I recently stumbled on the dearest little boys’ hat and tie set on Etsy. I’m such a sucker for preppy little boys’ clothes – in paisley, no less! I was so taken by the adorable outfit and the gorgeous photo that I wanted to meet the person behind the shop, Crew & Cate. As it turns out, there were two people to meet – Leah and Aubree – who are both busy moms with an eye for fashion (and a love of party planning, too)!
Leah and Aubree
I love the name of your shop! How did you come up with “Crew & Cate”?
Aubree: I have always been a huge fan of “J.Crew” and “Crew Cuts” clothing; it was actually what initially inspired me to dream up this vision of making and selling children’s clothes. Since Leah and I were planning on making both boys and girls clothes we wanted to come up with a name that was for both genders. I loved the name Crew, and I’m planning on naming my next child that (if it’s a boy), so I decided to play around with it. Cate happened because we thought it flowed really well… so that’s how we came up with Crew & Cate!
Have you always had a talent for designing and sewing clothes, or is it a skill you developed?
Aubree: I was not talented at ALL! It was actually a skill that I always wanted to acquire, but I couldn’t even sew on a button. When I decided that I wanted to make clothes and start my own business on Etsy, I took a sewing basics class at JoAnn’s, and that is how I learned to use a sewing machine. The rest of it, I learned from Leah.
Leah: My first sewing machine was a gift from my parents when I was 10 years old. I’ve always had an interest in sewing. Since high school I’ve played with fashion and making pieces my own. If I couldn’t find exactly what I wanted I would simply make it. I still do that now from time to time.
It’s a little unusual for an Etsy shop to have more than one owner. How did you decide to go into business together? What role does each of you play in the company?
Aubree: Leah and I grew up together, and she was the most naturally talented, craftiest person I knew. She was always creating outfits for herself and our friends from our old clothes, cutting up jeans and making shirts out of bandanas… do you remember when that was popular? Haha! I think we were in Middle School at the time. :-) Anyway, I knew this business was going to be a lot of work and I wanted someone with her talent and crafty mind to join me on this adventure. So I asked her, and she said “Yes!”
Leah: I make all of the decisions on the final design work and photograph the majority of our pieces. Aubree handles our marketing. We have a Facebook page, a Twitter page, and Aubree promotes us on her family blog.
What makes your shop special?
Leah: We give 10% of every sale to a wonderful organization called Kammy’s Kause which was founded by our friend Jared. He has a little girl affected with this disorder, and was told that children with this disorder usually don’t live past 18 months. She is now 8! So, your Crew & Cate purchases are making a difference in these children’s lives.
Kammy’s Kause is an organization that helps fund research for 4P Chromosome Disorder. There are about 600+/- known cases in the world, so very little is known about this syndrome. Features of the syndrome include midline defects with a scalp defect, widespaced eyes, broad or beaked nose, oral facial clefts (cleft lip/palate); low simple ears with a dimple in front of the ear; small &/or asymmetrical head; heart defects; and seizures. There is severe to profound developmental and mental retardation.
What is a typical day like for each of you, and how do you balance running your shop with the rest of your life?
Aubree: My first priorities are my three children, Evie (7), Lily (6), and Owen (1). They keep me VERY busy! We do picnics with friends, parks, day trips to local fun places, and now we are getting ready for back to school. :-) I am also in the process of starting my own Children’s Party Planning Business, so I’ve been throwing lots of parties lately to photograph and build my portfolio! I only sew during Owen’s nap time and at night after the kids go to bed so that it doesn’t take away from my time with them. Which means very late nights for me!
Leah: Being a mother to Carter (20 months) and wife always comes first. It’s my favorite job, but I have many! I’m a 2nd grade teacher as well in the BEST school. I take pride in my job and work hard to do what’s best for children every day. Aubree and I talk/communicate often. She knows how busy I am and steps in to do whatever is necessary to keep things running smoothly. Without Aubree our business would not be where it is today! I also have many late nights sewing. It’s when I do the majority of my Crew & Cate work.
