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Meet the Crafty Mama

Jodi, Tinkerella Creations

Who: Jodi of Tinkerella Creations is the crafty mother of four children, ranging in ages from 3 to 26! She lives in Orange County, which is where Disneyland is of course, in case you didn't know. Each of her four children has a fairytale role in her business life from being her first inspiration (Tiffinie) to now helping her sew when she gets busy (Jillian) to being her current model and coming up with the name "Tinkerella" when she was two (Ella) to her youngest Prince Charming (Kevin).

What lead up to starting Tinkerella Creations?
We are obviously huge Disney fans, we've purchased Disneyland annual passes for many years. When my "hobby" of creating new dresses for my little girl to wear to the park started to get way too indulgent for one child I decided it was time to turn my passion into a "business". This year we will branch out from Disneyland and take a cruise on the Disney Magic. I cannot begin to tell you how excited I am about that! It's also an opportunity to design some new things for our trip which will hopefully end up in my shop and custom creations for little ones around the world.

snow white costume
What is your main source of inspiration?
I am inspired by seeing the light in a child's eye when they put on the gown of their favorite princess and start to believe that they can be Cinderella...or a ballerina...or whatever their deepest dream is to be. My oldest daughter grew up wanting to be a dancing fairy princess and low and behold she is! I love knowing that my girls are comfortable being in the spotlight and that they know they are beautiful each in their own special way. I've seen the shyest child put on her fancy princess dress and be transformed into a confident and outgoing little lady. In our society, and many others even more so, girls are often trained to think they are "less than" and I love to think that they are "all that"!

My princess shorts set idea came from thinking that a little girl just can't wear a full length ball gown all the time so just "what would Snow White wear to the playground?" - That one thought started a landslide of possibilities and fun designs! I secretly can't believe that the executives at Disney design studios haven't thought of it themselves really!

cinderella costume
What was your goal when you started out and have you reached it?
My goal was to offer a quality dress that is comfortable and washable for little girls to wear for special birthday parties and vacations to the magic kingdom and to make enough from that to pay for our annual passes each year. I have far surpassed that goal! Now that I am a single mom I am dependent on my income to feed my children honestly. It's a blessing to be able to do something I enjoy so much and still provide for our needs.

What is your favorite part of your creative process from idea to completion?
The design phase is my favorite part of the process. Creating something new or more useable is the best part. This phase all takes part in my head because I am terrible at sketching things out so it's a challenge to try to describe something to a buyer so that they can see my vision for this new thing that they want to see come to life. I'm always shocked that people are willing to take that chance and buy something sight unseen and trust me to make it happen.

buzz lightyear costume
What is your least favorite part?
Editing photos of new designs is my least favorite part of the process. I would much rather be picking out fabrics or sewing or chatting with buyers online than messing with the computer side of the business.

I also hate to say no to someone who needs something on short notice. I was bothered for many months when my business grew so quickly that I couldn't keep up and had to keep lengthening the time people would need to wait for their custom set to arrive as well as the prices going up and up over the last two years. I've had to succumb to the law of supply and demand and adjust pricing and fabrication time accordingly but as strange as it sounds when my outfits got to the price level that I could no longer afford them myself it was hard on me. Selling my children's own sets at a discount does help me not feel too guilty about letting them keep some of the sample sets and allows me to offer things at a lower cost for those willing to recycle a handmade item and use it for their own princess costume.

costume belle

When do you find the time to create?
Since I am now a single mom the kids go to their dads two days a week so I generally limit my sewing time to those days. I avoid staying up late into the night working as it makes me tired and crabby the next day. The time I spend on the computer happens while the kids sleep or nap. They do help pick out fabrics and sometimes they actually are helpful and enjoy it while other times they are bribed with M&M's when we must go on yet another run for elastic or thread or buttons!

What are your tips on balancing business and family?
I find that I do better with scheduling everything on an Excel spreadsheet. I am less stressed when it's really busy if I know exactly what day I'm working on which item. It is not fun for me to sew while the kids need my attention so I don't do that unless I absolutely must. I am thankful for the start of the school year as that frees up some extra time for me to create. My baby boy starts preschool this year but that is a little bitter sweet for me knowing that he will be the last of my children to leave the nest.

prince charming costume
What do you do to ensure that you don't burn out?
Enjoy chatting with moms that have time to chit chat about their vacation plans or help design things with me online. Since I don't have "co-workers" I depend on the conversations online to make me feel like I'm not alone in this. Another thing that helps me is that my designs have a natural cycle throughout the year so while I might sew many princess shorts sets in the spring and summer by the time I'm very tired of that it switches to ballgowns, princess casual dresses, and boys costumes for Halloween and Christmas time. It's a nice change that keeps me excited to have the change and variety. I also keep adding new things to my shop as buyers suggest or a new movie comes out that inspires me. When buyers send me photos of their children in my handmade clothes and tell me how their vacation was and the joys they have had that is the number one thing that keeps me from burn out.

snow white costume

Are you crafty in other ways? If so, what do you make?
I love to bake, quilt, scrapbook, up cycle items from the Goodwill but would also love to have time to get better at photography.

Any future business or creative plans?
I am determined to actually list all the things I've made and never had the chance to photograph for the shop by the end of the year. I may offer more teen and adult costumes in the future depending on the CIPSA law and how that affects handmade children's clothes...and I will also be searching for some great ideas for more boys custom creations. Helping my daughter get her creative ideas into her own shop is a big goal for me this year.

But most importantly I plan to get connected with the Make a Wish foundation and offer a custom created dress every year for a child to wear for their Disney wish trip. I feel very strongly about the work that they do for sick kids and feel that I can do something special and hopefully bring some joy to a family during their difficult time. I grew up spending many years in the hospital as a child having surgery for a badly twisted right clubfoot. I feel I can offer something custom designed to accommodate any special needs that clothing presents because I had to alter my own clothes as a teenager to make room for my brace or cast. I have a very soft spot in my heart for children with disabilities or illnesses.

mary poppins costume

If you dressed up in a costume/character every day, what would most suit you and why?
Well, I actually do own my own Snow White dress but I believe what I really need is a fairy godmother costume because I know there are a few little girls around the country that do truly believe that I am their own personal fairy godmother. Their dress just comes in a box from the post man instead of the end of a magic wand.

Thanks Jodi! Visit her shop at Tinkerella Creations and support a fellow crafty mama!!

To read more Crafty Mama interviews or to learn how you could be one of our featured mamas, go to our Crafty Mama section!


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