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Friday Feature with SewnNatural

Natural Kids: Friday Feature with SewnNatural

Friday, January 8, 2010

Friday Feature with SewnNatural

Tell us little about yourself! 
Hello there. We're Jane & Jen.  We're a mother-daughter team, well, actually we're both mothers now (and that new little person reminds us every day of how important it is to be kind to our planet).  Originally from Montreal. Jen's lived in Ottawa for the last decade or so, in between time away for postgrad in Europe and lots of travel. Jane moved nearby when Jen and her husband started a family. Creating beautiful things at her sewing machine makes Jane very happy, and Etsy makes it possible for her to do what she loves most and earn living income from it. Jen squeezes in time for working with her hands, running the business side of the shop, photography and listings when her daughter is asleep, or in those little snippets of time. Jane's an amazing baker. Jen's almost as good a cook. Jen has no TV. Jane's originally from Minnesota. She has also explored weaving, spinning, knitting and fashion design.

What do you make and how long have you been creating?
We make baby and child gear from scratch, including bedding, sleep bags, toys and apparel, and we also make pieces for a natural home like picnic blankets and balsam fir sachets. Everything is designed and handcrafted with our own 2 and sometimes 4 (collaborative) hands. We use all natural materials - organic and rescued vintage whenever we can.  The average cotton T-shirt is only 73% cotton fiber – the rest is chemicals and resins. Now imagine a big baby blanket!  So using organic and eco friendly is better for the earth, better for kids’ bodies and better for nourishing their imaginations.

{Jane} I think the creative process can often begin very early in life - noticing the beautiful colors, textures and shapes in nature.  A child hugging the rough bark of a big maple tree in autumn with an canopy of crimson heart-shaped leaves above their head ...  Using all the senses and a blossoming imagination in the free flow of creative play leads naturally into the joy of creating useful and beautiful (objects) for our lives.  As a young girl, I was fortunate to have a loving, patient guide along parts of that journey of discovery.  My grandmother sitting next to me at her treddle sewing machine as I created my first patchwork quilt is an important touchstone for me.

{Jen} I think I inherited the "must work with my hands" gene from my mother and have been making things for as long as I can remember. I learned to create with my hands from her, though I never took up sewing until recently (guess I thought I had to do my *own* thing).  I spent loads of time in a pottery studio as an 8 and 9 year old, and then again in my twenties. I miss it a lot, but felting, sewing and embroidery makes a lot more sense with my life now.



What inspires you?
{Jane} My sources of inspiration are still pretty much the same as they always were.  Beautiful colors, shapes and textures, especially in nature that touch my heart, and occasionally take my breath away. The joy of something I create adding a little bit of comfort, ease or happiness to their lives. Sometimes, it's just an idea, but responding to how something makes me feel is at the heart of it always.

{Jen} Memories and mementos of all the traveling I did - colors, textures and shapes that I try to use in my work. Mid-century modern design. Taking something that would otherwise be thrown away and making it truly beautiful. The slow food manifesto. Black and white photography. Getting really, really dirty gardening in our new raised urban garden beds, or throwing clay on the wheel (I miss that).

How long have you been on Etsy and how has it been for you so far?

{Jen} Just over a year, and we've met such fantastic people on Etsy who have inspired us, offered us advice, and been really supportive. Thinking of our organic and eco friendly toys, bedding and apparel in childrens' rooms across the world is a very heartwarming thought, and something that keep us going. Those people would not have connected with SewnNatural had it not been through Etsy - so we feel very fortunate to have joined this community.

What advice would you have for other Etsians?
{Jen} 1- continuously try to improve your branding, your photos (because your photos are your items), and making your listings shorter, catchier, more personal, more genuine
2- figure out what works and what doesn't because you don't need - you don't want - everyone in the world to like your work and pieces (you just want your specific small target audience to connect with your work and not just like, but love it enough to bring it home)
3- give genuinely kind, prompt and generous customer service

{Jane} 1 - do what you honestly love, feel passionate about and do it well, trying not to be discouraged by ideas that don't necessarily translate into success
2 - be flexible and being aware of what your buyers are looking for, need and find functional is so important
3 - pay really close attention to emails with questions, comments or ideas in them! 

What do you hope to learn/gain/contribute from being part of the Natural Kids group?
{Jen} When we joined Natural Kids, we were thrilled to learn that many others on the team share many of our values and priorities (things like natural parenting, eco friendly living, love for nature, vintage-inspired aesthetic), so we have found being part of the group very affirming and supportive. Sometimes it is hard for parents to connect with information on the importance of eco friendly and natural alternatives for their child's play, rest, decor, and clothing. We're excited about working together to help get that message out!

What thoughts do you have for parents on the importance of natural toys for creative play?

{Jen} Natural toys, bedding and clothing are great for childrens' health, and great for the earth. They are free of toxic polyester, PVC, plastics and other chemicals that leach onto their skin and into their bodies. When we choose natural products, we also consciously practice responsible buying from companies that are easier on the earth.

Beyond that, kids have a deep need to be connected to living things, and to be in a nurturing environment.
(Think for a moment of your favorite childhood memories. Was it when the power went out for 3 days straight? That week spent camping? BBQs in the backyard? Holiday rituals and delicious meals?) If kids are not that different from seedlings (needing a solid foundation to grow for later transplanting), why not make their home a greenhouse? In addition to the water of love and attention and the soil of family, one of the most important ways we can build them this greenhouse is to give them toys and playthings that will nurture their imaginations and connect them to the nature. Because play is an integral part of how that child - that seedling - will grow.  Mister Rogers said that "play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood." That's so true! Kids deserve the best, most nurturing and natural tools for play.

Your items can be found where:
SewnNatural.etsy.com & check out our {new} blog at SewnNaturalstudio.blogspot.com

Interview by Beccijo of The Enchanted Cupboard

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6 Comments:

Blogger erin, maker of chimes said...

I love this shop! Can't wait to do shopping for us very soon ;)

January 8, 2010 at 11:45 AM  
Blogger Vilt à la Kim said...

great intervieuw. It was fun to read!!!

Thanks for sharing!!

January 8, 2010 at 4:35 PM  
Blogger BirchLeaf Designs said...

Sweet post Jen and Jane! Thanks Beccijo!

January 8, 2010 at 4:42 PM  
Blogger SewnNatural said...

Thanks so much for featuring us here!

January 8, 2010 at 8:23 PM  
Blogger Lala's Pequenos said...

I love all of the beautiful items!
-Alessandra

January 9, 2010 at 7:05 AM  
Blogger Prettydreamer said...

Jen, Thank you for sharing! Lovey post! ~Pamela

January 9, 2010 at 8:22 AM  

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