Tell us about you and your business!
My name is Sarah Black and I live and work in our small apartment in College Station, TX. My husband and I moved here last year from Salt Lake City, Utah, though I'm originally from Virginia. I grew up drawing and crafting, found my way to a sewing machine in middle school, and have been sewing ever since. I studied dance and advertising in college, worked in a corporate marketing position, but quit to follow my true passion for sewing and humanitarian work.
Made is a collection of handmade products using materials from as far as India to as close as your local secondhand store. Bags & pillows are made with leather and international textiles. Leather scraps are then repurposed to create one-of-a-kind earrings and modern wall hangings, mixed with upcycled jewelry pieces. And face masks are made from unique, quality cottons that can be dressed up and more convenient with a necklace repurposed as a chain. As an added bonus - 5% is donated to refugee organizations.
What inspired you to start Made?
After one year of having a big-girl-job, I saved enough to go on my first out of country trip and went with a humanitarian group to Uganda for 3 months! Who does that?! I was able to put many skills to use - I taught math at a high school, dance after school, marketing to a vocational school that helps teens and women with HIV, and sewing to a small group of women. They already knew how to sew; I just introduced new patterns and designs that they could use in their town markets.
I was still set on using my degree and hopped back into a corporate job, but soon realized that I could be so much more useful in the world by starting my own business and working with refugees in my community. Since launching my brand in 2014, I've worked with refugees in Salt Lake City, traveled to India and Peru to teach women how to sew, held service workshops to make bags and hygiene kits for a homeless shelter, and donated thousands of dollars to refugee resettlement organizations in Salt Lake City and greater Texas cities.
You can say that I was inspired by education and independence empowerment. Knowledge is the most sustainable gift you can receive and give each other.
What advice would you give to other female entrepreneurs just getting started?
Speaking as a female who started a business as a single person, I'm so glad I didn't waste my time waiting for a guy to support me to pursue my goals. I didn't get married until I was 32 and I know my business taught me a lot of hard truths about myself that prepared me for marriage. To clarify, I still dated human men, not just my work, haha. I accepted my path in life, embraced business opportunities as they came, and wouldn't change it for anything.
What has been your biggest challenge since starting Made?
I learned a lot by going from a structured corporate job to being my own boss. First, I wish that I had taken up a part-time job while figuring out how to run my own business. I needed something that gave me structure to my day and some guaranteed income starting out.
Another struggle was setting expectations with refugees that I worked with when I first started. I was really excited to partner with local refugee organizations to employ refugees in the area. Unfortunately, I had a seamster that stopped coming in to sew two weeks before Christmas orders needed to be sent out. Another seamstress worked from home and helped sew for wholesale orders, but when it was time to send out the orders, it was very difficult to get a hold of her on her phone, or she wasn't at home, so I had to postpone multiple delivery dates for my clients. I learned that they were unaware of the workplace norms in the states that we're accustomed to and I had to take responsibility for not outlining my expectations. I still had to express how their actions and lack of communication affected my business and in the end, I had to let them go. I felt like a failure because my whole mission was to help refugees, but I still hadn't figured out how to manage.
Who inspires you and why?
My first humanitarian trip changed me. At first I felt very inadequate and useless to those living in extreme poverty. Yet, every time we served in their communities, they were always full of grace and made us feel so appreciated. They never complained about their circumstances. They were grateful for what they had and still so giving. I'm inspired by the single mother in Uganda who walked one hour to learn how to sew, the young students who live in a different country than their families to receive an education, the women in India who showed up to class with several of their own designs based on the prior day's sewing project, and the elderly man who climbs hundreds of steps to the Hindu mosque to give an offering.
What have you learned about yourself since becoming a business owner?
I've learned that I'm really selfish. Haha. Which seems contrary to my desire for humanitarian work. But I think I'm drawn to service projects because of how much it gets me out of my comfort zone, opens my mind to new cultures and perspectives, and introduces me to other people who are striving to step outside themselves as well. I also have a hard time accepting feedback. I've always trusted my own creative instincts. But as my exposure and brand grows, and I try-out new strategies and products, I realize that I get stuck, something is not as cool as I thought it was, not as realistic or practical, or simply not working. So I've come to appreciate customer's and friend's honest feedback and ideas, trusting that it's coming from a place of love and encouragement.
