If you're anything like me, it makes a world of difference to know the woman or mom or parents behind an already incredible company. Our enthusiasm about Puj (see above giveaway!) comes from believing in their Go Sling and Booti as well as knowing (and celebrating) Katie as a person and friend. We thought you could do the same! Meet Katie:
*Katie, these new shoes are fantastic and very newborn Camper-esque (but with plenty of originality of course). What did you pull from for inspiration when designing the Booti?
I have always had a great admiration for all things simple. My favorite flower is the calla lilly because it's one pedal and so beautiful. I have always admired European/Scandinavian design because it was so minimal and had such beautiful clean lines. Originally I was a furniture designer and I always admired a design that could stand the test of time. Charles and Ray Eames were masters at this and have created a number of classic chairs that are both beautiful and functional. When I spend my money on something I don't want it to just look good but it must work well. I want it to last me a long time.
*So, what's the process for creating designer baby booties? How long have these been in the works?
I started working on the booti pattern soon after my son was born (he just turned four). Originally they were made from fabric. But when it comes to durability and simplicity the leather was a natural material for me to gravitate toward. I just kept thinking that most of the baby shoes on the market were either too stiff or had no form to them. I wanted a form that would be sophisticated and classic and yet have some character to them, without sewing on a lion or duck to be so literal. And the idea of a symmetrical shoe was just another way for me to make a parent's life that much easier. I can't tell you how many times I have wrestled my kids to get their shoes on, only to discover I put them on the wrong feet. It's these little things that can send a parent over the edge. And so Puj's mission is to eliminate these little daily hassles and make your time with you own "puj" more enjoyable.
*Congratulations on being en-route to becoming a mother of three boys! What are the benefits and/or trials of being a mother-run business?
Being a mother-run business I feel I have a huge advantage over the large corporations because I am the customer. I am living the life of a parent every day and I experience the joys and frustrations that come along with it. In the Fall I will have 3 boys at home all day for one year before my oldest starts kindergarten. So I have plenty of little ones to test out my ideas. I also keep a notebook of ideas because there are times when I think "I wish I had one of these, or this would work so much better without all the extras." Of course, being a full time mother is an overwhelming task in itself and Puj would not be possible if I didn't have people around me who supported me and wanted to help out. My husband is a huge help and a BIG part of the company. He is a product designer as well and we're always bouncing ideas off each other. We also just hired our first employee who is helping to oversee manufacturing so I can focus on design of new products.
*Tell us a little about your family.
My husband and I met in the Industrial design department at BYU. We moved to the Portland Oregon area when I graduated and were working for competing design firms. Now I stay home full time as a mother and am LOVING it! We love going on adventures and playing outside. My husband introduced me to riding a road bike (bicycle) and now we go for rides with the whole family. We also like to grow a garden and have been doing a lot of work in our yard to expand it.
*I have the advantage of knowing you (and of course am a solid Katie fan), but for those who don't:
-your daily routine?
I am up and back from a morning run before my boys get up (most of the time). I am loving granola with yogurt and berries for breakfast these days! My husband works close to home so he usually joins us for lunch. I try and answer emails and get some work done while the boys are napping. Almost every afternoon we are usually at the park, even if it's cold and rainy! We also love the library and reading fun books before bedtime. I don't really get solid working time during the day and so I have had to learn when to put it down and go play hide-and-seek. I do also work at night after the kids are asleep, but sometimes I am ready for bed too after 8pm.-what are your passions?
Passions? Hmmmm! I love fresh squeezed orange juice and a cold glass of lemonade! I love looking through all my fabric and thinking up a creation and making it up right then. I really like carpentry and welding but I don't have access to a shop these days and so the sewing machine has become my new passion. I use a 1968 Bernina with all machined parts. You can't believe how heavy it is but it is such a tank. I've been amazed and what it will sew through. It is always fun to explore new materials and try making something new. And most importantly I love seeing my boys get along and share with one another. It is so rewarding to be with a family I love and watch my kids learn and grow.-an unfulfilled dream?
I really feel like I am living my dreams. Growing up I use to tell people "I wanted to work with metal." Though I do still love metal, really what I wanted to do was create with my own two hands. I do like to compose on the piano and as a kid I dreamed I would be on the Oprah show and she would ask me all about my compositions! But, anytime I try to play the piano these days I have two little "helpers" playing with me.
One of my favorite albums of all time is "David Gray: Lost Songs." He is such a sincere singer/songwriter and plays from the heart. I love Vietnamese food. It is so fresh and flavorful without being greasy. I am really liking non-fiction these days. "Dare to Discipline" by Dr. Dobson and Andrew Carnegies "How to Win Friends and Influence People" is great for business relationships. I have a pair of red "Shelly" shoes that look kind of like a flat dutch clog + are super comfortable. The best part is they were originally $80 and I bought them for $10 at this great store in Phoenix (where I grew up). Designers: Marc Newson, Charles and Ray Eames, Phillipe Starck, Scott Wilson, and the like. And vacationing in Southern Alberta. This is where my mother grew up and it was so fun to go and stay with my Grandparents and enjoy the farm country, Watertown National Park, Banff, Glacier National Park, there is just so much to see.*Is there anything we can anticipate from Puj in the future? Where do you hope to take your company?
We do have a couple products we hope to introduce sometime this summer. And of course there are many more we are pursuing. I really feel like our brand could branch out into not just parent products but people products. We all can appreciate something simple that makes our lives better.
Katie, you and what you've created are pretty fantastic. I can't wait to see what's to come. Congratulations on the Booti!