Half-Pint Photography is launching a new series on the site called More Than Mommy that will feature Q&A sessions with some of the inspiring moms among us. These moms will share what defines them outside of being “mommy”, their thoughts on balancing work and home life, the rewards and challenges of motherhood, and much more.
I first thought about doing a series such as this about a year ago and I am so excited to finally have it all come together and share some of these incredible women with you. I meet so many moms in my line of work and through my children’s activities, and through these interactions I’ve listened to some pretty interesting personal stories, heard about their business ventures and learned how these moms make it all work. We love our children, we love being moms, and although it is all interwoven there is more to us than being mommy. These stories…MOM stories…OUR stories…are worth sharing. It is important for women to support, empower and encourage each other because we really are all in this motherhood game together.
If you would like to be featured or know of another mom with an interesting story to tell, please tell me more by clicking here.
I’m thrilled to kick off the More Than Mommy series with my friend Jessica Bedrin. Jess is a mother, wife, creative genius and the knitting extraordinaire behind LoveLetters. [Be sure to read through the entire interview because there is a surprise at the end for everyone!]
Hi Jess! I’m so happy that you agreed to help launch the “More Than Mommy” series and share yourself with the Half-Pint world. To start things off, can you tell us how many children you have and their ages?
Thank you, Christine. It’s an honor to collaborate with anything you’re working on! I have two girls: Juliet Paige is 5, going on 15; and Harper Rose is 18 months old.
When and how was LoveLetters born?
I had tried learning to knit a couple of times, but it never quite stuck. Then a little over a year ago, my best friend retaught me the basics (knit and purl) and I was glued. I loved it! From there, I practiced daily, watched countless YouTube tutorials, read patterns and tips, sought advice from knitting friends and shop owners, always upping the challenge for myself by trying harder projects and mastering new techniques. It became a nightly obsession.
People were very complimentary: “you should open an Etsy shop” but the truth is, there are so many knitters out there and there was nothing (yet) proprietary about my hobby. I began to think about my love of personalization. Since I was little I have always loved to personalize things, from painting block letters on my jean jackets to decoupaging memory boxes and scrapbooks. I am a “monogram everything” kind of girl, whether it be a housewarming gift, a shower present, and now especially the clothes and accessories of my two daughters. There is something classic and elegant about a monogrammed present.
As the Fall/Winter season approached I found myself gifting a few of my friends’ kids with the personalized hats that I had knitted, as it brought me great pleasure seeing the kids I love wearing my work. Then one December evening out of the blue I turned to my husband and said “I’m going to call it ‘Love Letters’.” This, to me, perfectly describes my passion and product. Winter break had begun, and although we were midway through hat season, I decided to get things going and test the market, often sitting at the computer until midnight, sampling yarns, designing my logo, building a business model and finally launching an Etsy shop.
What makes LoveLetters hats special?
Rather than seeking out complicated patterns, I favor a simple and functional style (beanie with or without earflaps), with the focus of my hats being their high quality yarn (100% soft merino wool), array of bright colors from which to choose, great fit, and of course…the child’s initial! I love the clean look of the hats, and enjoy making each one unique to its recipient.
I’ve seen lots of cute little heads adorned with LoveLetters hats recently. It seems your business is doing well for being so young.
Since my official launch in January 2016, I have hand knit, designed and sold almost 50 custom hats through word of mouth, Facebook, Instagram and Etsy. I am also proud to announce that as of last month, my hats can be found in local stores Peachy Keen Kids in Ridgewood, NJ and The Paint Tube in Englewood, NJ. And most recently, I launched my 100% cotton newborn hats (size 0-3 months) for babies coming home from the hospital and their first months at home.
You’ve been busy! When do you find time to devote to your business?
The most work was in launching my business during winter break. Having my amazing husband home was a huge help, as he is so supportive of my endeavors and he’s an incredible hands-on dad. Then, and now, the majority of my day-to-day work is done after 7pm bedtimes. When Harper was still taking two naps, I would devote one nap to knitting and business, and one nap to catching up on housework. Now that she naps only once, all of my knitting is done at night after they go to bed.
How do you balance it all?
As far as balance, I am always happiest and most productive when I’m busy. There is definitely a happy medium though as far as to not over-commit myself or spread myself too thin. “Anything worth doing is worth doing well.” It is only me hand-knitting my product, so I aspire to keep my workflow steady and manageable. You never know when five orders are going to appear, when my husband’s next business trip is, or when the next stomach bug is going to hit the house hard! I always like to stay ahead of my work. Any “downtime” is devoted to product development and inventory planning.
Do your girls like to “help mommy” with the business?
Harper likes to play with the yarn scraps she finds all over the house. Juliet likes to play pretend “Love Letters” with her own knitting bag and yarn samples, and she proudly holds my business card in her bedroom.
What do you like to do in your “me” time?
The best hour of my week devoted to just ME is playing tennis with three other amazing momma friends. It’s fun competition, time to catch up with each other and we break a sweat.
It is also no secret that I love all things crafty, but especially planning parties. Brainstorming themes and their applications for my daughters’ birthdays starts about four months before each party date. It’s not about how much money is spent, but rather the details I put my heart into that I hope they’ll never forget. My oldest daughter just had a bright and colorful pottery painting birthday party…complete with 66 spectrum-colored frosted cupcakes, and a vintage Rainbow Brite doll and her horse Starlite (thanks for saving mine, mom!). I even got my husband to wear a Reading Rainbow t-shirt paying homage to LeVar Burton.
What is your favorite thing about being a mom to two girls?
I never expected to have two daughters but I can’t imagine it any other way! Of course I enjoy the carefree parts like dressing them in matching outfits and doing all things princess. But I really love to watch them learn, and I love how they teach me. I love how they are different and I love how they are the same. I love when they need help and I love watching them become more independent. But most of all I love fostering a special bond both with them and between them, as I have with my very best friend, my own mom.
Any words of wisdom to pass on to other moms?
1. MAKE TIME…for your kids, together and individually…for your husband…and for yourself.
2. Embrace both your old and new friends. Both are huge impacts on your life and are the biggest support systems for all parts of mommyhood.
3. Get off your phone and get doing something you love. (I know, easier said than done.)
And just for fun, who is your favorite TV or movie mom?
Easy. Phyllis Nefler, Troop Beverly Hills. Best (and most fabulous) movie mom ever!
Thank you so much, Jess, for sharing your story with us. Folks, please be sure to leave Jess some love in the comments section below!
You can connect with Jess and her beautiful LoveLetters goodies at:
And to make our More Than Mommy series kick-off ever sweeter, Jess has offered to giveaway one of her new brand new 100% cotton newborn hats (shown below) in the winner’s choice of pink or blue! Great for your own new baby, baby-to-be or as a gift for an expectant mom. Enter to win below by following LoveLetters and Half-Pint Photography on Instagram, and favoriting LoveLetters on Etsy. The contest begins today and ends at 11:59 EST Friday, April 29, 2016. Winner will be announced here on April 30, 2016. Best of luck!