Monica and Gianelle are the powerhouses behind Sweet Little Press, an awesome online store with a vision to give a voice to creatively-inspired children via quirky illustrations, ironic designs, and fun taglines on t-shirts and paper goods.
Inspired by their children, the two sisters launched Sweet Wild Press Co. in the summer of 2015. Monica and Gianelle both collaborate on illustrations and taglines together. Their designs are hand-drawn and then hand screen-printed onto quality apparel and stationery using non-toxic, water-based inks. SWP is a team effort with their mother Giannina acting as a tiebreaker referee for themes or ideas when the two sisters can’t move forward with them. Their ‘Feelings’ and ‘Love is Real’ tees are personal favourites!
When was your company founded and where are you based?
My sister and I had been wanting to collaborate on a business together for about 15 years before we started SWPCo. In August of 2015. We are a Gainesville-Orlando, Florida company. Our mom and I live in Orlando and she lives in Gainesville.
How many are involved in your small business?
Three of us. My sister, Gianelle; myself, Monica and our mother, Giannina. Our Mom is the tie-breaker, majority-winner, referee for when we can’t move forward on certain themes or ideas. Which doesn’t happen a lot but when it does we are thankful for her presence. We are sisters, after all and super opinionated.
What inspired you both to start your own company?
Our kids. In early 2015, we both had 1 child each, at the time, who are very fun and creative. Both our families lived together for a while and then Gianelle and her fam. moved to Gainesville. We missed each other a lot and so we each started helping the kids send each other snail-mail in addition to Facetiming, etc. We both felt it was important not to lose touch or only focus on the digital ways of communication. It sparked deep conversations about the importance of knowing someone by recognizing their handwriting, artwork, etc.
I feel like the t-shirt ideas was always lingering in the background and when Gianelle asked, “Do you want to do this together?” I was ready and said, “yes” right at the moment she asked. It wasn’t a hard decision with long deliberation. I love her drawings and illustrations. We both were ready to do something together. I think her ideas are so quirky and you instantly connect with her drawings. I’m happy to help get those ideas out into the world with her.
Did you have a background in business prior to starting your company?
Man, do we wish. We don’t and are learning along the way. After Gianelle had her second child in October of 2015 we decided to only do small runs for 2016 and not put too much pressure on ourselves or the business. Our plan is to get back into it next year after the babe is 1 year old and Mama has more free time. We like the idea of the business growing organically but sometimes we really are chomping at the bit for it to progress.
Did you run into any problems or resistance while launching?
Not really. We decided on a deadline and met it. Our launch was fun and exciting and unpredictable. All the ideas we’ve had and photoshoots have been real fun and positive. We sometimes have to scrap ideas that we think are so clever and hilarious because realize we are the only ones who would find that funny. I think there is more ebbs and flows these days with our need to stay realistic about our work flow when our designer is a new Mom of 2. We both are chomping at the bit to ramp up again and that is something we look forward to.
How do you get the most out of your day?
Time management, staying true to our job titles and meetings, meeting, meetings. Since we don’t live in the same city, we are very deliberate about specifying the need for work conversations versus personal conversations. Life is always happening and sometimes the best way to get work accomplished is to compartmentalize the personal in order for the work to get done. We will also always have a business meeting if we all are visiting one another, it’s amazing what can get done when we are face-to- face so we take advantage of that time together.
How is your family a part of your business choices?
In a literal sense, our partners have always been the first to see designs and have been open to hearing about new designs and critics,. They both have helped with the photoshoots (from prep to wrap, to model). They have been there in support of this idea that makes us happy. The kids, well, they are all over our social media sites as models.
They are totally into playing the part and getting photographed.
In other ways, our families are what keeps us grounded but also feeling dreamy and inspired. They always are factored into business decisions which keeps us practical, realistic and hopeful all at the same time.
What music inspires you?
So much different music and music genres play a part in our lives but I still listen to a lot of Modest Mouse and I’m super excited to see Eric Bachman at a “living room show” in Orlando in October. My sister, Gianelle, can probably weigh in a little more since music is definitely a part of her creative process… I’m really into Hundred Waters and War on Drugs when I’m feeling like I need a chill pill. Other days I need music like Jay Reatard, Japanther, Thee Oh Sees, King Tuffy and Jacuzzi Boys for some pep in my step. I’m a fan of really loud music while working but with kids around I must rock out to a 4 bar level…the sacrifices we make.
What is your favorite thing to do when you are not working?
Both families are motivated by community events, especially kid-friendly artistic events. You could find us at art shows, kid’s fringe (event in Orlando), museums, theater productions. Living in Fl also guides us towards the water, so we swim a lot, hang at The Depot (Gainesville’s newest & most amazing park). And if you want full disclosure we love to eat tacos, drink beers and play Mexican train.
What do you see in the future for your shop?
We’d like to see growth by way of selling to retail shops. We would also really enjoy doing Pop Up’s in our local areas. This pre-holiday and holiday season we plan on attending more indie craft shows & possibly in more Florida cities. And we are finalizing our next run of t-shirts.
Get To know Monica & Gianelle and keep updated with Sweet Wild Press Co.!