What's next for Made?
Starting out 2021, I want to see how long I can make new products without buying new materials. I've noticed a huge response to repurposed items. And not just from my customers, but consumers everywhere! I already use thrifted materials in my products and love the creative process of turning something old into something functional and beautiful!
For our gift guide this year, we rounded up a list of some of our favorite female-founded small businesses. As a fully women-owned and operated small businesses ourselves, we know the unique challenges women face in entrepreneurship. For this series, we will be highlighting some of the amazing women makers, artists, and business owners behind these shops and help inspire you to go after your dreams! First up is Kelsey of Moonbeam Apparel, a size-inclusive and self-love-celebrating clothing shop based in Logan, Utah and online. Enjoy!
Tell us about you and your business!
Hi! I am Kelsey, you can call me Kels, and I own Moonbeam Apparel. I think I'm a good (or maybe dangerous) combination of dreamer and doer. I dream up an idea and then I'm determined to do it. Hence how I came to dream up the idea of Moonbeam, quit my job, and three months later I had a website and storefront. I guess if life is a swimming pool, I like to cannonball in. I love all animals and people. I'm an empath, which sometimes feels like a curse and superpower. I'm big on women empowerment and everything fashion. When I'm not working, you might find me exploring the mountains by my house with my husband and two shelter dogs, or cuddled up at home with a book and my two cats. I am messy, impatient and stubborn, but working on it. I started Moonbeam Apparel in late 2017. Moonbeam is a clothing boutique focused on inclusivity and body positivity. I believe every person in every phase of life should be celebrated and that clothing should be a fun way to express yourself. I incorporated the moon into my business because I think she has a lot of similarities to us as women. We all go through phases, and I believe we are meant to shine bright and make waves sometimes. Hence why Moonbeam's tagline is, "shine on and make waves".
What inspired you to start Moonbeam Apparel?
Ever since I can remember, I've put together outfits that some think are a little bit . . . "out there". I can't tell you how many times I've heard, "Wow, I could never pull that off." Still trying to figure out if that's a compliment or not. But I've always been more into wearing what makes me feel happy and the most ME than what others thought. That's what fashion should be! Embracing your body and your style to express and love yourself. Looking around before starting Moonbeam, I didn't see a whole lot of that in the fashion industry. I wanted to start something with clothes that were unique, while also showcasing those clothes on all the different and absolutely beautiful body types out there! I went in knowing the boutique industry was saturated, but I felt so passionately about the message behind the clothing that I never looked back.
What has been your biggest challenge since starting a business?
Oh man, there are a lot of challenges. Ha ha. I am a recovering people pleaser. I want everyone to like me. But guess what? Not everyone likes me. Not everyone likes the product I sell. Not everyone agrees with what I'm passionate about. Earlier this year, I was vocal about some things that were important to me. I lost Instagram followers. I probably lost some customers. Then after a little more time, I got way more followers and customers than before, and it's because my message resonated with them! I lost some people who maybe weren't a great fit, but found more of my people in the process . . . people who love Moonbeam and have helped me build an awesome community. I love that. It's shown me how important it is to always be true to yourself, even though not everyone will like it. The right people WILL like it and will show up for you. Every challenge in this business has taught me an important lesson. Challenges can be a great thing!
Who inspires you and why?
I am inspired by so many people. So many! Sure, there are some influential, famous people who inspire me in different ways, but "regular" people are constantly inspiring me too. I just think people are so beautiful and wonderful. Kind people inspire me. People who are unapologetically themselves inspire me. People who stand up for others inspire me. People who celebrate others inspire me. I am positive if I sat down and talked to you, you would inspire me. No doubt.
My mom is a specific person who always inspires me. Everything she does is to make the world around her a better place, and I want to be more like that. She's been so supportive of my business. She even works at the Moonbeam Apparel storefront one day a week. Our customers love her. She's actually way cooler than me but don't tell her that. We don't want it going to her head.
What advice would you give to other female entrepreneurs just getting started?
