moms in the mommyhood - shealynn benner

we have a new "moms in the mommyhood"!

say hello to shealynn from the blog "the benner daily" and the etsy shop & photography business *shey* [b]. shealynn is a bubbly, loving, talented and hilarious mom of 2. a photographer, business woman and twilight addict with a flair for the handmade! how could i resist adding her to the moms in the mommyhood section? i've had tons of fun getting to know shealynn and spent many a hour drooling over her gorgeous photography - it was a tough to limit my pics for this interview! i also love the fabrics she uses for her lovely camera straps and hope that one day i will have a gorgeous camera to sport one on!

because shealynn rocks and is so awesome she has offered all you luvinthemommyhood readers a chance to win a $10 gift certificate to her store! all you need to do is check out her shop and pick what item you want the most and then leave a comment on this post stating your choice! the winner will be picked on monday, august 31st! so make sure to get your comments in!

so let's all welcome this fun loving momma to the mommyhood, feel free to share your thoughts and questions in the comments below. come sit on down and join us for a cup of coffee, put the kids down for a nap, take a breather and let's chat!

if you are new to the mommyhood, our "moms in the mommyhood" features a new mom monthly who currently has their own business (doesn't matter what kind). we try to sit down and have a virtual cup of coffee and ask them all the fun, little questions that we are dying to know. we also try to get a glimpse into their lives and what it's like to have your own business and be the boss of your kids at the same time. we are always on the lookout for new moms to feature. if you know someone or you would like to be featured in this spot, please send us an email at don't be shy - we can't wait to meet you!

now, let's get sipping our coffee, heck grab a yummy treat if you so desire, pull up a chair join in on the fun with me and get to know shealynn:

Your photography is stunning! What kind of camera are you currently using?

Thank you! I use a Canon Rebel Xti. While I love my camera, I am hoping to get a new camera soon. Maybe for Christmas? :) My husband gets many hints throughout each week. ha!

When did you start doing photography professionally and what prompted you to go professional?

I started to do professional photography a couple of years ago. I haven't had a chance to really pursue it hardcore yet, but I hope to soon. I have been so busy with my business, life and moving that I just haven't had the chance, but I truly love photography so I hope to have my website up soon, and really pursue it. I have been doing photography since I was a sophomore in high school, and it's just "my thing". I loved it instantly, and I know I always will.

I decided to go professional, because I really think I can help share a story of some one's life through my camera lens. Seeing a baby or older child truly smile at me without forcing a smile from them just makes my whole photo shoot! As a photographer it's my job to make my subjects feel at ease, for that is where the best pictures always are... the ones where they are cracking up, or staring off in the distance, or laughing at my silly faces. I always walk away from a shoot smiling.

Which came first - the blog or the etsy store ?

My blog came first. I have been blogging for about 2 1/2 years, though, as you can see, not on the same blog. This is my 3rd blog, actually. ha ha!

You sell gorgeous handmade camera straps! I love them all! How did you start selling them and how have you found the experience of having an etsy store?

Thank you so much! Well, this is truly funny, because I really just thought of the idea while we lived in North Carolina. It was summer, and I was doing a photo shoot in Downtown Raleigh. It was really hot and humid. My camera strap was rubbing on my neck for the 2 hours it took to do that modeling shoot, and man! I remember how red my neck was from my strap. It was raw, and hurt really bad. I also remember thinking that there had to be a way to prevent that from happening. I didn't think I was the only person out there that had a serious hate for the stock camera strap, but I truly didn't know. That is literally how *Shey*[B] started.

My experience owning an Etsy shop has been great, actually. Etsy makes it really easy to open a shop and start selling right away. It's very user friendly, and I recommend it to everyone. My husband is, however, working on a website for me. He is a software developer, and a complete genius when it comes to computer everything, so look out for my website coming soon. I need to finish a photo shoot for my site and then it will be up.

User friendliness aside, I have also found that Etsy has so many buyers and sellers that it's the best start for a small business like mine.

Favourite camera accessory? Favorite subject to photograph?

My favorite camera accessory? Wow. That's a great question. I am definitely going to have to say my lenses are my favorite camera accessory... though, I don't know if I would put them in that category or the necessity category. Either way, I am nothing without my lenses. And I must have fixed lenses. I have found those are my favorite, and capture crisper cleaner images.

Well, if you've seen my blog, you'd likely know that my favorite subjects are obviously my girls. :) I love taking pictures of them, whether they love it or not. ha ha! I can capture their essence any time of the day, which is very convenient... If you want to know professional what my favorite subjects are to photograph, then that answer is easy. I LOVE photographing pregnant mama's and newborns.

I noticed you also do quite a bit of sewing. I loved the pillows you made. How long have you been sewing for and how did you learn?

Believe it or not, I have only been sewing for a little over a year. I started sewing last summer, and then started my business a month later. :) My husband's grandmother was an AMAZING seamstress. She even made my wedding dress for me, which was completely amazing. I know that she inspired me a lot while she was alive. I loved watching her create something from nothing. That's how I feel when I sit down to create something. Make a flat piece of pretty fabric into something useful and pretty. I love that! And a lot of times you can sit down, and a couple hours later you have transformed that fabric and breathed life into it to become something amazing. When purchasing my first sewing machine last summer, I taught myself how to sew. I made lots of mistakes. Lots! But, that was OK with me, it was how I learned. And I am so happy I did!

Do you have any plans to branch out from camera straps to other items in the future?

Yes I do, actually! I can't really say a whole lot right this moment, but I have actually contemplated it. Many of my friends tell me or insist that I must open another Etsy shop to sell some of my other creations other than camera strap slipcovers. I say different shop, because I don't like to mix merchandise. ;) So, stay tuned!

