A new podcast episode!

I recently recorded a podcast with Jen & Danielle of She Percolates and we had a great conversation chatting about the various ways my businesses have changed over the years, including unemployment, childcare help, starting a book club, and future projects! It is a great episode, and it was so fun to reminisce over the last seven years.

We also talked about success, including what defines success for me personally and why it’s important to not compare yourself to your neighbor. Click the play button above to listen, or click here for a direct link to the podcast & show notes. Oh, and here’s a list of previous She Percolates podcast episodes. Have a great weekend!

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The difference between Gussy Sews & Caroline-made.

caroline made gussy sews maggie whitley

I received a really great question on Instagram the other day about my two shops, and I thought it was so good that I’m going to answer it here on my blog.

What is the difference between Gussy Sews & Caroline-made?

Gussy Sews is my original handmade shop, the one I started almost seven years ago when we were living in Detroit. Nearly all of the products under this name include our signature ruffle, something I added back in the early stages as a way to set my handmade products apart from other shops/designs. I love the softness the ruffle adds to each product and that they are hand-ruffled (meaning I don’t use a Ruffle Foot on my machine to gather the material). Gussy Sews is an outward example of “you can learn and do hard things” inspiration. The fabrics I use are mostly quilting cotton, are full of color & vibrancy, and carry a cheerful vibe. Gussy Sews’ tagline: bright, colorful tote bags & accessories.

Caroline-made is the “big sister” shop to Gussy Sews and began in 2014. I had a vision for this shop for years prior to launching early last year, so it was a real dream to bring it to fruition while still living in Los Angeles. My goal with CM is to create a product that carries sophistication in it’s designs, while continuing to embrace my love for color. Simple differences, like stitching a suede label to the front side of each product and using (gorgeous) metal YKK zippers have been so fun. I use exclusive designer fabrics, something I absolutely love offering. Caroline-made’s tagline: pretty accessories for the modern, sophisticated gal. By the way, Caroline is my middle name and holds much of my inspiration for opening this shop.

caroline made gussy sews maggie whitley

The differences between the shop are small but mighty, for sure. I’m so glad a reader asked for more information because I totally agree, what sets Gussy Sews apart from Caroline-made may be unclear at first glance, but the overall aesthetic is hugely different.

Here are two more Cliff Notes differences: Gussy Sews features ruffles and a crazy (fun) amount of color, Caroline-made is a gorgeous mix of sophistication and style.

And in case you’re curious, I’ve written even more about my handmade story here, including how I learned how to sew, the moves my family has experienced (MI, MN, CA), and traveling to Tanzania, Africa with Compassion International in 2012.

PS. One of the products featured in this post will be released exclusively to my email newsletter community — exciting! To learn WHEN and HOW to buy, along with general Gussy Sews & Caroline-made shop updates, join here:

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My top 4 favorite blogs to read…

a cup of jo maggie whitley

I always enjoying learning about new blogs that are based around color, inspiration, home decorating (shop the house, anyone?), motherhood or fabric/crafts. These five categories basically sum up our home and my life, and anytime I have a free moment you can typically find me incorporating one of those themes. I have a small handful of favorite blogs to read, and I’d love to share them with you…

Here are my top 4 favorite blogs to read (and why):

+ A Cup of Jo: Joanna’s blog makes me feel like I’m reading all the best articles from my favorite magazine. I’m always learning something new, clicking away feeling inspired, or am pondering a topic shared.

+ Love Taza: Naomi writes honestly on motherhood, but in a totally uplifting manner. I’m also super drawn to her colorful home & life. Color is… just the best!

+ Nesting Place: Myquillyn writes exactly how she speaks, which I really enjoy. This is the only home decor blog I read, but what keeps me interested is Myq’s fresh perspective on creating an imperfect home, and her sense of humor :)

+ Elise Joy: Elise is powerhouse of ideas, accomplishing goals, and staying focused on her personal and (professional) style. I also go a little ga-ga over her love for plants, coffee, and motherhood, if we’re being honest here.

(Top photo from A Cup of Jo.)

What are your two favorite blogs to read, and why? (I mean, do I even have to ask?) ;)

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5 ways I continue my creativity while living in a small space.