Focus on the things that light you up and incorporate that into your business! You have to have passion behind your business besides just wanting to make money. If it's all about money and sales, you'll get burnt out or your customer base will burn out. Focus on building a community for yourself rather than just a customer base. Also, don't fall in the trap of comparison. There's enough room in this world for every woman to be successful, I truly believe that. Just do you, and your light will attract the right people.
What have you learned about yourself since becoming a business owner?
I have learned that I am capable. Up to this point, I've bought all the product, built and updated the website, styled all my shoots, taken all my own photos, edited all my own photos, managed all my own social media, and I feel like I've succeeded. Before starting Moonbeam, I was drifting along, feeling pretty lost. I worked in a couple jobs where I didn't feel like my skills were being put to use, and I started to question my worth. Now I know I'm worth it. I'm also now learning that I don't HAVE to do everything myself. I am starting to ask for help and delegating things to my wildly talented team members. They want to help and they are beyond capable of doing so. Asking for help is a badass thing to do. You can do anything you put your mind to, and you can do it even better if you are willing to ask for help.
What's next for Moonbeam Apparel?
I want to start producing more of our own designs. It's scary admitting that out loud, but I'm putting it out in the universe and going to make it happen! Our most popular items, by far, are our Moonbeam Made graphic tees. I think it's because the style and message speaks to people, but also because we offer them in sizes xs-3xl. I want to create more unique designs in a variety of sizes. It's frustrating how difficult it is to find cute plus size clothes from manufacturers. I want to just make my own! Every person deserves to find something cool that fits their body. I know if we branched out to other designs, they would be a hit.
P.S. We're giving away shop credit to Moonbeam Apparel and Lime Ricki over on our Instagram! Head to our feed to enter!
At Lime Ricki, we’ve been spending the last few weeks listening, learning, speaking out, and taking action in hopes of becoming better allies and bringing awareness to the injustices faced by the Black community in this country. Today we’re sharing how we’re celebrating Juneteenth!
What is JUNETEENTH?
Juneteenth, or Freedom Day, is the oldest nationally celebrated holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. On June 19th 1865, nearly two and half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, Union soldiers led by General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas to announce that the war had ended and that all enslaved people were now free.
This video by The Root explains the history of Juneteenth and the lasting cultural significance of this holiday.
You can also read more about the history of Juneteenth at the juneteenth.com website.
How Do We Celebrate Juneteenth?
Historically, Juneteenth is celebrated with festivities ranging from barbecues, music, and family and community gatherings, to education, activism, and self-improvement. It is a day to commemorate not only the events of June 19th 1865 and the official end of slavery, but to celebrate the progress we’ve made, and acknowledge the continued fight for the equality of African Americans in this country.
This is our first year celebrating Juneteenth – and that, admittedly, shouldn’t be the case. We are committed to doing better and encourage our community to do the same! Let’s dive into some ways you can join us in celebrating today:
Educate Yourself and Others
Today is a great day to not only educate yourself about the history of Juneteenth, but also about the work of anti-racism and the issues faced by marginalized people. Here are few detailed and helpful lists to get you started:
- Anti-Racism Resources Google Doc
- A Detailed List of Juneteenth and Anti-Racism Resources
- Anti-Racism Books for Kids and Teens
Set some time aside with your family and/or friends to acknowledge Juneteenth and the significance of this holiday. Talk about the struggles faced by communities of Color and how you can use your voice, power, and privilege to work towards a more diverse, safe, and inclusive society for all. It’s also important to reflect inward and see where you can make improvements in yourself!
Attend a Juneteenth Celebration In Your Community or Online
From car caravans, to marches, to block parties, there is likely some sort of Juneteenth celebration happening near you. You can check your local news outlets or community social media channels or even a quick Google search for festivities in your community, though the current coronavirus pandemic might make celebrations look a little different this year. Be sure to follow all CDC guidelines when it comes to public outdoor gatherings and don’t forget your face mask! If you prefer to stay home, you can join in on a virtual Juneteenth celebration. And if you’re missing the museum experience, you can also check out this interactive tour by The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Support Black-Owned Businesses
Supporting Black-Owned businesses is an easy and effective way to help close the wealth gap and enact lasting social and economic change. While it’s important to support these businesses always, Juneteenth is a great day to make it a priority! You can easily find Black Owned businesses in your area using the Support Black Owned website directory and app. If you’re local to Utah, you can also find a list of Utah Black Owned Companies from BLM Utah. In addition to supporting businesses, you can also diversify your feed and follow Black influencers and makers on social media.
