Jun 30 2015

Women Entrepreneurs – Jaime Tessman

Welcome to the first post (of several) in an awesome interview series about women who are in business for themselves, are truly their own boss, and work hard every day to make their business thrive. Some of the women in this series, like our first, are moms looking to make a full time income at home. Others are artists who make their own accessories and share their creations through their business to support their craft.

Women Entrepreneurs – Jaime Tessman of Graystitch

women entrepreneurs graystitch jaime tessmanWithout further ado, I’ll just begin! Our first entrepreneur is Jaime Tessman, creator and owner of Graystitch, an online children’s boutique. Jaime started her business in January of 2014 in order to create an income that would allow her to work outside the home less. Because I personally know a bit about Jaime, I’ll jump to the conclusion that she sought to spend more time at home because at the time, her son was very little and she didn’t want to miss out on his babyhood. Jaime now has another little one to spend her days with, yet she still manages to keep up with her business and provide great quality products to her consistently growing fan base!

Let’s let Jaime do a bit of the talking though, and tell you about her business.

What sort of things do you make and sell through Graystitch?

Bibdannas, skirts, shorts, leggings, dresses, bow tie and bows, head wraps and crib bedding.

What product is your favorite? I see a lot of popularity with the bibdannas, but is there something else you prefer making?

I love my Bibdannas but just making new things is great fun. I love figuring out new patterns; I go through phases though. I loved sewing leggings then grew to hate them so I switched to something new. I think it’s important to switch it up so I don’t get burnt out.

Do you have any memorable customers?

[There] was a situation where the customer had no clue what they wanted. I ended up losing time and money.

What is your main form of advertisement? What has worked best for you?

I have a customer in Miami that I think has told every mom in Miami about me. Word of mouth is huge- I let my products speak for themselves. I believe in my products and don’t feel the need to do huge gimmicks to get people interested.

Graystitch Bibdanna & Leggings on Xander

Graystitch bibdanna & leggings on Xander

If you could change one thing about your business, what would it be?

I’d love to be selling in more local stores. I’m just getting started so hopefully one shop leads to another.

Speaking of, you have a store in Central Iowa that’s about to start carrying your products? Where is that?

Kidding Around in West Des Moines, Iowa beginning in July. Kidding Around is a kids consignment store near Valley West Mall. I’m starting with a few products: diaper covers, skirts and Bibdannas. If my products get a good response then they’ll have me bring in more product.

I also see that you’re active on Instagram, what percent of your sales do you think come through that resource?

Instagram is 95% of my sales- I tried etsy and it still exists but I just prefer Instagram. I’ve met a lot of amazing women through there- it’s quite the community.

Where else can we find your products?

Instagram.com/Graystitch
Facebook.com/Graystitch
Graystitch.etsy.com

What’s the most valuable advice you have to give to someone who’s wanting to start a business?

Be original, be patient and be confident. Allow your business to grow slowly; I see a lot of shops pop up and they try to do everything at once and end up failing. That’s not good for anyone so allow yourself to be small for a while. I’ve been open for 15 months and still feel like a small shop which I’m happy about.

 

Thank you Jaime for a fabulous interview! I always love seeing your posts on instagram and I know your products will come in handy especially for us with a new baby in the house.

I invite you all to check out Jaime’s instagram for sales and more photos as well as her etsy store. Also, if you’re in the Des Moines area, don’t forget to check out Kidding Around for her items as well as gently used and new children’s and maternity items.

Stay tuned for more from our Women Entrepreneurs Series, next we’ll be chatting with the designer and creator of some of the most unique women’s hair accessories I’ve ever seen!

Images provided by and property of Jaime Tessman

Jun 26 2015

Marriage Equality – A Day In History

Today is a remarkable day in history for every person in the United States of America. Some will choose to deny the benefits, positivity, and love that surrounds this day, while others will most definitely embrace it.

I, for one, know that embracing the beauty of today is the right thing, the decision comes easily and without need for additional thought. I’m proud to say that I live in a country where 15 states declared marriage equality for all with state legislative rulings. I’m just as proud that our Supreme Court of the United States has by a vote declared it to be legal for same sex couples in ALL states to be allowed the right and freedom to marry whom they love. I don’t know what this does for people who identify as transgender/transsexual, but I am curious to find out. I certainly hope all people are included in this ruling, regardless of their gender orientation.

marriage equality transgender rights

In the meantime, I’m putting a hold on the scheduled posts I had for today and this weekend and celebrating. I also did something I had promised myself long ago that I would do. I applied for (and was accepted into) ordination with The American Marriage Ministries. This non-denominational, interfaith church believes in the right for all people, regardless of race, religion, gender, or sexuality to marry and to select a minister to marry them without prejudice.

