Cuckoo Children's Co.

And we are back! Plus, a very Cuckoo wedding

Morgan CoxComment

Hi friends!  It has been a while since I have been back here.  Last January I started working as a designer for Global Textile Alliance in Reidsville, NC.  In a nutshell, I design fabrics for mattress and furniture manufacturers.  I love that I get to work with color and draw everyday.  My office is in the same building as our manufacturing mill, so I am hands on with the fabrics we make, from fiber to finishing. 

I also got engaged last December and spent this last year planning my wedding and now that I am married (hooray!) I am very excited to jump back into the Cuckoo world.  It has been an incredible year and I am so thankful for every minute of it.  

A few days after I got engaged, my mother told me that it would mean so much to her if I used her wedding dress (circa 1984) in some way in my wedding.  After some brainstorming, we decided it would be fun to rework her dress to wear for my rehearsal dinner.  With help from Myline's Bridal in Greensboro we had it cut short and altered the lace sleeves.  We had some leftover lace after that was done and I knew instantly that I wanted to sew it into the flower girl's dress.  I decided on a white linen flutter sleeve dress with pin tucks on the front bodice.  I sewed mom's lace into the flutter sleeves and love how they peek out under the linen.  I also used the satin covered buttons from mom's gown as the closures on the back of the dress.  The whole process was so much fun because it was so personal.  I love making children's clothing because I love the special memories that they become part of.  

Photos by Morgan Cox and Sadie Culberson

 

Come see us at the fashionSPARK show on September 19th!

Morgan CoxComment

The annual fashionSPARK show in downtown Raleigh is quickly approaching and we are so excited to be showing our Fall collection preview along with 11 other local designers!  fashionSPARK is a part of a larger four day arts festival called SPARKcon that brings musicians, chefs, comedians, dancers, writers, and much more together for discussions, shows, and workshops.  fashionSPARK is the largest and most popular annual fashion event in the Triangle and is so much fun!  We look forward to sending our five sweet little models down the runway dressed in rustic, prairie inspired designs!

Come on out and join the fun on September 19th! General seating is free-- if you'd like to sit in the first few rows you can grab tickets here

 photo: Leigh Moose at Side Yard Studios

photo: Leigh Moose at Side Yard Studios

We hope to see you there! Until then, follow us on instagram to see sneak peaks of the outfits that will be on the runway!

Giveaway!

Morgan CoxComment

Hey ya'll!  Cuckoo Children's Co. is participating in a giveaway that our friends at Victoria Leigh Photography are doing this week to celebrate 8 years of business! There are some great items, including beautiful jewelry from Bird and Beau, a gift certificate for a family photo shoot, and of course a delightful little girls blouse from our Spring 2015 collection! 

To enter the giveaway competition, click here or on the photo above and choose one of the options listed for entering (ex. by visiting our website, instagram, etc)

Good luck! :)

Five inspiring Mom-Blogs on Slow and Creative Living

Morgan CoxComment

Whether you are trying to spend more time outdoors with your kids, incorporate healthy eating into your daily routine, or just looking for some fun activities to do with the littles, these blogs are overflowing with creative ideas for living a wholesome and fulfilling life with your family.  Enjoy!

Inspiration File: Uncovering my Family's Textile Heritage

Morgan CoxComment

Needlework and textile arts run deep in my family.  Cross-stitched sage advice, hand tatted doilies, embroidered linens, appliqued tree skirts, needlepointed stockings, and beautiful hand stitched quilts all make their appearances in my home throughout the year.  I suppose seeing all of this when I was very young had an influence on me...I was curious how these objects were made.  I looked at the stitches and the backs of pieces, wondering what tools were used or how long each piece took to make.  I liked to imagine my great grandmother working on a quilt, sitting at her kitchen table with a wood fire stove heating up the room as she stitched.  Looking at these textiles opened my eyes to life in a different time, where things were made slowly and with great intention.  I could see the merit and value of making things by hand and I decided I wanted to make things like the women of my family did as well.  

Around the same time (elementary school) I fell in love with the Little House on the Prairie book series and became fascinated with the textile arts and crafts of the 1800s.  I fondly remember pretending I was Laura, sitting atop a covered wagon, working on a cross stitch sampler.  I made dolls and bonnets and toured my neighborhood prairie land in my red wagon.  I had dreams of going to town to buy yards of beautiful calico print fabric and colorful ribbons for my hair.  Most of all, I admired the sacred way in which textiles were approached.  Materials were expensive, the process was timely, but the final product was treasured.  

For my fall collection, I've jumped back in time to my prairie dweller days and will be showing patchwork quilted garments, naturally dyed fabrics, and beautiful hand knitted sweaters at the fashionSPARK show in downtown Raleigh on September 19th.  Oh, and calico prints and ribbons will definitely make their appearance...I'm working on getting that red wagon out of the garage too :) 

Natural Dyes: the Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful

Morgan CoxComment

This week I’d love to share my experiences with natural dyes with you since we are currently using them in our collections for their sustainable and visual qualities.  Natural dyes can be sorted into three categories: natural dyes obtained from plants (indigo), animals (cochineal), and minerals (ocher).  In ancient times, the most commonly used dyes were found near their source-- color differentiated geographical location, class, and custom.  Fast forward to today, where 90% of the dyes used now are synthetic and the textile industry’s wastewater from textile plants is classified as the most polluting of all the industry sectors.  In addition to the environmental impacts, synthetic dyes are very dangerous for the industry workers who inhale and absorb them during the production process.  “The use of natural dyes would solve the problems associated with synthetic dyes, but for the shift to occur, society will need to band together-- on behalf of fabric workers and on behalf of our planet-- to demand a change in landscape” (Zady).  I was fortunate to have the opportunity to learn more about natural dyes from my friend from college, Mackenzie Bullard.

