Vibrantly Blue owner creates embroidered dish towels, placements while building family business :: WRAL.com
Vibrantly Blue launched because Jen London, a mom of three kids in North Raleigh, couldn’t find exactly what she was looking for. Today, the maker of towels, placements and small batch handmade soaps, who also has worked in e-commerce for 15 years, has gotten serious about the small business.
“Vibrantly Blue is a great way for me to mix my knowledge of internet marketing with a product line of my own,” London tells me.
Vibrantly Blue is a featured business in Go Ask Mom’s annual Made by Mom Gift Guide. Find out more about the business in my Q&A with London below. And stay tuned for more Q&As of the mom-owned businesses featured in the 2019 guide!
Go Ask Mom: How did Vibrantly Blue get its start?
Jen London: Vibrantly Blue started as a way to make items for other people that I couldn’t find myself. I would go online to shop for cute towels to hang in my bathroom or kitchen as an easy way to decorate throughout the year, and I couldn’t find anything I liked! The same thing happened with placemats.
With three kids, I *need * placemats. I want them to look fresh and bright, but I couldn’t find any designs I could picture on my dining room table. I fixed the problem by teaching myself how to make these things so that we could enjoy them – and others could too!
GAM: What all do you offer and where can people find you?
JL: We offer placemats and embroidered dish towels, as well as small batch handmade soaps to complement the towel designs. The soap and dish packages make great teachers or hostess gifts! I offer table runners and quilts, but the bulk of our business is with towels, soaps and placemats. I have an Etsy shop and a website as well.
We regularly exhibit at craft shows throughout the year, including the Christmas Carousel at the Jim Graham Building at the Fairgrounds the weekend after Thanksgiving. That show will be a great one to come and see our products. Our events are always listed on the website or our Instagram page: @VibrantlyBlue.
GAM: What do you love about what you do and what you’re able to create?
JL: There are two great parts of this business. The first is that every member of my family contributes in their own unique way. My stepson usually helps me to set up the booth for the craft shows, while my husband makes the small batch soaps we combine with the towels as gift packages. I have two girls and my older one loves to meet the people as they come into the booth. Both also help by ironing the towels, taping the labels on or telling me when my embroidery machines have stopped running, which means I need to get back to work!
I tell customers that I have the best Research and Development team in the industry. Everything I sell is something that we use in our family on a daily basis. With three kids, I can tell each customer that the item they have bought from me will last. Our placemats are reversible because I’ve never had a dinner without something being spilled mid-meal. Our dish towels can be spot-bleached because I don’t know how something purple got on the white towel, but it will come out! My products have been thoroughly tested by three kids of three very different ages and they still look great.
The second part I love is hearing the stories about where the items are going. Customers will tell me their plans for the items – new homes where the placemats will be “perfect,” sisters who love Snoopy and will be so excited to have it in a towel design, favorite teachers who love the smell of peppermint with the soap packages. My motivation for starting the business was for other people to enjoy these items as much as we do in our home, so the stories bring each purchase to life.
When customers return to tell me about their friend’s reaction to the gift, it really is the best part of my day. It’s an incredibly rewarding moment for me!
GAM: What’s been the biggest challenge launching Vibrantly Blue?
JL: Having worked in the online space for 15 years, I’m very comfortable and familiar with how to advertise online. Selling in person is a very different platform with many more components to consider. At my first craft show, I forgot to bring shopping bags!
We’ve done enough shows now to have our Checklist to Pack, but learning how to sell your items in person and where to sell them has been a learning curve for me. Some craft show attendees are just not interested in what I have to offer, while other shows are nonstop business. There has been a huge influx of craft shows in the Raleigh and Durham area, and learning which shows to attend has been a new education for me.
GAM: What are your hopes for the future of your business?
JL: I want to keep this business going for many, many years to come. We create items that you don’t “need,” but they are the little things that make you smile when you walk into the room. A bathroom or kitchen just feels more like “yours” when you see a towel hanging with a design that made you laugh or looks beautiful in your space.
I love the idea of my family continuing to work on this business together over the years. Each time we go to a show, my children are learning something about running a business, interacting with other people of all ages, designing something that others will enjoy. We all work on this business together and it’s hard work – and that is a great lesson to be able to show your kids in real time.
Go Ask Mom features local moms every Monday — and even more often in November and December as part of the Made by Mom Gift Guide.