Ask an Expert // a. Naber Design
ABBIE NABER // A. NABER DESIGN
Meet Abbie. She creates the most gorgeous pillows, blankets, baby blankets and interiors you have ever seen. Read below to hear her story and find out how she balances being a mom, a designer and a business owner.
1. Can you tell us a little bit about your background and business?
I graduated with a Fine Arts Degree and then attended Fashion School at FIDM in Los Angeles studying Fashion Design. I've always had a love for textiles, fabrics, and design. This past year, after having my daughter, I changed career paths and decided that I was going to pursue my long time passion for all things design. I wanted the flexibility of being able to work from home while maintaining an outlet for my creativity. What came of it was the start of a pillow and blanket business that's been up and running since November. I love hunting down vintage as well as global fabrics, designing each pillow in a unique way, and seeing my vision come to fruition. Each pillow/blanket is one of a kind and thoughtfully constructed.
2. How do you find your inspiration for the items that you make?
Travel is a main passion of mine, and I think that this rubs off on my design choices. I get inspired by seeing the colors of buildings and patterns on objects and clothing when I'm visiting foreign countries. Travel always has a way of stirring the creative process for me. Sometimes you have to remove yourself from your daily bubble to get re-inspired. Other times, it's as simple as finding a fabric that I speaks to me. I often think of the design itself after I've found the fabric. With vintage textiles, you can keep the pillow concept pretty simple. The fabric speaks for itself. I love to go to the flea market with an open mind and allow fabric to pop out. Once I've found my fabric, I play around with pattern, layout, and adding trim.
3. When did you know you wanted to make your talent a small business and what were your biggest challenges getting started?
After about a year of staying home post-birth, I was getting stir crazy. My previous job was creative, but it was long hours on my feet and very active. My body hurt, and I knew I couldn't handle the work load anymore. I wanted to tap into a passion of mine that I had never pursued as a profession. With the push from my husband, I started up in November and haven't looked back since. There have been many challenges, but I love being able to work from home and work when my daughter is napping or asleep for the night. That way, I don't feel like I'm missing out on the important parts of her first years. Growing a business has been hard, frustrating, and tiring, but there's growth when we push ourselves into an uncomfortable place. It's so much easier to stay stagnant in what you are doing, but where's the growth in that? For my business in particular, the major challenges have been trying to find more time to work (when I can't always do that) and learning how to promote my brand and get my product seen by a larger audience.
4. We love your "staged" vs "real life" posts. How do you manage home life, mom life and business life?
Hah! Some days I'm successful and other days I feel like the biggest failure. I feel like it's a constant check and balance type of thing. If you're killing the game in two or three areas, the fourth area probably suffers. So, I may have a day where I crushed the business life, but my home is probably a mess and I didn't cook dinner. Other days, I may not touch work, but I was able to have a great day with my family and have time for some self-care. It really varies day to day. I need to continue to not be so hard on myself. It helps repeating out loud, "I'm doing the best I can!" Another thing that helps is that I am an uber planner. I still have a written day planner, no joke. I'm able to plan my week ahead and have an idea of what tasks I need to accomplish each day.
5. What is your most favorite thing you have created?
I do love the African Baule and Sherpa stroller blankets that I've made. Those are so unique to the baby market. I like them because they aren't so "baby" if that makes sense? I like toting around things that don't scream "BABY", and these are one of those items. In fact, they're a really good travel blanket for adults because of the size. I call them lap blankets for travel because they aren't so large that they'll hit the ground on a flight. I also love the last run of pillows that I made. They are made from neutral African mud cloth and a gorgeous textile called African wool Fulani. I'm a neutral girl at heart, and these are the perfect match of pattern and neutral.
6. Any new products you have that everyone needs?
People have been asking about larger throws, so I'm testing out a new batch of larger sized blankets for the house. I'm really excited about these. I'm also in the early stages for prototypes of small clutches and even floor poufs... all made from African textiles and vegan leather!
7. What is the best piece of advice you received?
I would have to say I get: "Don't be so hard on yourself" quite often. I'm a Type A by nature, but I'm working on that. From a more creative standpoint, I would have to say, "Stay true to your vision." I re-visit that thought a lot in a world where so much influence is out on social media. It's so easy to see images and want to do what other people are doing etc. I try and stay away from textiles that are too overdone or too popular and just gravitate towards what I find interesting and special.