Making the Maker, an Interview with Abby Massey
Happy Monday! Why don't we start the day off with some inspiration from another wonderful, small business owner! We are lucky enough to call Abby of Wee Vintage Baby and Sleepy Tribe one of our dear friends. She is a great collaborator, artist, and mother! We love following along with her journey online. Get ready for another great interview!! Abby is from Omaha, Nebraska and lives with her husband and two young sons.
Kayla: Tell me a little about yourself! What is your background? Any hobbies or other jobs besides making?
Abby: I went to Kearney Nebraska and studied Watercolor. Transferred and graduated from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln where I studied Life Drawing and Oil Painting. I worked in the bars from the age of 18 to 33. Before my first born, Perry, I worked at a scrap metal business for 8 years. Not my passion, but I definitely loved it and sometimes still miss it. Maybe I just miss the people. Office dynamics. Meeting interesting people. I don’t miss working in bars.
Kayla: That's so interesting that you studied watercolor, life drawing, and oil painting! Is your current work influenced by those elements? Do you still practice them?
Abby: While I don’t sit down to paint much any more, I do use those skills to design my fabrics for both shops. Recently I've been trying to sit down with the intention to paint just for fun.
Kayla: What was your job like working the scrap metal business?
Abby: It was interesting. Nothing I would have ever seen myself enjoying. We brokered scrap metal all over the united states and overseas. It was fast passed, busy, and stressful but a learning experience. Our office was mostly admin assistants that handled the processing of scrap loads via truck, rail, and barge. Shipping, receiving, accounts payable, and receivables. The most interesting part was meeting people in the same industry all over the US. I always thought it would be fun to do a little documentary on some of those people. Such hard workers with a great amount of pride.
Kayla: How did your business begin?
Abby: After I had Perry, my intentions were to send Perry to daycare and go back to work. My boss had given me quite a bit of time off, I think about 16 weeks. The day I went back to work, I sobbed at my desk. I went to the daycare over my lunch to check on him. Sobbed all the way there and all the way back to work. My desk phone rang and it was one of my favorite customers. He asked me, “Why are you back here? Why are you not home with that baby?” I didn’t have an answer. “You will regret sitting another day at this desk. You will not regret staying home with that baby. If you can make it work, make it work.” I still can not think about that conversation without crying. Simple words but words that meant so much. I think about that man a lot. He was so kind. These are the people that we need more of …..okay it doesn’t take me long to get off course.
Kayla: What inspires your products/business/designs?
Abby: Perry was the reason I started my shop. It was originally small nursery drawings. Then it migrated to Baby and Kid Vintage and vintage inspired handmade goods. My motto when I started the shop was “Enjoy the tiniest moments as they will be gone in a flash”
Kayla: When did you start sewing? Have you always known how or was it something that you learned to start your business?
Abby: My mom is a great sewer. She sewed a lot of our clothes as babies up to grade school. So, I think I get it from her, and she’s also taught me some things. Lots of YouYube videos. I think I mostly started sewing when I went to college. I would make things for around my house. Curtains, pillows. Hippie skirts and bandana tops. HAHAHAH!!!
Kayla: What is your design process?
Abby: WORK WORK WORK. I'm not sure I have a process.There are a lot of processes, and some days it seems like barely tackling one pair of bloomers or one blanket. My house is my work station. Currently, sitting on the toilet as a chair using sink as desk while kids are eating breakfast in the bathtub because one pooped all over himself.
Kayla: What is your typical day-to-day life like?
Abby: My typical day is like the above!! In the morning I try to do packaging and shipping for orders that need to go out. Once that's done, I try to tell myself to do work out just for 15 minutes before I set out on my “to do’s.” Lately, that hasn’t been happening because my anxiety kicks in about 3 minutes into Tracy Anderson's free arms section. My sewing machine is currently on the kitchen table. I work on things here and there throughout the day. From 10 am to about 1:00 pm we are out and about. I take the kids out to explore, play, and run an errand if we need to but for the most part this is their time. Nap time is from 1:30 till about 4, this is when the serious hustle happens. I also take trips back to Columbus for a couple days to binge work. My mom takes care of the kids while I set up shop in her basement. This is where I get a lot of work done for big local events.
Kayla: What is the hardest part about running a small, handmade business?
Abby: Getting customers to understand the value of a handmade item. I am not Amazon! I am one woman. Hear me roar ;)
Kayla: Can you explain the difference between Wee Vintage Baby and Sleepy Tribe?
Abby: Wee Vintage Baby came first and is a collection of handmade baby goods, whimsical and vintage inspired. More one-of-a-kind handmade items. Using vintage fabrics, vintage inspired fabrics, and some of my own fabric designs.
Sleepy Tribe was a place for me to solely promote my handmade baby goods using only my fabric designs. That name came from an Instagram contest where I asked followers to name the first fabric. Sleepy Tribe was the winner. Leo was a newborn, and I new exactly what it felt like to be part of a sleepy tribe. He would not sleep anywhere but my arms. We were a little tribe with little sleep ;)
Thanks so much for that awesome interview, Abby!! We love our Wee Vintage Baby bloomers so much and wear them daily, well, Tad does anyway (; Be sure to check out Abby's shops Wee Vintage Baby and Sleepy Tribe. Also, go and follow her daily life on Instagram (@weevintage) it's a hoot! We love her so!
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