Same pen&thimble Products, Extra Assurance!

I have always spent extra time searching for the BEST materials to create items–organic cotton, 100% natural cotton, thick waterproof PUL, organic wood rings that have passed safety tests. My priority has always been to make safe and effective products for babies and children; that means selecting and crafting with quality materials.

In addition to using the highest quality materials, pen&thimble products are now officially compliant with Consumer Product Safety Commission guidelines (CPSC/CPSIA).

Nothing has actually changed; I’m still using the same quality materials and my same functional designs, but I now have documentation that all materials and products have passed third-party testing requirements and meet federal regulations for child safety–small parts, lead, phthalates, flammability….all compliant.

Yay! What does that mean for you? You can expect the same quality, same baby-safe materials, but now with extra assurances and adorable new tags!



Keeping Watch: The Sequel

So my Keeping Watch post started some neat conversations here, on FB, Twitter, and Instagram too! Thanks for weighing in and sharing your thoughts on selling items with licensed characters. It was so cool to hear from both Etsy shop-owners and customers! And all of your input was so varied! Some shop-owners and customers suggested I go for it while other vendors and shoppers advised me against it.

Ultimately, the response that really resonated with me was that selling items with licensed characters just isn’t what my handmade shop is about. And that is what I was feeling in my heart. It isn’t even about “getting caught” (but let’s be honest, I wouldn’t take that lightly). What it comes down to is what my shop and the pen&thimble brand is all about.

So while this is cuuuuuute…

Super drool fighters!

Super drool fighters!

…it is being sent to my nephew (due in March) as a gift.

And a crayon rollup that I forgot to take a proper picture of, went to my daughter’s friend from gymnastics class, but it won’t be in my Etsy shop.

I’m going to stick to pen&thimble — handmade for babies&children, handmade for function& fun. I’m going to stick to combining my quality and thought-out designs with fun fabric, just not licensed fun fabric.

Thanks to everyone who took the time to weigh in! It helped me more-deeply consider what my shop is all about and where it is going from here.

Plus, I’ll have three nephews and two daughters come March — current and future Marvel fans — so this cool fabric won’t go to waste! 🙂

Sandbox Networking

When I think of the word “networking” I think of what I now dub as my “past life” — inviting people to my conference presentations, lunch meetings to discuss a collaboration on a paper, conference calls to discuss data comparisons. I was a calculated networker on a career path I didn’t care for, but was determined to succeed in. End scene.

Cut to now. My new career: mom and very small business owner. Hoping to make a profit by the end of the year, but never been happier or more fulfilled or more tired.

Networking now occurs in the most unlikely places when I least expect it. A cancelled playgroup led to this:

pen&thimble is in a shop-shop!


Networking used to feel so masked, formal, and insincere. Now it is so open, helpful, supportive. Bonus, I love that I can wear a tee shirt and jeans and retire my old mix-and-match Banana Republic business suits.

Me and my business assistant out for a network, maybe?

Me and my business assistant out for a network, maybe?

Do You Work?

“Do you work?”

I get this question all the time but it has never bothered me. In my mind I sarcastically think, “Oh no, not an ounce of work all day. Just lounging poolside with my mojito getting a tan.” Out of my mouth comes, “No, just a mom.” And I’m fine with being “just a mom.” It is my favorite job to date!

I don’t have to say it as others already have–being a mom is tough work. The hardest job ever? No. I bet The President is more stressed out than I am. But being my child’s full-time nanny is stressful, 24/7, ever-changing, joyful, challenging, fun.

But since I’ve opened my Etsy shop and sold a few things, it is starting to feel like I am a tiny business owner too. I sure have been putting in the hours! Lots of hours. Overlapping with toddler-time, family-time, me-time is synonymous with sewing. But basically I now have TWO jobs that aren’t really job-jobs. So what do I say?

Old approach:

Anonymous Person1: Do you work?

Me: No, I’m just a mom. <smile>

Sewww, what do you do approach:

Anonymous Person2: Do you work?

Me: Yes, I sew and opened a shop on Etsy!

S(ew)AHM approach:

Anonymous Person3: Do you work?

Me: Why yes, I am a sew-at-home-mom! By day it is all diapers, snacks, dance-parties, and block-building. At naps it is sewing, shipping, product development, blogging, marketing, copywriting, photoshoots, figuring out how to grow my business.

Something I would actually say approach:

Anonymous Person4: Do you work?

Me: Yes! I’m a mom with an Etsy shop!