Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Meet Allison & Jason // Fin First

One of my favorite things is when artists decide to put their talents into things we can wear! Who wouldn't want to walk around wearing rad art right? Fin First is no exception to that and I'm over-the-moon to be able to share this ridiculously talented couple with you! Jason and Allison are on a mission to bring you and your littles original, whimsical, one of a kind, playful, nature inspired designs that are a reflection of their love for the great outdoors! With Jason being the artist, hand drawing every design you see, and Allison being the photographer... they're the perfect match to pull this off. Read a little snippet from their story on their website....

"As parents, we pray our children will stay true to their roots, have a hunger for the outdoors, be curious, get lost, dream big, crave independence, get dirty, hit the ground running, chase the endless summer, do big things, wander, never look back and have no regrets.  We wanted to represent all of those things through our t-shirt artwork….and so our brand is born, simply named FIN FIRST."

disclaimer: even though just the day before we got over 12 inches of snow dumped on us, the next day it felt like spring! Hence the snow and short sleeved shirts haha! No Child was made to freeze in any photos :)
and seriously, how cute is the packaging/!

Now that you've had a chance to check out a couple examples of their amazing tees, lets meet the lovely duo behind the brand! They were kind enough to let me pick their brains a little on goals and business advice :) Read the short Q&A session below!

Allison, Jason, & their cutie Fin!

Where does the name "Fin First" come from?

"We named our little company Fin First for two reasons. We named it after our son Fin and he is our top priority, he comes first, he eats first, he plays first, he bathes first and he sleeps first. Fin first is also a surfing term. This maneuver is accomplished when skilled long boarders gracefully ride their board backwards, with the "fin first", different from all the rest...and that is what we wanted for our little company, to be different from all the rest. We have a love for surfing and an even deeper love for our son, so we knew the name Fin First was a perfect match for us."

What motivated you to start your own business?

"We were motivated to start this business because we wanted kids to have fun, colorful shirts.  As a photographer and an artist, we knew we could do it. We've started an adult tee line with success and once Fin was born, we wanted him to have cool onesies and tees."

What advice would you give to someone considering starting their own business?

"Advice for others starting a business…..try to be original.  Be social network savvy.  Make prices affordable.  Have a story to go with your product. That's easy for us because our line is all about our personal lives.  EVERYONE has a t-shirt line, we knew this, so we came out of the gates strong with 15 original designs, stories to match them, real life photos, affordable pricing and a feel to our line that lets everyone feel like they know us." 

What does a typical day look like for you?

"Typical day at our casita….Breakfast, beds made, walk to the beach.  I am a local photographer so I snap two sessions per day plus edit at night.  The hubby is a graphic designer so he designs for clients all day.  All of this from home, and we keep Fin at home other than two days of school.  We get shirt deliveries twice per month.  We match those to our buyers and the designs they chose, take shirts to our local printer.  Turnaround there is about a week.  We then take our shirts to have our hand stamped logo tags sewn in.  Usually takes a few days.  On shipping day we are super busy.  We print shipping labels, package each shirt in our map wrapping, hand write our "Greetings from Myrtle Beach" postcards and attach those with a local seashell to each package.  Then off to the post office. Errands, DIY home projects, pillow fluffing, walking our dog Ollie and the occasional random road trip usually happen on a daily basis.  The hubby usually grills dinner.  Showers are a goal but you know how that goes ;)"

What is a goal you have for your business?

"Important goal….to grow our business so that we can work from anywhere….like, from an island somewhere.  We would eventually like to offer wholesale and do the printing ourselves." 

What is something quirky about you?

"Something quirky about us….I am obsessed with organization and tidiness (pretty tough with a 20 month old but I hold my ground).  As far as the hubby, he is color blind….crazy since he is an artist :)"

If you could have any super power, what would it be?

"Super power….we'd both love to be able to fly.  We have a love for traveling, and if we could fly anywhere at anytime, count us in :)"

Love the advice to be original! You two seem like you make a great team and are off to an amazing start!! I'm so impressed with all your designs and the detail that you put into packaging and branding your business! Love, LOVE! Thanks for being willing to share a bit more about you guys and of course I wish you all the best and am thrilled to see all the future designs you come up with! If you guys are as in love with them as I am, make your way over to their website, www.finfirstmb.com! Now get this, Allison and Jason are offering all my readers a discount of 30% off any purchase! Just use the code, THELITTLESLIFE to receive the discount. Thanks for being so amazing Allison and Jason!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Finding Joy In The Ordinary

"Extraordinary magic is woven through ordinary life. Look around!"

