I’m Laura. An artist, wife, mom and grandmother. I'm the face behind Mama Bleu Designs and I have an unquenchable thirst for creating with my hands. Creativity has always been a part of my life so it was only natural for me to turn it into a business.
I grew up in Sierra Madre, a small town in Southern California at the foothills of the San Gabriel mountains. It’s a place that I love so I never left. The community encourages art and it’s not uncommon to see the work of local artists hanging in the coffee shops, restaurants and city hall.
Our home is just a 10 minute stroll from the center of town and when we walk out from under the large oak trees that surround our house, we have a beautiful view of the mountains. My studio is a room that we added onto our home during an extensive remodel just after we purchased it over 25 years ago. Being a cabinet maker and third generation carpenter my husband generously outfitted my room with plenty of windows, workspace and storage. The morning sun pours into my studio space and creates an inviting place for me to start my day.
I love to learn new things so after I was initially introduced to handcrafting techniques like sewing, knitting and needle crafts as a child it was only natural for me to read and take classes to learn more about other ways to create. My path to a college art degree exposed me to painting, illustration, ceramics and graphic design. After getting married at a young age and being fortunate enough to be a stay-at-home mom I found ways to use what I learned and bring it into my life.
Watching the example of my parents and grandparents as they entrepreneured their way into successful businesses, I considered launching my own creative business from time to time. Without the encouragement that the handmade community offers today and the launching pad that etsy provides, my past efforts never really moved past the hobby level. Things changed for me about two and a half years ago when I made a stronger connection with my passion to create handmade goods and share them with others. That is when I decided to open my etsy shop.
Some of my fondest memories growing up are connected with sewing. I learned to sew from my mom and she learned to sew from her mother. As a teenager I would spend my weekends browsing through fabric stores or in front of my hand-me-down sewing machine. A couple of decades later and nothing much has changed!
I think I inherited the love of vintage, well-loved things from my mom. Pieces of furniture that have been passed from one family to another and wear their patina-stained colors well. One of my favorite things is the feel and look of faded handmade quilts. When I make piles of fabric yo-yos for my personalized clutches I draw inspiration from a collection of quilts that my mom and grandmother have passed on to me.
Something that I wish I had more time to do but still draw inspiration from is gardening. I love the colors, shapes and sounds of nature. The idea of Mama Bleu was actually born from times when birds would visit me while working in my vegetable garden.
My week is divided between working in my studio and caring for my grandchildren. The two days a week that Kyla (2) and Micah (4) spend with me are opportunities for me to encourage creativity and art play. Part of our time together is spent in my studio. They will paint or color or play with my fabrics will I sit at the sewing machine. Kyla is fascinated with my machine and loves to sit in my lap and watch the needle go up and down. I think she is a sewer in training!
Other than the weekend, I only have 2 full days in my studio each week. Those are my marathon days and I try to squeeze in as much as I can from mid morning to late night. Lots of coffee or tea and music play a big role in keeping me going on those long days.
Right after the new year in 2012 I had a bride ask me if I would take one of my stitched illustrations and put it on a clutch for her. This one thing changed the course of my business. Ever since then I’ve worked with dozen of brides and love how I can add something special to their wedding celebration!
One of the most rewarding parts of my business is hearing back from my customers about the way my handmade items have brought joy into someone’s day!
Laura || Mama Bleu Designs