Don’t Stop Here
However you plan to celebrate, remember the spirit of Juneteenth even after today is over. Make a commitment to support the Black community and do you your part to help end racism year-round. Attend a march in your area, continue to donate to causes that help fight injustice, continue to educate yourself, and continue to listen to and amplify Black voices around you. Use today as a jumping-off point for real and lasting change and help make the world a better place.
We also recommend following educators we’re learning from like Rachel Cargle, Monique Melton, Layla F. Saad, Austin Channing Brown, and Brittany Packnett Cunningham.
At Lime Ricki, we have always been confident that you will feel amazing in our swimsuits. So confident, that you can now try our suits for yourself before paying a single penny! With our brand new Try Before You Buy program, your living room is now your fitting room! This post will explain how this program works, and answer some of your most frequently asked questions.
Try Before You Buy
1. Look for the “TRY BEFORE YOU BUY OPTIONS” on eligible items and check out like you normally would.
You will not be charged, we will only authorize your card.
2. Try it FREE for 7 days
Once your order has been delivered, you have seven days to try your swimsuits on in the comfort of your own home, but don’t remove the tags or protective liners during this time.
3. Only pay for what you keep
If you don’t love your suit, just send it back! Like always, returns are easy.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which items are eligible for Try Before You Buy?
All full-priced swimsuits and certain beachwear items are eligible for Try Before You Buy. Accessories, markdowns, and clearance items are not eligible.
Can Try Before You Buy be used with a discount?
No, discount codes and promos cannot be applied to Try Before You Buy orders.
When does the 7-day free trial period begin?
The seven days begins the day your package is delivered. You will be notified that your trial period is ending before you are charged.
Is Try Before You Buy online only?
Yep! Since you are able to try on swimsuits when you shop in stores, this offer is only available for online orders.
Can I swim in my swimsuit during the 7-day trial period?
No, tags and protective liners must be kept on during this period in order to be sent back. Swimsuits must meet the same requirements for any other returns and exchanges.
If you have any other questions about our Try Before You Buy program, reach out to customer service at email@example.com.Try our new arrivals and see our full selection of modest swimsuits and clothing for women.
At Lime Ricki, we design swimsuits that are made to be mixed and matched so you can create a suit that’s just as unique as you are! But we know how daunting it may be, especially with so many different prints and colors to choose from. Here are some basic principles to follow when you’re just getting started in the world of mixing prints!
Set Your Color Story
If you’re new to pattern mixing, let’s start with the basics: COLORS! Start off by choosing one or two (or three!) unifying colors to bring the whole look together. In this case, we went with a black and white color scheme and paired this tiny floral print top with a pair of our Black Gingham High-Waist Bottoms.
Geometric Patterns Never Fail
When it comes to pattern mixing, geometric prints like stripes, gingham, plaids, or polka dots pair quite well together without being too busy or overpowering. Mixing the vertical stripe of our Rainbow Stripe Smocked Crop with the Red Gingham High-Waist Bottoms make for some seriously fun and colorful pattern play.
Pay Attention to Size and Scale
One of our favorite ways to mix patterns is to pair a big, bold print with a smaller scale print. Florals, like our Watercolor High-Waist Bottoms, work perfectly as a statement print, while the simplicity of the Striped Cross-Back Crop acts as a neutral. The difference in size and scale of the prints complement each other and help to balance out the entire look.
Throw the Rules out the Window
Of course, the final rule of pattern mixing is that there are no rules. Why not wear a fun, brightly colored solid top with a print bottom and see how you like it? Be adventurous with your suit pairings, wear whatever makes you feel amazing, and get in the water!
Which prints and solids, patterns and styles are YOU mixing and matching together? For more styling tips, check out Your Guide to Lime Ricki Swim Bottoms or send us a message any time.
