Making the Maker, an Interview with Kaylee Stockton
Wow! What a week!! So happy that it is Monday, and we are ready for another fresh start - let's make this one just as good as last week (: How about some inspiration to start you off? We love interviewing other makers of small, handmade businesses. Learning about their design processes and journeys has only helped make our dream a little bit stronger. Here at Under A Tin Roof we firmly believe that building up another business will only make you stronger!
Today, I am interviewing Kaylee Stockton of Foothill Fawn, a vintage, handmade children's clothing brand. Kaylee is from the sierra foothills of Northern California. There she lives with her little daughter, Harper, and husband where she loves to garden, swim in the creek, or camp in the middle of nowhere. Sounds like fun!
Kayla: How did your business begin?
Kaylee: I studied veterinary technology in college but took a step back from a busy career in veterinary medicine last year when my daughter Harper was born. Because I've been known to be a total workaholic, I needed another venture other than just being home.. so there started Foothill Fawn. The process all inadvertently began when I was pregnant and shopping for baby clothes, every clothing item I came across at stores made me cringe. Why must all little girl items be pink, frilly, with weird cartoons?! So it was then that I decided I just wanted to make my own pieces for my future daughter. With all the attention my clothing started to get, I finally decided to try my hand at opening up shop. I went in without many expectations in succeeding but as my business started to grow, I realized that I really wanted this to be my career.
Kayla: Wow! What a career change. Has practicing veterinary medicine influenced your current work in anyway?
Kaylee: It's so extremely different, which is actually a good thing. Working at the emergency hospital was very high stress and could sometimes be heartbreaking. My current business is so positive and very rewarding. I get to be creative doing something I love and also see others enjoying my work.
Kayla: Why do you make handmade?
Kaylee: I grew up in a very creative household; we created things not only to spend time together but also because we didn't have money - if we wanted something, it was most likely only feasible if we made it ourselves. This was the root of it, but it grew from there. Everything handmade has a story and a labor of love behind it. I can look at each thing I've ever made and be flooded with memories of it's journey from start to finish. I make all clothes for my shop like I would for my own daughter. They are even individually hand washed, hung to dry, and ironed before being wrapped up for you. When you support handmade, you support someone's talents and skills, which is so important. Plus, there is nothing more rewarding than seeing a sweet little babe in something you made!
Kayla: What inspires your products/designs/brand?
Kaylee: Vintage! My love affair for all things vintage and antique started really early in life and still runs strong. I can even look at a vintage fabric and immediately imagine what it could be, most of my designs and patterns are actually inspired by the vintage fabric itself.
Kayla: What is your design process?
Kaylee: Tons of trial and error; I hand-make almost all my own patterns, so every piece is very time consuming and usually must be paired with a good glass of wine.
Kayla: What is your favorite wine to drink while making? Ha ha!
Kaylee: I'm not much for sweeter wines, but I'm really a fan of any full bodied red, like an old vine Zinfandel.
Kayla: How did you come to learn to make your own patterns? That's amazing!
Kaylee: There's a lot of amazing vintage styles I love that I could never find a pattern for, so one day I just decided to try and make my own. It's always a fun challenge. I've never had any formal training when it comes to sewing or pattern making, I learn better by just teaching myself.
Kayla: What is your day-to-day life like?
Kaylee: Is hectic an answer? It always starts with a cup of coffee (or three) and cooking breakfast. The rest of the day is a wonderful blur of playing outside and sewing. My baby's nap time is my work time and let me tell you, I've become extremely efficient with it!
Kayla: Where do you source your products from?
Kaylee: I source from anywhere I possibly can, finding good vintage fabrics can be really tricky. I will search antique shops, vintage shops, flea markets, thrift stores and estate sales but those can all be fairly unpredictable. I also like to source online from Etsy and Instagram shops because I love supporting other small businesses as well.
Kayla: Do you have any regrets or have you made any mistakes when it comes to running a small business?
Kaylee: I'm sure I've made tons of mistakes; it's all a learning a process. I always regret the stress I feel when I'm overloaded with orders or give myself certain deadlines. I need to learn to just relish in all of it - I mean, how many people get to actually be their own boss?
Kayla: What is the hardest part about running a small, handmade business?
Kaylee: I can say without a doubt, the hardest part is the balance of motherhood and business owner. Every night in bed I think, "Did I give my baby enough undivided attention, or did I work too much today?" It can be extremely difficult some days but I'm finding what works best for my business and family.
Kayla: How do you think you could find balance in your work day and being a mother? This question is interesting to me because I often lie in bed at night and wonder the same thing.Kaylee: I think it's important for my daughter's needs to always be met first - sewing can always be done during naps, independent play, or after bed time. In my opinion, it doesn't work to try and entertain her while sewing because it's just doing both things half heartedly. It may be more exhausting to stay up half the night working, but it's worth it to me to do both things right. I'm very much looking forward to when she is a little older and can be included in the process more.
Thank you so much for being a part of our series, Kaylee! I really loved hearing all about your process behind hunting for vintage fabrics and learning that you just wing your patterns!! That's so cool! You can shop Foothill Fawn here and follow her on Instagram (@foothillfawn) to see new products and promotions.
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