Amy Leigh Mercree


So, I have a little secret. Not a big one. Just something most people don't know about me. I have many drafts on this blog. Things I write about... memories, feelings, adventures, convictions, etc. that I don't share with anyone. They're simply things I want to remember, sometimes moments in time captured in photos that mean more than I know how to fully describe. Today, I decided I'm going to break away from my habit of "drafting" these things and share them with you :) Don't feel forced to read any of this. I will certainly not be offended in any way. This is just my way of opening up to others because I think that we could all use more of that!

 I think it's easy to forget how truly magical the day to day, ordinary moments are. I can easily get caught up in thinking, "as soon as the weekend gets here, I'll be happier and more relaxed", or "as soon as the weather gets warmer, I'll be happier". And although some of that can be true in a sense, why wait for those things to happen when if I stop... and look around... there's so so much already there that should make me happy.

Even on the hard days. The ones when I feel like I'm being drained to the core! There are still precious moments I'm missing if I don't stop. That's where pictures have become such a HUGE means of grace for me. They make me stop. These sweet moments that I capture of course do not last, but they're captured. That way I can hold on tight to those moments and remember what they felt like when things are not going to smooth. I'm no photographer. I have no camera. I don't know what I'm doing. All I know is what I see and how it makes me feel inside.  And I know that I don't want to forget.

Kids are great tools to seeing the world in a way that is refreshing. Just look at a baby! How tiny every part of them is. How we used to be that small. How fascinating and new every little thing is to them. The miracle that we all are and the fact that God planned our being from the beginning of time. woah. 

Today is a gift. I'm not owed my health, my children, my comfortable cozy little house, the clothes on our back, a hardworking husband who has a good job.  When it's frigid like today, I want to thank my God for blessing us with a heated house and the means to pay for that. I see these little blue eyed boys in these photos and I'm over the moon that I get the blessing of being a stay-at-home mom. 

So these photos help me stay in the moment. My drafts are places I revisit from time to time. I love the hashtag "theeverydayproject" that Mary Beth from annapolis & co. came up with. She uses it on instagram to encourage us to look for the joys in the every day moments. Not the glamorous, perfectly decorated house, perfectly made meal photos, but the "ordinary'. There's magic in the ordinary every day moments and finding that brings me a whole ton of joy.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Meet Summer & Keith // Gruvey

"believe there is good in the world" and "give more, take less" are two examples of the messages on the T-shirts from this amazing company. These messages really set the tone for what Keith and Summer are all about and the concepts that set this clothing line of theirs into motion. I'm beyond honored to represent them today and bring you a little taste of who they are and why they started this business! They are unique in the fact that these T-shirts are really an overflow, a side-note if you will, of a way bigger picture they have in mind. When Keith and Summer started having kids, their concern for the environment began to take on a whole new meaning. They wanted what was best for their children and to teach their kids by example to take care of themselves and their environment! Slowly their ideas took on the form of messages on tees for kids! And since the environment and health of their children is number one, they use only organic T-shirts and went the extra mile to take 1% from all purchases and give back the 1% for the planet foundation. You can read more on that here! I have so much respect and admiration for their commitment to bring our kids only the best, while giving back to the planet!

Below are the two T-shirts designs they currently have on their website. You should know that these organic tees are super soft and of the most superb quality. When I put them on the boys, they noticed right away! I'm a big fan of black and white, but this was super refreshing! The pops of blues and whites are perfect! I'm so so excited to see what else Keith and Summer come up with in the future and am thrilled to be able to feature such a lovely family!

Now that you've seen their cute tees on my boys, lets get to know this couple a little better! Where did the name come from? What does a normal day look  like for them? etc. Don't stop there because there's a little something for you at the end of the little Q&A :)

Summer, Keith, and their beautiful girls!

Where did the name Gruvey come from?

"My name is Summer and my husband’s name is Keith.Our last name is Gruver. My husband had many nicknames growing up and one of them was Gruvey. The meaning of groovy is marvelous, excellent, wonderful. Doesn’t that make you smile? We both have a optimistic outlook on life and believe that life will only be amazing if you let it be. We felt that this name would represent the vision of what we wanted our company to be."