When it comes to swim bottoms, everyone has different needs. Luckily, Lime Ricki swim bottoms offer a wide array of rises and coverage so there’s something for everyone, So whether you prefer the low-rise of the classic bottoms, the vintage feel of the High-Waist bottoms, or the coverage of the boy shorts, use our guide to find the fit that works best for you!
Our Classic Bottoms come in a variety of solids with a two inch waistband for ultimate comfort and fit. Perfect for those who are looking for a lower rise swim bottom that’s guaranteed to stay in place.
Shop the look: Forest Classic Bottoms
The mid-waist bottoms are a great option for short torsos, and anyone who wants a high-but-not-too-high-rise swim bottom. They come in both ruched and seamless styles in lots of prints and colors.
Shop the Look: Rainbow Stripe Mid-Waist Bottoms
Our High-Waist bottoms are our best-sellers and for good reason! With the seamed, high-rise fit, these bottoms deliver coverage, style, and that cute retro look. Plus, they pair well with almost any top!
Shop the Look: Red Gingham High Waist Bottoms
We recently redesigned our boy shorts to sit a little higher on the waist and fit more comfortably around the legs–and we know you’ll love it! Not only are these a great swim option, but we also love them as activewear too!
Shop the Look: Swim Skirts and Shorts
If you’re looking for extra coverage without compromising style, our Ruffle Skirt is the swim bottom for you! Go straight from wearing it out and about, to right into the pool with the built in bottoms!
Shop the Look: Black Ruffle Skirt
March is here and with it comes Women’s History Month! In honor of International Women’s Day today, we thought this would be a perfect time to give you ideas for easy ways we can celebrate the achievements of women and bring light to women’s issues all month long (and of course, this extends to all year round too)!
You may have first heard about #internationalwomensday as a hashtag on Instagram, but did you know the first International Women’s day took place all the way back in 1911? In order to fully celebrate Women’s History Month, it’s important to understand the history of the women’s rights movement and why it is something we must continue to advocate for today. Take some time to learn about the impactful women in history who broke barriers and paved the way for women everywhere, and educate yourself on the issues facing women across the globe today. Our knowledge is what gives us power!
Show appreciation to the women who inspire you
In some way or another, we have all been shaped by the influence of strong and intelligent women, so what better time to show appreciation for them than Women’s History Month? That includes mothers, aunts, teachers, professors, counselors, supervisors and any other important women in your life. Make a plan to treat her to lunch, write a thoughtful note, send her flowers–whatever it is, make sure she knows the impact she’s had on you, and how much you appreciate her.
Get involved in a women’s organization
There are many ways to get involved with a women’s organization, and it can even be a lot of fun! You can attend a lecture or a workshop, volunteer at an event, participate in a march, or just become part of a community of women who are just as passionate about a cause or idea as you are! If you’re local to the Utah area, Utah Valley University published a list of women’s organizations to get involved with. With so many different options, there’s something for everyone!
Support Women-owned businesses
The easiest way to support women is to support their businesses. As a proud women-owned and operated business ourselves we understand the unique challenges facing women entrepreneurs today. When you support women-owned business, you are supporting the community, economic growth, and empowering young girls everywhere to achieve their dreams. Remember that supporting women-owned businesses doesn’t just mean purchasing their products or services. You can also share it with your friends social media, donate to organizations or grants that boost female entrepreneurship, offer networking and resources, and so much more!
Donate to Women’s shelters
There are women who are thriving and there are women in need of help, and it’s important to support all of them. Women shelters serve a vital role in the community by helping women and children escape situations including domestic violence and extreme poverty. Since many of these women and children arrive with little to no belongings, these shelters are constantly in need of hygiene products, clothing, blankets, and other basic necessities. Reach out to a shelter in your area and find out what their needs are. You can even plan a donation party and encourage guests to bring items to donate!
Lift up the women around you
Supporting women doesn’t always have to be a grand gesture or financial donation. It can be as simple as giving out a compliment, listening to women’s stories (especially those in marginalized communities), celebrating the successes of other women without jealousy, and speaking up when you see injustices happen. There are so many ways to lift up the women around you. When we empower women, it brings out the best in humanity and ultimately makes the world a better place.