I’m now ordained to perform marriages in the state of all states, but most importantly the state of Texas. Now, while we wait for Governor Abbott to quit dicking around and let the courthouse grant licenses (which already have a 2-day hold period from issuance to marriage due to state laws) you’re free to check out my minister profile.

marriage equality ordained minister

Yes, this is a real, scaled down image, of my ordination certificate.

 

Jun 18 2015

What The Hell Is Wrong With You – Ignorance Isn’t An Excuse

wthiwwy climate transgender

This week in What the Hell Is Wrong With You?

I have a really low tolerance for ignorance. Or as I not-so-nicely typically put it, “I can’t tolerate stupid.”  It’s not that I think seven year old children are idiots, and it’s not like I shun people who ask questions and seek answers and education. What’s a problem is how frequently, specifically in the media, people with very little common sense seem to be becoming a trend. I’m noticing it at an increasingly alarming rate and what I’m seeing that in general, being stupid is accepted for a myriad of reasons and in an immeasurable amount of ways.

Topics: Intoxicating Babies, Denying Transsexualism, and Being Confused About Climate Science

In an effort to rationally discuss what pisses me off about idiots in our society, I’ve chosen a couple of recently trending topics to discuss in what will probably be a one-off article I’m calling “What the Hell is Wrong With You?” and reserving the right to continue with more articles titled as such, because I rarely get the chance to say that phrase to anyone but my computer screen while my cat stares at me trying to convince me she wasn’t fed fourteen minutes ago.

When Murder is “Okay” Because You Don’t Know Any Better

This couple killed their baby by diluting breast milk with water. People start defending them saying that maybe they didn’t know that was bad. And the majority of commentators claimed “I didn’t even know water poisoning was real!” (It most definitely is, and it’s not a secret.) Well, besides the fact that almost every piece of literature on feeding your baby says to NOT dilute or in the case of formula, every container says to mix only according to directions for the safety of the child. I have no sympathy for the couple because in my opinion it is your job to take care of your child. If you don’t know how, at the bare minimum library books are free to read. Now, best case scenario you talk to a doctor or pediatrician or WIC employee, etc. And you know, typically you would have an older woman, mom, grandma, aunt, etc. that could give you advice on your child. But at the very least, the internet has wide amounts of information and libraries are literally free. There’s no excuse of “not knowing it was bad” for killing your child, just like you still get a ticket if your speedometer doesn’t work and you’re going 60 mph and you didn’t see the sign to slow to 25 mph.

When He Becomes She and You Still Call Her Him

When people around the world got confused about the he/she/he “OMG WHAT DO I CALL A TRANSGENDER WOMAN!?” situation after Bruce Jenner transitioned to being a woman and is now and forever known as Caitlyn Jenner. I had no tolerance for the people who continued to say it wrong after being corrected that “Yes, you should call her a she.” as well as those who claim it’s unnatural or it’s like saying “Your dog would now like to be a cat.” (Please don’t like/retweet/follow that guy – my point is he’s a jerk.) But I’m the jerk who isn’t being nice when I persistently correct the wrong pronoun use and I block people on Facebook who participate in having a negative opinion. Well guess what, your opinion is bad because it’s not about opinions, it’s about scientific facts and what you *think* about it has no bearing on what really exists. It’s important to have it noted that transsexualism stems from a real disorder known as Gender Identity Disorder and its recommended treatment is transition. Yes, that’s right. The medical treatment for this absolutely real disorder is to transition to the gender you identify with. So not only is the disorder real, the appropriate treatment is to enhance quality of life by being a transgendered person, or more accurately, become the gender you identify with.

When You’re Not Happy About Being Wrong About The World

And another, but not nearly the last, example of how much I can’t deal with stupidity, is the absolute head-desk reaction I have when I read the headline “The Pope Is About to Weigh In On Climate Change – Not Everyone Is Happy” because why the f*ck is the second half of the headline even important? Because the far-right, religious, climate change deniers don’t want a religious leader to tell them to believe in a scientific fact. Because Rick Santorum is quoted as saying “I think we probably are better off leaving science to the scientists and focusing on…theology and morality.” And while Pope Francis doesn’t have “Masters in Chemistry” like some memes are reporting, he does have a certificate of higher education in science, so it’s kind of the same. Let’s though, get into why the whole entire idea of people disagreeing and being unhappy is just stupid. Climate change is real, it’s been scientifically proven over, and over, and over, and over again. (Yes, those are all different links.) However, we still somehow have a need to have a handy guide on how to talk to skeptics. Because other people (besides me) are aware that some people are constantly just way too stupid to handle without a guide.

