Personalized prints and canvases, tummy stickers, shower gifts and beautiful fabric decals that are easy to reposition--all products you will find at Mej Mej. The shop is run and designs created by a family of artists that bring their own talents to the business. Read on for our Q&A with owner and artist Cathy Heck to learn more about Mej Mej, a shop full of happy!
Your business is an extension of Cathy Heck Studio, which has been has been creating concepts and artwork for companies to license for over 25 years. What inspired the start of Mej Mej as a separate business?
Yes, I (Cathy) have been licensing art for children’s products for years, and we love that over 2 million babies own a Cathy Heck baby book. But, we love even more that while making all that art, my husband, Jim, and I raised three daughters. Little did we know that we were creating our own work force. Over time, each daughter has joined our team, bringing her own style or gift.
Our growing design team combined with the excellent new technologies for selling directly to moms and grandmoms created the perfect formula for starting our new shop. We were so excited to have the opportunity to create products in our studio and share them first hand with moms and grandmoms all over the world.
As a family business, how do your individual talents compliment each other?
We all have our own strengths. Each one of us shares her own special style, but we also really enjoy collaborating. Often, one of us will complete the project of another. Today we work from two studios … Julianna creates designs from her studio in Virginia while Cathy, Jim and Margaret man the main production studio in Austin, Texas. Ellen is now a full-time fine art printmaker, but some of her designs are still our best sellers.
We all work in a variety of media from pencil to paint to pixels, which adds to the wide range of styles we are able to offer from our shop.
Your products are created in Austin, Texas. Tell us about your process of printing and embroidery.
We have the best printing, embroidery, and shipping team on the planet. We are lucky enough to run all the printing and embroidery out of our own studio … which makes for a great product because we can tweak, change, and fix any product until it's just right. And, because all of our embroidery and printing is in-house, we can personalize many of our designs. We think there is no better gift for a new baby than celebrating his or her new amazing self.
Do you have a favorite design and/or product?
This is a hard one. I would immediately jump to our fabric wall decals because, well, two reasons. The first is that it is so much fun seeing our artwork at such a large scale. We love a "wow moment,” and if you place several of our giant decals on one wall, it’s just downright adorable. The second reason I love our decals is because of the material itself. The stickers are removable and reusable, and don’t leave a single bit of adhesive residue. When we demonstrate to a friend or customer that they peel off a wall, they often say, “Wait…I thought that was a painted mural!”
But then, when I hold one of our soft organic cotton embroidered onezees in my hands, I instantly fall in love with the product all over again. When we were sourcing our onezees, we pledged to find the softest one-piece in the world. Guess what…we did! They are super soft, thick, and sumptuous.
But then, I jump to our newest product, shaped art pillows! They are a great way to add a pop of color or a touch of fun to any room. Each pillow features one of our friendly characters and is hand-cut, hand-filled and hand-sewn from our Austin studio.
So there you go, it’s really hard to choose a favorite. We have such a great time creating and making all of our products and we hope that shows.
Tell us about your One for Onezee™ program and how it contributes to Any Baby Can, an Austin, Texas non-profit organization.
The One for Onezee™
program is one of our favorite projects to date. For every soft organic onezee purchased, another new soft organic onezee is give to a baby in need through the amazing team at Any Baby Can
. Their Texas-based nonprofit organization believes that all children deserve to be healthy and happy. They strengthen parents and their children through in-home therapies, resource navigation and family support services. They also serve children with development delays, cancer, hearing loss and other chronic illnesses - as well as new and expecting parents. So, we are so thankful to our customers for helping us with this project. It’s like sending love from one new baby to another.
You release a new nursery collection every First Friday of the month. Do you have teasers you can share on your upcoming releases?
We have some super fun collections in the works. Our releases are usually TOP SECRET!! But, I can tell you this. If you have a boho theme in mind for your nursery, our November First Friday won’t disappoint.
What advice would you offer to other small business owners?
I’m actually going to give you some advice more from my mom point-of-view: If you have a small business … or a large business … involve your children in your daily work. Our girls began working from tiny tables in the studio when each was about 2 years old. As they grew up, we included them in small tasks like organizing supplies or replacing pantone color chips. The tasks grew as they did. And over time, each has contributed a facet to the business that has been a part of its very fabric.
Probably the biggest thing that has changed during our many years in this business, is that makers can share their stories with each other all over the world. It is inspiring to learn the way others work and create, whether they are down the street or in another city, or across the sea.
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