Examiner Interview - Do It All Mamas and Papas

We are so behind on updating this blog that I can hardly stomach it! Its just been an incredibly busy last few weeks and we are now coming up for air. Last week I met with the merchandising manager of nationwide department store chain and it looks like they want to carry Lizzie, Izzie + James! But first we need to jump through some hoops to get wired into their purchasing systems... stay tuned.

In the meanwhile, I want to catch up by posting a recent interview I did for examiner.com. The full text is included below.


Do It All Mamas (& Papas): Meet the mom behind Lizzie, Izzie + James accessories

By Angele Sionna, Early Childhood Parenting Examiner
April 21st, 2011 8:45 am ET

In today's Do It All Mamas (& Papas) the spotlight is on Sherryl Mascarinas, mom of three kids (6, 5, and 3 years old) (plus an 8-year old chocolate brown Weimaraner named Wendy), and the founder of the on-line children's accessories brand called Lizzie, Izzie + James.

Examiner: Tell me something unique/interesting about yourself.

Sherryl: I was born in the Philippines. When I was 4 years old, I told my mom that I wanted to marry one of the boys in my kindergarten class. The following year we were placed in separate classes and I forgot all about my future husband. At some point his family moved to New York and my family moved to Los Angeles. We bumped into each other by chance 12 years later when he was visiting family in California, and then saw each other again 2 years afterwards when I was visiting family in New York. We started dating during our college years, got married 10 years later, and have now been married for 8 years. So, my relationship with my husband has spanned two continents, the Pacific Ocean, 3,000 miles across the United States and over 30 years! That has to be pretty uncommon, if not unique!

Examiner: What is your business all about?

Sherryl: Lizzie, Izzie + James (www.lizzieizziejames.com) is a web-based children’s accessories brand. We launched in January 2011 with a collection of hand crafted hair clips, headbands, and crowns made from premium wool felt in rich and vibrant colors. As we move forward, we plan to offer an array of other high quality accessories, such as: school bags, belts, hats, gloves, scarves, etc.

We think a business that can offer artisan quality children’s accessories coupled with an excellent customer experience can do very well. In addition to an obsessive focus on design and quality, we offer things that make shopping enjoyable, such as: next business day shipment, a super low flat shipping rate, and a very liberal and straightforward full refund return policy. We want our customers to be thrilled with us, so we treat them the same way we would want to be treated. Most times, we go even further.

Examiner: What is your favorite product that you make or sell and why do you like or recommend it?

Sherryl: I‘m a big fan of all our products, but recently I’ve been wearing two more often than the others: our Spanish Roses headbands and our Park Street Mini hair clips. Both collections are simple, colorful, and incredibly cute! They add an understated flourish to any outfit and are comfortable and versatile for both kids and grown-ups to wear all day.

Examiner: Why did you start your business?

Sherryl: It started as a hobby. I started making little hair clips and headbands for my daughters. Then I started giving them as gifts to their classmates and friends. Soon I was receiving frequent requests from family, and then from friends, then from friends of friends, then from moms who saw kids wearing my little creations around town. Eventually, I joined Etsy, an online platform for crafters and artists, and started selling under the name “Skylar’s Candy Clips”. I had customers from around the country and sold to a few boutiques in southern Connecticut, California, Texas, and even one down under in Sydney, Australia.

Ultimately, it was unsustainable because I was doing everything myself. I was making the products, taking the photographs, posting them on-line, blogging about them, packaging them up, and taking them to the post office. I would drive around to buy the raw materials and have to hunt for them when they weren’t available at the usual stores. I was trying to do all that while managing a household of three busy kids. It was gratifying to make things that people enjoyed, but the process was as inefficient (and unprofitable) as could be.

In the fall of 2010 I decided to pause and regroup, and took some time to figure out how to turn my hobby into a viable business. I got my husband to help me and together we figured out the people and the pieces that needed to be brought together to make things work. I re-opened my doors under a new name, a brand new and expanded product line, and a dedicated web site 4 months later, in January 2011.

Examiner: What secret do you have to share with other parents about "having it all" with your family and business?

Sherryl: I wish I had the secret formula - I’m still trying to figure it out myself! I think like anything worthwhile, it takes hard work. Maintaining balance takes hard work. Achieving lofty goals takes hard work. I just try to spend my time on the things that really matter, and I let many far less important things go.

Examiner: What is the number one piece of advice you have for other parents?

Sherryl: I’m far from a parenting expert, but I think it’s really important to set aside personal time. This may sound like a fantasy to many overworked and super busy moms and dads, but I’m convinced that it’s a necessary part of being a happy and effective parent. You can’t possibly be at your best (as a parent or a spouse) when you’re not happy yourself. My husband and I still go out regularly – even when all we can do is grab a quick bite or a movie. We still see our friends (together and separately) and squeeze in long dinners with them as much as often as we can. My husband likes to go to the gym regularly and I sneak in quick workouts when I drop my youngest off at pre-school. I’m also preparing for my second half marathon in the summer, so the running regiment will give me consistent blocks of time to be by myself. My husband and I agree - we’d quickly lose our equilibrium if we gave up our personal time, so we work together to give it to each other.

Examiner: What is your (and your kids) favorite family activity?

Sherryl: We love to ski in the winter and swim in the summer. We also like to have friends and family over for long, leisurely, laughter filled meals. But most of the time, we like to stay in and watch movies together.

Examiner: Anything else you want to add?

Sherryl: I’m in awe of some of the people you’ve interviewed for this column. Thanks for taking the time to speak with me!

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