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A fun look into the lives and lifestyles of some of our favorite mamas.

Samantha Wortley

Catalina Gonzalez

A fun look into the lives and lifestyles of some of our favorite mamas.

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Q&A

BY CATHERINE HILL

This month I sat down with the beautiful and super creative Samantha Wortley, mama to Miller and Susanna Mae, to talk about kiddos and her blossoming monogramming company, Sew Stitchin' Fancy. 

Living in the south we all love a good monogram...Where do you find inspiration for monogramming designs?

I truly love the south and living here- the people, the landscape, the food, and the culture overall. While I enjoy traveling, I think there is no place like (a southern) home. With that said, so much of my inspiration comes from all things that make up the glorious south. I dress my babies in traditional baby clothing and bonnets, so my monogram designs often stem from the actual apparel items themselves. Whether it’s the color, where the outfit will be worn, or the holiday or occasion, I like to add that little extra something to make it fit it’s purpose. i use the same mentality when customizing home and table linens. I like to bring out an accent or style in the home to add that little something fancy to someone’s table setting or home decor. 

When working with clients, I like to know background about their style (if I don’t already know them personally), so I may suggest a design that fits them and their style.I think in today’s age we are so lucky for the community that Instagram provides. I often draw inspiration from various pages that I follow. It’s so fun to see how people can make the exact same item look different based on how they monogram and style it.  

Why did you decide to start a monogramming business?

Honestly I really just fell into it! I still remember when I was working full time and pregnant with Miller telling a lady I worked with at Neiman Marcus that  I wanted to get a monogram machine. She told me the price of them and I was in a bit of sticker shock! Fast forward two years later when we found out we were pregnant with our second baby, and the thought had started to seriously cross my mind to finally buy a machine. When I found out our second baby was another little girl, I felt like it was a sign that the time was now to take myself up on my own offer! My Aunt in Law is a big monogrammer and she told me the shop here locally she has bought all of her machines. I was 8 months pregnant and drove out there on New Year’s Eve and got myself a belated Christmas present in the shape of my first monogramming machine. I loved getting things monogrammed so much for Miller, and I knew I would want to do the same if not more now that I had two cute sisters to dress up! I always said I would love to make it a “small side business,” and with the support of good friends, it has become that here today! I have literally worked in some form or another since I was 15, so when I decide to “retire” from my fashion career after having Miller it was a bit of an adjustment even though staying home with her was 120% was where I felt I was meant to be. Having this as my job now is great as I have the flexibility to work as much as my family schedule allows. I enjoy doing it as it’s something that brings people joy. I love to see how happy people are with their purchases after I’ve added a Sew Stitchin’ Fancy touch! 

Have you always had a love for monograms?

Yes! I love how personal a monogram can make things as well as how much it can change the same item from one pattern or color to the next. I feel monograms help “re-work” the same item that you may have along side others, and really make it feel like it’s exclusive to only you. As a child, I was the one who wanted to put my name and initials on everything! I guess you could say my monogram obsession is just a sophisticated version of my childhood doodling. I’ve always been very into fashion and home decor, so I feel like my love for monograms is just a natural addition. 

Keeping your girls' initials identical was such a smart move...Did you always know you were going to do that?

Believe it or not, no! There was another girl name my husband and I absolutely loved and prior to ever having any babies, we said we would use it should we ever have a second girl (as the first girl name was already decided). However, after we had Miller who also shares my initials,  (Shirley Miller is her full name),  I couldn’t let the second child get slighted and be the only girl not with the same monogram!! My husband of course saw it as a savings account since we would be able to reuse so many of Miller’s clothes (those that know me know that Miller’s closet should have it’s own ticker symbol)! It took quite a bit of thought  to find the perfect name to fit our same monogram. I literally googled everything in sight and even downloaded a name app that you swipe if you like to help generate ideas. In the end we named Susanna Mae after my mother who is such an important part of our lives. 

Have you always had a love for monograms?

Yes! I love how personal a monogram can make things as well as how much it can change the same item from one pattern or color to the next. I feel monograms help “re-work” the same item that you may have along side others, and really make it feel like it’s exclusive to only you. As a child, I was the one who wanted to put my name and initials on everything! I guess you could say my monogram obsession is just a sophisticated version of my childhood doodling. I’ve always been very into fashion and home decor, so I feel like my love for monograms is just a natural addition. 

Keeping your girls' initials identical was such a smart move...Did you always know you were going to do that?

Believe it or not, no! There was another girl name my husband and I absolutely loved and prior to ever having any babies, we said we would use it should we ever have a second girl (as the first girl name was already decided). However, after we had Miller who also shares my initials,  (Shirley Miller is her full name),  I couldn’t let the second child get slighted and be the only girl not with the same monogram!! My husband of course saw it as a savings account since we would be able to reuse so many of Miller’s clothes (those that know me know that Miller’s closet should have it’s own ticker symbol)! It took quite a bit of thought  to find the perfect name to fit our same monogram. I literally googled everything in sight and even downloaded a name app that you swipe if you like to help generate ideas. In the end we named Susanna Mae after my mother who is such an important part of our lives. 

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How do you balance work-life and mommy-life? 

