As we celebrate Mother’s Day this week, we wanted to feature one of our talented artists, Angela Kipling of Boondocks Babies. Not only was Angela one of aftcra’s first sellers, but she makes true heirloom knit work that embodies quality, creativity and the love from a handmaker. Here’s Angela’s story:
I’m Angela Kipling of Boondocks Babies, and I make baby and children’s hats and photo props. My background is in graphic design and photography, and my day job is working at a local newspaper. I grew up in a very artistic and crafty environment with my mom and grandmother where sewing and creating were just apart of life.
I started knitting baby hats after the birth of my daughter, Molly. During my maternity leave I started making hats for her, which eventually grew into Boondocks Babies. I had wanted to turn my crafting skills into a business for a very long time, and my maternity leave really gave me the chance to dive in and get a plan together (between the feedings and learning how to be a new mom, of course).
My knitting skills came from my mom, Nancy Victorson (pictured above with me), who is my crafty “Yoda”. She’s also my knitting partner who helps pick up the slack during the winter and peak Christmas season. When I was little I would usually make a scarf or loose interest, but never anything fancy. To this day I still love the rhythmic vibe you get from knitting. It’s very relaxing and there is nothing like finishing a project knowing that you made it. It wasn’t until college, and then again when my daughter was born, that I picked up the craft again.
The name Boondocks Babies comes in part from where we live. The Upper Peninsula is a beautiful, but somewhat isolated and middle of nowhere kind of place. We measure distance in hours when traveling. We live through very cold winters and lots of snow. Because of that, I have always felt like we live in the boondocks. I am also a huge fan of the country music group Little Big Town, and their song “Boondocks” fits how I grew up. Boondocks Babies is also used to describe the kind of clients I wanted; babies and kids who needed warm, fashionable hats for the long winters we typically experience.
My inspiration comes from walking into a yarn store. Finding new yarn, knowing this one would make a great lion, this one would be perfect for a bunny. It’s so much fun.
Angela’s advice for other small businesses:
Start slow and do lots of research on whatever it is you are trying to sell. You can’t make money on a product that no one wants. Customer service is also very important. Word of mouth is one of the best ways to grow a small business but if the word of mouth is bad it’s hard to start over, especially in a small town. And remember that “After all, tomorrow is another day” (from Gone with the Wind, one of my favorite movies). I especially draw from this quote on days when there are never enough hours.
For Mother’s Day, Boondocks Babies gifted 25 celeb moms including Halle Berry, Drew Barrymore, and Kerry Washington through a group called The Artisan Group. I talk about it on my blog if you are interested: http://boondocksbabies.com/
My next exciting project is summer bonnets made from cotton, and later this summer I’ll feature hats that are hand-painted. I’m also starting to make flower headbands for newborn photo props and starting to gear up for next winter. I have also launched a new website that showcases not only the Hat Shop products but the photography services being offered in the Eastern Upper Peninsula, boondocksbabies.com.
Check out more of Angela’s work at Boondocks Babies .