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

“I’ll keep watch.”

In 7th grade our middle school hallway was adjacent to the hall with a door that led to the auditorium catwalk. For whatever reason, this door was often unlocked. My friends walked or ran to the middle of the catwalk and back at least half a dozen times during 7th grade. I’m sure it was thrilling, but I never did it. I always volunteered to “keep watch” — which meant I stood outside the door panicking that we’d all get caught, because I would still be guilty by association!

I’m A LOT older and now mostly savvy to which rules are hard rules and which rules bend a bit, but I still respect rules…usually. Unless they are, like, totally dumb and some are and so they don’t count. But I respect the ones that make sense.

All of this to say that right now I feel like I’m sweating, standing outside of the catwalk door praying that Mr. Webber or Mrs. Haggis won’t walk around the corner. Why you ask? THIS…

So pretty! So against the rules!

So super marvelous! So against the rules!

I’ve cut into it! I was so excited to start making super things for my customers to marvel at when I realized, “Wait! This is the exact type of fabric I avoid — fabric with licensed characters!” Why, you ask? It is written right on the fabric that it is not to be used for commercial purposes!! Right here:



I know people do it. But if this fabric was meant for sales it wouldn’t say “DON’T RUN ACROSS THE CATWALK,” right on the selvedge! So now I don’t know what to do. To sew and sale or embrace my inner 7th grader (and honor this previous post) and continue to keep watch?

Ballet and Taxes

Yesterday, my daughter was begging me to go play in the nearby park — specifically the sand box. It would have been a great idea, if we could put aside the frigid temps, polar wind, and the fact that the sand she wanted to play in was underneath ice-covered snow (and my ice pick is in storage).

My daughter is a toddler, so I did what any good mom would do, I tricked her into running an errand with me instead compromised with her. Our compromise was “going to town.” She liked the sound of that, so we bundled up, took a break mid-bundle…

Don't underestimate the effort and sweat that goes into putting pants on a toddler.

Don’t underestimate the effort and sweat that goes into putting pants on a toddler.

…finished bundling up, and braved the frigid temps, polar wind, ice patches, and shame of wearing pants (toddler life).

First stop, a toddler’s dream really, Town Hall. Mama had a plan. I filed a “DBA” Certificate for pen&thimble while toddler squeaked her boots on the waxed wood floor. Win-win! We left Town Hall $65 poorer but immensely pleased with ourselves. I had declared my business and toddler had made funny noises with her feet. And to think she wanted to go to the park! Ha! Mama knows where the real fun is, kid!

Squeaky and Legit!

Squeaky and Legit! A happy pair!

Afterward, we shared a celebratory lunch at the closest local sandwich shop. It was delicious! When we had our fill of the most delicious chicken sandwich we had ever eaten, toddler decided that it was time to go home and do ballet. She was right.

Pants free and tutu on, my toddler danced the ballet while I applied for an Employer Identification Number so that I can pay federal taxes too — didn’t want to leave all the fun to local/state collectors.

I’m officially and legitimately self-employed! Also, I’m pregnant and in my third trimester. Because why wouldn’t I want to start a business and a family at the same time? Oh 2015, this is going to be an interesting year!

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?