What inspired you to create your own brand? 
"There are so many inspirations that we have for starting our own brand and I certainly don’t want to bore anyone with ten pages of everything we are inspired by. If I were to keep it simple , I would say we were inspired by the need for more organic apparel,positivity and to have more freedom to travel .Cotton is one of the largest crops in the world and traditional cotton farms use a lot of harsh chemicals that harm our planet to the extent that we as consumers are not helping. Organic cotton farms do not use these chemicals at all. We have 3 kids Peyton(5), Presley(2), and Harper(1). They inspired us to take the leap into entrepreneurship. We know that we are a small family business, but If we can teach our kids that it doesn’t take much to make any impact in this world, that would be a success."

What does a typical day look like for you?

"This is where it can get a little crazy. Keith wakes up at 5am every morning and checks emails, orders, and and social media for updates. Sorry but 5am is a little too early for this momma. I usually get up around 6am with our two youngest daughters. After I fix breakfast and have A LOT of coffee, I then get the packages in order for a post office run. Keith heads off to work around 7:30 and I take Peyton to school and stop by the post office to ship. We hope to add the pickup service for our packages in the near future. Throughout the day I will spend time communicating with our friends and fellow shop owners on social media and in our community to discuss marketing efforts to share our vision with more people. After dinner and bedtime, Keith and I get to work. We work on upcoming design ideas. We take time to enjoy each other and have fun talking about the future of Gruvey."

What’s your biggest goal for 2015 (business or personal or both)?

"This is our first year, so our goal is to have fun and enjoy the experience of meeting other amazing shop owners and new friends. We are looking to not only grow our presence, but help other people doing the same thing. We are aiming for at least $1,000 in contributions back to 1% for the planet and other non-profit organizations in our 1st year."

What advice would you give someone starting their own business?

"Think big. How does your company help or solve a problem? Don’t start a business because you heard you can make money doing that business. Start company in an area that you love. Expect a lot of hard work and energy to run a company. However, it will be very rewarding. Lastly, treat each and every customer like family."

If you could have any super power what would it be?

"I would love to fly. Watching a bird fly is so peaceful. I would fly all over the world and see all the beautiful sites that are out there. Maybe even drop some packages off at customer’s doorsteps. Ok that was taking it a bit too far."

I'm with you on the flying! I used to have dreams of flying all the time! And love the business advice! Great way to think long term and to find your passion before making a move. You both are so inspiring and hardworking and I'm truly grateful that you took the time to share a little of your story with us! To shop their rad, environmentally friendly tees and to read more of their mission and story, visit them at www.gruvey.com! Make sure you're also following them on instagram (@gruvey_) so you'll be the first to know about new releases (happening very soon) and other promotions and sales! Also they're offering all of my readers 20% off their puchase! Just use the code, "LITTLESLIFE" when you check out! It's only good for 24hrs so don't wait!! Thanks again Keith and Summer!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Meet Joanna & Ashley // Wild + Bear

Happy February! I'm excited to start the month off with a new shop introduction! I recently came across a super cute shop for kids and immediately thought, "how perfect for my boys!!" I feel like it's super easy to find cute girly things everywhere you go! Classic pieces, trendy pieces, simple, loud, fun, colorful things for girls are at every turn, but for boys... it gets a little tricky. I don't want cheesy, babyish, overdone, threads for them. I like finding unique, playful, simple, modern, witty apparel for boys. That's truly one of the biggest reasons I've enjoyed finding some of these great small shops! There's other moms out there just like me, but they've actually done something about the fact that boy apparel needs some more options! Thankfully Joanna and Ashley joined forces and created Wild + Bear! They have adorable shirts and sweatshirts that say cute things like "beast mode" and "super hero mode" and "wild and free". They know boys and they know their mommas, so basically, they know what they're doing and I'm SO glad they decided to share their vision and creativity with all of us!

Now I'm gonna tell you why this shirt she sent us is perfect and on point :) This boy right here is as rough and tumble as they come. Ok, he might squeal at bugs, but he's a monster truck loving, wrestling, dirt digging, soccer playing, tractor obsessed, high energy, raspy voiced boy! But his long lashes, pretty face, and long hair have strangers confused... very confused! I've thought about cutting his hair, but it's been long for so long now, I'm not wanting to change the way he looks. AND I like that he's "different" and hate the thought of chopping off his locks because of what other people think/say. All the more reason I love this tee!!! There's not a better way to get the message across! Take a look for yourself and better yet, go check out their website to see the other styles they offer!

yup, he's pretty proud of his new tee

c'mon people, get it right ;)

Now that you've gotten a little taste of their cute kids' apparel, Let's meet the ladies behind this rad company! Joanna and Ashley are not only busy mamas to boys, but they are really cool, down to earth, hard working people in addition to that! I'm sure that's why they click so well! Read the short Q&A below to get to know them a little better!

the lovely Joanna and Ashley :)

Where did the name Wild + Bear come from? 

