MarshMueller is a family business centered around practicality and fun.
When preparing for their first baby, the MarshMueller family, being the Type A folks they are, bought EVERYTHING on the ginormous registry list of new baby must-haves. They didn’t expect that all those cute items on The List would be useless, or that the ugly items were what would be used all the time. Holly (Owner/Designer/Mama) made it her mission to design her own patterns, choose her own fabrics, and bust out a line of quirky, yet necessary sewn accessories for rad parents, babies, and kiddos on the go. Every item is designed, cut, and sewn in her Astoria, Oregon studio on the lovely Oregon Coast. Holly has been married to Rob, who is her awesome best friend and sounding board, for 11 years, and they have two children (Ronan, 4.5), and Benedict (13 months), two Pomeranians (Marley and Ziggy), and one cat (Roxie). I got to interview this badass mompreneur and here is what she had to say:
PM: When was your company founded and where are you based?
MM: MarshMueller began with the birth of my first son in 2011. We lived in Portland for 11 years, sold our house and got pizza for life in the sale, and have recently relocated to Astoria, Oregon on the Oregon Coast (Goonies never say die!).
PM: How many are involved in your company?
MM: So far, just me! Haha. I do have a sales rep who kicks ass in getting my goods into brick and mortar shops, and I bounce ideas off my husband all the time. But all the other hats? I wear them all, baby.
PM: What inspired you to start your company?
MM: After battling a difficult maternity leave with a colicky first baby, I had to have a creative outlet, and I challenged myself to sew items for my son and myself. I had already sewed his nursery set (crib sheets, bumpers, quilt) before he was born, but I was drawn to the items I used the most; they were not so pretty, and the cute items were gathering cobwebs in the nursery closet, as they deemed useless. Currently in my line are practical, necessary items, but with a quirky, nerdy twist in my fabric choices. I currently have Bibs, Burp Cloth Sets, Boppy Covers, Nursing Covers, Swaddle Blankets, Pacifier Clips, and my bestselling Diaper + Wipe Clutch in my line. I’ve recently branched out to include women’s accessories with Infinity Scarves and my Oh, Snap! Clutches.
PM: Did you have a background in business prior to starting your company?
MM: Sort of? Haha. I was a Theatre major in college because I realized early on that it doesn’t matter what degree you get, as long as you get it (for the most part, unless you’re going to med school or something). So I ended up with a BS (very appropro) in Theatre + Communications with a Minor in Geology. I know, I’m a total weirdo! It helped me differentiate myself once I got a job in the Corporate world at a national retailer. I had a different perspective than my peers with their Business degrees, and it
helped me land a job as a Buyer for that company. I bought home textiles for four years, and then moved on to their Corporate Brands and Packaging, which was a job I LOVED, but there was no room to grow, so I left to be the Buyer for Fabric Depot in Portland. If you haven’t been to Fabric Depot, and you love fabric, add it to your bucket list! It’s literally the size of a Home Depot, and it’s all fabric. It’s amazing. It was a dream job, and I was there for two years until I had my second kiddo, which kicked off our move to the coast and me not returning to Fabric Depot. During this whole time, I worked on my business at nights while working full time as a Buyer. Now I have a part-time customer service job (gotta have consistent pay, right?), and work on my business the rest of the time.
PM: Did you run into any problems or resistance while launching?
MM: I’m still running into problems and resistance! Haha. Isn’t that the “glam life” of a business owner every day? From the struggle to “quit my day job,” be a good mom, keep my marriage happy and intact, and scale my business, there are days where I feel I’m barely keeping my head above water. Then there are days where I feel like I have a handle on everything, my kids are being awesome, I’m feeling my most creative, and I’m getting shit done. Those days make everything worth it.
PM: How do you get the most out of your day?
MM: My husband and I both work from home, and we recently ran into an obstacle where our four-year-old son, who was in full-time preschool, was temporarily dismissed due to some behavioral issues. So we went from one baby at home and one kiddo in school to BOTH kids home all the time. This, of course, happened during December, my busiest time of the year. We are
working with our four-year-old with therapy, early childhood intervention, occupational therapy, and now signs are slightly pointing to high-functioning autism, but we are still looking into it. At first it was very challenging to work with him at home, but now I’ve just changed my schedule and have gone back to item production at night when both boys are in bed. I work on marketing, social media, and posting new products during the day during the baby’s naptime. Then I sew at night. I’m a natural night owl who only needs five hours of sleep a night, so it works. I am still
counting down the days until we can get my four-year-old back in school for more than a few hours a week.
PM: How is your family a part of your business choices?
MM: My four-year-old was the catalyst to many of my items…and my product tester. My one-year-old is also a product tester, and now a model for my line (which has been great, as I haven’t done anything like model or brand rep searches). My husband has always been there to bounce ideas off of and to push me outside of my comfort zone into terrifying, yet necessary territory in order to grow my business.
PM: What music inspires you?
MM: Oh, goodness, almost everything! My parents were influential with my music education. From them, I have a “degree” in Classic Rock with a Minor in 80’s Buttrock. Haha. I wasn’t introduced to the punk scene until I married my husband, and, like Punky Moms, I felt like I finally found my people. When sewing, I either shuffle my iTunes to stay motivated, or some evenings I get on an artist kick and pretend they are a guest on my fake late night talk show, playing a concert in my studio. Recent artists have been Black Sabbath, The Smiths, David Bowie, and Beck. I also listen to a lot of hip-hop on the evenings where I’m super tired after taking care of the kids all day, but need to push through some production to stay on track and less
PM: What is your favorite thing to do when you are not working?
MM: Sitting on my ass and watching Netflix with my husband (our latest binge is “Better Call Saul”), going to the beach with the kiddos, or going to Portland to watch the Portland Timbers soccer team, where we stand, yell, and sing in the Timbers Army section (the supporter group for the Timbers).
PM: What do you see in the future for your shop?
MM: I’m looking to get my line into more brick and mortar shops this year, while attempting to maintain a balance with new and fresh goods for my retail online shop. I’m dragging my husband to Craftcation, which is a creative business owner’s conference in California, and we’re total dorks because this is our FIRST real vacation since the kids. So it’s been like, five years. I have a feeling after the conference, I’ll have new and fresh ideas to grow my business. I hope to hire someone locally to help with production sewing, but it is so incredibly intimidating to think about it.
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MARSHMUELLER ON SOCIAL MEDIA
Instagram :: @marshmueller (personal is @marshmuellerfluff)
Pinterest :: @marshmueller
Facebook :: www.facebook.com/hmarshmueller
Twitter :: @marshmueller (warning: I tweet about the Portland Timbers a lot)