Fawn + Cub is heading to our San Francisco Holiday Fair this weekend and we cannot wait! Becky Carter Mingle, Owner and Designer of Fawn + Cub lives in the foothills of Northern California with her husband Jorden and two son’s Oliver Sage & Arlo Phoenix. She started Fawn + Cub because there was a need for functional baby products that still had personality. With her Native American background lending to her love of southwestern Navajo-style textiles, as well as her passion for sustainability blending the two materials was a given. She has created products that allow you to change in style, while keeping the environment in mind.
When/Why did you start working in this particular craft/field?
In my early 20’s I had Organic Clothing with my sister called Velvet Leaf. We did everything! Design, sample making, pattern making, marketing, fashion shows, photo-shoots, web-site, you name it. We were self-taught and grew to be successful but grew too big too fast. After I became pregnant with my first Son Oliver, my sister and I decided to naturally move on to a different phase in life and close the brand. I stayed at home with Oliver and enjoyed just focusing on parenting and being a new mother for the next few years. By the time I became pregnant with my Second son Arlo, I was ready to get back to being creative. I had discovered in the last few years, that it was difficult to find practical baby products that didn’t make me feel as though I was giving up on my style. Because of my background it felt easy to jump into starting up Fawn + Cub.
What do you think sets your designs apart from others?
My products are definitely one of a kind because there is nothing like it in the baby market. The only changing mats around are generally a small plastic sheet, and most likely made in China. That is the exact reason why I created it, and I am so glad other Mothers have found it useful!
Have you had any major failures? If so, what were some important insights gained?
I recently did a re-design of our Changing Mat because the leather I had used in the beginning was a bit too soft and because of that the handle that was not ideal. I wouldn’t call it a failure, but a stepping-stone. You are never going to be able to create the perfect product the first time around. When you launch your product and find out who your customer is and then listen to them, you can learn to shift and mold your product/ideas to create a better version that works for everyone. I now use stronger cowhide leather and it has been working out great and was able to attach a strap because so many people were asking about it. It is so important to listen to your customers and be open to feedback without taking it personally.
Have you sacrificed anything to create your business? If so, what was it, and do you have any regrets?
Being a stay at home working mother who has a start up business means I have pretty much sacrificed my free time. The day to day is crazy because if I am not with the Boy’s I am sewing, or hopefully sleeping. My husband works during the day so I work at night, and although it can be hard when you are passionate about what you are doing it is also fun and it makes me work that much harder.
What has been your proudest/favorite moment since creating your business?
Seeing Mom’s post pictures using my products is a continual favorite moment for me. The fact that they want to share their excitement is everything. Anytime I get a tag on Instagram I light up. I get to see that I am creating something that someone else appreciates so much that they are proud to share it. It keeps me going.
What valuable experience/knowledge did you have before starting your business?
Because of Velvet Leaf, and starting it so young, I gathered a lot of knowledge. I had dropped out of college and gone straight into becoming an entrepreneur. I learned a lot of things we did right and things I told myself I would do differently or never do again. We were successful with Velvet Leaf and were featured in Magazines like Teen Vogue and Lucky but we did a lot of things the wrong way. We had started just making everything ourselves, but as sales grew we had to hire a factory. At that point, we went too big too fast. We worked with factories that had large minimums and we were stuck with a lot of extra stock. Even though we had great sales, there was no way we would have been able to sell as much as we had to have produced. Thankfully the industry has changed since then, and now factories offer smaller minimums and the movement for handmade goods on platforms like Etsy and curated Craft Fairs like Renegade has given small start-ups a chance to thrive. I have found that the knowledge I have learned from direct life experience has been the most valuable information I could ever have.
What are some inspirations for your work?
I am a quarter Cherokee so I grew up going to Pow-Wow’s, spiritual gatherings and doing Native crafts. This has been a huge inspiration for me as I am just naturally drawn to American Indian patterns, textiles and leather craft. It definitely plays a huge role in the aesthetic of Fawn + Cub.
What are some tips or suggestions you’d like to offer to fellow makers?
Just take the leap! You will never know if you don’t try, and it is so liberating to be out there doing what you love. And don’t be intimidated or feel like you have to go to business school. Because of the accessibility of these handmade platforms it can be a bit overwhelming and you can question if what you make is good enough, or if it will sell. Don’t get sucked in to doubt. Just trust in what you do, work hard, and good things will come.