Meet Heather of Bebe & Alice
And enter to win a $45 gift certificate to her shop!!
So, I have to say that I instantly admired Heather's store when I first came across it--as well as her blog. For me, her work feels warm and familiar while also being hip, green, and creative.
Through her work and writing you can tell that Heather's inspired by her family and making use of what she has. Personally, my creativity is engaged when I am around pieces of vintage or even just second hand materials of all kinds. Like Heather, I think it's fun to be resourceful. It makes the frugal/cheap side of me happy, but it also makes me happy to find new ways to use materials that may have been tossed out.
I think this is why I really connect to her work. In everything that we see of Bebe and Alice I can feel this same creative and resourceful drive to make something beautiful and unique. Not only that, but I think your customers can tell how important her family and their history is to her--and this is something that I find very appealing in a inde crafter.
I had the good fortune to have the opportunity to ask Heather some questions about herself and her business and I'm happy to share this with you!
CPS: So, tell me about your business name. On the outside it seems very cute and sweet, but it has history to it, right?
HEATHER: Yes, my business name came from my two grandmothers. We called my maternal grandmother Bebe. That is the only name I knew her by. She was a sweet but no nonsense lady, social and very artistic. She was very eclectic, like I am, and leaned towards modern, asian and southwestern design. She was an accomplished oil painter and knitter and sold her pieces in a few stores in my home town. She also knitted for charity and would fill large boxes with hats and booties and drop them off at hospitals and churches for gifts for newborn babies. My paternal grandmother, Alice, just passed away in July. She was a gentle youthful spirit even at 93 years of age. I acquired the majority of my frugal mindset
from her, I believe. She had the sweetest southern charm, dancing eyes and quick wit and possessed a grace and hospitality that is unsurpassable. She was extremely talented and wrote her own music and lyrics. One of her songs was a lullaby she wrote for my father. Everyone in the family knows this lullaby and my two year old daughter sings it today. She had a deep love for family history and heritage which she has passed along to my sisters and me.
CPS: How long have you been working on this store and blog?
HEATHER: I started my blog about a year ago and wasn't even sure what it was going to be exactly. I guess I am still not sure. Kind of like a diary I suppose. I began the blog because I had decided to officially start a business of some sort and had landed on the name and purchased the domain name, etc. I researched enough to know that if I was going to make a go of it with a business then I needed to venture into the web world and dabble in every social media opportunity that I could understand and have time for. It has been such a work in progress but since there is no deadline I suppose the evolution of it will produce better and better results. At least, that is what I am hoping for.
CPS: Is Bebe and Alice a FT job for you? Are you a stay at home mom? Do you have another job?
HEATHER: I am a full time stay at home mom and have been since my first baby was born. Bebe and Alice is supposed to be a hobby, a distraction, a playground for me to visit every so often for my own emotional and mental exercise. However, I have allowed it to become a full time project. My responsibilities at home and as a mother have become the distraction. This is something that I am trying to sort out at the moment. However, I love working on Bebe & Alice from home because my sewing room has become a studio for my girls as well and I've seen so many benefits for them in that. I've noticed a change in the way the girls view me as well when they see things I produce and sales to buyers all the way over seas. I hope that the experience I am having will instill a confidence in them to try all sorts of things without fear of failure as they grow up.
CPS: So, what is the typical day like for you? Is there such a thing?
HEATHER: A typical day in my house is one that has many surprises, a little bit of chaos, a few calamities and a lot of love. Since the school year has started back up there is something resembling order and a schedule but certainly not exactly what I hope for one day. Though, I do hate to think that one day I'll have no one around to interrupt my schedule because all my girls will be grown up and gone. There is a song by Sara Groves called Just One More Thing. The lyrics are a gentle reminder that relationships are really all you have at the end of your life. Slow down. Put first things first. I love that song and am thankful for the reminder.
CPS: Your girls are beautiful!! You have 4 girls, right? You can see them in some of the pics on your etsy store. What are their names and ages? Do you find that being a mom ignites your creativity in a way that you may or may not have expected?
HEATHER: Thanks so much for the kind words about my girls! Yes, I have four girls. Hannah is 12. Lucy is 10. Libby Scout is 6 and Georgie Alice is 2. Lucy and Georgie were named after my grandmother Alice's side of the family. As for their inspirational impact on my creative life, they are certainly a help for me in that area. More than anything, they help me focus my design direction and refine things by giving me feedback. Kids don't sugar coat things. They tell it like they see it so I can trust their response to new designs. As for adult products, it is hard for me to get honest feedback in the development stages because my husband doesn't have a lot of perspective on womens' fashion accessories, as you can imagine! He is also a very gentle soul and not quick to criticize, even when I ask him for constructive criticism. It is at these times that I wish I lived closer to my four fabulous sisters!
