Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Crafty Mamacita on Etsy

Hi!  I wanted to tell you about one of my favorite Etsy shops Crafty Mamacita.  Maria the shop owner is also one of my favorite mom bloggers.  The best thing about her is her sincerity and love for her daughter.  She truly wears her heart on her sleeve.  After you read the interview below, you will understand exactly what I am talking about.  I wanted to feature her shop here because she has a lot very cute childrens items in her shop.  She makes the cutest mother/daughter apron sets, I know my sister and her girls would love them too.  :) 

A dress Maria made for her adorable daughter.

Q & A w/ Marie From Crafty Mamacita

How would you describe your style?Latino, modest chic, retro, flamenco, and elegant, just to name a few words that would describe my style.

Who or what have been your biggest influences/inspirations?
I grew up on the Mexican border in Texas and that was a big influence on me. I really loved being surrounded by the Mexican culture and I loved the desert, the sun, and all things Texan. I loved growing up with bright colors, spicy food, a hot climate, the beauty of the Spanish language, lots of affection from all the abuelitas and mamacitas (neighborhood grandmas and moms), and tons of history. I also spent 5 months in Italy and 2 months in Sevilla, Spain. I fell in love with the food of Italy, and the clothing style of Sevilla. I became totally enamored of flamenco and Andalusian culture. It is kind of funny how much Andalusian style has in common with 1950's style - lots of polka dots and ruffles. I would say that although I love the 1950s, I love the 1940s even more. I love the really great elegance of 1940s clothing styles, the long dresses, the beautiful wool coats and simple, but beautiful hats. I dress very much in that same style most of the time myself.

I speak from the heart that one of my biggest inspirations has also been from an internal struggle of being what I call a "border child". I grew up between two cultures, and not feeling completely a part of one or the other. I love the Mexican culture and I am glad to be an American, but I find myself often having to defend one or the other side, while loving them both. This really happened more drastically when I moved from Texas to Washington state, where there is a lot of misunderstanding between the two cultures. So often my creations have to do with this tension of loving a culture, and also feeling like an outsider because of it. When I make mantillas, or aprons, it evokes memories for me, and that is what I cherish, I think of all those mamacitas making fresh tortillas in their flouncy aprons, or the abuelitas who would wear mantillas to church, or all the little girls dressed up for the fiestas. Sometimes people tell me I should make more "mainstream" stuff, but I take pride in my heritage and I think that more and more people from everywhere are starting to appreciate Latin-American style.

I am also inspired by the modest chic movement. Having a daughter definitely had a big influence on that. I wanted her to have beautiful clothes that celebrated her Guatemalan culture, were modest, fun to wear, and made her feel like a princess. I hope someday when life settles down more, I can start making and designing more beautiful and modest clothes for girls.

My husband is also a big influence. He bought me my sewing machine the first year I was married, and I am still thanking him even now for such a wonderful, practical gift. No other sewing machine is as good as the one I have (in my opion) because it is sturdy, does lots of stitches, and is made of metal (which is hard to find these days). 

What motivates you on a daily basis to create?

My daughter Susi is a big motivator. I really started sewing because of her. I found that most clothes in the store are not made for Latinas, and that was frustrating. Not to mention that most of them did not fit my criteria for what I wanted her to wear. The clothes are all made for the average American, they are often badly made, and don't last long. After hemming and adjusting so many clothes, I finally decided to make clothes for her. I also missed the bright colors which are so hard to find in the store.
Some other daily motivators are wanting to be able to stay at home with her, trying to live my dream of going down to California with my husband and daughter and be able to pay the bills while we are there. I also really want to be debt free, that is a big dream of mine. I would love to be able to raise the money to adopt more children too.

What has been your biggest fear/challenge you have had to overcome (in life or work)?
Right now, we are going through a lot of struggles, so it is hard to name just one. My husband has been working for many years at a very successful game company. It pays great, but the sacrifices are too great.He works a lot of overtime, we barely get to see him and weekends pass by too quickly. He just applied to a wonderful, small college in Southern California. We want to move there, but I have a lot of student loans, and we are doing a short sale on our house, and we don't know if the banks will forgive all of our loans. I also sold my car, thinking it would not take us so long to sell our house, and we would only need one car when we moved. I am really missing my car now, because being stuck in the suburbs is no fun, especially with all the cold, rainy weather we get so often here.

So my husband just got accepted to school and we are trying to figure out how we can make it down there. Everything is up in the air right now, and it is hard to not know what is going to happen or even be able to plan.

The hardest part of running my company is finding time to create. My husband is also starting his own illustration business and he does not have extra time to trade off childcare with me, because he has his own things he has to work on.

What has been your favorite creation so far?

My favorite creation so far has been this dress I made for my daughter's presentation. It is a Catholic Hispanic tradition to present a child at church when they turn 3 years old. I loved the look on my daughter's face when she wore it at church. She felt so special. She was twirling around after church and her face was beaming. It felt so good to be able to make her so happy. I look forward to being able to offer more of those dresses for special occasions soon. I am not making dresses right now, because we are definitely in a state of transition, but I can't wait to get settled down somewhere so I can start making dresses to my heart's content.

In my shop itself, the lavender sachets are one of my favorites. The white polka dot organza was leftover lining from that same presentation dress I made for Susi. The lavender I grew myself from many different varieties. Several of the plants I bought at Pelindaba Lavender Farms on San Juan Island. It brings back good memories of summer vacations there and beautiful purple fields of lavender. I store the bags next to my finished hair accessories, and they all smell so wonderful every time I put a new hair accessory in.

Where would you like to improve yourself or what would you like to learn more about?

For one, I wish I had a fancy DSL camera. About once a year, the timing on my sewing machine has to be fixed. I would like to learn how to fix it myself so I could save myself the money of having it repaired. I really, really want to learn to draft dresses, especially the bodice part. I wish I could make slopers. I would also love to take a class in millinery, because I love hats. I am also working on sewing more knits. I want to learn different nice ways to finish seams. I would also love to learn more haute couture methods of sewing. When my business really gets off the ground I want to find fabric made completely in America, if it even exists. I would also love to find some beautiful manta fabric, like the kind they make in Mexico. Susi's baptismal dress was made of it, and I wish I could make more baptismal gowns out of that beautiful, unique fabric.

What tips do you have for other crafty mamacitas who are balancing being busy and living the creative life?
First acknowledge that it is really difficult. Raising a child comes first, being creative comes second. Remember that you can't do everything, but you can at least start small. Every little effort counts when running a business, whether it is getting started on a new project, going shopping, or drafting something.

I would say to also read the chapter in the bible about the proverbial wife, it is really inspiring. Surround yourself with inspiration and seek advice and support.

Don't give up when you have doubts. This has been a very difficult time for my business, but just the other day I received an order out of the blue (my first time this whole year). Know that orders often happen when you least expect them, so keep waiting, work hard, and success will follow. During the times when you lack motivation or energy, network and promote. Make goals for yourself. Take naps every day, even if it means just laying down on the couch for 20 minutes, while your child watches a video. It is worth it.

More than anything, trust in God to provide and to get you through the rough times, and know that it is okay to have doubts and anxieties about the future.

Please check out Crafty Mamacita on Etsy:

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