I'm at that age where lots of my friends are starting to have babies (don't get any ideas, Mom!) which means I'm always on the lookout for super cute, colorful, squeal-worthy, preferably handmade, baby presents! Enter bobaloo!, an Indianapolis-based company specializing in adorable and modern baby goods and accessories!
Today Owner/Momma/Sewing Machine Goddess, Samantha Howard shares her "Do-What-You-Love Story" with us...
Tell us who you are, where you are from, and what it is that you do.
My name is Samantha Howard, and I live in lovely Indianapolis, Indiana with my husband and two kids. I design and produce a line of modern gifts for kids called bobaloo!
What made you decide to pursue this career path?
I've sewn since I was very little and took a bunch of advanced sewing classes in college before switching to a Marketing degree. I had started my career at a homebuilder but was laid off when the housing market crashed. I was pregnant with my daughter at the time, so my husband and I decided I would try staying at home. A couple years and another baby later, I opened up an Etsy shop and signed up for a few craft shows. Things just took off, and now bobaloo! is my career!
What is the best part about running your own business? What is the most difficult part?
The best part is running a business while staying home with my kids. I get to be there with them, and they get to see Mom work hard and grow a business from scratch. They've been going to preschool for years to give me time to work, and my daughter just started full-day kindergarten this year.
The most difficult part is running a business while staying home with my kids. :) It's difficult to find enough time to run bobaloo! while still having family time and managing all the daily household stuff. My husband does way more than his fair share of household tasks, especially during busy times for my business. I know this time with my kids home will be over before I know it, so I'm just taking it a day at a time and drinking lots of coffee!
What is your most popular product/service? Why do you think people like it?
My burp cloths are far and away my best-seller. All the bobaloo! products are designed to be great gifts, so people love to give the burp cloths because they're darling and actually get used. During the holidays I can't keep crayon aprons in stock -- they're a great gift for creative toddlers and preschoolers!
What advice would you give to someone who wants to pursue their creative dreams as a career?
Just try it. Find a way to ease into it if you're working full time or staying home with young kids like I was. When I decided to really try to start this business, I bought $50 worth of sale fabric online, took my own pictures, and opened up the Etsy shop. I got everything up and running for less than $75 and some serious time on the computer. Now, not quite three years later, I'm buying 12 bolts of fabric at a time, I have production help, and my products are in stores across the country!
What are you currently working on?
My fall line, which launches September 1st. I just wrapped up my fall photo shoot, so I'm editing lots of pictures and laying out the catalog. I've also started planning Spring/Summer 2014 because I'll be exhibiting at my first trade show in January. That means a lot of advance planning - I typically don't have the spring line ready until early march, but since the show is in January I have to have everything wrapped up by the end of December.
Where would you like to see your business in 10 years?
I want bobaloo! to be the brand customers look to for a baby gift. I would like my role in this business to continue to evolve - I want to be able to focus on marketing and new product development instead of the not-as-fun parts of running a business (like accounting!).
Show us your workspace. What is your favorite thing about where you work? What would you splurge on if money were no object?
My favorite part of my workspace is my gigantic cutting table. Although it doesn't look huge in the photos, the top is a solid 65" long, which gives me so much room to unroll fabric. We bought secondhand kitchen cabinets and a island countertop from a thrift store so the whole thing cost less than $200. I also love the drawer stacks that hold my cut goods. I blew the budget on the nice drawer stacks from the Container Store and they're so sturdy and durable.
If I could splurge on something, it would be lots and lots of built in storage for fabric and supplies. We actually have some space behind the walls in this room, but we're planning on selling our house next year so I can't really change anything structural. I can't wait to design a studio from scratch in our next house! I'd love to have an area for inventory too - maybe a big closet. Right now all my inventory is stored in a big IKEA wardrobe in our bedroom.
The crazy wall colors in this room are due to it's former life as a pool room. Our pool table had grey felt and we had orange upholstery on everything. My next studio will have light walls and lots of high-powered lighting!
What is your favorite food? What food do you despise?
Is it cheating to pick State Fair food as my favorite? I could eat fried cheese, apple dumplings, and the butter-dipped corn on the cob all day long! My least favorite food is probably peas - the mushy texture makes me gag!
What is your favorite movie?
This is a tough one since I'm a movie junkie, but I REALLY love The Usual Suspects. The Princess Bride is another contender.
All images above were provided by Samantha Howard. Samantha can be found using the links below: