All about the momtrepreneurs

Fashion & Beauty / HER Profile / Lifestyle / Stories / July 10, 2017

The three mainstay momtreprenuers who showcase their handcrafted items at mamasboy in downtown Jefferson City each have interesting journeys to local success.

Find out more about Christina Brauner, Stephanie Osborn and Abby Struemph in the full Q&A sessions they had with HER Magazine.

(Photo by Emil Lippe) Christina Brauner is the designer of Vinyl Variations, and creates clever decals that are put on travel mugs and glasses. Her work is featured in the momtrepreneur section of mamasboy, a downtown boys clothing and accessories boutique in downtown Jefferson City.

Momtrepreneur: Christina Brauner

About Christina: A Jefferson City mom to 7-year-old Hunter and new baby to join the family in July; married to Derrick Brauner; and fourth grade teacher at Southern Boone Elementary in Ashland, Missouri.

Product: Owner/designer of Vinyl Variations (www.facebook.com/vinylbychristina)

HER: When did you first start honing your design, artistic or other related skills, and is there anyone that has helped fuel those skills/passions?

Christina: Honestly, I have never been a really artistic person. This is just something I picked up as I was older.

HER: When did you decide to start your business/creations and how long have you been creating your product(s)? What inspired you to do so and how did you come up with product(s) and its design?

Christina: Vinyl Variations started out when I bought myself a Silhouette Cameo as a Christmas present. I always saw all of these cute vinyl projects on Etsy snd Pinterest and knew I could make them myself instead. I started out with a water bottle that had a hydration tracker on it. I shared a picture on Facebook, and it took of from there. I had so many people wanting to order them that I decided to make it into a aide business. A lot of my business now is based off custom designs that the consumer brings to me and I create.

HER: How did you start selling/marketing your product(s)? 

Christina: All of my business in the beginning was word of mouth. I then opened a Facebook page and am now featured in mamasboy.

HER: How has your product(s) and business evolved since you first started? What has been some of the feedback you’ve received?

Christina: In the beginning, I sold a ton of water bottles. Since then, products seem to have stints of popularity, so I’m always trying to switch it up. Stainless steel tumblers, wine glasses, coffee mugs, and now monogram earrings have all had their surge in popularity.

(Photo by Emil Lippe) A Vinyl Variations travel cup sits on display in the “momtrepreneurs” section of mamas boy. Christina Brauner, who runs Vinyl Variations, designs decals to put on wine glasses and cups among other things.

HER: When did you first get involved with mamasboys’ momtrepreneur program? How has the program and Tanya’s support helped your business?

Christina: I have known Tanya and been good friends with her since before her shop even opened. I remember talking with her about the store and her vision for it as our boys played soccer together. It was during one of our chat sessions that we coined the phrase momtrepreneurs! She invited me to be one of the vendors featured and I am forever grateful. Tanya is a great business owner and friend and always goes extra lengths to make sure she supports the local community. I love her ideas!

HER: Why do you think the momtrepreneur program is important to have in our community?

Christina: It’s important to support local businesses. We are just women who are trying to support our families. I think everyone can get behind the idea of supporting the “little guys.” I think it was a genius and selfless idea of Tanya to come up with this mutually beneficial idea.

HER: How do you juggle the responsibilities of motherhood, family, work and your business?

Christina: Day to day, as best I can! It’s hard, but I manage. Just one day at a time. I’m thankful that my business is really just extra money, and although it’s needed, it’s not my sole income, so I can put it on the back burner if need be (like in a few weeks when I deliver!)

HER: Are there new products you are looking to create/release in the near future? What are your plans for your business in the near future?

Christina: I just launched some monogram earrings that have been pretty popular and are in high demand right now. Other than that, I’m just going to take it day by day as I know life (and my free time) will change drastically with two kids!

HER: What words of encouragement would you give other mothers who would like to be a entrepreneur or turn an idea into a product/business?

Christina: Just do it! This business venture has taken me way outside my comfort zone, but it has been well worth it. It’s definitely increased my self-confidence knowing I am making products that others love and recommend!

(Photo by Emil Lippe) Stephanie Osburn, a local mom, is the designer of “Little Bro Ties” and travel pillowcases that are sold in the “momtrepreneurs” section of mamasboy.

Momtrepreneur: Stephanie Osborn

About Stephanie: A Jefferson City single mother of two daughters, 23-year-old Courtney and 15-year-old Abbigale; and a caretaker for an autistic individual

Products: Owner/creator at The Little Blue House (since 2012), and does custom embroidery, sewing, memory pillows, travel pillowcases, Little Bro Ties and more (Facebook.com/LittleBlueHousePage).

HER: When did you first start honing your design, artistic or other related skills, and is there anyone that has helped fuel those skills/passions?

Stephanie: My grandmothers, aunts and my mother sewed and quilted all of the time. It made them happy. It brought them together. I remember hearing them laugh and share their stories. I watched them through the process of cutting out a pattern and sewing the pieces of material together and then hearing them praise the end result of their hard work. This was important to me.

I didn’t really start sewing until my mid-20s. I was busy working and raising my oldest daughter at that time. My goal was to “get back to” what I remembered and following through on that. With a lot of determination, a few sewing machines and an embroidery machine later, my creative process was becoming a reality, so I just hit the ground running with it.

HER: When did you decide to start your business/creations and how long have you been creating your product(s)? What inspired you to do so and how did you come up with product(s) and its design?

Stephanie: I started The Little Blue House in 2012, as just a creative hobby with very basic intensions of creating a few items upon request and selling pre-owned items to “fill in the gaps” financially speaking. I purchased my first embroidery machine in 2015, with the idea of creating giftable ideas for my friends and family, as well as monogramming cute clothes for myself and my girls. Six months later, I expanded my services from just sewing and embroidering names and monogrammed initials to include wedding handkerchiefs. I now offer several products: Wedding Handkerchiefs, Stitched Blessings for Broken Hearts (handkerchiefs for families that lose a loved one), Memory Pillows, Noggin Nesters (12-by-16 inch pillows with custom pillow covers), Little Bro Ties and of course personal embroidery and sewing.

HER: How did you start selling/marketing your product(s)? 

Stephanie: I started marketing my items through word of mouth and social media. I created a Facebook page for my creations. This has really increased the growth and vision that I have for The Little Blue House.  Tanya found me through a referral on social media and contacted me about the idea that she had for mamasboy and the opportunity through the momtrepreneur program. Tanya asked me if I had ever made or have made a bow tie … and I had not. But, I thought “why not? what have I got to lose? Let’s give this a try.” And sure enough, “Little Bro Ties” was created thanks to that idea. It has really taken off! Who would’ve ever thought a bow tie would be something that I have created and am marketing and selling like crazy. I have gained more than I could ever possibly imagine with her idea: friendships, an increased customer base and an opportunity to increase my income.

(Photo by Emil Lippe) “Little Bro Ties” sit on display in the “momtrepreneurs” section at mamasboy. Stephanie Osburn, the maker of Little Bro Ties, is also a local mother in Jefferson City who made her first batch of bow ties in December of 2016 and has been selling ever since.

HER: How has your product(s) and business evolved since you first started? What has been some of the feedback you’ve received?

Stephanie: The feedback has been outstanding! The opportunity that I have with the momtrepreneur program at Mamasboy has increased my creative process and income, as well as offering a product that is exclusive to this area. I have also increased Tanya’s creative process and customer base, too. The opportunity to help someone grow their business and follow through on their goals is important to me. I get to be a small part of that.

HER: Why do you think the momtrepreneur program is important to have in our community? 

Stephanie: The opportunity for expanding my creative process for The Little Blue House has been spectacular! Knowing that there is someone there who is willing to invest in my product and my business without the demands of upfront costs is such a great feeling. We are helping build each other’s business to achieve our creative goals as a team and creating friendships as moms and women. When opportunity like this knocks, you must open the door! Not everything is “too good to be true.” There is so much more than a financial gain from an opportunity like this.

HER: How do you juggle the responsibilities of motherhood, family, work and your business?  

Stephanie: Thank goodness for calendars and Post-It notes! I still like writing things down. There’s just something about seeing an order from a customer, about something that you created. They want that to gift to someone for a special occasion or for themselves. I don’t have a particular process for balance. I just always seem to manage making time for working full time and creating my product for The Little Blue House.

HER: Are there new products you are looking to create/release in the near future? What are your plans for your business in the near future?  

Stephanie: I’m always creating new products for The Little Blue House and will preview those new creations and ideas the over the next four to six months, in time for the 2017 holiday season. As far as my plans for The Little Blue House, I would like to eventually invest more time in the business so that I can create all of the time.

HER: What words of encouragement would you give other mothers who would like to be a entrepreneur or turn an idea into a product/business?  

Stephanie: Just do this! Really. Never sell yourself short on an idea or an opportunity. Set the standard and don’t let the standard set you. This opportunity has shown my girls that being a single mom is just more than being tired, broke and working all of the time. I am breaking through that glass ceiling, teaching them how to create through the chaos.

(Photo by Emil Lippe) Abby Struemeh, a local mom, is the designer of the LoveBug Design Hooded Towels that are sold in the “momtrepreneurs” section of mamasboy.

Momtrepreneur: Abby Struemph

About Abby: A Jefferson City full-time mom to 7-year-old Jack and 4-year-old William; married to Jason Struemph.

Product: Owner/Creator at LoveBug Design, producing customized hooded towels for kids (Facebook.com/LoveBugDesign2014)

HER: When did you first start honing your design, artistic or other related skills, and is there anyone that has helped fuel those skills/passions?

Abby: I’ve always wanted to learn to sew, but didn’t take the time to learn until about five or six years ago. My grandma, a talented seamstress, helped me learn the basics, and I grew from there with some basic projects.

HER: When did you decide to start your business/creations and how long have you been creating your product(s)? What inspired you to do so and how did you come up with product(s) and its design?

Abby: When my first son was born, we, of course, received a few infant hooded towels as gifts, and while they were great in the beginning, he quickly outgrew them. My aunt made him some hooded towels as a gift, and we loved them so much that she taught me how to make them myself and encouraged me to do so! Initially, I just made them for my kids, but soon gave them as gifts for baby showers as well. The more exposure they got, the more people would encourage me to offer the towels for sale. In 2014, I opened my Etsy store and have primarily sold online or at local craft sales. I’ve focused on fun colors and themes that kids of all ages love. I feel that there is definitely a market for these hooded towels because babies outgrow the standard hooded towels so quickly, but parents and kids love the design of a hooded towel.

HER: How did you start selling/marketing your product(s)? 

StruemphAbby: Initially, I just made them for my kids, but soon gave them as gifts for baby showers, as well. The more exposure they got, the more people would encourage me to offer the towels for sale. In 2014, I opened my Etsy store and have primarily sold online or at local craft sales. I also have a Facebook page. The momtrepreneur program has been a great step for me, as well. Tanya has been so gracious to offer this opportunity, and it is a wonderful way for people to see and touch the product at any time.

HER: How has your product(s) and business evolved since you first started? What has been some of the feedback you’ve received?

Abby: I have seen steady growth each year since I started, and it is fun to come up with new themes and combinations for the towels. The towels are so customizable, and I love to see and hear what customers are looking for and be able to create that vision. Feedback has been so great! People love the quality,  colors and options as well as the softness and size of the towels.

(Photo by Emil Lippe) LoveBug Design hooded towels sit on display in the “momtrepreneurs” section of mamasboy. The designer of the towels, Abby Struemeh, got the idea from an aunt to make hooded towels and has been selling them since.

HER: When did you first get involved with mamasboys’ momtrepreneur program? How has the program and Tanya’s support helped your business?  

Abby: I have been involved with mamasboy since it opened. It has been such a great opportunity to get my product into the community and promote it. Tanya has been wonderful and has made the process effortless! She is so good about staying in touch and letting me know which design customers are asking about and/or looking for.

HER: Why do you think the momtrepreneur program is important to have in our community?  

Abby: The momtrepreneur program supports local families. When you shop locally, you are investing in the community, which benefits all of us. It also helps families like my own have some flexibility. Plus, you, as the customer, have the opportunity to purchase some really unique and functional items, whether they are for yourself or a gift!

HER: How do you juggle the responsibilities of motherhood, family, work and your business?  

Abby: My family is my top priority, and it’s about being a wife and mom first. Beyond that, it’s a matter of prioritizing!

HER: Are there new products you are looking to create/release in the near future? What are your plans for your business in the near future?  

Abby: Right now, I love to focus on the kids’ hooded towels and create new options that customers are looking for. I occasionally have requests for towels for adults and non-hooded towels, so I may expand options in those areas in the future. I like to keep my options open!

HER: What words of encouragement would you give other mothers who would like to be a entrepreneur or turn an idea into a product/business?  

Abby: First, reflect on your talents and what you enjoy, then dream big! If you feel that God is moving you in a particular direction, take a step towards your goal. Even a baby step is a step closer!

Read the full story “Becoming a Momtrepreneur” for more information.


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Samantha Pogue




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