Joanna: Ashley and I have kids' resale shops on Instagram. That's actually how we "met." Her shop is @bestdressedbear and my shop is @shopthewildthings. We merged those names together and came up with Wild + Bear. Also, I call my three boys the "wild things" and Ashley calls her little one "bear" so -- since we're completely inspired by our boys -- it seemed fitting. 


What inspired you to start your own business? 

Joanna: Ashley and I are moms to boys. I have three boys who are 9, 5 and 3 and Ashley has a three-year-old son. Our own sons inspired us to create a line of tees just for boys. We love boys' fashion and dressing our sons in all the latest styles, so we wanted to dream up a line of tees we could see our own boys wearing, inspired by adventure, nature and all those old-fashioned, outdoorsy activities that boys' tend to love. Getting dirty, playing with bugs, being rough and tumble, and just living wildly.  

What is something on your bucket list that you're dying to check off? 

Joanna: I'd love to write a book at some point. It has been and will always be on my bucket list until it's done. 

Ashley: I would love to learn to speak Spanish. I keep trying to find the time to take online classes. Someday, I will! 

How would you describe your own style? 

Joanna: Beachy, bohemian mom. I'm kind of a hippie at heart who grew up on the beaches of Southern California and I would live in flip flops or Birkenstocks if I could, even in winter. I tend to go for comfort over anything "high fashion" and I'm very tall, so you'll probably never see me in a pair of heels. In fact, I don't even own a pair! 

Ashley: I'm a preppy, classic style type of gal, born and raised in Atlanta, Ga. Although, sometimes my best outfits are a mix of a timeless favorite piece from Nordstrom that I've had for years, mixed with a trendy item I picked up at Target! That's when I "fix up"... Lol.  Most days you can find me in work out clothes and sneakers, chasing after my boy!

What does a typical day look like for you? 

Joanna: Mothering three boys: shuttling them around town, to and from different schools, activities and sports, scheduling in some nature walks and hikes as much as we can in between, because we love being outdoors and of course, staying on top of everything it takes to run your own small business with Wild + Bear. So that means, updating our website, packing and shipping orders, invoicing, restocking inventory, communicating with customers and screen printers, collaborating with graphic artists and illustrators, strategizing, marketing, planning, thinking up new designs and everything else "administrative" in between. 

Ashley: I can't do much until I have at least one cup of coffee! Then it's getting my son ready and to school and his afternoon activities, while trying to keep the house in functioning order, and then juggling all the things Joanna said above! Multitasking at it's finest! 

What advice would you give to someone considering taking the jump and starting their own business? 

Joanna: To definitely take the leap and not let fear or all the "what ifs" get in the way or talk you out of it. To not be afraid of failure. To leave your comfort zone and take some calculated risks. It's taken me awhile to realize this, but I'd rather live with failure than with regret. 

Ashley: To go for it. You can start small, and take the steps at your own pace at first. There will never be a perfect time to start, so just do it. If you don't go for it, someone else will.  

What is something super quirky/unexpected about you? 

Joanna: I think the fact that Ashley and I run a business together but live on opposite coasts and have never met in person is pretty quirky and unexpected. Hopefully, we'll change that and get to meet each other one day!
Ashley: Hmmm. I always wear slippers in the house, because my feet are cold all the time! And I love to jam out and play the music in my car loud when I'm by myself! And yes, Joanna and I will meet in person one day! But for now, we will just text and talk every day! 

I'm so amazed that you two have yet to meet in person! That's so cool that you connected through the IG community and started this adventure together! And I love your advice! Just do it, no more holding back! It's great that you had each others support and talents to feed off of as you took the risk of starting your own business! It's so evident how much work and attention to detail is invested in your kids' apparel and shop over all! So honored to feature and reeeaalllyy look forward to seeing how you grow and progress over the coming months! Keep at it ladies! You definitely have something special going on here! 

Joanna and Ashley are feeling the love and are offering a discount of 15% off to all my readers by using the code: LITTLES15. Just go to their website, www.wildplusbear.bigcartel.com and look around! It will expire 5pm EST tomorrow (wed feb4th) so i'd move quick! Also we are running a fun little give-away on my instagram!!! Just to go my feed (@thelittleslife) to check out the details!! It's super easy to enter and you could win a free "all boy" tee from Wild + Bear! Thanks again ladies for sharing with all of us! Looking forward to seeing more of your cute cothes!