Good Luck Pope Francis, I like you. I hope the Cardinals don’t poison you.

pope francis climate

*Links to the source where I found it, cannot confirm whether or not it’s original.*

 

 

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Apr 30 2015

Gardening: A Year In Compost Review

*Pictures to come soon*

 

I have to tell someone, so I will tell you guys. Today, I emptied my compost bin (a 30 gal black trash bin with holes drilled all over the bottom & sides) into a large empty flower bed area.

Compost Notes:

-The last 10 months of composting have served us well, saving us from what I estimate to be 5-10 trash bags (kitchen 13 gal) worth of produce/egg shells & containers/etc. going to the dump.
-I haven’t got current plans to plant anything, veggies or otherwise, besides a very small rectangle container that will likely get flowers. The compost is more for purposes of recycling than providing ground nutrients at this point in our lives.
-This flower bed could be very easily used to grow a nice, small vegetable garden next spring. All it would take is a good rake up with some potting soil and it would serve a great purpose.
-Now that the big compost bin is empty, we can start using it again. It gets hot enough in there that it really does a good quick compost. In the 10 months we’ve used it, we’ve filled it up with “stuff” well over 3 times its volume and it has held it all. I highly recommend this method as long as you will eventually be able to use the compost somewhere. Also I’d suggest trying to “mix” it at each 1/6th full point (no need to measure, just guess.) I did not do this very well so when I dumped it out it was a little bit wet on the bottom and upon spreading it out in the bed I found some dry spots in the lower half center. It mixed up easily though and the smell wasn’t in any way indicative of poor composition.

Egg Shell Composting:

Maybe I should grind them up? Or perhaps just mixing the compost would help. There were whole chunks of egg shells just scattered throughout the entire thing. Not sure what happened there.  I expect either grinding them up will remedy the situation in the next batch or perhaps just making sure my nitrogen rations are a little higher. Both of these are things I will try to see if it helps. We eat plenty of eggs as a main source of protein in our diets and I intend to continue to compost the shells & the cartons.

If anyone has suggestions for dealing with egg shells in their compost besides what I’ve stated, please share.

Additionally I may have had a low Nitrogen to Carbon ratio by adding extra wood chips before it was totally necessary. In the future I’ll likely only using egg cartons for the extra carbon material. Obviously I’ll add what needs to be added if it gets stinky, but I think I used it as a preventative this past year and maybe over-estimated the need.

Overall Thoughts on Compost:

We’ll definitely continue composting with this method. By we, I mostly mean, I. My husband participates by making sure there’s an open egg carton on the counter for us to collect our scraps for a week at a time and he makes sure he puts all his appropriate scraps on it, so it’s great. I am of course responsible for maintaining the overall system.

I’ll likely make the compost experience better by:

– Mixing more frequently
– Making sure the bin gets enough water, I don’t think it suffered in the last year but I could be wrong.
– Ensuring the nitrogen:carbon ratio is more on par for better decomp.

Additional Garden Notes:

Not completely related, we’re now doing our own lawn mowing instead of having a service come in for it. This is great because now we can let clippings sit on the back lawn and be mulch, whereas before the service just hauled everything away in bags. We’ll continue to bag front yard clippings as to not disturb the peace with the HOA. I expect this will lead to a happier, greener lawn in the back.

We also recently had our trees trimmed by the electric company and I expect that the added light to our backyard will allow more sunlight in to keep the plants from getting killed by fungal disease. I still have to wade through the mess back there and remove or rehabilitate plants that are affected. Wish me luck, it’s a LOT of landscaping that was mostly there for decorative purposes by the previous owners and I’d rather remove it all to make space for lawn & kids as well as true gardens.

Hopefully I’ll get another pick- up of energy soon and be able to accomplish more things. Tonight really wore me out. As an update, I’m now 31 weeks pregnant and very, very sore about half of the time, and very tired at least half of the time (and those two halves only occasionally overlap.)

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