Mompreneur Sabrina D. Hicks, 31, of Lake Norman, began Grace and London LLC in 2008 in response to an economic challenge she and her husband were facing. What started as a way to help pay the bills has blossomed into a successful and thriving compay with a 1,500 percent sales increase one year.
Q. How did Grace and London LLC begin?
A. In 2008 our family was going through a hardship, I was a stay at home mom and we were on a single income. My husband was working as a finance manager at a car dealership when the automotive industry took a nosedive. I wanted to do whatever I could to help pay the bills.
I had just gotten a sewing machine from my in-laws for my birthday and taught myself to sew, soon I was making dresses for my girls. I turned my new love of sewing into a way to make a profit and began sewing dresses and selling the to local clothing boutiques. The clothing line brand was Grace and London, after my daughters Ella Grace and Katherine London.
Q. What products do Grace and London manufacture?
A. The Chair Apron
Q. Are you working on any new products?
A. Oh how I wish I could let the cat out of the bag...but I can give hints. Yes we are, we will launch at the Americasmart later this month. I have designed all the new fabrics, and will be introducing new products to our Grace and London Home Brand.
Q. How did you get the idea for the Chair Apron?
A. Our dining room was my "aka" sweat shop. I took a break from sewing to make my daughter lunch one afternoon. As I put her bowl of mac and cheese down, I said wait a minute..let me get a towel. As I placed the towel on the chair I thought there has got to be a better way than this! I sat down and goggled my little heart out only to come up empty handed. Thats when I decided to make one. I called my mom and said, "this is it, this is it, Ive got it! I was so excited I Skyped with her and held it up it looked very much like an apron, and the Chair Apron was born.
Q. How do they work?
A. Chair Aprons fit right over existing chair seats and ties around the back with a securing buckle/tie which fastens on the underside.
Q. What materials are the Chair Aprons made out of?
A. Linen/polyester blend with Nano-tex technology making them spill and stain repellant. They are cotton and available in trendy design prints and colors.
Q. How many different Chair Apron designs do you have? Are you working on any new designs?
A. We have two designs and we are always working hard to make a more universal fit. Yes, we also have a new design underway!
Q. Which is your favorite?
A. My go to is vintage flax. I have this one on my dining chairs and barstools. I do however love changing out my chair in my foyer and at my desk.
Q. Do you have any tips for other Mompreneurs in the beginning stages of designing their own product?
A. My biggest advice is go with your gut and your heart. If you are passionate about what you do and believe in what you do, you will succeed. So many times we can find ourselves questioning our decisions and wondering how others will perceive it. The truth is it has to be a reflection of you - and know it won't be for everyone, and be ok with that. DO NOT GIVE UP, just when I thought I couldn't do it anymore I would pray about it, I would always get another order to keep me going.
Q. What helped you the most in getting your product and name out there?
A. I have grown very organically I am a happy for that. What really launched us into the marketplace was showing at the Ameriasmart trade show in January 2012.
Q. How were you able to manage family life with starting a new business?
A. My husband works crazy long hours, so it is usually just me. My in-laws and friends have helped me out tremendously when things are super busy. There is always something that has to give. I usually let the house keeping and home cooked meals go first. My appearance usually goes second. There aren't enough hours in the day to be perfect, and even if there were I could only maintain for about a week or so.
Where are Chair Aprons sold in Charlotte?
A. They are available at Poppies in Birkdale Village, next to Eez restaurant.
You can find Chair Aprons online at: www.chairapron.com