Getting to know Wendy of Moop Shop
Moop Shop is a studio based in Pittsburgh, where all their well-crafted bags are designed and manufactured there from start to finish. Beyond their cool everyday designs, we love how they are firm believers and supporters of small businesses and practices! The Bloesem Team got to chat with the woman behind Moop Shop – and also full-time supermom – about her 9-year experience with the shop.. Such an inspiration. Hear all about her story below, along with some exciting news for all your Moop Shop lovers!
What led you to make bags and create Moop?
I started Moop when I was just a year out of graduate school. I had moved to western Massachusetts, which is a fairly rural but highly educated region of the country. It is referred to the five colleges area. It was a beautiful and enriching place to live but, it was impossible to find work. I decided to continue my studio practice as an artist while I dealt with not being able to find work. I ended up accepting a full-time job answering telephones in a doctor’s office. It was long days with very little pay and not remotely what I wanted to be doing with myself. Around this time, I had made a bag and listed it for sale on Etsy. A few days later someone purchased it. I was so excited that I listed it again…and another person purchased it! This kept going like that for a few months. By that time, I was so miserable at my job that I quit to focus on Moop full time. It was not making a lot at that point but, it was enough for me to justify leaving and not paying for childcare any longer. When I made the decision to focus on Moop as my career, I established www.moopshop.com – I saw that as the only way I would be able to grow my brand into something people would remember for years to come. That was 9 years ago. It’s still going strong!
So great to hear that! Juggling a business while raising a family is never easy, how did you do it?
Parenting while building a career is a constant challenge for any working Mom. I’m sure there are a few instances where men take on the work and parenting roles but for the most part, working women bear the brunt of that daily struggle. It helps to find camaraderie in other working Moms. Trading babysitting or meals or having someone to talk to who can relate is definitely helpful. I have had many people come in and out of my life for whom we have been that for each other. I was a single parent for the first 7 years of my daughter’s life and am now a single parent again. I’ve always tried to keep my studio close to home or in the most ideal situations, in a location that my daughter can get to on her own. I feel best when I am accessible to her and can balance both of our daily needs easily.
What’s one thing you’ve learnt from this journey with Moop that just stuck with you?
I’ve learned so much over the last 9 years..things that have helped me to be a better business person, a better friend and a better designer. For the first 8 years, I rarely took time for myself. That was detrimental. I’ve been working on making sure my personal needs are met along with my daily work needs. I am better at all of my daily responsibilities when I have to remember to consider my own personal needs on top of the business needs.What was the turning point in your business?
What was the turning point in your business?
About a year and a half ago my entire life turned upside down. My lead assistant moved on to another position, I divorced, I relocated my studio and then my home and started to re-build. It was this chain of events that led me to really evaluate the kind of business I was running. I had been working almost 7 days a week since the very beginning, in 2007. My days were long, I was tied to the studio and production at all times and I had started to feel burned out on what I was doing and how I was living my life. So, I started making changes in how I operated the business. I’ve been slowly stepping back from the production line, training more people to stitch for me, which in turn gives me more energy to focus on growing the business and keeping my creative drive. It has been a slow process but one that has brought me to an exciting place of growth and progress. 2016 is shaping up to be a very good year.
That’s amazing.. Very happy for you, Wendy! How do you stay creatively driven then? Where do you often get your inspirations?
I try to exercise on a regular basis. Intense cardio is where my most creatively driven thoughts come from. It helps to keep me balanced emotionally, physically and professionally. I also make sure to take time for my friends and family. Meaningful time, not related to work. Building relationships has reminded me of why any of us do the work we do. Building your community and support network helps to make you better at everything you do. I tend to surround myself with other creatively driven people and other small business owners. I love to ride my bike. Pittsburgh has great trails around the city and water ways. When the weather is nice, I love to go camping. Or take a cabin weekend in the woods. Being surrounded by trees always makes me feel good. I also love Instagram! I’m an image based person and I love to see everyone’s beautiful messes.
Any creative trends you’re excited about at the moment?
I’m really on board with things in the pink colorway right now. I never thought I would be. I tend to wear all grays and blacks but, we’ve recently added some bags made with deep magenta waxed canvas and they have become the pop of color I’ve wanted in my day to day styling.
Over the years, what has changed for Moop and what did you keep the same?
So much has changed and so much has stayed the same! I believe in slow and steady growth. Apparently, I also believe in moving my studio regularly. Ha! We are relocating again in a few months… for the long term this time! We’ll be opening a retail store along side our manufacturing space. It’s an exciting venture and one I can’t wait to grow. It will allow me to help and support other small independent designers.
We can’t wait for it to unfold. Any advice you have for aspiring makers out there?
Just do it! The internet is a valuable tool, one that if leveraged properly will help you build your career.
Thanks Wendy! P.S. It also happens to be their 9th birthday this week, so hop on over to Moop Shop and give them some birthday love!
Photo credits: Moop Shop
.. Moop Shop