Interview with Luggabug

After featuring one of her gorgeous ring slings in a Treasury Tuesday Jessica of Luggabug and I got to talking and found that we have lots in common! Among other things, we’re both work at home mamas who made special things for our babies and decided to share them with the world!

Tell a bit about yourself.

I’m a work-at-home mother of one (so far.) I grew up in Southeastern Idaho in a small town called Pocatello. I met the love of my life at a hot dog cart in Boise, ID, which led to Southern California. I enjoy the sunlight, tea, giggles and cuddles with my family, and of course – creating. Sewing, painting, crochet, haircutting, music making.

What would people be most surprised to learn about you?

I’m a little bit of a geek. I’m really into space themed sci-fi stuff, mostly thanks to my husband.. like the Ender’s Game series, Firefly, Battlestar Galactica, and Stargate Atlantis.

What inspires you to create?

Three things, I’d say.

My generation is starting to get into quilting and embroidery, and I love all the modern quirky fabrics coming out as a result! I still have a soft spot for vintage stuff too, so I try to fuse them together in my work.

I love sharing my art. I used to give away all of my paintings. I feel like once I’ve poured my love and effort into it, it’s not mine anymore and it has to be shared.

I started working at 14, and always liked the structure and consistency of having a job.  Although being a mom is a really tough job, it’s a different kind of job. It makes me feel good to create things that contribute to the family income, and to set and make my own personal tangible goals.

What did you like to do when you aren’t crafting?

I have a fantastic moms group in my area that does park day meetups and field trips. I also really enjoy reading, singing with my son, and hanging out with the husband.  

What is your dream in life, other than having a successful Etsy shop?

I want to live on a chunk of land with plenty of children, love, and fruit trees to go around. And a perfectly organized workspace. (Ha!)

How did you get started making ring slings?

I was pregnant with my son, searching and searching for a sling that was both affordable and adorable. If it was cute, it was usually a wrap conversion (and out of my price range.) If it was affordable, it didn’t make my heart sing with consumer joy. So I made my own! After that, I wanted to share the love. I thought… there have to be other moms out there who are looking for the same things I like. I should do this!

What is your creative process like?

When I see a fabric that gives me butterflies, I start to brainstorm the best way to display it. I try to find a coordinating fabric that will either contrast or compliment nicely, depending on the feel of the print. From there, it’s just adjusting the lines on the pattern to match what’s in my head. The rest is an assembly line, basically. I’m currently practicing embroidery, and experimenting with new patterns and styles of applique. So stay tuned for that!

I love the shapes of your coordinating fabric, like this one I haven’t seen ring slings like that. What was the inspiration?

Thank you! I loved how tulas and mei tais were decked out with cool fabrics, and noticed that the ring sling community was missing out. I saw fabric I loved, but quilter’s cotton isn’t strong enough to use alone. It was important to me to make safe, CPSIA compliant carriers. So I found a reliable linen source to use as the structural fabric. Then, I played around with different shapes and sizes of applique until I found a few that I loved.

Where can you be found online? (besides on Etsy)

I have an instagram account @luggabug where I post updates, sneak peeks, discounts, and behind-the-scenes photos.

How did you come up with your store name?

Early on, a friend on facebook asked what I was going to make. I said “Something to lug around babies in.” It came to me pretty quick after that, because I had already been playing around with rhyming names.

Any tips for others wanting to start a handmade business?

Sure! There’s a couple things I figured out that I didn’t think about in the very beginning, but they’re important. First – find and follow laws and regulations applicable to your product. Especially children’s products. Then – don’t let the bureaucracy discourage you. It’s kind of a frustrating mess, but it will make your life easier and it’s important.

Also – take the time to figure out your demographic. Think about if there’s a real demand for what you have to offer. Is anyone else offering it already? What sets you apart?

Finally – at some point you have to just take a deep breath and put something out there! You don’t have to start perfect, you just have to start somewhere.

What I Wish I’d Had

It’s easy to be overwhelmed with all the baby stuff out there. The absolute must-haves are generally pretty obvious. But what about the things just beyond that?

I recently came across a list I made a few months ago of baby essentials I wish I’d had from the start or soon after, as a reminder to myself for next time. I’m sharing it here to save other mama’s the trouble.