What is your favorite item that you sell?
Aubree: I love the Chic Fall Coat! It is made from this shimmery Army Green Sateen Fabric on the outside, and a paisley print fabric on the inside. The details of the coat are so much fun; the back is pleated and has two buttons, and the sleeves are a little shorter than wrist length so it’s more of a fashion coat. I can’t wait for Evie and Lily to wear it school this year! (They wear the same size.)
Leah: I’m in LOVE with our Newsboy hat and tie sets! I have always wanted cute ties for my son and seem to have a hard time finding what I want. When I made the first set and was so excited! We now offer them in a variety of fabrics, and new for this fall in corduroy!
What – or who – inspires you?
Aubree: Other Etsy designers with fabulous blogs and lots of followers! I love coming across a great blog that features really cool stuff that I didn’t know about before. It always inspires me to want to make something else. Party planning blogs are what have inspired me to start my own Party Planning business!
Leah: Many things inspire my ideas and designs. It seems I’m always looking for a great outfit for my son, so many of my ideas stem from that. Aubree inspires me to keep making new items and finding fantastic fabrics. She gets an idea, I add my thoughts and we seem to come up with pieces that excite us both. Even our friends have started to inspire a new line of custom birthday outfits!
What is the hardest part of your job?
Aubree: Waiting on our fabric to get here! We order a lot of our designer fabric online, and it can take 4-5 days to get here. When someone orders from us, I try to have their order to them after just a few days, so it makes me anxious to have to wait on the fabric to arrive. However, it’s never taken us more than 5 business days to get an item shipped out once it’s ordered!
How do you promote your Etsy shop? Do you also promote your business outside of Etsy?
Aubree: Currently we promote through word of mouth, Facebook, Blogging, and Twitter. We also sell our baby onesies in a boutique store in Noblesville, IN called Linden Tree Gifts. We eventually want to get into craft fairs, but we just can’t seem to find the time right now to produce that many outfits in bulk.
Leah: We are also in the middle of sponsoring a Mini Marathon for my school to raise money for fieldtrips and books for the classroom. Kammy’s Kause holds a large fundraiser every year too that we are sponsoring this year. That will be taking place in a couple of weeks. We would like to reach over 1000 fans through Facebook by the end of this year so please tell all your friends! :-)
What are your plans for the future?
Aubree: My husband and I are trying for our 4th and last child; we would like to move to Raleigh, NC in the next year; and I want to continue making beautiful children’s clothes while starting a Party Planning business on the side.
Leah: To keep designing, creating and having fun with Crew & Cate. I’m excited to see how far our business will take us!
Fun bonus questions!
What was your favorite birthday party theme as a child? And if you were to throw a theme party for your next birthday, what would it be?
Aubree: The only themed party that I remember as a child was “Rainbow Brite”, but it really only consisted of a Rainbow Brite themed cake, paper plates and napkins. Parties weren’t as cool back then (and I’m only 28 so it wasn’t that long ago) as they are now! I LOVE this website called The Party Dress and I found a poolside theme on there that I love and want to try to pull of for my next Birthday in May. Here is a picture:
Leah: I don’t remember a themed party as a child, but I LOVE throwing parties. I feel that I have a knack for finding items and ideas that fit a theme. I do this as a teacher too, so I get lots of practice! For my son’s 1st birthday we had a jungle themed party and I’ve already started planning his 2nd birthday party. It will likely be a super hero theme because he loves “The Wonder Pets!”
If you could only keep three objects from your home, what would they be?
Aubree: My super comfy bed, I love to finally fall asleep at night! My Blackberry, it keeps my busy life straight; and my sewing machine, so I can keep on sewing. Sad, I wish I had a really cool piece of décor or a fabulous vintage item to talk about, but I don’t
Leah: My camera, I use it constantly! Pictures capture memories and I don’t want to forget all the precious moments I’ve had with my family and friends. My piano, it has been in my family for years and I played it as a child. Carter enjoys the sounds it makes as well. Last I would say my computer!!!!