CPS: What is your background? Schooling, interests, etc.
HEATHER: When I was little I wanted to grow up and become either an architect, an author or an archaeologist. All start with the letter "A". Strange, huh? I also toyed with the idea of becoming a detective. I did attend college for two years but could not stand shelling out money when I had no idea what I wanted to do at the end of four years. I took a lot of English classes and Accounting classes and then took a permanent vacation from college. As for the creative studies, I have always been drawn to them but avoided experimenting out of fear. I do remember that I had this gnawing need to learn how to use a sewing machine since elementary school. I would beg my mom to teach me how to use the one we had shoved way back in a closet in our house. It was very old, the kind that was housed in a sewing table. Do you know the kind? I believe it was a heavy metal Singer. However, she never pulled it out and taught me how to run it. Maybe it wasn't it working order, I don't know. Anyhow, 6 years ago my husband surprised me with a sewing machine for Christmas. It was a very basic Singer but I felt like I had won the lottery! He had been watching me hand sew baby blankets and crib bedding and pillow covers and curtains, etc. I dove in and read through the machine manual and got to work immediately teaching myself how to use the it. From there I checked out every sewing book at our library numerous times until I understood the basic language of sewing. After that I asked my pastor's wife to teach me how to read a simple pattern for a child's dress. It has been a wonderful journey for me! The best gift I have ever been given, honestly well, aside from my four girls.
CPS: Who taught you to sew?
HEATHER: My mom taught me to hand sew when I was in elementary school as well as how to crochet. My grandmother tried to teach me to knit but I can't seem to get a grasp on that. I taught myself how to use a sewing machine and everything that follows that.
CPS: Your photos are always stunning! They usually look like they belong in a magazine. Do you take any of these?
HEATHER: You are so complimentary, Missy! I appreciate your kindness. Yes, I take the photos myself. Usually of myself which makes for a very frustrating experience as you can imagine. I am not at all comfortable in front of a camera- I much prefer to be behind the camera. I love to take photosÖlove it! I admire photographers that deliver original perspective in their work. If I had the time I would pour myself into photography. There is so much to learn and so many things worth documenting! My friends and family are getting quite tired of me asking them to pose with my wares. My girls used to enjoy it and now they moan when I tell them I need them to model for me. This is where lollipops come in very handy!
CPS: Handmade and vintage have become super popular lately. Do you have any views on why you think this is, or how long you expect it to last, or how you think it may develop?
HEATHER: Wow. What a question! How many pages am I allowed to answer this? It seems to me that everything is cyclical. Especially in fashion. However, I suspect that the environmental aspect of this handmade and vintage trend will infiltrate deeply and most likely never disappear. Obviously, I am not an expert in the fashion industry or leader in environmental awareness so I don't claim to know a whole lot but looking at the history of such things I expect an evolution of the fashion industry to embrace eco friendly practices on a large scale. The push for buying vintage and retro is just the spring board. It will take some ingenuity in the fashion industry to find the means to supply recycled and up cycled fashion to the masses. In the meantime, indie designers and the handmade movement will supply it to intentional buyers. At least, that's my take on it all. Just sayin'.
CPS: I notice that you have a new website under development. Do you have some new plans for Bebe&Alice?
HEATHER: My website, as well as my blog are in the midst of a face lift as I try desperately to refine my design vision for Bebe and Alice. Because I am still in the baby stages of growing this business I cannot afford to hire professionals for many aspects and therefore am struggling to brand the business myself. I have been blessed to connect with a gal, Leslie Doughty, in Virginia. She has been in branding and design for over 20 years and has given me much feedback and help in my redesign. I hope to eventually, sooner rather than later, land on the perfect window dressing that reflects exactly what Bebe & Alice offers and from where it originated.
ENTER the Bebe & Alice $45 gift certificate GIVEAWAY!!
Thanks to Heather for sharing a little about herself and her business! I'm pleased to announce that Heather will be giving the winner $45 to spend in her shop on anything--you can also apply it to a large order. (But it cannot be put toward a custom order.)
TO ENTER: Simply visit her shop and leave a comment below telling us what you would buy with the certificate if you win.
PLUS: Free shipping to anyone entering the giveaway!!!!
This contest will run from Monday November 2, 2009-Sunday November 8, 2009. The winner will be picked at random and will be contacted on Monday Novemember 9, 2009.