  1. Exercise Ball – for bouncing baby to sleep. Fox preferred bouncing over the rocking chair. I used to walk back and forth from one end of our apartment to the other, bouncing, shhhing, and singing him to sleep. Bouncing on a ball is more comfortable and less work, especially with a bigger baby or toddler. We still bounce to sleep most nights and naps at 17 months. Our exercise ball even comes with us when we stay at Grandma’s.
  2. White Noise Machine – to help baby fall asleep and stay asleep. I thought the app on my phone would’ve good enough, and it worked in a pinch, but a separate white noise machine has been a staple for us. The phone app would cut off if someone called. Plus, if I used my phone while he was sleeping on me that so… Drowning out sounds, like the dog barking, that might otherwise wake him up.  Ours also shines stars and a moon up onto the ceiling, so there’s the added bonus of a cute night light.  Fox loves to point up to the ceiling and talk about the stars.
  3. Pillow for Back Lying – Co-sleeping for us meant sleeping on my back with Fox in the crook of my arm, usually latched on. Before being pregnant I’d been a stomach sleeper, so this was a bit of an adjustment for me. Exhaustion beyond belief helped me get used to sleeping on my back, but it was still tricky. For a while I’d use two extra pillows on either side of my head to keep from straining my neck and back. It required frequent adjustments, trying to keep from waking my sleeping baby while attempting to get comfortable myself. When I finally got a pillow meant for back sleepers it not only helped me fall asleep faster, but so much strain and pain was alleviated along with the hassle of getting three pillows just right all the time.
  4. Coconut Oil – The first time Fox had thrush we took him to the doctor and filled a prescription. Treatment involved multiple doses per day combined with spot treatments with a q-tip. It was heartbreak, 4 times a day. I was seeing a WIC peer counselor for breastfeeding help just after noticing another white spot on his lip. Luckily I happened to mention it to her, along with how I dreaded having to give him more medicine. She recommended I try coconut oil, as a spot treatment for him, on myself and even once the symptoms were gone, to keep it from coming back. It worked! The thrush went away without medicine and it never came back! Coconut oil also helped with his cradle cap. I’d simply rub it on his scalp a little bit before giving him a bath and just wash it off when I washed his hair. Slowly but surely his cradle cap went away.
  5. Water Bottle with Straw – Wish I’d had one of these in my early pumping days. I was so very thirsty while pumping, but both my hands were occupied. My mom put a straw in my old water bottle, but it was too short and kept falling in. This type of water bottle also makes it so much easier to get a drink while co-sleeping, when I’m unable to sit up, and without the sound of opening and closing a lid like my previous water bottle.
  6. Button-less Cardigans – Without sashes or ties of any kind. I had a couple, but wish I’d had more from the start. They’re snuggly, without buttons or zippers against your baby or in the way when they want to nurse NOW. Plus, with all the split up and leaks leading to impromptu wardrobe changes, it’s nice to have extras on hand.
  7. Teething Tablets – I’m super grateful to the friends who recommended these to me. Tiny tablets dissolve quickly in baby’s mouth, easing the pain on those extra fussy days.
  8. Baltic Amber Teething Necklaces – I wish I’d had one to wear starting during pregnancy and one for Fox when he started teething around 3 months. I was skeptical at first, but I had been giving Fox teething tablets 3 to 4 times a day during rough teething days and since he started wearing his necklace I’ve only had to give them to him once or twice on a bad day. (The rough days are also much less often, even now with molars coming in). Since babies and toddlers don’t know about the placebo effect, I’d say they work.
  9. Nursing Necklaces – Right away I knew I wasn’t going to be able to wear most of my necklaces for a while. But I still wanted to wear necklaces that fit my style while being safe for my baby’s mouth and tiny hands. Nursing necklaces are wonderful for use while breastfeeding and babywearing! They provide visual stimulation for baby and encourage fine motor skills, giving them something pretty to play with while nursing, being worn, or just snuggling. Plus they’re so cute I’d wear them even without my baby.
  10. Ring Sling – I wish I’d started babywearing sooner and more often around the house. I had a borrowed ring sling, but its’ padding kept me from being able to tighten it enough. Fox wasn’t big enough for the Ergo without an infant insert, (which probably would’ve been too hot anyway), and the Moby I had got too hot. I needed a basic ring sling, but didn’t know it until much later.

I’m grateful though, because by wading through this sea of baby stuff I learned a lot about what I needed and what I didn’t. I hope that by sharing I can make life a little easier for other mommies out there.

Was there anything you wished you’d had sooner or couldn’t imagine going without?