Vendor Highlight – The Bird & Elephant (Bird & Ele)

Spring Bada Bing is less than two weeks away! We will be highlighting two vendors a day until the big day so you have the chance to get to know some of the awesome makers who will be with us at the show.

Richmond Craft Mafia’s Spring Bada Bing – at Hardywood Park Craft Brewery

April 29th 10am-5pm

Meet Beth from The Bird & Elephant (Bird & Ele)

The Bird & Elephant pillow_gingiber_black_white_birdandele 1

How did you get started making your products?

I started making hand-appliqued clothing for babies as well as jewelry from recycled fibers (fabrics, sweaters, etc). I began all this after the birth of my first, back in 2008. Etsy and the craft scene was in its infancy as well, and there was a rise in Nashville, TN where I was living. I had friends participating in events and asked to sell my onesies, which were a success and led to the development of my own Etsy shop.

Do you have any long term goals for your business?

I’ve been incorporating my own little illustrations into the mix as time allows, and I hope to start adding items more for the home, etc. I’m expanding my workspace soon and teaching my husband to sew; I’ve got a few projects for him and hope to have those available by the time the holidays roll around. If I ever get any free time, I would love to do some metal-smithing and some lapidary work.

Of all of your products what is your favorite and why?

I love the new stuff (teether toys) and hand-printed items. I love carving blocks and printing, very calming.

What is your most popular product? Why do you think it’s so popular?

My Rock On mountain onesies and pillows have been my most popular online; the phrasing? I think it has so many meanings, but to me it’s funny. The new teether toys were extremely popular at their debut and sold out.

Tell us about your process.

The fabric made items are pretty straight forward: I buy fabrics I like and look into trends. I like to make matching sets which are great for baby showers, etc. For the sensory items/toys, I think about the things my kids/babies were drawn to, which were the extreme opposite. My son was diagnosed on the spectrum (Autism) when he was 7. He did not follow the typical ‘likes’ all the baby magazines and other moms tell about. He hated swings, car rides, most toys, messes (toddler stuff like painting, coloring, sticky stuff), etc. And he never slept during the day. As a newborn, the only thing that calmed him was a bold, black and white ‘doodle’ I made for him with energetic patterns and movement: and he wanted to be held always. I incorporate these ideas and concepts when I make my toys (most of them). Of course I have custom requests for more subdued fabric pairings, but I think about the babies like my son. My daughter, on the other hand, was possessed by that crinkle sound, loved car rides and fell asleep almost immediately, and the messier the better, so funny!

The Bird & Elephant_ stamp carving

Which of your products is most time consuming to make and why?

Blocks: there is so much time involved in cutting the fabrics, the ribbons, reinforcing seams (triple), stuffing, tacking, cleaning……and my cuticles really take a beating!

How much time do you typically spend making each product?

I can do about 2 blocks/hour, 15 teethers per hour, it really varies

What drives you to continue making? Who/what is your inspiration?

I enjoy working from home, love being able to help out at my kids school, be home when needed, and I really can’t see myself doing anything else. My kids are and have always been my inspiration. They are my biggest fans.

What other Spring Bada-Bing vendor(s) are you most excited about?

I don’t like to single any one out. I’m always excited by all the vendors at these shows. So much good stuff!

Tell us about your most memorable day as a maker?

I was asked to submit my items to Target, which was pretty sweet. I knew I didn’t stand a chance (my packaging and logo are pretty pitiful), but it was a good feeling.

What is the biggest hurdle you have overcome with your business?

I haven’t quite cleared that hurdle: production time, packaging and marketing. I hope to solve them all this year so I can keep up with the orders, and even hire someone to finesse my logo & packaging.

Do you have any new products debuting this Spring?

Yes! I have included crinkle sensory teether lovey-s, teething rattles made of wood & silicone beads, teething necklaces for moms to wear, and some super sweet woodland animal pillows. All of these were popular at my recent Crafted show in Norfolk.

The Bird & Elephant sensory_block_teether_rattle

What do you watch or listen to while you are working?

I’ve honestly and embarrassingly learned a lot by watching cooking shows online, as well as silly little shows like Cupcake Wars. I prefer shows that I don’t really have to pay attention to, though, just background, or stuff with suspense for late night. Music: so varied! Anything from Beats Antique, STS9, Old Crow, American Indian flute music, Alt-J, Doc Watson, Mariee Sioux, Cappadoccia, Dead Can Dance, The Cure…………

What is your favorite thing to do in Richmond?

Mekong: I left the area in 97 and so much has changed, but I’m happy that Mekong has not. I also love Maymont and just walking the streets. Carytown is always fun, Bygone is an old fav as well as the Byrd.

How do you spend your downtime?

I sleep on my downtime which is usually between the hours of midnight/1am and 7am. When the seasons change, especially in the Spring, I love gardening (early morning while I drink my coffee). I guess I’m always working on something new when I get a little break from sewing or NEED a break from it. Skateland is pretty cool, too.

Do you have any pets?

Dex, my rescue chihuahua mix with some serious snags (teeth) who is about 12