This is definitely a hard one as I wonder if we mom’s ever truly get the hang of this! I do feel that juggling being completely there for your babies, your husband, yourself, your friends, your family, and your community commitments  is a jigsaw puzzle where the pieces somehow keep multiplying.  My first priority above anything else though is taking care of my babies. They and their schedule come before mine. I think when we become parents, we take an unofficial oath that we will now (and really probably forever) put someone else’s needs above our own.  They grow so fast and I don’t want to miss any of it. I am also very fortunate that my mom (also knows as “Big Mom” to my girls) is super involved in our lives and helps out often when she can. As the saying goes, it takes a village and she is definitely the asst. chief to Phil’s and my village. She also worked all while I was growing up yet managed to never miss anything of mine. I never understood the sacrifices she must’ve made all of those years making it all work, but I know now and I appreciate it so much. I want my girls to think their mama being at everything of theirs and for them is as seamless as I thought it was a child.  I joke that I have two jobs and that the monogramming is “my night job” as I typically do not do it until the girls are in bed. When I only had Miller, I would sometimes work during her nap time as well. However now that there are two babies, nap time sometimes doesn’t sync up long enough for me to get everything out and to concentrate. I prefer to work at night so I have some uninterrupted time where I can focus and just have some me time. The beauty of this job is I am my own boss, set my own hours, and sacrifice my time when I see fit. 

Any advice for moms thinking about starting their own business from home?

I literally started out with a dream and a dining room table.  When I first brought home my machine I had it all set up in our dining room.  We have since moved, and I now have a small office space within our home that I run my business out of. I definitely think it’s key to have some sort of space of your own that you can close off to the rest of the house, spread out, and separate (even it it’s just mentally) your work from  your home life. With that being said, it is crucial to have the love and support from your spouse otherwise it will never work! I am so grateful that my husband has always been so loving and supportive of this hobby turned business. I kid with him that I will need to switch offices with him as he has the bigger room. 

How do you plan to spark the entrepreneurial spirit in your own girls? 

I grew up in an entrepreneurial family. My mother and her parents all owned their own small businesses for the majority of their lives. I learned early on that you get out what you put in and was taught that no matter what you have or don’t have, if one person can do it, so can you!  I think a key to being a good entrepreneur is also being a good listener. When I meet people that are very successful, I love hearing about their path they took to get there. More times than not it is not a direct path and I find it so interesting how people work their way to the top or create a successful business out of an idea. I want my girls to understand the importance of networking and listening to people as we can all learn something form one another. I did not necessarily grow up dreaming of owning my own business, but I guess in a way once you have that entrepreneurial mind set, you easily can turn situations in your life into an opportunity! I want to help my girls to constantly explore options in their lives and look at everything around them creatively. I believe that and confidence in your self and your ideas are how true entrepreneurs thrive.

 
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Name one thing you have gained since becoming a mom?

Wow, it’s so hard to say just one! But if I have to only say one thing, I would say the meaning of Infinite love! I have always been a very loving and passionate person, but truly nothing can prepare you for the amount of infinite love you have for your babies. You become selfless in ways you didn’t know possible. I am super close to my mom and admire her more than anyone I  have ever known. I now can see all that she did for me as a child that she didn’t necessarily ever have to do, and I am amazed at how selflessly she loved and cared for me. She always has and still does go above and beyond in her role as my mother, and I am now finding myself wanting to replicate those same things with Miller and Susanna Mae. She has always been  my rock, and I know no matter what she will always be there for me through thick and thin. The level of comfort I feel in her love is indescribable and I want to now share that with my girls.

What is the biggest challenge you are facing right now with nine month old Susanna Mae? 

Up until 6 months, our biggest challenge was she wasn’t sleeping through the night. We were spoiled with Miller who slept through the night early and really relatively had no sleep issues at all. Susanna Mae had really bad reflux the first few months, so poor baby  (and poor us!) didn’t sleep too much. As she is a bit older now and sleeping fine, I think the hardest thing is making sure she gets the same opportunities, attention, and the same amount of “me” as a mom that Miller had. I do not ever want either of my girls to feel slighted or that I do more for one over the other. I am an only child, so I am uber sensitive not to fall into the stereotypes of treating the second child as the “second child". The hardest thing right now is juggling everyone schedules, my own, and my husband's to make sure Susanna Mae gets the same amount of attention and opportunities Miller did at her age.  I was fortunate enough to breastfeed Miller until she was a year old, but I do have to admit that it is definitely more difficult doing that with Susanna Mae since I am on the go so much more now shuttling Miller to and from school and other activities. 

Now I know Miller just turned three but what have you noticed is the biggest change so far going from 2 to 3 years old? 

So much has changed in this last year! Shortly after she turned two, we moved to a new house and a week later had a new baby. We have truly been blessed that through all of that major transition, she really seemed unphased about it all. Oh and did I mention this was right after school let out too so our normal routine and schedule were out the window? I think the biggest thing is she has turned from a toddler to more of a child and more importantly, a true friend to me. She has always been my best little buddy, but she can converse with me more now and is such a bright child that is constantly surprising me and making me laugh with the things she says and comes up with! She is such a great little helper around the house, and has never skipped a beat of loving on her baby sissy and helping with her. 

What is one thing you hope to teach Miller and Susanna Mae? 

I want my girls to always remain humble and kind. I want them to remember where they come from and to be appreciative of the things they have in their life. This is a lesson I can remember my mama teaching me from a very early age, and it has always stuck with me. You never know where your life will lead you or who it will lead you to, so always be kind to others.