This is the first “official” blogpost here on the MiniLou blog. Things have been hectic since the launch just three weeks ago. Okay, hectic doesn’t really describe it. Crazy is a better word!
I’ve been putting off writing this post because writing isn’t my strong suit. To put it more bluntly, I have a fear of writing—writing from my heart, being vulnerable, and telling you the personal reasons I created MiniLou. So anyway, here it goes.
My name is Carina Gardner and if you have heard of me, you know me for fabric…or scrapbooking…or Deseret Book…or some other thing I design. You can find my design/craft blog at www.carinagardner.com.
I love being a designer. But becoming a designer was a really long process for me. Somewhere between elementary school and high school, I had decided I wasn’t a creative person. It took getting a BA in Marketing and desperately wanting to create my own advertising pieces to motivate me to apply to a design program. Through teaching and graduate work in design, I found that not only was I innately creative but I could be taught how to design and be creative.
And that is where the story of MiniLou begins—with the basic belief that creativity is a learned behavior. I think somewhere along the road something makes us feel uncreative. Or something scares us into not taking chances. I’m a prime example of this. I remember loving art as a child, but then turned to other things in high school because I didn’t feel self confident about my art.
And even though I’m a designer now, sometimes I can get in a creative rut. This is how MiniLou began—in the midst of one of these ruts.
A year ago I was feeling really uninspired. So as a creative exercise, I gave myself a challenge to just illustrate something for my kids to make them happy. I drew a little girl and boy kitty. I colored them. Gave them outfits. I let myself enjoy the process. My girls, Siri and Felicity, fell in love with them so I started telling them stories about these kitties at bedtime. Before I knew it, I had designed a full paper doll set for my girls to play with.
Something about the process, the way my girls played with the dolls, and the nostalgia I felt for the paper dolls, really hit home for me. Suddenly I knew I wanted to DO something with these paper dolls. Give children the tools to be imaginative. To be creative. Create stuff I would buy for my own children to play with.
From that moment on, I worked on building MiniLou. From working with some amazing illustrators to traveling to China (The photo above is my trip to Hong Kong to do press checks), a lot has happened since I started down this road. There have been struggles but one thing has always remained true—for me MiniLou is about bringing creative tools to children—which is why this business is so personal and meaningful to me as a mother.
I am so hopeful that your children (and you) will love what we are trying to accomplish at MiniLou. Every product’s size, functionality, and illustrations are thought out, worried over, and mom-tested in our offices. For example, instead of making a regular-sized coloring book, I wanted a coloring book that would fit in my purse and was the perfect travel companion plus quiet book. Add all those things to great illustrations and thoughtful subject matter. It is a labor of love to create each of these products.
That’s a little one how I got started and I hope that you join us as we continue down this creative journey. Thank you for all the support you have brought already! It is so meaningful to me. We look forward to being a part of your creative family!
Owner of MiniLou