You have 2 beautiful girls, Angelina and Zoe and you are a wife to husband Mike. How do you balance the etsy shop/blog/photography with being a mom/wife? Any tips for us?

Thank you! I think my girls are beautiful too. ha ha! Ah, balance. This is hard for me, because so many things demand my attention, and sometimes all at once. When I first started my camera strap slipcover business I had NO idea how big it was going to get. So I just made them when I made them. We had just moved to Arizona, so there wasn't much in the way of photo shoots. But, very quickly my business began to grow and grow. I quickly found myself sitting at my sewing machine more and more. I have realized that I can't do everything, and I am totally able to accept it. But it was me who had to tell myself that I couldn't do it all, and to let it go before I actually did. Once I did, then life was OK again. Even though my house was a disaster. :) I just have to put what's important to me first, and that is my family. No matter what, they are my number 1 priority, and I don't want anything taking away from precious time with them. They grow too quickly.

Which photographers inspire you? Any faves?

I have a couple favorite photographers. One being DrewB Photography. She captures everything beautifully! I always feel inspired by her photographs.

I also love The Pioneer Woman's photography. Every time I look at her photographs I feel like I was there witnessing what she had photographed. She makes everyday ranching seem extraordinary and glamorous. I love that!

Your dog Luna is so adorable! I loved the mat you made her. What’s your most treasured project you have made for you or your family? We all have a project that just didn’t turn out no matter what we tried, what’s yours?

My most favorite is definitely the skirt I just made my daughter. It turned out so much better than I could have ever hoped. Now I want to make myself one! :)

There have been a couple projects I have made in the past year that weren't great. At all. I made my daughter, Zoe a dress. After sewing the armholes shut, I almost gave up on it, but decided to finish it. Her arms barely fit. ha ha!

I also made my mother a quilt that was bound to be the death of me. While I still ended up giving it to her for Christmas, and she cried over it, I swore I would never make another quilt again. ha ha! It practically fell apart the day I was going to mail it. I cried over it, and then fixed it. Was glad to see it go. :) I didn't stay true to my promise of never making another quilt, though. I did make a quilt top and backing very recently, but I sent it off to a company that actually finishes the quilt for you... so, I see many more quilts in my future. :)
Do either of your daughters have an interest in sewing?

My oldest does! She even has her own Hello Kitty sewing machine that "Santa" brought her. She has sewn on it a couple of times, and I plan on helping her more with it soon. She doesn't quite get the concept of threading and re-threading the machine. But with more practice she will.

What line of fabrics do you sew with the most? What kind of sewing machine do you use?

I use a lot of Michael Miller Damask prints. I love Damask! It is a timeless fabric that doesn't go out of style... at least it never has for me. I generally use a lot of Michael Miller prints in my projects... there are a lot of designers that are picked up by him that I like a lot. I have recently fallen in love with Studio E. But I pretty much love most fabric, so I just buy what I like.

I have 2 sewing machines. I have a Singer Confidence. I LOVE this machine. It can sew and sew and sew forever. I also have a Singer Futura embroidery/sewing machine. I use that for embroidery only.

If you had no budget or time constraint what would you do - a photo shoot or sew a project?

Can I do a photo shoot of a project I have sewn? ha ha! In all honesty, I would rather do a high end modeling shoot. I love super creative "out there" photo shoots like you see on America's Next Top Model and other shows. The crazy make up, hair and the extreme situations. That is my all time dream.

Do you like to listen to music while you work and if so what tunes get your groove on?

Yes, I LOVE music! I listen to anything from Linkin Park [one of my all time favorite bands, and I happen to know the bass player, which is cool!] to Claude Debussy. Just whatever I feel like. Most of the time I start with Claude and move on to something more up beat like Linkin Park, Daughtry, 3Oh! 3, Black Eyed Peas, etc. etc.

Do you have a fave outfit?

While I one day would love to be a fashion photographer, I am not huge into fashion for myself. I am a super casual dresser. Workout pants and a t-shirt, or cotton/linen capri pants and a t-shirt. I also wear jeans and t-shirts sometimes, but I am at home most of the time, and sitting at a sewing machine for a couple hours and chasing after my almost 3 year old is just so much easier dressed comfortably.

What are your top 5 blogs/websites to read daily? Sorry to ask this, I know it's hard, but hey - enquiring minds need to know!?

Wow! This is tough! I read at least 100 blogs, and I love them all for different reasons. Hmmmm... OK, I will give you the blogs that I can't wait to read...

* Make It And Love It * Joy's Hope * Bakerella * Happy Together * Lil Blue Boo * Flickr Ooops, I think I snuck in an extra ;)

I see that you and I are both big time Twilight fans. I love that you have a countdown to the new movie on your blog! Which book in the series is your top pick? Who do you heart - Edward or Jacob?

Sigh. Twilight. I LOVE Twilight, yes I do! I think my favorite is definitely Eclipse. While there are parts in each book I adore, I just love all of Eclipse. I have read each book in the Twilight series 5 times. Hilarious, I know. I am an avid reader. More like a book worm. And it all started with Twilight. ;) I am now a Young Adult/Teen Fiction book junkie! 2-3 books a week sometimes more! Thanks Stephanie Meyer for making an addict out of me. :) I am totally TEAM EDWARD! Can I get a woot woot ladies? ;) Can't wait for New Moon in theatres in November. OK, I will stop. I sound like a walking advertisment now. ha ha!

thanks so much for being part of the mommyhood shealynn, it's been so fun getting to know you - keep in touch! i wish we could see "new moon" together, i'll be thinking of you as my sis and i are drooling at edward on the big screen. we must email after we see it to dish the dirt!

you can find shealynn on her blog, her etsy shop and on twitter.

{all images *shey* [b] photography unless otherwise stated}