing  was very colorful and fun.  I loved it.  I remember an outfit that I bought for him.  It was a pair of Orange jean shorts with truck embroidery on the back pocket.  The T-shirt was in turquoise with orange binding around the neck.  It also came with a turquoise vest made out of knit fabric, and all the binding was orange.  He looked so cute, and I remember getting so many compliments in that outfit.  He was 1 year old, and at that point, I started sewing children's clothing, and had so much fun doing it. 

Three years later, my daughter was born, and then the fun stuff really began.  I had so much fun picking out fabrics, and patterns, and designing cute clothing.  I even dreamed about it.   Shortly after that ETSY was born, and I decided to join on a whim.  At the time, there were less then 300 vendors on ETSY.  I really only started Kinder Kouture as a fun project, something for myself, and  had no idea what I was doing.  I remember thinking that this was a great way to get rid of my fabric stash.  LOL.  In any case, it was nothing more then a hobby, and a way to sell my designs to family and friends.
CKC: Wow! That is SO great! I, myself, learned to sew from my German grandma. I grew up wearing clothes she had made. It's so nice to learn new things about each other and fun when you find similarities!
It's really neat that you were there when Etsy was still brand new basically! What an exciting time! So you've been sewing children's clothes for quite awhile now, how have you learned to balance being a mom with owning a business?
KK: Wow, how interesting.  LOL.  Is there such a thing as balance?

Absolutely, even though at times it is a pretty tough thing to swallow for a mom - or should I say a "superwoman".  I mean let's face it, most moms feel guilty and selfish about wanting to do something other then taking care of their family all day.   I had a lot of trouble with it in the beginning.   However, I have found a pretty good solution, and in order to do the best I can - both as a mom and as a mom-entrepreneur, I know that I must maintain a  well organized schedule.  I decided once things really got serious with my business, I had to stick to certain rules.  For instance, my work hours are from 8am-2pm and then again in the evening.  Once the children come home from school, I revert to being a full-time mom again.   I try to stick to this schedule at least 5 days a week.  I will admit that I don't take many days off, and DH is an enormous help to me.  He does not really help out in my studio, but he goes grocery shopping, runs my packages to the post office, and takes care of the children every evening, and every weekend.    This has become a routine in our house now.  

I have to admit that I read a lot about mom-entrepreneurs and handmade businesses, and one thing you read again and again is that you should seek out help when you get overwhelmed. So last year, I finally got some help, and hired a cleaning lady.  This was an enormous help to me.  She came once a week for four hours.  It took a load off of my shoulders, and even my husband was happy to know that somebody was tending to the house, when things got really busy with my business.
CKC: That's great advice! When I owned my clothing boutique and I was sewing full-time I hired a cleaning lady as well. It was SO nice to have somebody who can help with the house chores since that is the one thing that can get bad really fast and become overwhelming. So what inspires you as a business owner? How do you come up with new designs? What is your creation process?
KK: When I put a new dress on Olivia (my daughter), and she dances around the room, or wears the dress all day, well that is about all I need to make me happy.  To pass this same joy onto another woman/child. is why I do what I do.   I get to make your little girl look like a princess.  What on earth can be more satisfying then that?  LOL.  No serious, my customers are the reason I started Kinder Kouture, and as long as they keep coming back, so will I.  I feel like I am doing a good deed each day.  

My inspiration for my creative designs comes from the fabric.   A beautiful print, a lovely quality, or a great combination of colors is all it takes for me to get interested in sewing.  My passion for fabrics goes way back.  My mother was always interested in fashion and design.  She would never hesitate to walk into a store that carried Chanel, Armani, or any other expensive designer clothing, whether she could afford it or not.  "We are only looking" she would say, and yes we looked alot.   It always amazed me how designers could manipulate fabric, and turn it into such an amazing design.   I even own a 3yd scrap of Armani wool, that I have not dared cut into, because it is just sooooo gorgeous.  Fabric is my clay, my paint, and my inspiration for most of my designs.
CKC: How wonderful! You seem to have such amazing stories and what a way with words <3 I can absolutely tell that you love your job. Not only does it come out in the way you talk about it, but it comes out in your work! Your creations are lovely and your pictures are beautiful. I just love how you take such pride in your work! Good for you!
So what is your most favorite piece that you have ever created for your boutique?
KK: I would be lying if I told you I had only one favorite.  Believe it or not, I have several, however there is one dress that stands out from all the others, and that would the Felicia Dress.

This was the first collection of fabrics that I had ordered wholesale for my shop, so I really took my time designing these dresses.  I absolutely loved the color combination of aqua and yellow, and once I decided on the pattern it just all came together.  The elegant design of the pattern, and the layers of ruffles in the back was just stunning.  I really love this dress, and although I hate how long it takes me to finish it, I am always happy with the end result. 

CKC: So last question, if you could go back to when you started Kinder Kouture and tell yourself about the most important thing you've learned as a business owner thus far, what would it be?

KK: Well Shannon, this is a tough one for me to answer, because in the beginning Kinder Kouture was just a hobby. That all changed two years ago, when my husband decided to retire, and we were suddenly without a paycheck.  It was then that we decided to turn this into a business.  Now I have a profit-loss statement, and a business plan.  LOL.  However, through it all, there has been one thing that always remains true and that is to believe in yourself, your product and your business.  If you really want to make this dream come true, always offer a top notch product.  That package that gets mailed out every day should reflect your workmanship, your values, and your creativity.  I don't believe in shortcuts, and even though I may miss a deadline, I would prefer to offer the customer a full refund rather then send something to them that does  not meet their expectations.  Sometimes things don't go as planned, and sometimes life gets in the way, but never compromise your quality standards for any reason whatsoever.  The cost is just too high.  Our customers are the reason we exist, so whatever you do make them smile as much as you do when you get that order.  They deserve it.
CKC: Gosh, you are seriously my hero! lol. I wish EVERYONE who owned a business had this mentality! The world would be a LOT better place.
I've thoroughly enjoyed this interview and getting to know a little bit about you, your family, and Kinder Kouture! We wish you nothing but the best in your business. I KNOW you will continue to do well :)
Head on over to Kinder Kouture and see all of Jeannine's amazing designs and creations. HERE is her Facebook Page and HERE is her website so you can get a little KK in your life. Be sure you tell her "Congrats on being a CKC BotM" 

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