She Said–Le Designer–Starting Our Own Business Part VIII


We had our prototype.  We knew we needed to change a few things.  We knew we didn’t want to print our Ypsi Doll T-shirt on a stock t-shirt.  We wanted a better quality fabric.

So how do you find a designer?

(left to right: great friend/vacation partner/fellow teacher, California friend, Anonymous Carol, One and Only Sister, Next-door-neighbor/fellow-missionary-kid/running friend)  Didn’t I have beautiful bridesmaids?

Now, one of my bride’s maids (blue arrow) had a cousin who had a fabric shop who had started designing her own line of children’s clothing that happened to be ADORABLE and who was kind enough to not only design a T-shirt, but also walk me through the process.

Meet Madeline from Maisonnette.

She is as talented as she is beautiful.  And I might as well say it right now–kind.   A rare and wonderful combination.

Now Madeline and her mom have their own clothing line called Maisonnette.  You can visit their website and follow their updates on twitter.  They have been featured on Zulily.

This is their studio.  This is where the magic happens.  This is the magical place I got to visit.  Because back in January, I flew out to sunny California for three fun packed days.

I have been married for 13+ years, and we have traveled some during those 13+ years, but most of those trips have been to see family.  Meaning: familiar places.  Prior to getting married, I traveled extensively on my own and with friends, and I felt very comfortable making plans, renting cars, and arranging all other travel plans.  But about a week before I headed out without a single kiddo in tow, I panicked. 

“How do you rent a car?”, I thought.  Usually when The Hunni and I rent a car, my job is to keep the kiddos from getting run over in the parking lot.

“How will I find my way around?”  I worried.  Navigating from the passenger seat is different from navigating and driving from the driver’s seat.

“Will it be awkward to greet friends I haven’t seen in ten years?”  I wondered.  “Will I know what to say? talk about? will there be empty awkward pauses?”

You see, for 12 years, I have been a mom–a homeschooling mom.  If I go, the kids go.  If the kids go, I go.  Being a mom filled 365 days of the past twelve years.  I had forgotten what life was like sans kiddos, and I was a little bit afraid of it.

The Hunni laughed at me.  After all, he flies for a living, so is all over the continent in one day.  He rents cars 182 days out of the year.  He navigates in a different city each night.  He meets new people every day.  Then he saw that I was serious, and he offered comforting words.  “Hunni, go have fun.”

And once I had gotten on the plane (with a Starbucks coffee and pastry in hand–by orders from The Hunni) I started to relax and enjoy myself.  I used the bathroom, and it was a very simple procedure.  I didn’t have any kiddos trying to peek under the next stall.  No kiddo dropping a bottle on a very germy floor.  No questions about when the flight left, how long it would take, how airplanes fly, if they could buy some gum or coffee or book or Coke, or if that person wanted to dye their hair orange (with pointing).  No stroller loaded down.  No laggers behind.  No runners ahead.

And then when I boarded, there was no stroller to gate check.  No roll-aways to store overhead while keeping a kiddo from falling off the seat.  No backpacks to sort between the kiddos.  No rolling crayons.  No spilled drinks.  No kicking the seat in front.  No having to apologize for a kiddo kicking the seat in front.  No tray table going up and down and up and down.  No nursing lap baby.  No worries!

“So this is how The Hunni lives,” I thought.  “This is easy!” (The photo below is me flying with the kiddos this past summer.  Notice all the stuff!)

Landing in Denver, I called home.  I could hear the background noises of breakfast and talking and arguing and general homeschooling noises.  The Hunni and I chatted for about a minute, then said, “It is kind of busy here right now, so I’m going to have to go.”

YEP oh Yeah!  Total role reversal!!!  I smiled.  I hope he was enjoying his change as much as I was enjoying mine!!

But back to designing clothes.  Not only were we going to have a T-shirt made, we also needed the Ypsi Doll clothes to go on the T-shirt.  And we wanted to make a “big” girl skirt to match the Ypsi Doll outfit.  That’s right.  Your girl can match her Ypsi Doll.

Madeline had designed some adorable outfits.  We had to streamline some choices and add one new fabric, but most of the work was already finished.

Earlier, we had chosen fabric.  That was a Process! as not only does the fabric have to work for a “real” girl skirt, but it also has to work on the miniature Ypsi Doll outfits.  Most of the fabric choices were done via the internet.  Once we had fallen in love with the choices, we had to phone the company to ask when the fabric came out, how many bolts were left,  and if they had any plans to re-print that fabric.  Time and time again, the fabric we had fallen in love with wouldn’t meet all the criteria.  We had to change. 

