It’s All In A Name

How about a story… Everyone loves a good story, right? Well, let me warn you, this is a long one. So, go pee, grab your favorite beverage and get comfy.

Regularly I’m asked how I got started with all this, where did you come up with your business name, why did you change the name, and a few other questions. This is where I’ll attempt to answer some of them and others will arise, so check back often, you never know what you might find.

My mom bought me my first sewing machine for Christmas, a Kenmore.  It worked great to sew up some pillows; make a simple jumper for Bonnie Love’s first Easter(matching bow tie for Tall Guy, of course). But one summer day in 1999, my dear friend Sarah Kate, of Sarah Kate Fibers, invited me over to her home to learn to quilt.  Needless to say, the quilting bug bit and bit HARD!!  My little Kenmore did not last long.  Within a month I had burned up the gears(it’s not a good sign when your machine smells hot followed by smoke, just FYI). Took it back to Sears, they replaced it free of charge, and straight to the machine store I went. Traded that baby in on a Janome for more than my mom paid for it. Now I was ready for action!

I quilted my little heart out for the next few years. My stash grew(quilters, you know what I am talking about *wink*), and so did my skills.  In the spring of 2007 a challenge came to me. A wonderful friend wanted a special outfit for her daughters first birthday. More exactly, she wanted a cupcake appliqued on a t shirt and ruffles sewn onto some jeans(size 6m).  I told her I thought that sounded doable, and that we would give it a shot. It was a success, so much so that she had me add ruffles to other things, and even made a dress!  The dress was from a picture she had seen on the Internet. I had no clue how to even use a clothing pattern, so I traced off a bodice pattern from one of my daughters slips and that is how this whole thing got started.

Within three months of that first project I had my first phone call from a small boutique wanting to carry my things in their shop. Before the end of 2007, I was up and running, in two stores, and it was great timing. You see, in October of that same year, we lost my mom unexpectedly, and I wasn’t sleeping much. This is business, so I don’t talk about my faith much here, but I cannot let it pass and not say, that I believe God has a plan, and is ever loving and merciful. I never asked for this business, I see it as a gift, His provision and, no, never a replacement, but a comfort. I am so very, very grateful. It’s a dream come true, one I never even knew I had.

In the summer of 2008, one of the boutiques I was in moved to Main Street Van Buren, and my rack was just as you came in the front door. The owner wanted to have a sign painted, and said, “You know, you’ve got to come up with a name for your line.” It only took a moment for me to know what that name would be. Little Paula. When my mom was a girl, her nickname was Little Paula. As an adult, when someone would call her that, she would light up like a Christmas Tree! It was so incredibly sweet. I knew that was how I wanted the little girls who would wear my clothes to feel. One day I was in the shop, and one of the other merchants came in to meet me. I almost cried when she said, “You know, I love to just walk by the window and look. Your clothes are just happy.” I told her, “Then I’m a success. That is my goal.” Even now my eyes water a bit when I think of that conversation.

Fast forward a couple of years, and things had changed. I was still doing my children’s thing, but had started working with homeowners, interior designers and the name Little Paula, while still great for little girls wear, just didn’t grow with my evolving business. I went through a couple of changes trying to find what worked. All of them had been done, were a little too far fetched or just cliche.  Then one day, I was having a conversation with my wonderfully talented designer friend Kristi, of Schnitzel & Boo, when she shared something with me. I was surprised, warned her to be careful(trade secrets *wink*) and finally asked why she had felt she could share with me. She said it was because of the consistent way that I represented myself online. Which got me to thinking…

In the summer of 2010, I had started a blog. Before then, I didn’t even know what a blog was! Ha! You see, I was busy raising and homeschooling my four children and sewing up a storm.  I had just started playing WordsWithFriends, and had made a lovely friend Melissa of Sewcute’s Creations. We were playing and chatting and she said, “I have a blog.” Yes, I literally asked, “What is a blog?” She was so kind and led me through it step by step, introducing me to this whole new online world. Soon I wanted to join in, and you’ve gotta have a title.  I’ve always enjoyed words and plays on words, so it was fairly easy since I knew what I’d be writing mostly about, sewing and gardening. Thus, SewSowinLove was birthed.

Within the next year I joined Twitter, not knowing what to use as a handle, I just went with my blog name @SewSowinLove. About this time, my horizons were broadening,  I started thinking about branding, and really had no handle on what that word really meant. I knew it was more than a look, a label, and had a feeling is was more like your reputation. I would get more help in this area later, but I wanted to be easily found and there were no other SewSowinLoves out there, so I started using that name everywhere on the online, but still struggled with a name for my business. Duh… SO, when Kristi said what she did to me, it was my “Aha moment.” If SewSowinLove was the name that inspired trust and admiration, that was a name I wanted to embrace.

My parents named me Jan Leigh, and I’ve grown into SewSowinLove.

Nice to meet ya!