Indie Mom Turns Sewing Habit Into Thriving Business
Like all new moms, Jill Bredow used soft blankets to welcome her babies into the world. Like me, she made them herself. Like me, she didn't care whether anyone else liked them. Like me, she just wanted to make her kids feel loved. The similarities end there. When people saw my blankets, they said, "How nice." When people saw Jill's blankets, they pulled out their wallets.
Open life. Insert business, AllyZabba, that is. Here is some of Jill's story, and pictures of some blankets that almost make me want to have another child just so I can wrap him or her up in one. I said almost.
dM: Tell me a bit about life before AllyZabba and how the business started?
Before starting the business, I was a third grade teacher. I enjoyed spending my days with children and my colleagues in education. When I became pregnant with my first child, I was sad to leave that part of my life, but excited to have the opportunity to stay home and focus on my family.
The business started when my friends liked the blankets I made for my daughters. Everyone said we should sell them so that's what we did. I thought it would be a good way to subsidize my sewing addiction. Little did I know — with little effort, we sold 20 blankets the first month.
dM: What do you love about being Indie?
I love the flexibility it gives me. When I fall in love with new fabric, I can make a handful of blankets and offer them for sale at the website that same week. This gives me immediate feedback. My daughters will celebrate thier fifth and second birthdays within the next several months and I enjoy being able to put their needs first during the day, yet still be in the business world.
Since starting AllyZabba I have been blessed to learn from many other Indies through various websites and discussion groups. I am continually amazed at the community of women who will help with any business question or problem. It truly is an honor to know and learn from each other.
dM: What is your biggest Indie business challenge and how do you overcome it?
The biggest challenge has been seeing the business through its various stages of growth. I opened the business with material purchased from a local fabric store. Back then, I only needed to make a few blankets in each color. Today, I buy custom designed material in large wholesale lots and work carefully to ensure the quality of the cutting and sewing process.
Being a small business owner means being challenged to wear many hats. I am blessed to have a husband who is an expert in many fields, so he is my webmaster, new accounts manager, and all around tech guy. Even with such great support, it's still a challenge because each stage of growth requires that I find new, relabile people to partner with and also learn a whole new aspect of the business.
dM: What are your future plans for AllyZabba?
We are happy with the way AllyZabba has grown in the 18 months since it opened. Future plans include attnding more trade shows so we can meet personally with retailers and discover new wholesale opportunities.
Jill's story shows us that:
- Slow and steady wins the race. Jill started with one type of blanket, their signature "Pastel Zabba," and grew the business from there in stages. Instead of starting out thinking that she could make a blanket for everyone in the universe, she focused her efforts at first one a specific product. This allowed her to expand the product line as she also expanded her ability to keep up with the business while also managing her home.
- Work with what you have. Jill could probably spend a ton of money on website designers and tech gurus. Instead, she uses the valuable resources that her husband brings to the table, freeing up funds for investment elsewhere. "The family that binds together grinds together," and that's never more true than it is when a family business is involved.
- Schmooze or lose. Jill incorporates the second prong of the Indie Business Trifecta by staying in touch with and learning from other Indie business owners. No Indie is an island, I say, and Jill's comments point to how much connecting with others contributes to a solid bottom line.
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