She's offering a special to all of our readers, 15% off any purchase over $15. Code is MOMMYSTORIES2013!
Thank you, Karleen!
All photos from Karleen Frost
Autism Awareness bracelet:
Karleen's Ideas 117 Fletcher St Kennebunk Maine 207-467-3580
Website - http://karleensideas.com/
Etsy - https://www.etsy.com/shop/KarleensIdeas Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/pages/Karleens-Ideas/120175526844?ref=hl
Autism Blog - This blog is about Project Giggle I have going on right now in my shop. - http://redonautism.blogspot.com/
1. How did you start your business?
I have always loved to create. When I was a in my teens I would make jewelry & shell crafts for my Mother's Craft Shop. After graduating from high school I went to work and lost track of crafting until we went on vacation in 2003 to Florida. Collecting Sea Shell reminding me of the uniqueness of each shell and it brought back my drive to create.
It started off as just a hobby & making gifts but then I started sewing which opened up a whole new world for me to create. A few years later Donald's OT asked me if I could try making a weighted blanket. She explained to me that parents cannot afford the costs that many large companies were charging. I did a lot of research and made a couple, they were a huge success with the kids. As I made the blankets and learned more about Sensory Issues children with Autism have, ideas flowed on ways to help kids and I knew this was my calling.
Why did you want your own business?
Even when I was a very young girl I knew I wanted to have my own store one day. Although when I was 6, I insisted it would be a Fish Store. LOL
When did you start your business?
In 2007 it was mostly word of mouth orders and through the years it has built up with Facebook & my website. November 2011 I transformed our porch into a shop as I can shut the door to the rest of the house. I had wanted to open a shop downtown but it is a tough economy & I need to be available for the boys so this was a perfect compromise. December 10, 2011 I opened Karleen's Ideas.
2. What does the name of your business mean?
Karleen's Ideas - When a child has a Sensory Need, I can come up with an idea to help. When someone wants to buy the perfect personal gift, I have an idea on what to make.
How did you come up with the title?
Through the years I have heard 'what a great idea' hence Karleen's Ideas.
3. What does your shop specialize in?
Jewelry, Shell Art, One of a Kind Gifts, Sewn Items & Sensory Items for children with Autism & Sensory Processing Disorder.
What is your favorite item to make?
Personal Bracelets, whether it is a Mother’s Bracelet, Birthday bracelet, Anniversary bracelet, Memorial bracelet, I know that bracelet has special meaning for the person who receives it and I make it with love.
4. How do you get inspiration and ideas for items to make?
My love for children.
5. How long does it take you to make items?
Varies on what it is. Bracelets take 1.5 hours, weighted blankets take 2.5 to 4 hours depending on the size and my Shell Art take anywhere from a few minutes to 10 hours.
When do you make your items mostly , what time of day?
Sewing & Shell Art I make during the day and Jewelry I make at night after the boys go to bed.
What do you do while creating something - tv on? music on?
I always have the TV on while I create, especially at Christmas time as I watch Christmas movies non-stop as I love the Magic of Christmas.
6. Take me step by step through sending someone's package to them.. what special things do you include in there ? How do you wrap them up?
I either box the item or wrap it in tissue with a sticker that says 'packed with love' and I include a 'thank you' card.
Do you get nervous when you send packages to people?
I am always nervous with anticipation when sending an item out. Hoping my Sensory item will help a child sleep through the night, keep calm in school or relax enough to have a haircut. Or that my personal gift will bring a smile to a person face every time they look at it.
7. What is your success rate?
So far everyone has loved and cherished an item they bought. The most rewarding response is when a parent tells me that their child is now able to sleep through the night.
How many orders so far?
I only joined Etsy this year so my Etsy orders are at 60. But through my FB page, website & shop I would say about 250.
Down Syndrome awareness ornament
8. Why do you think people should buy homemade items?
Homemade items are made with love as the designer has chosen this profession because it allows them to do what they love.
9. What are your favorite homemade sellers to buy from?
I do not have a favorite as I like to try to buy from various shops to spread the love around.
10. How does your business allow you to be a great mother?
I have four children, my daughter is grown and on her own while my boys are 5, 7, & 12. My three boys have Autism which means I need to be ready for anything. Having my shop at my house & on Etsy allows me to available to be an aid for Karl & Kyle at school when needed for field trips or large assemblies. It allows me to be home keeping the house on track so they can have a structured life which helps them be successful. I am also hoping to help other children in Maine as I was recently voted onto the Maine Developmental Disabilities Council.
11. What do you think would surprise readers to know about you?
I am a very strong advocate for my boys and Autism, many think that I am negative because I speak up (or write) when people have been wronged. I am actually a very positive person that has learned staying quiet does not change things.
I have always believed in the phrase ‘Children are our future.’
Many did not speak up for me when I was younger so I understand what it is like to be a child without a voice and vowed that I will be the voice for my children and other children when needed whether it is good or bad.
The success of my boys comes from the fact that I do not conform to what others think I should do but from the fact that I think out of the box and stand up for what is right.
12. What is the coolest thing you've ever created? Why?
Over the summer a friend brought a dress to me to be altered for her to wear to a wedding. It was a cute white eyelet dress, when trying it on she showed me the shoes she was planning to wear. Well I believe in being an honest friend so I told her they didn’t match. Knowing she is very busy with her boys & work I told her I was running errands late that week and would find her the perfect pair of shoes and that I would make her jewelry to match. I found a cute pair of coral colored sandals with a small heel, they were the perfect match. I then bought white and coral Mother of Pearl beads to match. I created a One of a Kind necklace, bracelet & earrings set for her. Since she normally likes basic slim jewelry, I created a set that was a little out of her comfort zone as I knew it would look stunning on her and she loved it. She messaged me later telling me she felt like Cinderella going to the ball. I love to design an item that I know will be perfect for the person
13. What has been your biggest challenge?
Getting locals to realize that while my shop is at my house, the shop is closed off from the rest of the house. I understand that it may seem weird to come to a person's house but once I close the front door you do not see the rest of my house you are only seeing the many items I have made. I wish people would understand that shopping at a home based business means that they get more attention from the business owner. For my customers it means that I learn more about you and your loved ones so I know what to create even before you ask. A few months ago I saw a cute pair of porcelain Owl beads and knew they would make the perfect gift for a friend. Her husband & children just picked the gift I made with them to give my friend for her Birthday next week. I loved looking at the kids eyes light up as they looked at what I created.