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Made by Mama: Swankaroo

Andrea Sanchez

Made by Mama is a feature where we share awesome handmade products that are made by mothers. These products may not be fiber arts related but will definitely enrich your life.  

 I am so excited to be sharing with you our first Made by Mama feature! I first encountered the darling Swankaroo backpacks while cruising Instagram last summer. D was not yet 2 so most other children's backpacks were far too big. You can ask any friend that's ever come to the playground with me, I've always been a minimalist when it comes to carrying a diaper bag. So when I found Swankaroo I knew I had to give them a try.

I am so impressed with the detail and craftsmanship of these little packs. They are just the right size for kids ages 1 - 5 (they measures 11"h x 9"w x 6"d) and big enough to hold the essentials. 

Kendra is the mama behind this awesome product and was gracious enough to take the time to answer some of my burning questions. 

 

I love the name Swankaroo (that in itself may have been the initial draw)! What inspired you to start creating these backpacks and how did you come up with the name?

In 2012 when my daughter was two, my diaper bag was becoming weighed down with gear for her and her little brother. Recognizing my girl’s new found sense of independence, I thought it would be beneficial for both of us to get our own bags :)  After several unsuccessful attempts at searching the retail commercial market for a backpack that a) wasn’t too big for her small frame, b) covered in glitter and Disney characters, and c) fit her personality, I decided to venture into the world of creativity and innovation and make her a personalized backpack - one that was functional yet swanky :) And Swankaroo was born!

You began Swankaroo in 2013. How has your business evolved in the last two years?

Swankaroo started in my parent's garage with my refurbished Brother sewing machine I bought off Amazon for $80 and $100 worth of fabric. Swankaroo continues to be handmade, but a good portion of the work has been transferred to a local manufacturer to help keep up with demand, which I still can't keep up with! That's a good problem to have! It absolutely is! 

 

What were your goals when you started this business and how have they changed or remained the same?

I did not have big goals for Swankaroo. I thought I'd be lucky if I sold 2 backpacks a month!  Since then social media has aided the growth of Swankaroo and caused me to see great potential in turning this once "hobby" into a profitable side business to help supplement my family's income. I have been so humbled by the response (worldwide!) to these little packs of mine, that my goals are now geared toward making Swankaroo a well-known and trusted accessory company, with goals to expand to wholesale and expand my product line. The one goal that has never wavered is to keep Swankaroo my secondary priority, with my first being my family. My children and husband come first, no matter what.

Speaking of family, you are a mom to three littles. What does the average day (is there such a thing with children?) look like at your house? 

It is my biggest challenge to manage being a responsible and successful business owner and a successful mother. I try to keep production time just during afternoon nap time (I'm lucky if that amounts to 90 minutes, sometimes it's less!), but with social media and emails I check those more frequently throughout the day. I feel mom guilt ALL. DAY. EVERY. DAY. My husband and I work together on Swankaroo late in the evenings after the kids have gone down. I sew, and he packages orders and cuts materials. In that way, it's been a fun bonding experience for me and him. 

I am totally a nap worker too! I'm lucky that my son still sleeps a couple hours in the afternoon but it's definitely difficult to stay motivated when I'd like a nap mid-afternoon too! Are you able to involve your children in your business and, if so, how?

My kids are my models! I could not do this without their photogenic genes ;) They are also very involved in the process as I try new products out on them. I've let them pick some of the fabric patterns before for packs. 

 

What are your biggest challenges and rewards of running a small-business?

The biggest challenge for me is what I stated earlier - balancing family and business. It's hard to leave work at work when you work at home. But I do feel that it is a blessing also to be able to stay at home with my kids and bring in income rather than having to work outside the house. The rewards are many. I love seeing my hard work being showcased on customers social media accounts worldwide! It's such a thrill! I love reading positive reviews. I love bookkeeping Swankaroo's income and reinvesting in my small company that is growing faster and further than I ever could have imagined.

What are you working on now?

Right now I'm getting ready to release two new products - a mama pack (YES!) and a standard size backpack! I've been working tirelessly on them after numerous requests, so I hope the Swankaroo fan base is pleased :)

I'm sure they will be! 

Thank you again Kendra for taking the time to chat with me. If you're interested in Swankaroo, check out their site Swankaroo or find them on Instagram. In addition to backpacks they make reusable snack packs (totally next on my to get list). And I can't wait to see those mama packs! Kendra shared a peek a few weeks ago and they look fabulous.

Because we love our Swankaroo backpack so much we are giving away one backpack to a reader! Leave a comment here telling us which print you'd like and who you'd give it to. We will choose a winner at random on June 22nd. Please be sure to leave your email address or Ravelry ID so we can contact you. This giveaway is open to the US residents only. Good luck! 

All photos used with permission 

All photos used with permission