This is only the third edition I’ve done in my Momtrepreneur series, but I have to tell you: I’m loving them. I have asked all of these ladies the same questions and have never been bored by their answers. They’re incredibly inspiring.
This month, I’ve got Morgan from King Soleil shedding some light on starting a business. I stumbled across Morgan’s shop when it was featured somewhere on the internet (possibly Babble’s Top 50 Etsy Baby Shops). First, I fell in love with her work and then I fell in love with her mission.
King Soleil was born when Morgan started preparing a nursery for her first baby. When she found the decor she stumbled upon to be lacking, she started crafting her own pieces by repurposing, refinishing, upcycling and reinventing.
Could this woman and her work be any more up my alley? I think not. But let her tell her story. I hope you’re even half as inspired by it as I am!
Tell me a little bit about your business. When did you start it? What inspired you to get it going? Did you start before or after having your kids?
King Soleil is a baby and child-centered boutique that carries everything from nursery rugs and wall art, baby blankets and accessories, to special occasion dresses for little girls.
When I became pregnant with my daughter I realized that I just couldn’t find the perfect décor for her nursery. Actually, her nursery was a corner of my husband’s and my bedroom, which proved even more difficult. I tried my hand at a few little pieces and lo and behold, I actually liked what I created!
After my son was born less than two years later, I taught myself how to crochet, specifically to ease some stress, and make a rug for their bedroom. After some encouragement and compliments on a few of my first rugs, I started King Soleil with $6 of fabric from a thrift shop that I turned into 2 rugs, and a few skeins of yarn that became 3 baby blankets.
Everything progressed from there! I taught myself to embroider, and then I received a gift of a sewing machine from my mother. So I then expanded into that branch, and although I’m definitely much more comfortable hand sewing, I chug along!
King Soleil, named after my children, Kingston and Soleil, really would not be without them. I would most likely still be counseling at-risk teens and families, and moving onto a graduate degree in Psychology, my original plan after graduating college. I am so fulfilled as a mommy and business owner that even when my stress level hits the roof, my hand aches from crocheting, and I pricked my hand one too many times with my embroidery needle, I am still so grateful my life veered as it did.
How do you balance motherhood and running your business?
Balance is a tricky thing. I find that if you were to put my life onto one of those ancient Greek scales, where my family life is on one side and my business on the other, each arm would never be truly equal. I am either giving my attention to my work or my kids, because I would never want to give half of myself to either.
I have found that as Soleil gets older, she is now approaching 5, that she can sit along side me, knotting yarn, sorting my embroidery thread, painting, sketching, collage-ing–in fact, she is quite an embroiderer herself! So in that sense I have found a balance where she is happy and gets attention but I can work. Kingston, who is 2, just sort of becomes this bouncing ball of wreckage, but we work through it!
Bedtime is usually when I get most of my work done, but even during the day, a movie and a few snacks, and magically I am able to fill an order.
How does being a mom affect your business? Would you do anything differently if you didn’t have kids?
Well, I would surely be able to fill more orders! But then again, King Soleil wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for my babies. Also, because I am a mother and King Soleil is kid centered, I can relate to many of my customers who are either brides, mommies-to-be, or mommies already.
I love the relationships I am able to form with many of my customers for custom pieces and being able to share our stories and inspire each other to come up with new ideas. It’s truly a fantastic part of this job that I do not think would exist if I couldn’t relate to them as a mommy (and former bride as a matter of fact).
What inspires you creatively?
When coming up with new ideas, my children definitely are a huge part of that process. Kingston will request a blue blanket, one that you can see for sale in my shop, or Soleil will absolutely need an embroidery hoop with her name on it and it must have a butterfly. You can see that one too!
Aside from them, fabrics and colors are my biggest inspiration. Working with a lot of upcycled and one of a kind fabrics, I have to come up with new designs to make them work. A cashmere sweater might turn into a baby dress, or perhaps a blankie, or maybe even as part of an embroidery wall art piece. A scrap of silk might turn into balloon appliqués, or a rolled rose for a dress, or a flower hair pin. Some old curtains? Maybe they will be my next upcycled rug.
It is all about looking at what you have, holding it, putting it together with other pieces, and seeing where it takes you. A ribbon could inspire a whole new dress design, or a button could dictate the entire color scheme of a baby dress.
Do you have any tips for other moms who are looking to turn their passion into a business?
I think flexibility is one of the most important aspects of running a business and being a mother. Having a schedule is essential, but each day is different, some days the kids are fantastically self-sufficient, and others all I hear all day is, “Mommmmmy!!!!!” So you just have to roll with the punches and adjust as you go.
I used to set daily task lists for myself, but now I set weekly tasks. That way, if I don’t finish what I needed to do that day (like today for instance), I know that I have four more days to make that time up.
Something else to think about is making sure that your passion-into-business doesn’t turn you into a one woman assembly line, thereby stripping all the love you had for that particular job. Really love what you do, but also understand that when the orders come rolling in, this once hobby is now not something you do in your spare time but something you have to do to fill orders, on timelines. It comes with stress!
I am lucky enough to have founded King Soleil on everything that I absolutely love to do. Not to say that there are times when I look at my crochet hook and yet another skein of yarn and bolt of tulle and think…my goodness, I have 70 open orders for tutus right now… how can this be?! But really, I am so grateful that I am able to use what I love to do as my sole business and make a very good living.
Being able to equally provide for my family alongside my husband, while being home with my toddlers has been invaluable. And as Soleil tells me, she wants to make dresses and embroider and crochet just like mommy when she grows up, so I think I’m doing ok. 🙂
If you’re a momtrepreneur (or know someone who is!) and are interested in being featured in a future edition, shoot me an email with a link and I’ll consider you for an upcoming feature!
Also, if you haven’t entered yet, I have two awesome giveaways running this week! The first one is a chance to win a $50 e-gift card to The Children’s Place and the other is for a gorgeous handmade (eco and socially conscious!) Mikuti bangle!