Starting a business, and changing direction

Over the past year and a half, we made many beautiful garments; they were everything we wanted – sustainably made in the US, ethically sewn by hand in California, had a classic silhouette and were made of the best cotton fiber out there, repurposed or new. We sold two dozen at craft fairs and through online sales. Where was our audience? Did we have an audience? Were we just another cute idea without a real business? Continue reading

4 lessons learned using toddlers and babies in photoshoots

We love our children, and the smaller and cuter, the better for photos, right? No, not really. With babies who can’t sit up, they must be propped up, and those who can’t stand, must be held up. Whiny toddlers are promised candy for a non-goofy smile, while we blow lots of bubbles, dance and dangle toys to elicit smiles from babies. Between acting like a clown, making sure no one pours bubbles all over themselves, and trying to avoid grass stains, it feels like a non-stop comedy hour trying to make these photoshoots work. But, it’s all worth it in the end when we finally have the gorgeous photos we dreamed of, but weren’t sure were possible! Below, take a look at 4 of our out-takes and most common mishaps working with people under the age of 5.

baby photos collage

Clockwise, from top left:

  • Taking a photo of more than one child requires more than double the amount of effort to get one child to look at the camera, and to try not to look bored when they do. Plus, it’s very hard to compete for a baby’s attention when he’s just discovered his hands.
  • Photographing an unwilling baby is tough, especially when holding a bright light into her eyes. We dangled a variety of toys to distract her from the light and finally took 2 shots that were worthy to use.
  • When using a baby who can’t stand, someone has to hold him up, or he has to hold onto something (and not let go). When a person is holding up the child, it’s hard to stay out of the frame!
  • A sweet toddler who wants to be photographed is fantastic, but you have to help every single step of the way- including what to do with her arms!

We’ve learned a lot from working with dozens of adorable babies and toddlers and a few amazing photographers. The bribes (yes, there was some candy involved) helped a lot, but we’re really getting the hang of it. New photos of our outfits that will be available for purchase via Kickstarter in November will be showcased soon, and I’ve got to say, they’re lovely!

My 5 favorite baby toys

5 favorite baby toys
5 favorite baby toys

Having my third child a little over 5 years after my last baby, I had given away nearly all of my baby things. I had a few token board books around for friends’ babies to chew on when they visited, but I basically had to start all over again. It was nostalgic to reunite with some old favorites, and fun to pick out some new toys. Here are 5 of my favorite baby toys (links in text). What are yours?

5. Shape Sorter. Once my baby was sitting up and exploring all the non-baby safe items around him (!), I put a shape sorter in front of him and initially he loved throwing the shapes, but now he’s sorting like a pro.  http://www.greentoys.com/green-toys-shape-sorter#&filter

4. Teether. There are so many to choose from, and it doesn’t necessarily start out as a toy, but we received a Green Sprouts teether as a gift and my son instantly loved it. First, he used it as a teether, then he linked it with other toys, and now it’s a staple bath toy. So many uses! http://iplaybaby.com/green-sprouts/toys/

3. Rattle. All babies like something to shake! I had a comb and brush by Ore’ and decided to try their rattle. Made from the same sustainably harvested wood with their signature baby logo, but with brighter colors, it was an instant hit around age 6 months. https://www.oreoriginals.com/rattle

2. Stuffy. My oldest son has a severe allergy to dust, so any stuffed animals that stay in our house are limited and must be exceptionally loved. My youngest received a few adorable stuffies as gifts. There was something special about his boxer dog- sweetly asymmetric with playful clothing and rag doll legs, he was carried around everywhere. http://www.applepark.com/catalogsearch/result/?q=boxer

1. Blocks. This is the only one I didn’t buy recently. It was handed down to me for my first child and I loved them so much, I kept them. I see them/step on them daily now as they’re strewn around my house. Here’s where you can find the updated version: http://www.schylling.com/p/alphabet-blocks-48-pcs

Share! We want to hear about your favorites!

