Thursday, September 10, 2009

As Promised, An Interview with the Long Family

It's a rare thing these days to see a husband and wife stick together. Even more rare that they're kids hang around, But to go so far as to see them all working together, liking it and having success at the same time? When Andrea and I observe the Long family, we see more than a cottage industry. We see a vision for marriage, for family, for entrepreneurship as ordered in scripture. So, now you know why we are so intrigued. We had to ask, "what is it like to be a part of a family vision like Marie~Madeline Studios. Here are their answers. Enjoy!

How was the Marie Madeline Studios born? What inspired it?
We've always loved to sew and make all kinds of things! Back in 2006, we bought a book from Amazon and decided to try our hand at making bags. We loved the concept of carrying bags we'd made for ourselves, and when we were out in town other ladies would ask about them. Soon after, we started drafting our own bag patterns, using a lot of details we found in old movies. It was actually Dad who suggested we start selling our designs. From there we branched out into making aprons and some clothes for sweet little girls we knew (thus our girls' clothing). It was actually another Christian quilt store owner in Texas that encouraged us to experiment with pattern making and producing. Just recently we came out with our first design for ladies (street fair skirts).
2. The name is your grandmother's? Is that right?
"Marie" is the middle name of our paternal grandmother. "Madeline" is the middle name of our maternal great-grandmother.
3. Where does the streak of creativity come from for your designs?
The Lord has blessed us tremendously by filling our heads with an overflow of ideas! As we mentioned earlier, we enjoy looking at vintage details and incorporating them into our designs.
4. How did you learn the sewing craft?
From our mom and maternal grandmother, Nanny, most of all. But both our maternal great-grandmothers sewed and quilted. We girls have been surrounded by sewing supplies and fabric for as long as we can remember!
5. What business background did y'all have when you started Marie-Madeline Studios?
Actually, we've had no former business experience at all! The closest is what our Dad saw while working as a young man at his grandfather's western wear store in Austin, TX, in the 1980s.
6. What resources do you reference, if any, for making business decisions, whether it be other sites and the example they model, or preferred business books, or people etc.?
Mainly, we ask God for wisdom. Crystal Paine and her business course for Christian young ladies was very helpful to us.
7. What sort of decisions have you had to make that were outside your comfort zone? What encouraged you to make that step?
Honestly, starting a business was out of our comfort zone! Dad was our main encourager, telling us that there was really a market for the things we make.
8. Do you all work on different aspects of your home industry? Are you finding different niches and ways to invest your different giftings? (i.e. accounting, sales, marketing, production, innovation, field research, etc.)
We absolutely LOVE working together! On any given day you might find the four of us girls and Mom around a 4'x9' countertop that's covered with fabric, pins, rulers, patterns, etc. When it's time for work without talk, you will usually find Apphia drafting patterns and writing/illustrating instructions. (Apphia's actually the only one that The Lord has blessed with drawing abilities.) She also test sews the patterns and makes a lot of samples. When it comes to cutting fabrics into fat quarters and yard cuts, Achaia is the one. She also sews custom orders and spends a lot of time working with customers through our Etsy shop. Abigail does a whole lot of the sewing! She is a very creative member of our design team. Abigail and Abiah came up with our new happy scrappy quilt! Abiah, as the youngest, doesn't sew quite as much, but she helps wherever we need her (packaging orders or writing invoices). Abiah also takes most of the pictures while the older girls "model". As the oldest, Apphia and Achaia do the majority of the blogging, website updating, and other computer work. Mom does the accounting (and is teaching us all how to do that, too), some sewing, and the daily planning and organizing of jobs. She also spends time checking into new fabrics and ideas. And, naturally, when we're in a serious time bind, we all just pitch in and work together until the job's done!
9. How important is it to y'all to talk together about the direction & vision of Marie-Madeline Studios? Who is in on that vision talk (if there is one)?
It's pretty important for us to think about where we want and need to go with marie-madeline studio! We discuss business six days a week (especially Mom, Apphia, and Achaia). For little decisions or bouncing around ideas (should we list more on Etsy, what colors should we use for our pattern fronts, etc.) we ladies do the discussing and "deciding". For any major direction (should we start making and selling quilts, do we want to branch out in other ways, etc.) we come to Dad with a list and all talk about it together.
10. How does running a cottage industry benefit your father's vision for his family?
From Dad: "By encouraging unity and productivity, while providing opportunity to bless others in the name of The Lord, within the Biblical framework of being keepers at home."

Be sure to visit their wonderful blog to stay in tune with the goings ons, and for tutorials and instructions as well. And consider signing up for their newsletter too! Thank you Long family! It's been a pleasure getting to know y'all!


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the interview!

Hannah said...

I like the interview but have two complaints... the text is a little small and the pink text is killer on the eyes. But otherwise good interview.

I have just bought my first pattern from them (yesterday) and can't wait to make it. They are very nice young ladies and readily answer questions.

God bless.


Danielle said...

Loved the interview!! Great job!

Western Warmth said...

Thanks, that was fun to read!

Anonymous said...

I love the family pictures! Very good!

Jordan said...

Thank you for posting this interview. I love their website, and it's interesting to hear about the business from the family themselves.