moms in the mommyhood - melissa laster

we have a new "moms in the mommyhood"!

say hello to melissa from the shop "indie sunshine"! from the first moment melissa emailed me i knew i had to fit her in as a "mom in the mommyhood". from her business making custom ring slings and mei tais, to running a daycare, raising 2 children, being crafty and the inspirational story of her family, she won me over hands down. i just had to find out how this cheerful mom does it all and with a giant smile on her face.

i've had tons of fun getting to know melissa and thank her for her patience as i delayed her interview over and over again due to my being joined at the hip with my toilet in the first trimester of my pregnancy. she was a sweetheart about it all and so kindly just checked in on me every few weeks. her loyal customers speak volumes for her and her business ethic, and in fact, one of them is posted below for winning a photo contest hosted on indie sunshine. besides selling her stylish baby carriers she also gives other WAHM's a portal to sell their handmade goods for all us mommies to ohhhh and ahhhh over.

so let's all let some sunshine in our homes and 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, have a few laughs and get to know melissa:

You have 2 gorgeous kids, Lillianne (Lily), 5 years old and Dillinger (Dillion) 1 year old, are married to hubby James, run an in-home day care and an online business – how in the heck to you manage it all and stay sane at the same time?

Time management! I know there are a millions things I have to do in a day. So I prioritize, with my family always coming first, then put everything else in its place. There are days when I wish I could have gotten more accomplished, but as long as my family is happy and my business a success…I have done alright.

What prompted you to start your online business IndieSunshine and tell us a little about it?

When pregnant with my son I cut back on my daycare a lot. Taking care of a newbie is a lot of work! But I still wanted to be a baby wearer, bring in some money, and make time for my favorite hobby, sewing. IndieSunshine was the next logical step. Most of the baby carriers on the market are so expensive. I make affordable carriers and provide space for other WAHM’s to sell their products.

When did you first learn to sew and what type of machine do you use?

My high school offered a sewing class and I took full advantage. After that I sewed with a tiny handheld model. Ha. Eventually my mother in law gave me the most sentimental sewing machine ever. It is the one she used to make my husband’s clothes when he was little, a Sears Kenmore. It requires frequent oiling and service calls, but works like a charm.

What was the first ring sling/mei tai you made? Why did you decide to begin making baby carriers to begin with?

The first sling I made was for my son. I found this gorgeous polka dot fabric. It was unlike any sling I had ever seen. I like to be subtly unique and one of a kind items really appeal to me. That is why I offer custom linen slings. To give each mom a chance to design her own carrier to match her style.

How long does it typically take you to sew a carrier and do you use a certain pattern or did you design it yourself?

I have to admit I have never just sat down and made a carrier start to finish. With two kids running around there is always on interruption. I would say total time on a sling is about an hour. A mei tai is more like 5. Designing my carriers though was the hardest part. I received great feedback from early customers. After lots of trial and redos I am very happy with my end design.

You mention AP (Attachment Parenting) on your site. Can you tell us a bit about Attachment Parenting and what it is?

When most of people refer to attachment parenting they are thinking of Dr. Sears and his “7 B’s” Birth Bonding, Breastfeeding, Babywearing, Bedding close to baby, Believe in the value of your baby’s cry, Beware of baby trainers, and Balance. To me attachment parenting is about being present for every moment of your child’s life. Parenting doesn’t stop at bedtime when they “should be sleeping” and babies don’t have to conform to mommies wishes. Every baby is different and our job as parents is to nurture them into well rounded human beings.

You have a personal blog "documentations on life"where you have some lovely photography. What kind of camera do you use?

Canon Rebel Xsi. I love it! I have always been interested in photography and this camera has allowed me to really get creative.

You sell a vast array of great products for wee ones such as burn busters, custom diapers, hats and accessories, how did you decide what to sell along with your baby carriers and how did you find the products you chose?

It is hard getting started with an online business and any little leg up helps. So I choose moms who have rock solid products and the will to make it work. I go about the internet looking for ladies who are just starting out, maybe they haven’t even opened an etsy yet. A lot of them were selling to other moms via swap boards. After I have tried out their product and chatted with them about how hard they are willing to work, then they are offered to be part of the IndieSunshine team.

Your team is comprised of a very talented group of mommas with wonderful products! I love that they are all creative moms that you have brought under the IndieSunshine umbrella. Do you have any future plans to add more products? How do you find working with the group of moms whose products you currently sell?

