In Store - Baby Love
Local mom turns her passion for crafting into success with an online store for tots
Full-time mom and Virginia Beach resident Allison Mahaney always knew she wanted to be an artist, but it wasn't until she found Etsy that her handmade gifts for friends turned into a successful part-time business.
While growing up in Michigan, Mahaney's parents taught her to dream big, telling her she could do and have anything she wanted in life. When she decided she wanted to be an artist, they supplied the paints and brushes. Her parents' encouragement stuck with her and helped make her the success she is today.
That success is ALLIEcraft, a line of handmade gifts for modern moms and babies including onesies, T-shirts, totes and bibs. Mahaney started ALLIEcraft a few years ago before her daughter was born. "At the time, the stores were filled with pink, princesses and tiaras. Being a bit of a tomboy, I was scared of all that pink and wanted something more modern and fun," she says. What started as filling a niche for family and friends turned into much more with the help of Etsy.
Etsy (www.etsy.com) is an online marketplace for handmade and vintage goods. "When I found Etsy I was ecstatic. I knew that this would be an awesome opportunity to build on ALLIEcraft and possibly be able to stay home full time with the kids," Mahaney says. "On a deeper level, I felt like I had found 'my people!' These were artists like me, doing what they loved to do every day and making a living from it. I was in love with that thought and determined to be a part of it!"
After selling online for a year, her business began to pick up. In addition to her shop on Etsy, Mahaney is now selling ALLIEcraft at baby boutiques throughout the U.S. and as far away as Hong Kong and Australia. All her patterns are originalshe hunts for limited-edition fabrics, eco-friendly materials and vintage designs. Once she falls in love with a fabric, her next question is, "Ok, what should I make this into?"
Making your own schedule is an advantage of owning your own business, but Mahaney says it can be stressful being a full-time mom with a part-time business. Mahaney, whose husband is in the Navy, often finds herself playing the role of single parent with her two children, Owen, 7, and Molly, almost 3. "I really try not to extend myself too much or get too busy with other things, because I know that when it comes down to it, my kids will always come first." Her advice is to know your limits: "Know when you can and can't work, and make designated time for it. I work mostly during nap times, Sesame Street and after bedtime."
The future of ALLIEcraft is brightcustom orders, new items inspired by customer requests and hopefully a showcase of products at Renegade Handmade, an independent art show that runs throughout the U.S. "The fact that [the handmade movement] is reviving a new appreciation for art, craft and handmade goods is good for the world!" Mahaney says.
She adds that the most important thing is to do what you love. "If it's something you love to do," she says, "it's so much easier to work it into your everyday life." nHRM