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A chat with Julia Manfredi-Hobbs, crafty creator at Mommy Can Sew

things to do with kids in Thunder Bay

I love fabrics, I love handmade, but the actual sewing part: not so much. That’s why I follow Mommy Can Sew on social media. Seeing Julia Manfredi-Hobbs’ cute, colourful creations is an inspiring lift. caught up with the mompreneur to learn a bit more about her business and what’s next.

Julia (pronounced Spanish-style with an H, because she was born and raised in Argentina and moved to Canada when she met her TBay husband) started her business five years ago when her daughter was born. As the nesting instinct kicked in during her pregnancy and after her baby arrived, she started sewing baby toys, blankets and bibs. “Then something amazing happened: other moms started asking me if I could make things for them and their little ones. Strangers were encouraging me to make beautiful things!” she says. Julia launched an Etsy site to sell her creations, which are also available by contacting her through her social media channels. She comes by her sewing skills honestly: her grandfather was a tailor and her mom and aunts always sewed clothes for their families.

architect, Julia recently shifted to half-time hours at a local drafting company in order to devote more time to her business. Afternoons and evenings are dedicated to sewing while the weekends are for taking pictures and developing posts for social media. Where does she find her inspiration for designs and colour combinations? “Everywhere!” says Julia. “I can be looking at something random that’s not related to sewing, like colours used in a painting, and there’s a ‘click’ and I get ideas. I also read a lot a lot of books and magazines, not just related to sewing but to woodworking and crafts too.” Up next: launching her blog featuring online tutorials.

Her bestsellers include a baby doll carrier, blankets, bibs and pacifier clips. There are seasonal upswings too: at the holidays there is a huge demand for dragon tails, mermaid tails and superhero capes, and summer it’s hooded towels. Another popular item is a car seat poncho, which a kiddo wears to be safely buckled into a car seat, rather than wearing a bulky snowsuit. “Car seat ponchos are one of my favourites to sew, because I get to be creative with combining colours and fabrics,” she says. “I’m also really into quilts right now; I’m excited to learn new skills.” Many of her designs come out of personal experience too, like the walking harness she made several years ago to corral her busy toddler in big airports when they travelled back to Argentina for a visit. Sometimes a custom product, like a patchwork personalized pillow requested by a customer, becomes an instant hit with other customers.

Many of Julia’s sales are local, but others head out into the wider world through online sales, including Saudi Arabia, New Zealand, England and Greece. “My products have travelled to almost every continent,” she tweeted recently. “I love that a part of me is somewhere out there, in a place I’ve never been.”

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