Interview: Oh My! Handmade Goodness

We had a chance to chat with Jessika Hepburn, the talented editor of OMHG, an awesome online "community of independent children's retailers and the hip parents who support them".  The full interview is below. You can also read it on their site here.


by Jessika Hepburn, editor

I have such a treat for you all today! I am happy to share the adorable clips, headbands & crowns of Lizzie, Izzie + James and to interview the creator, Sherryl Mascarinas. Lizzie, Izzie + James is simply filled with wonderful handmade designs and “everyday cute” for your little ones hair + super fun crowns for boys and girls. Sherryl was sweet enough to send me a package of goodies in time for Sela’s birthday last week and I was really impressed not just with the high quality of the products but with her overall branding. Branding is so much more then a logo, when done well it showcases the product and makes it’s own impression-from their website, beautiful photos + illustrations by the talented Mayi Carles to the packaging and products themselves, every bit of Lizzie, Izzie + James branding shows attention to detail and a love of quality handmade.

I caught up with Sherryl via email to find out more about Lizzie, Izzie + James and to share the story of her business with you!

1. Hi Sherryl! Thanks for visiting OMHG and sharing your wonderful business with us. Please tell us a bit about yourself & the story of Lizzie, Izzie + James:

Hi Jessika! Thanks for having me on OMHG!

Hi everybody, my name is Sherryl Mascarinas. I am the proud mommy of 3 awesome kids (ages 6, 5, and 3) and the founder of Lizzie, Izzie + James, a web-based children’s accessories brand. We live in New Canaan, CT.

Lizzie, Izzie + James was born as a hobby. I began making little hair accessories for my first daughter when she was about a year old. Soon after, I began making them for family, then for friends, then for friends of friends, then for moms who saw my products around town. Eventually, I opened a little store on Etsy and began selling to customers across the country. It was easy to get started, but it was very limited and was ultimately unsustainable because I was doing everything by myself. I’d hunt for the materials, make the products, photograph them, blog about them, then package and mail them. I was the entire supply, production, and fulfillment line. Although it was great to offer a product that my customers really enjoyed, it wasn’t at all profitable and it definitely was not scalable.

In the fall of 2010, my husband convinced me to pause and to think seriously about what I wanted to do with my little business. Making it viable in a meaningful way was going to take serious re-design and some investment. I decided to make a go at it, and together we figured out the people and the pieces that we needed to put in place to make it work. We re-launched in January 2011 with an organized supply and production process, an expanded product line, and a dedicated website.

2. I just love the samples you sent me, your accessories are so adorable & well made! But I was also really impressed by your packaging & all over branding + was really excited to find out the lovely Mayi Carles did some designs for you. Can you tell us about how you have built your brand & created your packaging?

Thank you! Branding is a really important part of the customer experience, so we knew we had to get it right. We also realized that although we had a vision for what we wanted, we needed talented people with the right experience and skill sets to help us execute and bring it to fruition. Basically, we had to build a good team. After doing a bunch of interviews, we enlisted a small branding agency, a web developer, and a photographer. Then we managed their work and kept them talking to each other continuously so that their efforts would be consistent and cohesive as a whole. That’s how I think our website came out so well!

As it relates to packaging, we had a pretty clear idea for what we wanted to do. But we also wanted to bring in someone with a fresh perspective and a unique artistic point of view. That’s when we approached Mayi Carles to produce those incredibly cute illustrations for us! You can see the fantastic work she did for us here.

3. What is a typical “day in the life” for you?

My days are pretty kid centric. Typically, it starts with getting the kids dressed for school, cooking their breakfast, packing their lunches, and getting them all out of the door. Then I work until they get home in the mid-afternoon. If I’m lucky, I can squeeze in some time for a run or a workout in the gym. When the kids get home, they take over completely. We hang out, do some crafts, do homework, sometimes some baking, and then get ready for dinner. Bedtime for the kids is 8:00. After that usually comes more work, then some time to relax with my husband.

4. Sometimes balancing parenting + work is HARD! What are some strategies or organizational tips that you have learned along the way?

It is hard! I’m still trying to figure it out, but there are two basic rules I try to stick to. The first is that I try to spend my time and energy only on those things that really matter. A lot of things crop every day, but a lot of those things are really just noise – I try to let those things go.

The second rule is that I make sure to set aside time for myself. I’m convinced that personal time is a necessary part of being a happy and effective parent. I can’t be at my best (as a mom, a wife, a friend, etc.) when I’m harried and fatigued. I need time to go to the gym, to see friends, to read a book, or to do nothing. I need it to keep things in balance and in perspective. I come back refreshed and better able to manage whatever is on my plate.
 

5. Where does the magic happen? We would love to see some pictures of your studio & where you create!

My “studio” currently resides in our basement. A good amount of the work still happens here, but a fair amount also happens outside with some local crafters that we enlisted to help us.

6. What are your plans for Lizzie, Izzie + James in the future? Do you have anything new & exciting in the works?

Over time, we plan to expand to a broader array of children’s accessories, maybe even apparel. But at a higher level, what we really want to build is a brand that is known and trusted for three things: irresistibly cute children’s items, awesome quality, and incredible service. We want our customers to be thrilled with us, so in addition to making high quality products that children love, we also offer service that makes shopping an experience that moms will enjoy. For example, we stock all of our items so that we can ship orders on the same day or by the next business day. Low shipping cost is part of a great shopping experience, so we offer $3 flat rate shipping and free shipping on orders over $50. Most importantly, we want our customers to be happy with their purchases, so in case they change their minds, we offer a 60-day any item, any reason, full refund return policy. No re-stocking charges, no quibble. We’ll even refund original shipping costs. If we can be known and trusted for great products and great service, we’re confident that we’ll have a good shot at doing well, however we might evolve in the future.

Learn more about Sherryl and Lizzie, Izzie + James by visiting:

the Lizzie, Izzie + James website + blog + facebook page

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