While Maya Mori was at home with her two preschool daughters, she decided to make a few accessories and bags from a stash of fabric she still had in her sewing room from the days when she did custom sewing and apparel; simple, one-of-a-kind items that she could use to make a little extra money and keep her creative juices flowing. “I’m just going to make some things and see what happens,” she thought, with no intention of launching a business from home.
To her surprise, sales took off (through her Etsy shop); Mori soon outgrew the sewing room in the house and so converted a part of the garage into a bright, well-lit studio space.
Doing every aspect of the business herself has its challenges. Success is a blessing and a curse: she has been able to hire some part time, short-term help, to get her through the busiest times of the year, but her big goal is to “find that right person to be able to work with,” an apprentice who wants to work but at the same be interested in learning the craft. Someone as invested in the finished product as she is.
Mori would love to be able to spend more time with her family and working on designs. Eventually, she would like to be able to design and print her own fabrics – making every aspect of her products her own.
For now, Mori maintains a very strict schedule to balance her work time with her family. “I am really grateful to my family,” she says. “They help me stay focused.” She says “there’s no way” she could be as successful as she is without her husband and four kids to keep her inspired.
Many of the fabrics she uses are from Japan; being part Japanese, there is a deeply seated attraction to the graphic patterning of many Japanese fabrics. But also, there is a particularly substantial cotton/linen blend that she hasn’t found available in the States. It “feels luxurious, but is still durable,” she says, and believes it makes her products both unique and long lasting.
Mori takes great pride and pleasure in her work. “The best is seeing people’s happiness at owning one of my bags.” Everything is made to order (“I like giving choices”), and though that is difficult for a solopreneur and increases her workload, she refuses for now to cut corners to take shortcuts. Part of the popularity of her products she feels comes from the customer’s ability to personalize and from her demonstrated care for the entire process.