I'm struck silent by the adorableness, so I'll jump right to my interview with Colette, proprietress of this week's featured sponsor, Urban Baby Bonnets.
Me: Your bonnets are not anything like the traditional, sometimes frumpy, style. Tell us what inspired you to start making urban baby bonnets.
Colette: My grandmother-in-law was the inspiration for the bonnets!
One afternoon, my daughter's great-grandmother, Ada, came over with a special gift for her-- a little bonnet that she made. It was adorable--featuring a black retro floral fabric and long strap ties. But, it was too small. Although I asked Ada to make another, larger hat, I just couldn't wait! I looked at some commercial baby bonnet patterns and decided what I liked and didn't like and drew up a pattern for one that would fit my daughter. I had been collecting colorful fabrics for an art installation project that I was working on (that one never got finished-- I was sidetracked by the bonnets!), and I dove into the stash and picked two that I thought looked great together.
After a few hours of hard work, I completed what has become our signature bonnet-- the Vines & Goldenrod. It's the brown/blue and gold one that's on our product tags. I tried it on Sabine, and it was perfect! I was thrilled and we started putting it on her all the time. We loved that it protected her from the sun, that it didn't flop in her eyes or slide around, and that it was so adorable! The bonnet was a hit everywhere we went. People were constantly stopping me, raving about how cute the bonnet was, and asking me where I got it! And I thought, if this many people love the hat, maybe I should make a few to sell! And just that quickly, *UB2* was BORN!
Me: How are your bonnets made? And what is your favorite place to source fabrics from?
Colette: Our bonnets are made the old-fashioned way--in people's homes and by hand. I work with 4 talented women who do most of the sewing. They are all work-at-home women. They really love what they do--and you can tell (I think) in the quality of the product. You can definitely tell our bonnets are made by real people and by hand, and not by computerized machines. I love that about them!
Sourcing fabrics is one of the best things about my job as the designer for UB2. I search just about every single domestic manufacturer for the cutest prints. Our line has prints from at least 11 different companies. I buy all of our sample yardage at retail prices, and mostly from Hawthorne Threads. They are an amazing fabric store... and I am delighted to be able to refer them!
Me: Your bonnets are so cute, but I have a little boy. Any particular style or pattern you can recommend that's not too "girlie"?
Colette: My total, hands-down favorite for boys is "rock star's 'stache." It features a wonderful and super-fun, hipster fabric that features all different kinds of mustaches. The inside (of course, the bonnets are reversible, so it could also be the outside!) is black & gray guitars. I love the word play of rock star's 'stache and there's no denying that this is a bonnet for little men. :-)
Me: In addition to bonnets, you also sell cute apparel for the little ones. What is your favorite non-bonnet item that you sell?
Colette: My favorite non-bonnet thing is the Ava wrap dress in Do The Polka. I think it's so much fun!! My family is Czechoslovakian and we grew up attending church picnics where my dad played keyboards and accordion in the live polka band. So, the whole idea of "polkas" and their spirited tunes is captured for me in this really unique, funny, eclectic dress. Every panel is a different kind of polka dot fabric, but just like the craziness of polka music itself... the combination works! :-)
Me: Anything else you'd like to tell us about Urban Baby Bonnets?
Colette: We are really proud to introduce a new budget-sensitive line of bonnets-- our solBonnets. These feature a seamless design, a slightly shorter brim, and a bigger, floppier garden-hat style fit. They are all limited run bonnets....so once they are sold out they're gone.... but they are a great alternative for people who find the price of the modBonnet a little off-putting. We put them through product testing, and we were really happy with the results--the users loved them and thought they were a really great budget alternative to our modBonnets.
Colette has generously offered to giveaway one Urban Baby Bonnet to a My Bit of Earth reader. The winner will have the choice of "girly" or "gender neutral", and of course, of the size they would like. To enter, please visit Urban Baby Bonnets and leave a comment about your favorite bonnet. I'll choose a winner on Wednesday.
[And the winner of the Bella Luna gift certificate is Sarah!]