Monday, February 8, 2010

La Tempête's Creatives - Joanne of Charlie Moo's (England)

Welcome to the first post in La Tempête's Creatives series! Here I will be featuring some creative and crafty people. Some are entrepreneurs; some are ordinary people who are creative simply because they love to create.

Today we are featuring Joanne Dewberry from Dorset, England.

You make gorgeous cloth party bags for your business, Charlie Moo's; do you sew for pleasure as well, or is it business only?

Ha ha!! The funny thing about Charlie Moo's is that I had this idea about the fabric party bags and found someone to make them for me...but as the business took off it was harder to keep asking her to keep up with demand; and I worried the time between ordering and delivery was getting longer and longer. So Christmas 2008, Daddy Moo bought me a very cheap battery operated sewing machine to see if I could do it myself.

I have no real pattern as such; I just cut the pieces to the size of an orginal bag I've unstitched! Sounds crazy, but I found it easier than I had imagined...the bags are much better now than when I started; especially as Daddy Moo upgraded my sewing machine for my birthday. It's still quite basic, but at least this one reverse stitches! I have started to 'fix' things now though; I recently mended a hole in the kids bean bag & have  started stripping old clothes of buttons and fabric.

What inspired you to start your own business and at which stage did you incorporate your own sewing?

I was disheartened by the rubbish party bags my son, Charlie, had received at parties. Not only did it break straight away, it was either very age inappropriate or made of plastic. One party, he received near enough a whole bag of chocolate...he doesn’t even have chocolate unless its a special occasion.

It became a slightly stressful experience .. Charlie would wander out of the party tightly clutching the party bag in his hand and we’d either fight with him to get rid off the bits he couldn’t have, or have him hand us stuff as we said no, in most cases he’d be left with a balloon and some bubbles. I took the plunge to build and start up my website after Megan was born, in August 2008. I became very adept at typing with one finger whilst breast feeding at 2am.

When did you first learn to sew?

I've cross stitched on and off for years, but first learnt to sew with the machine in Jan 2009.

How do you choose the fabric for your gorgeous party bags?

I just buy what I like and always check with Moo; he generally willl say if he likes something or not, and Daddy Moo always gives his opinion!

Has the design of the bags evolved over time since you first started sewing them?

The design hasn't changed; but my sewing has got better and neater.

Do you make all of the bags yourself or do you have ‘helpers’?

I currently make them all myself but am looking for helpers, I'd like to have an army of stay at home mums sewing for me :)

How do you balance work and family?

I generally make sure that the children get my full attention during the day; however Moo does go to Pre-School 2 times a week and Megan still naps, so I do get a chance during the day to work. The laptop is on all day so that I can check emails,  & pack orders if I get a spare 5 mins, but its in the office so not in the living room where we play.

Daddy Moo helps by taking the children out at the weekend for a few hours without me sometimes, but I do prefer to go too! Nothing beats a bit of family time.

You’ve been in the media and won several awards now for your business. What has been your most treasured moment?

I would say my most treasured moment was actually on Charlie's 2nd Birthday, when I handed all his friends pre-filled bags and the excitement from all my friends and family was overwhelming and the talk of the town for weeks.

Please tell us which awards you have won so far – we just have to know!

Future 100 Young Entrepreneurs 2009
The Green Familia Rated Award for Best Gifts/Party Supplies

I see from your shop that you are listed as a ‘Green Achiever’. Is the environment important to you? How do you reflect this in your crafting?

My seed tags are very environmentally friendly, I also stock mostly wooden fillers. I have also been working on a line of recycled fabric bags too out of clothing, which isn't live yet.

For the readers – do you ship internationally???

It's not something we currently offer but you never know .. the best thing to do is to email me -

Please go and check Charlie Moos out at their home on the web. I do encourage you to find out about international shipping too - such a lovely product!


Miss Plastic Fantastic said...

Love the idea!!!The design is great. And love the idea that the bag is reusable.

Kat Browne said...

What a fantastic idea! These bags are so, so cute. So much nicer than the plastic ones. Even though they're meant to take so long to break down, plastic bags only ever seem to last about a minute before falling apart, especially when hyper kids are involved.

Good luck to Joanne, sounds like a great business she's got and a concept that could spread rapidly! I'll definitely pass on the link to my friends with kids (and those who are eternal kids lol)

And because I can't help myself: what a beautiful family pic! Such a gorgeous family!

Muthering Heights said...

Her work is adorable!

littlemissrandom said...

What an inspiration to stay at home mums out there - just goes to show that those little ideas can turn into something much bigger.

Congratulations Joanne!

phoenix230197 said...

Awesome idea.

Joanne Dewberry said...

Thank you all so much for the lovely comments :)

Kat Browne - thank you .. they are gorgeou if I don't say so myself!