5 ways I continue my creativity while living in a small space // maggie whitley

For two years now we’ve lived in a small space, meaning our home is a 600 square foot apartment in Los Angeles. It’s a one bedroom with an extremely large living room — which thankfully has allowed us to make a section of our living room into a bedroom so the actual bedroom could be the nursery for our children. Our apartment has excellent storage for it’s size, but we’ve definitely learned to live with less. And honestly, this all started after traveling with Compassion International to Tanzania, Africa in May 2012. I remember coming home and very clearly feeling uncomfortable sitting on our couch, living in such a large home, having so many things. Our lives changed drastically soon after, but totally for the better :)

One way we live with less is by decorating with our favorite pieces, verses packing them away. Living in a small space has also helped me better realize my wants and needs — especially with my craft supplies ;)

We live in a small space for various reasons, but mostly because it fits our budget the best. Living in Los Angeles is extremely expensive (too many people and not enough places to live), so we do our best to live wisely. Besides, the weather here averages about 75*/80* throughout the year, so we’d be silly not to spend a lot time outside (ahem, hello beach) where we have plenty of room to stretch our legs.

leafy houseplant maggie whitley

When Zack and I lived in Detroit and Minneapolis we had more than enough space to run my handmade businesses, brainstorm product, create endlessly and the like. But Los Angeles has definitely stretched us in new ways, and so I’ve allowed myself the freedom to try new things. Turns out adventure-chasing and mamahood and learning to happily navigate adulthood aren’t as scary as they seem ;)

I’m a visual person, and living in a small space has challenged me in new, hard ways. And while I no longer have dedicated studio space, I do have a lovely kitchen table to work from and I’m rarely away from my family. Need another alternative workspace? Set up a 6-foot folding table.

embroidery maggie whitley

Here are 5 ways I continue my creativity while living in a small space:

* consider even the smallest of spaces as a potential for studio space. My friend Ashley of The Vanilla Tulip uses a teeny tiny closet as her office — perhaps something like this could be perfect for you, too? Also remember to build up. Pegboards, shelving and large cabinets are easy storage solutions and require very little floor space.

* work in small scale quantities. And remember: quality over quantity! Perhaps having a smaller shop inventory would encourage you to price your handmade wares more accurately. (No excuses! Underpricing is bad for everyone.) Also, making less means you work less which gives you more time to be with your family.

* remind yourself that seasons exists for a reason, and their ebb & flow is critically important to your growth. They may only last for a week, a month, or a year — but allow yourself the grace and flexibility to view your season as an opportunity for change.

* use this time to pursue a smaller-scale project. Sometimes small projects can be just as intimidating as the big ones, but girl, don’t let that hold you back! An example of this for me is with embroidering. It’s the perfect small space project because I can organize all of my supplies in a box, it’s easily transportable, and I can start and stop super easily.

* creating fills me up in so many ways, so it’s important I make time for it. Zack often takes Maxwell and Bauer out on an adventure so I can work (without worrying about little hands grabbing for the project). Living in a small space has challenged me to get creative with my creative time! An hour or two alone with my sewing machine or embroidery hoop benefits me, and my boys benefit from exploring the city together — without mom around!

embroidery maggie whitley

A few additional tips:

* many cities offer shared workspace opportunities, meaning you rent a workspace that’s shared with other creatives in your community. You can even rent a private shared workspace, conference rooms, etc. If your creative project requires more space than your home provides, definitely look into this.

* if you’re running a handmade business and absolutely need space to create & ship product, now is an excellent time to hire help. Your hired assistants can help you make product within their home, as well as ship directly from their home to the customer. Think outside the box here, literally ;)

* if you fail, remember to try (and try again!). I’ve had many set-ups for my workspace, and every time a change was needed I kept this bit of wisdom in the back of my mind. Sometimes an idea we have doesn’t work out perfectly the first time, so allow the process inspire you.

* what if — gasp! — you hung your collection of thread spools on the living room wall? What if you kept your fabric organized in a cute bin on the bookshelf? What if you invested in storage bins for under your bed (or couch) so your supplies are not only within reach, but they double as art for your home? Sounds like an excellent use of your small space to me! :)

embroidery supplies maggie whitley

Whatcha think? Are you inspired by your small space, or does it feel like an impossible hurdle? (Don’t give up yet.) Something I’ve had to remind myself (over and over and over) is this is real life, and in this season my family comes first; work comes second. Sure, I have big handmade dreams, but I hold on to the hope that those dreams will come true once again — just not right now. Let hope float you by, whatever that means for you personally. My home doesn’t ever need to be pinterest-ready, so I’m OK with my kitchen table for a workspace. I don’t have to set bigger and grander work goals for myself each year, at least not right now. Creativity can exist anywhere, at anytime, with any medium. How’s that for some solid inspiration? xoxo

PS. some of the cutest shared workspaces for kiddos

This post is a part of the Creativity Expressed Blog Series hosted by Jen at Lovely Messes.  Nine creative women are sharing the secrets behind their creative process, don’t miss a single bit of inspiration!

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