We all have them... those internet friendships that are as wonderful and close as friends in your every day life. Shauna Alterio, one part of Forage Haberdashery, is one of those friends for me. I simply adore her and am so glad she's crossed over into a real life friend to me. She is driven, hardworking and a mom to a son, not far behind my own son... we get each other and where we are in our lives. There's a part of me that feels like we were possibly sisters in another life. Needless to say, I'm a fan. I'm really excited to share a little more about Shauna and her insight into running a renown small business, a creative, and the hardest role of all, mom to an adorable little boy, Sawyer, with another son on the way. Please enjoy getting to know Shauna a little more. Thank you for sharing with the Little Hip Squeaks readers as well.
Shauna Alterio

What does 7 AM look like to you? It’s 3:45 am as I’m typing this. I'm 23 weeks pregnant and have crazy insomnia. Sawyer, our 21 month old son, wakes up at 6:30 am so Stephen, my husband and business partner, wakes up with with him and gets our day started. By 8AM, I’m up, reaching for my glasses and stumbling downstairs in search of coffee. Stephen and Sawyer are typically getting breakfast started and the house is full of laughter. By 9AM, one of us is working in the studio and the other is with Sawyer, switching at lunch time. Once sawyer goes to bed at night, we make coffee and rush back to the studio for another 4-5 hours of work together.

What's your favorite part of the day? I love mornings! Our studio is in our home and Sawyer stays with us all day, so it’s relaxed and we don’t feel rushed to get out the door. We pull together whatever we have on hand for breakfast and I grab the to-do list and calendar. Stephen and I talk about our plan for the day and Sawyer usually wants to join in and asks to color while we scribble notes for the day ahead.

How do you find "me" time when you are also working full time and raising your son? Me time... honestly, in the (almost) two years since Sawyer was born, I don’t have any. I wake up early and stay up late working in the studio, but I do try to find little ways to treat myself each day: simple fresh flowers, my favorite candle, coffee, a good playlist etc. I also keep a growing library or inspiration: magazines, books, vintage ephemera, and of course a healthy addiction to pinterest.

With so many things going on with different channels of your work, how do you keep perspective? Gaining perspective is one of the biggest surprises I’ve found in becoming a mom. I’m your typical type-A personality, I obsess over details and need to be in control of everything. Now in the middle of my day, while worrying over small issues, Sawyer will smile and I find myself taking a deep breath and instantly finding some balance.

What is your favorite family tradition and what does it entail? Stephen and I have been married for fifteen years (wow, that makes us sound old). We’ve always spent Thanksgiving and Christmas together. Just us, at home, in our pajamas, cooking together, watching movies... it’s probably the only two days a year that we do nothing, go nowhere and just relax.

What are your "can't leave home without" items? I keep the basics on hand: wallet, phone, glasses, keys, lint roller, lip gloss and bobby pins. I usually have a small camera with wi-fi memory card, a book or two, pens, highlighters, post-it notes, small scissors and a pile of fabric swatches. For sawyer, I try to keep a stash of trucks, pacifiers, and teething tabs.

How are you instilling your entrepreneurial drive in your son? Something I learned in art school was to make your own opportunities, not waiting for someone to give them to you. I hope this is something Stephen and I can pass along to Sawyer (and his future little brother). Also, saying yes to every opportunity, no matter how small or how busy you think you are, is something that led us to unexpectedly having our own business.

What's your next step in growing your brand? Since sawyer’s arrival, it’s been survival mode. Learning how to balance a handcrafted, family business has been a huge adjustment for us. We’re about to add a second baby to the equation, so I know we’re in for more growing pains. Looking forward, we see Forage’s assortment continuing to grow in carefully considered ways. We just had a big pop-up shop at Space Ninety 8 in Brooklyn with Urban Outfitters, and we’d love to focus on more of these events and partnerships in 2015.

We also have a small letterpress based project called seed house that we’re passionate about. We’ve been working with larger companies producing handcrafted items for press previews, special events and customer care. We’re keeping it small and organic so that we can have a creative outlet without getting caught up with demand. We’re renovating a studio space now that will be dedicated to seed house and we’re really excited to see how it evolves.

What did you find as some of the biggest hurdles when you were just starting out? Starting out was the easy part, it was organic and happened almost by accident. Stephen and I worked collaboratively on lots of projects, one of those just happened to be a small bow tie pop-up called Forage. It’s success caught us by surprise and admitting that we had a small business was the hardest part. Once we decided to leave our day jobs, finding support with production was a shift that allowed us to wholesale and continue to grow the business.

Favorite downtime activity with your family? I never dreamed about having kids or a family... I was always hyper focused on myself: school, career, business etc. so I never expected to find such happiness in watching Sawyer discover the world. Now, I look forward to simple moments together as a family like spending time at the park or or eating at our favorite local diner.

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