When I met Sarah, designer and artisan behind By George! Baby Boutique, she was a grad school student who just so happened to be my little sister’s roommate and bff. But now having graduated and hit the road for home up north, this collegiate is making a new name for herself in the artful sewing industry creating heirloom pieces for your little ones. I can’t get enough of her style (I’m considering adding a nursery to our home ONLY because of her adorable textiles) and couldn’t help but invite her here to share the details on her budding business.
When did you start your Etsy shop? What’s the story behind the name “By George!”?
In real life, By George! officially launched in mid-August of this year. In my daydreams, however, I had been pairing fabrics together and scribbling out quilt designs for the better part of a year. It took me a little while to put together an inventory and to hone my skills to the point at which I felt comfortable selling things (I’m a bit of a perfectionist).
And the shop’s name? Ack! This is an embarrassing, soul-bearing moment, but here goes. I have a bit of girl-crush (okay, huge obsession with) Kate Middleton, and a resulting love of wonderfully cute Prince George. When I was spending my time thinking of the baby boutique I wanted to open I tried to think of a way to incorporate the name George, and the phrase, “by George!” kept popping into my mind. (To get the full effect you need to imagine saying, “by George!” in a Downton Abbey-esque aristocratic accent.) And thus, a brand was born! So dorky, but I think it works.
What lead you to start dabbling in sewing? How did you learn the art?
I was actually finishing a Master’s degree in English when I felt the burning passion to begin sewing. I felt completely unfulfilled in many ways, and I desperately needed a creative outlet. I didn’t have a sewing machine while I was away at school but I started ordering fabric by the boatload, spending hours daydreaming of patterns and designs while I should have been working on my thesis.
Just so we’re clear, I did get my degree! But I finished a semester early, moved home and enrolled straightaway in a quilting class at my local fabric store. I learned the quilting basics and just ran with the knowledge. Quilts are definitely my favorite item to make, though they are time consuming.
Where do you find your inspiration?
I think my inspiration definitely starts with the fabrics I’m using. I am so inspired by the beautiful designs that these fabric designers come up with! Leah Duncan, who designs for the luxurious-feeling Art Gallery Fabrics, is probably my favorite fabric designer. I am especially in love with her florals, as the quilts in my shop will attest.
I usually find a print that really speaks to me and from there I kind of imagine how I would incorporate it into my shop. Some things I know right away will make a gorgeous quilt backing, while others I see as Boppy covers or crib sheets. It’s also fun to then think about how I would design the quilt’s front around a backing print. That’s the really fun part for me.
Your shop (colors, patterns, etc.) is so cohesive! What are your tips for creating a unified brand?
Thanks, Carrie! I have definitely made a conscious effort to achieve a cohesive look. When I think about myself as a consumer, I know that I’m always drawn to stores, and even Instagram accounts, for example, that look as if they tell a consistent story. It’s just what catches my eye.
So for me, when I’m picking the fabrics I’m going to use, I remind myself of the aesthetic I’m trying to achieve and I sometimes have to reevaluate whether or not a certain color or design “goes.” Because I’m designing to my taste, which is fairly specific, it isn’t often that I decide I need to exclude something, but it has happened.
I guess ultimately my advice for others who are developing a brand is to go with your gut!
(I would like to note: I realize that my taste may not be for everyone, so I do take custom orders and I am thrilled to work with people who have their own specific vision of how they want their nurseries to look!)
Thanks for welcoming us into your world Sarah! To celebrate the launch of By George! Sarah has graciously offered to give each of you 20% off your first purchase with coupon code “GrandOpeningDGD,” now through September 30th. Happy shopping!