These moms are great! I will occasionally google IndieSunshine to see how our name is getting put out there and often times I find one of the other moms promoting my slings. Just as I promote their products anytime I have a chance. And really that is what makes it work. Having lots of people selling the same site. In the future we are going to add homemade soaps, more diaper products…the sky is the limit. I am willing to listen to any WAHM’s pitch and try out her items.

When we first started chatting you mentioned how close your family is and how your husband James suffers from cancer. He’s due to reach remission in March of this year, how have you managed to stay strong and positive for your family during this time and through the birth of your second child?

Life is hard and everyone has a story. When people hear Cancer they always feel sorry for the family and think how hard it must be. I won’t lie, it wasn’t easy. I took our 3 month old daughter to chemo appts so my husband wouldn’t have to be alone. But looking back, what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger and I am one strong mama!

Does your hubby play a role within IndieSunshine?

James is key in making my business work! He designed my original website and showed me how to use it. At this point I have completely taken over, but anytime I have a problem he rides in a white horse to fix it. Also when I have a new idea he is great to bounce it off of and gives the constructive criticism I need.

Why did you decide to develop your own site and not start on one with a site such as when starting up your company?

That I also have to credit to James. I started selling from my blog, but soon I was getting to many requests. What do I have in stock? What fabrics do I have? Can I do this or that… I had to expand. DH is a computer technician who does web design on the side. He offered to set up a site and I jumped on it! I feel like sometimes etsy or hyencart stores can get lost in the mix. But once people buy from IndieSunshine they remember where to come back to.

When do you find the time to sew during the day?

Most of my sewing is done on the weekends when I have help with the kids. If I have a custom order during the week I set Dillion to playing in his room which is attached to my sewing area. He will interrupt me from time to time, but that is what keeps me on my toes.

What do you find the pros/cons of starting your own business while being a busy mom to two young children?

Well the obvious con is how busy I am. Finding time for me during the day is nearly impossible. However I love it! I am firm believer in a rolling stone gathers no moss. I just want to keep going,growing, and living life to its fullest. Having IndieSunshine can be frustrating, but the benefits far outweigh the cost.

If you aren’t sewing baby carriers what would you be sewing?

For Christmas James gave me "One-Yard Wonders: 101 Sewing Fabric Projects" and I have barely cracked the cover. So I would love to get into that and make matching mommy/daughter aprons for when Lily and I bake.

What is your one biggest indulgence as a mom?

My camera/photography. The camera was not cheap and who knows how much I have spent on prints. But I love documenting my children. I hope when they grow up they look at the pictures and appreciate them. Rather than think “wish that lady wasn’t flashing the camera in my face all the time!”

I love that your customers are such strong supporters of your products. You currently have a facebook page, have you found this to be an asset to your business and if so how?

It is definitely an asset. Moms who have already bought my slings join, then all their friends see that they joined and want to join to. Well then they need a sling! It is a great domino effect.

Do you have any advice to other moms looking to start an online business? Any lessons you have learned during the start up process that you would like to share?

Be creative. You have to have a sales pitch that is totally unique. People aren’t going to buy a widget from you if a more well known company is already selling widgets. You need to not only have the best widgets in the world, but offer them with a free cookie! People love cookies.

I’m a firm believer in baby wearing; I carried my daughter and still do. Why did you choose ring slings and mei tais instead of many of the other styles of baby carriers to make out there?

The town I live in is as crunchy as Indiana gets. When at Farmers Market I saw 3 main types of carriers, Ring Sling, Mei Tais, and “crotch danglers.” Since babies need to be positioned correctly in carriers to prevent hip problems I knew a forward facing front carrier was not for me. So I set out to make ring slings and mei tais. To me they are the most versatile carriers around. The MT James and I use has a man side for him and a slightly prettier side for when I am using it. So few carriers offer that option. As for slings, after my c-section everything ached and carrying this tiny baby seemed like such a chore. The first time I put on the sling I felt so much better. I stood up straighter, my back didn’t hurt. It was heaven. After our first trip to the grocery store I was sold. There is no way I could have carried him in my arms the whole time and putting babies in infant carriers on carts is dangerous. Not to mention he would have been so far away from my heart. I love snuggling my little man and these carriers make it so much easier.

thank you so much for being part of the mommyhood melissa, it's been so fun getting to know you - keep in touch! i wish you and your loveable family all the best! thank you for all your kind words and sweet emails over the last few months - ya better keep 'em coming, it truly means a lot to me and you are an inspiration to all moms out there.

you can find melissa on her website IndieSunshine and as a special treat to all you readers she is offering 10% off any product at IndieSunshine for the month of february. just use the code "luvinthemommyhood" and get shopping!

{all images courtesy of melissa laster}