5 Simple Upcycling Projects You can do With your Kids

We scoured Pinterest to find 5 of the coolest, yet simple upcycling projects you can do with your kids. Please share your favorite upcycling activities in the comments- we love to hear from you. (Links to photo credits and further instructions included in list below)

Upcycling Ideas from Pinterest
Upcycling Ideas from Pinterest

5. Have a puzzle with missing pieces? Turn them over, paint as you please and turn them into your own amazing wall art! (credit: http://www.iheartcraftythings.com/)

4. Would you like your kids to help with watering plants? Take an empty half gallon milk or juice jug, punch a few holes in the lid with a needle or skewer, fill with water, screw the lid on and you’re done! (credit: http://offbeathome.com/)

3. Do you eat cereal and have stacks of paper ling around? Simply cut off the top of the box in a downward sloping diagonal and cover it with wrapping or craft paper. Beautiful and resourceful. (credit: http://www.sohosonnet.com/)

2. Put mismatched buttons to a practical and adorable new use by gluing them onto paperclips for a unique and beautiful bookmark. (credit: http://www.iheartnaptime.net/)

1. Make a birdfeeder from a half gallon milk or juice carton. See this adorable photo for inspiration or get creative with whatever you have in your recycling bin! (credit: http://www.redtedart.com/)

Follow us on Pinterest to see more fun ideas, and Instagram to see Petite Marin out and about!

Mom turns son’s playdough into thriving business

Today we’re sharing a quick chat I recently had with Eco-Kids CEO, Cammie Weeks. She and her husband have turned her mother’s play dough recipe into an eco friendly creative art supply company.

Cammie (far right) and part of her staff
Cammie (far right) and part of her staff

We’ve known each other for over ten years, on both coasts. We both have three kids in the boy-girl-boy sequence and I have tried and loved all of their art supplies. Cammie has been a source of inspiration for me for years (both as an entrepreneur and as a mom) and I’m excited to share a bit of her business story with you!

Q. Cammie, I remember you living in LA, being a full time nanny, bringing your first son along with you. You made amazing play dough for your son and the other kids. What prompted the idea to make a business out of it?

Eco-kids dough
Eco-kids dough

A. I had just made a fresh batch of dough for my son, when my husband turned to me and said ” We need to sell this at the Hollywood Farmer’s Market.” We went to our first market a couple weeks later and people were amazed and inspired by what we were doing. Someone asked us if they could sell it in their store on Larchmont…Honestly we were just happy to be trading for organic produce, meeting fun, like minded families and becoming part of the community!

Q. What was a hurdle you faced when you went from selling at farmer’s markets to retail? Continue reading

6 Takeaways from The True Cost movie

True Cost image

True Cost screening
photo credit: truecostmovie.com

You thought about watching The True Cost, but haven’t made the time. I get it; watching a documentary that questions your consumer spending is a little uncomfortable. I’m here to give you 6 quick takeaways so you can still look like a fashionista all while buying brands that your conscious agrees with.

We wear our clothes to show off our self-identity, to feel good and so we don’t run around naked. Is the glamorous fashion industry really that bad? To quote Cher in Clueless, “From far away, it’s okay, but up close, it’s a big old mess.”

The true environmental, economic and social ramifications of producing cheap clothing is actually quite costly. We’re bombarded with information about the food we eat. It’s time we know about the clothing we wear on our bodies everyday. Continue reading

Why start a clothing company?

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With so many clothing companies out there, and new ones popping up all the time, does it make sense to start another one? Consider the growing amount of textile waste and news coverage of mistreated garment workers overseas. Are we crazy? Well, what about a clothing company that actually reduces textile waste and is working for positive change in the fashion industry? That is exactly what we set out to do. But how? The key to our company is that all our ethically made clothes are upcycled.

Upcycling: the process of reusing or repurposing materials to create new, even higher quality products than the original.

Reusing beautiful fabrics is smart, beautiful, creative and fun (& it also helps to reduce landfill waste). It’s not a new idea; people have been cleverly repurposing clothing forever. Think about your grandparent’s era, when upcycling was a way of life because many families had less money and material resources. It is both smart and sentimental. We’re happy to help bring the movement back.

Melina and I were raised in households where Halloween costumes were hand made, ripped knees were patched and pants were bought a bit too bit with seams taken in to fit, then taken out as we grew. It was a sentiment of respecting what we had, and making it last for as long as possible. And, receiving a bag of hand-me-down clothes from a cool older cousin (thanks, Trish!) was way more exciting than a trip to the mall.

I’ve been in the sustainability world for over a decade, advising governments and private companies on how to amend current practices and future initiatives by considering people, the planet and profit. We aim to bring to life a company that starts off on the right foot, paying workers a fair, living wage and keeping textile waste out of landfills. After 18 months of working on our launch, we still aren’t there. Turns out, it’s more complicated to scale our business idea than we realized, but we are closer than we have ever been and we will continue to strive for our goals, one well constructed, upcycled garment at a time.