This week's featured sponsor is Little Bird Vintage Designs. Using original characters inspired by her own little flock, Grace creates beautiful lovies, t-shirts, onesies, totes...oh, and just all sorts of goodies!
Me: How long has Little Bird Vintage been in business, and what inspired you to begin?
Grace: Since January, 2007. The initial start was inspired out of friendship. My best mommy friend/crafting partner Anastacia Postema was moving from Corpus Christi, TX to Portland, OR. As a parting gift to Ava (my 6 month old daughter) she gave us the very first Little Bird Lovie. I still have it today, in fact it's a favorite of my Maximus. (Pictured.) I was so taken aback by the uniqueness and this whimsical, personal, completely original gift, and wanting desperately to keep our friendship connected--I suggested we try selling these! And it's worked. :) Our first client, Belly and Baby Boutique in Corpus Christi.
Me: I love the characters on your t-shirts--especially that adorable octopus! How do you come up with your designs?
Grace: The original Ava Bird was a gift and designed for my daughter. As I had more and more children, each needed their own personal animal too to add to the family business. Anastacia left Little Bird by the end of 2007, when demand was getting too much to work in on the side of her full time career. In 2008 I brought in Erin Wallace, our Faithfully Artistic Bird, who created our entire visual image, website and blog, and also designed Leo the Lion, at that time. With the birth of our next, she designed Maximus our Octopus, and after much debate on what our 4th and final animal should be, she gave us Kalliope our Gecko--which we are in turn giving back to her! All Kalliope Gecko profits go directly to Dandelion Dream, and help with the costs of adding to her nest in the adoption of Laney Love from the Congo. You'll notice each image share 2 common characteristics: The signature eye, and the curl, whether found in tail or tentacles. Each animal suits each child perfectly, and they are each so proud of THEIR animal :)
Me: I see that you use "direct to garment" printing. Can you tell us a little bit about that process and why you use it over more traditional methods?
Grace: Direct to garment printing is ecologically friendly and safe for the environment. There is very, very little waste and the ink is a stain that is water based. It is sprayed on like an ink jet printer.
Screen printing inks have been known to have heavy metals in them that are not safe for the environment or safe if they come in contact with children's skin. There is waste that must be cleaned and flushed once the screen is to no longer be used.
Many silk screen inks inks are petroleum based, and tend to leach carcinogenic chemicals from themselves in small doses. Many of these chemicals continue to react even when laundered.
Many of our customers wanted a bit more variety of options in our product, and a less expensive way to become a Little Bird shopper, so I looked into making that happen, and the DTG Printing was just the natural option for me--the only one. Another perk of DTG printing, it fades with time (which is why we suggest washing it inside out to preserve the color), but will not peal or break off in dangerous ingestible pieces as screen print will do.
Me: You say that motherhood has made you think more about the motherless children in the world, and give that as the reason for your "Buy Love, Give Love" campaign this year. I've had a lot of the same feelings since having a baby, so I can relate! Tell us all about the campaign.
Grace: Yes, becoming a mother brings out a host of emotions and meaning I never knew I possessed or was capable of feeling. I see how important my role as a steady, consistent, loving, dependable parent is to each of my 4 fledglings. I am so thankful every night that I am able to tuck them in to a safe, secure bed/space, and that they are able to sleep soundly and peacefully. I am so thankful I am there to hold them each time they get hurt or are scared. My heart aches for those (young and old) who do not feel such security and love and even to those that feel love but may not have security whether it be from the economic downturn or natural disaster or any number of reasons. I see the comfort and love my kids receive from their lovies/blankets and I want to spread that--comfort and love, consistence, security. So that is Buy Love, Give Love. When you purchase a Little Bird Lovie/Blanket, Little Bird donates a blanket to a bird in need.
In 2011, Little Bird was fortunate enough to have sold 40 blankets and thus, in December, 2011, Little Bird was fortunate enough to produce and donate 40 blankets to Samministries, a local shelter that cares for homeless families. It was an incredible experience. This business was created and sustained by me as a way to show my children how one person, one business, one act, can make a difference all the time. That December, 2 of my 4 were old enough to really help out and participate in the making and giving of the 40 blankets. They painted, assembled--this year my 6 year old will help sew ;), trimmed and cleaned, folded, stacked. And all 4 were there to each carry in their bundles of 10 and present them to Samministries to give as Christmas presents to 40 of their 91 children they were caring for at that time. I get teary eyed just writing about it. It was such a beautiful moment and made such an impression on each of them, as well as myself. My goal this year is to make 91. :)
Me: Is there anything new on the horizon for Little Bird Vintage?
Grace: Well, we really haven't fully debuted all the newness of our now complete Nest. It's hard to do everything with the company from painting and sewing end to the marketing and photographing side of
things. So in August we plan to host a large photo shoot with a photographer out of Austin that I adore, Rachel Kirkland. We plan to shoot all of our products from our DTG onsies, and organic t-shirts (so
cute!) to our totes and of course our signature lovie and sport collections adorned with each of our trademarked prints. I am loving the new bold looks our DTG offers of each of the prints and our hand painted collections get softer and softer with each use!
Grace has generously agreed to giveaway a tote and one of her "direct to garment" printed tees. To win, visit the Little Bird Vintage Designs shop, and come back and leave a comment about your favorite thing. I'll pick a winner on Wednesday.
[Also, I just realized--right this moment--that I forgot to pick a winner for the En Rouge giveaway last week--goodness me! The winner is Myka, and I'll be in touch about your print.]