As I prepare for my daughter's 1st birthday, it was my first instinct to look to Etsy for creative and original party favors. I love Etsy! They proudly stand-by the mantra "Buy, Sell and Live Handmade" and they undoubtedly have the coolest items anywhere. I was thrilled when my simple search for "zoo" led me to the Little Tumblebees shop. I instantly fell in love!
Little Tumblebees signature items are these adorable minky stuffies that come in a wide variety of colors. In fact, shop owner Rachel Codiroli specializes in custom orders to create the perfect stuffie for your child. Here are a few of my favorites:
Now tell me what little girl or boy doesn't absolutely need one of these? I contacted shop owner Rachel about making miniature elephant stuffies for my daughter's November birthday party so that we could give them out as favors. Not only did Rachel say yes, but she also agreed to a short interview and to GIVEAWAY a FREE Custom Elephant Stuffie (full sized) to one very lucky Holly at Nap Time reader. See the form below for the official rules and to enter!
H: What is the inspiration behind the Little Tumblebees shop?
R: My oldest daughter has to be the true original inspiration behind Little Tumblebees. As a child I was always creating; drawing, cutting, gluing, sewing, embroidering…everything! But as I moved through the rigors of growing up, and focused on school work and sports my creativity got left behind like a much loved baby blanket.
Years went by… college, and then work. I worked hard and long in the corporate world, and I was good at it, but never truly loved what I was doing. Then in 2005 Sienna was born, and I was in love like never before! Slowly I began to find that long hidden part of myself. I made Halloween costumes, toys, baby doll blankets, painted decorations for her room, everything, and I was happy! Her growing and developing sense of creativity and wonder sparked new inspiration in me. I remembered what it meant to make something with my own hands and hold it up beaming to my own mother (which by the way I still do). There is a peace and a sense of gratitude for life when you “create” something that no amount of sales or business success can ever achieve. I quit the corporate world. I loved my daughter without measure, and I saw that my heart would never, ever be in any achievement in that world. Plus baby number 2 was on the way, and I wanted to be there for every moment. I began in earnest, my path to living the life I felt I deserved, that my children deserved. It dawned on me at this point (thanks to the urging of my husband Marshall) that other people I didn’t know might like the things I was making. I mean why not? Certainly more care and attention to detail goes into the items I make than what you may find in a big box store. I was still uncertain.
My Aunt around this time opened her Etsy shop: sweetpoppycat.etsy.com. It just seemed perfect; I created my shop name right away.
Sienna is an energetic, bouncy, and often reckless with energy kind of child. I always said from the time she began to run (at 9 ½ months) that she was my little tumblebee. A little flighty ball of energy moving from one spot to the next, and sometimes tumbling from one spot to the next! It is really rather charming, if not a little exhausting, to watch. Like a bee from one sunny daisy to another. Well, the second child was here…another girl named Olivia, so Little Tumblebees was created. If not for my daughter, I may still be slaving away in the corporate world, not knowing that an ember inside me still glowed with determination to be discovered again.
H: What is your favorite part about making your creations? (picking the fabrics, the time to yourself, the finished product, etc.)
R: I have to say that it is when I hear from the recipient of the creation. I cannot say how important it is for me to know that what I am making has found a good home, where it is loved. It may sound silly, but I really love everything I make. I finish a stuffie in a custom color choice and I think “Oh, he is so cute, maybe I should just keep him” but of course I don’t because I know I have no use for him. He will sit un-played with, unloved (my girls already have too many things I have made for them), and I cannot bear that! So I send him away, and I hope that someone opens the package and says, “Oh, he is so cute, let’s keep him forever”. Often times I never know, but when I do hear that a little girl or boy goes everywhere with their new friend I feel near elated.
H: What is the number one parenting tip you can give our readers?
R: Geez, only one! No honestly parenting is an ever changing landscape for me as my children grow, and so do I, but one thing I think is crucial to happy children and happy mommies and daddies is consistency and follow through. Which means if you make a request of your children like eating at the table or brushing teeth twice a day, etc. you must lead by example, it must always be the same expectation (don’t change from day to day), and you must as a parent follow through to make sure it happens. Parenting is an active sport in which you must participate; you cannot stand on the sidelines! The other rule that goes with this is to not set yourself up for failure. What I mean by this is choosing your battles when children want to exert independence. Do not ask for anything you can’t enforce, or is pointless anyway? We do eat at the dinner table, and the other night my youngest (now 2) decided she was done eating dinner. Which is fine… I don’t believe in forcing children to eat (their dinner can wait for them in the fridge if they get hungry later) however it is a rule that you can’t get down from the table with a mouthful of food. Really it’s a safety thing, and kind of rude. My husband began to tell her she had to chew her food, which of course she refused. I pointed out to him, that you can’t make a child chew, so he was setting himself up for failure. My approach was it was fine if she didn’t feel like chewing her food, but she could not get down from the table until she did so. Not getting down from the table is something enforce-able. She sat there with a mouthful of food until all of us were done eating, and then suddenly when we were leaving the table she magically remembered how to chew and the food disappeared! More importantly we all got to enjoy our dinner instead of pulling our hair out with frustration, because Olivia wouldn’t chew her food. By the way she did eat more dinner about 30 minutes later, when she realized she was still hungry.
H: What advice do you have for moms who are looking to start their own business?
R: Just do it, baby! This is your life, live it. Don’t wait, you never know the count down on the clock that is your life, and when it reaches 0, your time, here at least, is done. I don’t mean be reckless and irresponsible, but do be spontaneous, do what brings you joy; don’t settle for a less than fulfilled life. If you have a love for something, I think you should find a way to do it. You don’t have to have a lot of capital to invest, just time and effort, and often times we have more time than we think. Television and the computer can suck the time right out of your day. I suggest first figuring out where you want your business venture to take you. Do you want it to be large scale someday? Or do you just want a small hobby on the side to bring in a little extra income? Either way loosely map out how you are going to get there. Organize this map into steps, and be realistic. Don’t worry or be discouraged if it changes along the way, just readjust. Set aside time and days to work on your business, and then don’t waste these times doing something else. I find as a mother working at home, it is all too easy to get sucked into doing the laundry, or the dishes or something else (there is always something else isn’t there?), but those things will wait. You will never feel like time was wasted when you are doing something you are passionate about. My life is ordered in this way: children, then husband and everything else is just icing on the cake. My advice to moms is this: make everything else in your life icing, instead of bitter medicine you swallow because you think you have to!
And it doesn't end with stuffies! Visit Little Tumblebees for baby's other needs, including adorable onesies, blankets and lovies. These make the perfect shower gifts!
Giveaway CLOSED. Thanks for all who participated!