Today I want to introduce you to my dear friend Mary who started Mary Originals. Mary is a ray of sunshine to everyone who knows her. If she is having a bad day you know it is REALLY bad because Mary finds love and happiness in almost every gloomy day. I am so proud to call her friend and say that we own a few Mary Originals that have held up to a few years of my daughter dragging them around. I decided to do this interview style and I am so very excited to learn more about Mary Originals and how it started.
Me: Where does the name Mary Originals come from?
Mary: I taught myself how to crochet when I had my first child. I wanted to create things for my new baby so I picked up a book and learned how to make blankets and hats. By the time I was pregnant with my third child I had a collection of little hats and crocheted items made up for all three of my kids. At the time I was part of an online parenting community (where I met Mary), and had joined a Due Date Club. When my new son was born I showed many pictures of him to my online friends in the Due Date/Birthday Club. My friends started requesting that I make hats like the ones my son was wearing for their babies. One by one they would show off what they started calling their new “Mary Original” hat. When I first set up shop I knew that was what the name had to be.
Me: What was the driving force behind starting your own business?
Mary: I first started selling them as a hobby, a creative outlet that made a little extra money. Then the economy crumbled and my family was severely impacted by that. I buckled down and became more serious about my approach to my business. It went from hobby to a serious source of income for my family – money that we HAD to have. I still have big plans and dreams for what is to come in my business. When my youngest starts kindergarten I will have more time for my shop and hope to see it grow even more.
Me: Which hat is your favorite? Your best selling?
Mary: I have many favorites. I will make one that is just a fantastic vision in my head and will work on it for way too long, call it epic, and it will be my favorite in the moment. I have a handful I would call “epic” – the ones that actually impressed me, even though I was there in every step of their creation. I make a dragon hat that I love. It takes 8-10 hours to make with all the details. I have made it 3 times now and one of them belongs to my kids. They get more compliments on that hat than any other that they wear. By far my best selling hat is my Yoda Hat. It is much loved. I also have a house elf hat that is quite popular, as is my cancer awareness hat that was created in a time when it came straight from the heart. It is embroidered with F*ck Cancer on it. It is the only way I can feel about this awful disease that is a thief in the night and a real life monster.
Me: Where do you get your inspiration for the different styles?
Mary: Inspiration is easy to come by. I have a 9 year old daughter and 6 and 4 year old sons. They inspire many of my best designs. I simply look at their little worlds, what makes them smile and get excited, what they want and love. This is my “go to” when I want to come up with a new design. Just watch the kids be kids! I also draw inspiration from the many one of a kind hats made specifically for the person who is buying it. I take their ideas and do my very best to bring them to life.
Me: What is the busiest time of year for you?
Mary: Halloween to Christmas. There are several weeks in October and December where I will spend 80-100 hours crocheting. My wrists do not love those weeks but they are important to my shop. I love knowing that so many trick or treaters will be out in my hats. I love that under Christmas trees, waiting to delight, are many of my hats. To me, that is magic! I do prepare the best I can for those busy months. I will make basic hats and store them away so I can simply add detail to them. I also stock up on my best selling designs in multiple sizes as those months approach.
Me: Do you have advise for moms wanting to start their own business?
Mary: If I had any advise for a mom who wanted to start her own business is would be to find something she is good at and that she truly enjoys doing. It is hard work. You will be tired. You will have to push yourself. Every moment will not be a shining success. You will have to put all of yourself into what you do. But it will be worth it when you find that special something you really love and can use that to support your family. It is an incredible feeling knowing that something you have created has shaped your life. Starting slow and finding your path is probably the hardest part but once you get going you will find your way around the business world that you will be part of.
Me: Anything else you want to add?
Mary: It is very important for all of us to use what we are blessed with in life, to put good out into this world. With my business I have opportunity to use my hats and the things that I create to share comfort and love. When I find the chance to offer a donation to a person who has lost their hair to cancer, to the homeless facing a cold winter, or to the local Children’s Hospital, I always grab at that opportunity. It feels so wonderful knowing that I can use what I have built in my life to shape this world around me, not only in means of financial gain, but by the good and light that my hats can bring. Charitable donations are great at tax time. They are a wonderful way of creating a positive light around your business name and they really have a way of filling your life with such joy. This is something for all business owners and all people to strive for. Give when you can and make this world better.
You can read a bit more about my “moms in business” series HERE.