It is also difficult to pick a fabric based on a 4″ X 4″ online swatch.  Colors look different on the computer, and a 4 X 4 swatch doesn’t often reveal all the colors or patterns.

Thankfully, I have an amazing fabric store nearby, so one afternoon, I left the kiddos with The Hunni and made some fabric choices.  I also made a mess on the fabric store floor.  And then because I was so excited, I walked out with the measuring tape the store had loaned me proudly drapped around my neck.  (And I still have it in my purse.  I keep meaning to drop it by, but the fabric store is about 30 minutes away, and I just haven’t gotten over to that side of town.)


Madeline designed a skirt, and we had it make up in four different colors.  Because each Ypsi Doll has a personality that is reflected in her Ypsi Doll outfits.

Madeline’s style of design and her ability to blend contrasting fabrics is one area which makes her an excellent designer. 

 Here she is standing in front of some of her work.

Shhhhh! Walk softly now.  You are getting a sneak peek of one of her lines.  Don’t tell anyone or they will want to see her line as well.

Maisonnette also carries boys clothing.  This photo is at an odd angle, but I think you can see California coolness coming out.  Now imagine your little man in this shirt!  Wouldn’t he look great?

But even before the skirt, Madeline designed the custom T-shirt.  Emails were going back and forth as we discussed sleeves, hem length, stitching, and 100 other details I never had noticed about just a”simple” T-shirt.


Details.  Details.  Details.  They are so important and are what makes a “simple” T-shirt a quality product.  Madeline walked me through many decisions.  I enjoy working with her.  She also walked me through the sewing factory. . .

but that sounds like another post.

Hope you are enjoying this journey.  I am still learning so much, but it is fun to share with you the process, the mistakes, and the results.

So as Eloise would say,

jum, jum (which loosely translates, please miss me a little while we are apart, but other than that have a great day.)


P.S.  If you are just joining, you may want to read the rest of the posts in this series.

The BIG Idea–Starting Our Own Business–Part I

Collecting Information–Starting Our Own Business II and III

Money and Lawyers–Starting Our Own Business Part IV and V

Production–Starting Our Own Business Part VI

From Idea to Finished Product–Le Artist

This entry was posted in She said... and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to She Said–Le Designer–Starting Our Own Business Part VIII

  1. bethany says:

    oh the details, they never end do they?! looks awesome, and took me a sec to figure out why Masionnette looks so familiar, but SAJ knows her and used to live nearby, right? I’ve seen her ad many times on SAJ’s site at least. And I so know that feeling of losing your sea-legs when venturing out alone for the first time in years, and wondering how you ever did it, fearlessly, many moons ago. Funny how the mind works, when we do so many other things fearlessly that would have utterly daunted us then!


    • whitsendmom says:

      True! I should have added that it did feel good to come home. Starbucks coffee and pastry just aren’t the same kind of companions.
      And yes. SAJ designed Maisonnette’s blog. I think Bug also has modeled for them.


  2. Angie W. says:

    I’m just now getting all caught up on your business idea and the design. I LOVE your idea and am excited to see where it goes for you. I can think of several little girls who “need” a Ypsi doll tee shirt. 🙂


  3. Gwen says:

    Adorable outfits! I know a little 3 year old that would love one of those tops! Sounds like an exciting adventure (by yourself – yippee)! Thanks for sharing the journey!


    • whitsendmom says:

      Thanks so much. We are going to have them in larger sizes as well, it is just for the Trade Show, we only have them up to size 8. After the Trade Show, we plan on getting the rest of the sizes made–then stay tuned for some give aways.


  4. Brooke says:

    Oh, we do love Miss Maddie and Miss Nattie. Wasn’t the dress with the elephant fabric the cutest ever? Your shirts and outfits are coming together nicely. Now to wow at the trade show!


  5. Natalie says:

    All those outfits are darling! I love all the fabrics, good choices, ladies! ♥


  6. Lisa Buchanan says:

    What an adventure! So fun! Listening to you talk about your kid-free flight had me laughing out loud! How well I know every. little. thing. you mentioned! Why is it so funny when it’s someone else??


    • whitsendmom says:

      I woulds love to hear about your train trip!!! I am sure you have many moments that would give the rest of us a chuckle. We just finished reading “Cheaper By the Dozen”, and their mom takes a train trip with six? kids. If you haven’t read the book, your kiddos would love it, but you would probably relate to many scenes. Our family now says, “NOT OF GENERAL INTEREST” anytime a supper conversation takes a turn that ever doesn’t interest everyone.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s