As we end the month long celebration for our 30th year in business, we thought it only fitting that Ramona, Creator of One Small Child, take over for Mom Talk Monday. Her experience and knowledge far outweigh anything you could learn anywhere else. Ramona started this sweet company herself and helped it blossom. We are so thankful to have her here to give up a look into what the last 30 years has been like.
-Starting a business, any business, is a tremendous undertaking. What inspired you to create one that is so hands on and detailed?
I didn’t know it would be so hands on and detailed. Who ever thinks of things like that when they are filled with a passion to create something? I have always loved to create beautiful clothing. I started sewing my own clothes when I was 13 years old. I love the process of visualizing and creating the end result. I love the feel of fabrics and the potential they present to create a beautiful human being.
I love the feeling people get when they look at someone who is beautifully dressed, especially children. I believe it builds a child’s self esteem when they are admired by other people and I create beautiful clothing to enhance how adorable they are. I recently realized that I have always loved art and the idea that I could be somewhat of an artist. I have spent my life’s work, not painting on a canvas with paint, but using children as my canvas for extraordinary clothing. I create beautiful works of art by enhancing their beautiful spirits with lovely clothes.
-How did you juggle your role as a wife and mother while growing One Small Child?
Sometimes not very well. It took a tremendous effort to keep up with the growing day to day demands. My family has always been my top priority, but sometimes I had to make a decision between them and putting out fires at work. I look back with regret on many of the things I missed with my children. I spent a lot of years getting up very early in the morning, working until it was time for the kids to get up for school, then working all day and spending time with them after school. Then, after they were in bed, I would work well into the evening. It was a difficult time and I often felt like I was on autopilot.
My younger children grew up in the shop, having their own room and toys to play with during the day. I interacted with them in between the demands of the business.
-Tell us a little about your family and why it is special.
I was very excited to have children and be a mother soon after my marriage. However, I experienced some difficulty at first. I had a miscarriage about a year after we were married. I felt very sad at the loss. A few months later, I had a tubal pregnancy that required emergency surgery and I felt that I would never be able to have children. To my delight, I was able to have a normal pregnancy and a beautiful baby girl a year later. 4 more children joined our family and I was happy thinking we were complete. Our oldest daughter was about 9 years old when I started designing and sewing a line of tricot slips and dresses call Fluff ‘N Twirl. We started selling them to retail stores around the USA, employing the services of independent Sales Reps. They were well accepted and we began to grow. At times, we operated a retail outlet locally and I’m often told by young mothers today that they loved their Fluff ‘N Twirl dresses when they were little girls. I love that I was able to bring joy to many people and they can tell me about it.
When my youngest daughter was 10 years old, I strangely started feeling sick for a week or two. I very seldom got sick and I thought it must be the flu or something. For some reason, I felt that I should purchase a pregnancy kit and Voila!!, another baby was on the way. I loved the idea of having another baby to love, but I was 42 years old, extremely busy with our business and totally unprepared for this wonderful event. But, what can a mother do? We all just moved over and made space for this darling little boy. The other kids adored him and it was so much easier with a new baby, myself being older, more patient and having built in babysitters. I just picked him up from his bed early in the morning and took him to work with me. I fed him at work, had a room for him to take naps, a rocking chair to read stories in, toys of many kinds. He grew up amongst the sewing machines and the nuts & bolts of a business. I never regretted for a minute the wonderful miracle of him.
-What is your most humorous story you can think of that happened in growing your business?
Late one Friday afternoon, we got a panic call from one of our customers that she hadn’t received her order and the Christening was the next day. We quickly put together another order for her to be delivered the next morning. The UPS driver had already left with the days orders, so my son, Kendall, drove to the Idaho Falls, ID terminal to get the package on the truck. When he got there, he found that the Next Day deliveries had already left for the airport. He rushed over to the airport and saw that the delivery truck was on the tarmac, parked next to the airplane where the day’s shipment was being loaded up. In a heroic effort, he ran over to the fence and hollered at the driver to come over. Kendall tossed the package over the fence to him and it was safely loaded, on it’s way. It was such a good feeling that we were able to go above and beyond the expected customer service.
-Where have you drawn your inspiration?
Angels often give me ideas and inspiration. It’s like someone else takes over my body and creates something incredibly lovely. Vogue Bambini magazine. Brides magazines, Antique magazines and catalogs, old pattern books. I look at attractive things other people are wearing and think about how I can enhance it and make something similarly beautiful, but not a direct copy.
-Do you have a favorite product that stands out?
The Preslee Christening Gown. The first gown I designed that I was able to make with the very best fabrics and trims rather than have to cut back and think of ways to make it less expensive.
-What suggestions do you have for those wanting to start their own business?
Don’t go into debt right away. If your idea isn’t profitable, find something else to do that will satisfy your need to create.
Don’t grow too fast.
Don’t think that more volume is a solution. More volume = more expenses.
If it’s not good for your family, don’t do it.
Learn enough about business so you know if you’re making a profit.
Learn how to do cost analysis.
Don’t forget to add overhead expenses to your Cost of Goods.
Listen to your spirit. If you know it’s right for you, never give up.
If it isn’t right for you after awhile, don’t do it anymore.
Try to sell direct to the public. Selling wholesale is harder and more cost intensive.
-How do you take time for yourself to recharge?
Power nap. When I start feeling bone tired weary, I lay down for 15-20 minutes and breathe deeply, willing the feeling to relax and go away.
-What is your go to, never fail and in a pinch recipe?
Slow cooked Roast beef. Put in the oven at 200-250 degrees and bake it all day ( at least 8 hours). Always comes out pull apart tender. Especially tasty when you sprinkle a packet of dry soup mix over the top.
-What is the one product you cannot live without?