Instagram is a place for inspiration and information, as well as camaraderie and community. Many a thumb-swipe have yielded a great friendship or business partner, two people that may not have ever found each other otherwise if not for a follow and a like. Such is the case with Alexis Sassard and Randee Shields, co-founders of one of our favorite new lines of new mama must-haves, General Public Goods.
These two Texas mamas have reinvigorated the postpartum wardrobe, with simple, classic hand-made pieces. Like the perfect V-neck top. A cardigan you’ll reach for on the daily. And a ring sling that’s comfortable and chic from your baby’s infancy through toddlerhood, with genius details like a pocket on the tail.
Now that both are expecting their second babies, they’re bound to have even more insight into the postpartum market. Below, Alexis and Randee open up about balancing babies and business.
Tell us about the product range at General Public Goods. How do you determine what’s in the line?
We create the pieces we want to see when we shop. Flowing cover-ups to veil a nursing baby or changing postpartum tummy. A reversible tank with a sexy neckline that's also nursing friendly. You will see these same themes in a beautiful dress design we hope to release next.
Why ring slings vs. another type of carrier?
We chose to make slings because they are the most functional and stylish of all baby carriers, especially with the addition of our simple pocket on the tail. Simple, stylish design and function are actually the guiding themes of all our pieces.
Why is babywearing so important to you as busy moms?
We both learned quickly that babywearing was the key to multi-tasking! Carrying a child in a sling is exponentially easier than lugging around a carseat or chasing an early walker. But most importantly, the closeness is like nothing else. Smelling your baby's head and showering them with kisses for hours on end is incomparable. Babywearing with ring slings also makes nursing on the go a breeze for mom, baby, and any pesky onlookers since the tail can be used as a cover.
How does each piece come to life?
When working on a new design we always start with function. With those guidelines, Randee begins drafting patterns and sewing samples. Then the both of us critique each sample, making adjustments until design and function meet and the desired style is achieved.
Describe the typical workday/toddler juggle.
We aim for a 10-5, Monday-Friday work week with a lot of room for flexibility. Truthfully, there is no typical work day when toddlers are involved. Some days, we're amazed by how much machine time we get, and feel accomplished with the orders we shipped out. Others we spend most the day breaking up fights between the kiddos and cleaning up their messes.
How does being moms contribute to your creative vision?
Motherhood is a huge contributor to our work. All of our pieces are designed with the modern mother and child in mind.
How does having this business impact you as moms?
Randee: I hope is that I'm setting a good example for my children and teaching them that it is possible to make your dreams come true if you're willing to work hard enough.
Alexis: I believe that caring for your children also means caring for yourself as a mother. By having this business, I hope to teach my daughter not lose herself in motherhood. Meeting your needs, creatively or not, makes you a better mom, partner, friend, and so on.
What's the most challenging part of having your own business as a mom?
Finding balance is definitely our biggest struggle. When we work too much, we worry we're being bad moms. When we don't work enough, we worry we're being bad business owners. But every once in awhile it all feels right, and it's in those moments when we are truly fulfilled.
What's the most gratifying part?
Randee: It's spending days with my babies and being there for my family. That will always be the most important part. Without this business I would be working full time, out of the house, and wouldn't have the option to turn around and smile at my sweet son anytime I want.
Alexis: I'm grateful to have the flexibility. I get to be mom and wife first, and business owner second. Being able to stop working at any point in the day if my family needs me is the most gratifying part. Not everyone has that luxury and I know it.
Can you share your best 5 tips for a mom entrepreneur thinking about starting her own business?
1. Go for it!
2. Focus on the big picture. Don't let bad days, or weeks even, bring you down.
3. Set weekly and monthly goals along with short term and long term ones.
4. Try to accomplish one thing a day. It could be simply sewing down one seam or making one social media post. On the really hard days this one thing will mean everything.
5. Be as patient and flexible as humanly possible. And when you're not, go kiss your babies and forgive yourself.
Original photography by Walter Sassard.