Here is another amazing interview from our Mompreneurs Series – this time we spoke with the delightful Molly Goodall from one of my favorite new discoveries – Little Goodall ! Find out how this creative working mom manages her own business and her life and let her inspire you…
LSB: Hello Molly, welcome to Littlestarblog ! Tell us about your business and what you do exactly.
MG: I am a designer and maker of children’s clothing, best known for whimsical felt coats made to look like animals.
LSB: What inspired you to start your own business and how did you come up with the initial idea ?
MG: I began my business when a friend introduced me to her friend who was selling handmade baby diapers on etsy. I was a stay at home mother of an 18 month old, and I was itching to express myself creatively. Since my mind was wrapped up in my little one, I came up with the design for the first coat, which was a felt lion. I wanted to make something which would encourage my son the wear his hood in the cold, and inspire him to play. I listed an image of the finished coat on etsy and it sold the next day.
LSB: What were you doing before this and is this your first business ?
MG: I have a degree in Fashion Design from Parsons in New York, where I focused on Childrenswear. After I graduated I was the design director for a really cool doll company, then left the industry to work as an artist, so I guess that could be described as my first business. I had a small art studio for a few years which I closed shortly after my little guy was born. My husband and I have both been self-employed most of our lives, he as a builder and I as an artist and designer.
LSB: What has been your biggest obstacle or challenge so far and how did you overcome it?
MG: My biggest obstacle and challenge thus far has been making the change from a “made to order” company to a more production oriented company, and in not doing everything myself! I used to cut each coat individually by hand and sew them one at a time. It took 20-30 hours a coat and I had to close the online shop frequently because I could not take any more orders. My first addition was my husband, who cut coats for me on in the evenings on the kitchen table. He began to cut two of each size instead of one, and I would sew five or six coats of one style at a time, production style. We still work in small batches but have added more cutting and sewing help to keep up with demand. Streamlining processes has allowed us to maintain the high quality of the garments while giving me time to focus on new designs, which is the fun part!
LSB: Where do you see the future of your company ?
MG: Well, earlier this year we added Mrs. Goodall, which is a small line of coats for ladies. Our goals for 2013 included starting the Little Goodall blog, to share tutorials and news from the design room. This debuted several weeks ago and I have been encouraged by the response. We hope to have sewing patterns available later this year, and right now I’m working on our first ever Spring/Summer line for 2014.
LSB: What contributions do you want to make through your company ?
MG: I have always hoped to encourage people to take delight in every day. There is a quote from Plato to the effect of “Life should be lived as play” which is my design mantra. We want to incite smiles wherever our garments go, and aspire to oohs and aahs of delight when our boxes are opened. Like all grassroots businesses, we contribute to our community by hiring local to help with all auxiliary aspects of the business.
LSB: Do you incorporate any green business practices into your current venture ?
MG: Yes! Several of our styles are made from Eco-Fi, a felt which looks and feels lovely but is made from 100% recycled plastic bottles. You would never guess from looking at it. Most of our buttons are from vintage stock purchased from a local vendor. We think working small and local is green – we only make what we have sold, there is no waste, and scraps from one coat are the features on another.
We also produce high quality garments which are meant to be timeless, to be worn by siblings or packed up and saved for the next generation. Because all the faces on the coats are hand pieced, no two are the same, and as they are worn they develop more personality, like a beloved stuffed animal. Threadbare and well-loved in a cedar chest is a happy ending for a little Goodall coat, not a landfill.
LSB: Do you have a female role model or a famous woman you admire ?
MG: Oh my goodness, I love Diana Vreeland, the self-invented editor of Vogue and Bazaar from the last century. Reading her biography is a brilliant guide to doing most anything creative. She was far from perfect and definitely had her shortcomings, but her ability to overcome adversity, reinvent herself, and her lust for life are infinitely inspiring.
LSB: Can women really have it all ? How do you balance raising your children and heading a company ?
MG: I am at my best as a person, mother, and role model when I am spiritually fulfilled by work which is meaningful to me. When I was in college a prominent female American sportswear designer was one of our critics. She told us that her one regret was missing the childhood of her only daughter, and advised us, no matter what, to make time for our children’s childhoods. It is infinitely important for me to always be there for my son, but also important to do work which fulfills me, so I always strive (and sometimes struggle) for balance. My business may not grow at the rate that it might if I was not also a full time Mom and I am OK with that. I agree with the statement that we can have it all, but not all at one time.
LSB: What is the one piece of advise that you would give aspiring mom entrepreneurs ?
MG: Start with ten minutes a day. Ten minutes a day for a week is over an hour. An hour spent in a week to follow your bliss is a solid beginning and time well spent. Soon you will carve out an hour a day during naptime, and then two hours while little ones play nearby. When things get hectic, go back to ten minutes. If you can carve out ten minutes, you can start something. Little steps lead to giant leaps!
LSB: Thank you Molly for this wonderful interview – you are a true inspiration and thank you so much for taking the time to share your thoughts with us ! 🙂
(images: molly goodall)