Designer of the Week - Bubblegum Couture

Name: Jennifer

Where do you live: Sunny Southern California

How old are you? 34

Do you have any children, if so what ages? My two boys are Connor , 7 ½; and Mason who is 5 ½. Never did I think I'd join the "pink club" but it was in the stars…my pint-size model, Isabelle, is 2 ½ and quite the little dramatic these days!

Current auctions: bubblegum*couture

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1. When did you get started sewing and creating? Who taught you?

My sewing conjures up memories of many a happy day spent with my Grandma, Annabelle, in her sewing room. She raised nine children and family pictures pay tribute to her amazing sewing ability. She had sewed elaborately detailed dresses, bonnets and purses for all her girls every holiday. Many of the fabrics I sew with now remind me our special time together - while I watched, chatted and played as she sewed. She had an expensive embroidery machine which I actually used to sew the first outfit I made for Isabelle! I'm sure she smiled the whole time it hummed away as I sewed with it…I've since purchased my own machines but that one is priceless. After two boys, Isabelle's arrival was definitely the little silent push for me to create heirlooms for her and really use all that I had been taught.

I hold sewing near n' dear to my heart because it's a skill that the women in my family have passed along to each other. My Mom was lucky to have both my Grandmother and her Aunt teach her everything they knew. My Great Aunt Almira has worked in the garment industry for years (on the retail, manufacturing and designing sides) and is a passionate perfectionist when it comes to sewing techniques. Even now, I'm fortunate to have my Mom show me something and often she'll attribute it to Aunt Almira. I can almost hear her thick Italian accent as she showed my Mom the same thing years ago…

2. When did you start selling your designs on eBay? Do you sell anywhere else besides eBay, if so where? (example, web site, local boutique) What did you do before eBay?

I began selling on ebay about a year ago. Last Fall, I was invited to do two high-profile charity boutiques locally and sewed (and sewed!) in anticipation to have items to sell. The response was beyond my expectations. From those two events, I really expanded my local customer base this year and have maintained a nice stream of custom orders by word-of-mouth and from visitors to my web site.

I have worked in public relations for many years with my last position being for a global firm as an executive in their consumer group. I now own my own public relations consulting firm and work two days a week. I've found sewing and p.r. to be the perfect balance. Sewing provides me with alone "me" quiet time to create whereas public relations gives me the opportunity to creatively assist clients in a fast-paced business environment and a little break from wiping dirty faces and playing referee!

2a. Do you remember the first outfit you sold on eBay. Do you have a picture? What was it and what did it sell for?

The first outfit I sold on ebay was a China Doll Spice lounge set. I think my husband was the one to first see that someone had bid on it and I remember giggling with glee when he told me. I believe that it sold for around $80. It was a great feeling to know that someone found my creation to be something they had to have!

3. How did you decide upon your name .

In my profession, I've been charged with naming companies, products and branding all aspects of businesses. And, I knew that naming this would be much more fun than naming a microprocessor chip or an automobile! One of my favorite past clients was Baskin-Robbins and we had to come up with their Flavor-of-the-Month names all the time. I wanted my name to be something like those that we came up with - fresh, yummy and appealing to the ear. I sought a name that would evoke nostalgia, fun and colorful "flavor." Bubblegum is certainly colorful and sweet; a treat that satisfies and brings a smile. And, for parents, it lends an aura of childhood nostalgia. Couture was a given because it was important that the name define the finished product: "highly fashionable, usually custom-made clothing." After asking several trusted creative friends and family, Bubblegum Couture was it!

4. Do you belong to any boutique group and if so which one? How did you get started in that group? What do you like most about your particular group?

Since I bought my first item on ebay in 2000, (a deep blue 1876 antique Mason jar from Australia for my then-newborn son, Mason), I've found it to be a great place to browse, acquire and happen upon wonderful people during the course of transactions. I currently am not a member of a boutique group but am certain that being a part of a group provides designer members with the best of all that I've experienced in my most memorable transactions. Many of the great theme auctions groups post make it obvious that behind the listings, there's camaraderie, friendship, creative teamwork and fun in groups which I know I would love

5. What is your favorite thing to create? (example: vintage style dresses, totes, overalls, etc) Why?

I'd have to say I find the most satisfaction in creating pants and dress ensemble sets with very luxurious fabrics - embroidered silks, eyelets with sheen, three-dimensional, textured fabrics or from a piece of vintage textile so pretty history that you can only imagine its storied history. My inspiration for favoring these type of creations comes from a beautiful Easter outfit from my Grandmother that I wore on my second Easter. It's a French pink coat dress appliquéd with Mary and her little lambs with matching ruffled lace pantaloons. It's vintage now and the craftmen/womenship has allowed it to stand the test of time. I was a very misty-eyed Mommy when Isabelle wore it on her second Easter, too. So, my hope is to create outfits that will be worn on a special occasion and maybe because of the fabric and design, will be more apt to become heirlooms just like the "Little Lamb" set my daughter and I shared.

6. What are your favorite types of fabrics or fabric designers? Why?

I'm well on my way to becoming a tried and true "fabricaholic." I'm personally drawn to floral prints, especially retro ones that have colors that pop and there is something enjoyable about creating a set with a yummy vintage fabric with just enough to make one for select few lucky little ones. Michael Miller and Robert Kaufman are both so whimsical and I adore Amy Butler and Moda for the coordinating options and vintage-inspired prettiness they offer.

7. Where and when do you do most of your sewing? Are you neat about it or do you have fabric covering the floor!

If my husband had his druthers, the large bonus room in our home would be his home entertainment theatre getaway. HOWever, it has slowly become my sewing studio instead. Visitors from Germany became the excuse to "tag" the room as my own after having to move my fabrics from my downstairs office to make it more "guest presentable." My favorite part of the room is a large, beautiful dark wood table for sewing because it's perfect for my machines and has wonderful drawers.

I usually prep (cut) to sew during the day and sew a few evenings a week after my wee ones are in bed, especially on nights when there isn't "riveting" reality t.v. to pull me away.

I now have all my fabrics stored by type (chenilles, cottons, luxe fabrics, vintage) nicely in containers so I can see them easily. I dream of making it much more efficient (and pretty!) and do admit to watching every HGTV craft room makeover with envy at the finished results! And, I recently read The Domestic Diva's organizing articles on Journal Modiste. Something important for the to-do list!

I make it habit to pick up everything before I stop sewing so that the space doesn't get out of control and I'd hate for one of the kids to happen into the room and get into anything they shouldn't.

Every gal has a downfall and I have to admit that while my sewing studio is generally clean, folding patterns back just so is my definite weakness because I'm too anxious to begin sewing!

8. What other things do you enjoy besides sewing?

I adore my three little ones and they constantly fill me with wonder and inspire me to take a breath and enjoy the moment. Some of our best times are spent in tickle marathons or dancing in the den with the music up really loud. If I'm not spending time swimming with them, running or watching the boys play sports, my husband and I are entertaining for friends and family. I'm a self-confessed home décor aficionado, too, so you can usually find me shopping for great accessories or buying some cool threads for my own closet! A voracious reader, I also enjoy spending time with my hubby or I'm at my computer and live by the motto, "She who dies with the best invites and stationery wins!"

9.Anything else you would like to add?

In this fast-paced, Internet-based world of ours, it would be easy for sewing to become a lost art. I think it's amazing that so many talented women in ebay's boutique community have successfully embraced sewing and have done so with such creativity and fun. My hope is that someday Isabelle will love it, too. Thanks for a fun interview!

Some past Bubblegum Couture Designs

To view past Designers of the Week Click Here

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