Mackenzie and I began working together last spring, just in time for my senior year childrenswear collection.  She dyed a medley of cotton velveteens, lawns, silk velvets, and hemp cloths in the most gorgeous shades I had ever seen and then passed them over to me to sew them into my childrenswear designs.  It was magical and I fell in love with the results from natural dyeing.  A combination of unique fabric choices (as far as childrenswear goes) and beautiful, rich naturally dyed colors gave my collection a spirited, whimsical, and distinctive look.  As luck has it, we are working on another children’s collection, this time for the annual fashionSPARK show in downtown Raleigh on September 19th.  Cotton+linen and velveteen in stunning indigo, madder, and weld are the key players this time.  Think autumnal, rustic, rich shades that synthetic dyes just cannot hold a candle to.    

I could keep going but I’d really love for you all to meet Mackenzie since she is here with us today!

What inspired you to start using natural dyes in your work?

A year and a half ago, I was fortunate to have taken a workshop with Catharine Ellis at NCSU. I was  inspired by her passion and energy for natural dyestuffs and colors. Both Catharine Ellis and the workshop have been extremely pivotal in my education and life.

Have you had any influential teachers or mentors that have made a big impact in your practice and work?

I have been very fortunate that many people and experiences in my life that have led me to be curious and creative. Most recently my professors at NCSU, Susan Brandeis, Dr. Cecilia Mouat, Dr. JMark Scearce and my fellow peers have really challenged me in research, reflection and making. These most recent relationships have fostered growth in my visual language, design sensibilities and continue to push me forward.

Why do you prefer natural dyes to synthetic/chemical?

Immediately, I was drawn to the color outcome of natural dyes. I also have great interest in the science and procedural structure needed to replicate and extract color from flora or fauna. Natural dye work is slower and requires a level of intention that I really enjoy.

What's the next project you have planned?  

I am currently researching natural color interaction by constructing a series of woven natural dye gamps (blankets). The gamps utilize various woven structures to explore the optical blending of naturally dyed yarns.

Iowa native Mackenzie Bullard is current Art+Design graduate student at North Carolina State University.  After a course at Penland School of Crafts, she had a major material shift from oil painting to fibers and decided it was time to continue her education.  In addition to making beautiful weavings and dyeing, she enjoys designing and planting terraniums.  She also cans up jams, veggies, and soups like a pro.  


Behind the Scenes: All in a Week's Work!

Morgan CoxComment

We have had quite an exciting and productive week here at Cuckoo Children's Co.! Our application for the #GIRLBOSS creative entrepreneurship grant was mailed off to LA, I drafted and sewed three garments, and Michele has been working on fabric sourcing! Though a bit overwhelming at times, I do believe I enjoy juggling different tasks and learning new skills on a day to day basis.  I'm super excited about our submission for the grant-- #GIRLBOSS gives around six grants a year to young, creative, female entrepreneurs that have big ideas and know what to do with them.  It's an awesome foundation started by Nasty Gal's founder Sophia Amoruso. 

Next week I will introduce you to my friend Mackenzie Bullard-- she's the woman behind all of the naturally dyed fabrics used in our current collection!

Cheers,

Morgan

Meet Michele Riggs, our Business Guru!

Morgan CoxComment

Michele Riggs is the owner of Downtown Knits, a beautiful yarn and fabric shop nestled in the charming downtown area of Apex, North Carolina.  Michele has been married for 31 years to her childhood sweetheart, is a mom to two amazing kids, and has three pint sized dogs, Emmy, Fez, and Ditto.  In addition to sewing, knitting, and consuming coffee, Michele loves to check out new restaurants and micro-breweries.  You can also find her playing basketball, drinking a nice smooth Porter, or bouncing down the street on her pogo stick...just not all at the same time.

I met Michele during my senior year of design school at N.C. State.  She quickly became a mentor to me as I navigated my way through internships, fashion shows, and classes.  Today, Michele will share with us what it is like to be a creative and successful business owner.  I am so thankful to have her as a business partner and know that you will enjoy hearing her story and advice! 

What does a typical day for Michele Riggs look like?

Interesting question Morgan... there are no normal days when you own a business ;-) Typically, I’m up with the sun. My mind is already on different ideas for the shop. I have a note pad at my night stand for when I wake in the middle of the night (which is very often), just in case I want to jot something brilliant down ;-)  

First things first COFFEE... its my fuel... then on to emails, sort out paper work (invoices, banking, payroll etc). Then straighten out the house, take out my little friends Emmy, Fez and Ditto. Then I head back to catching up on social media, shower, dress and off to the shop (840 steps away). I love my short walk to work... Watching all the shops open their doors, stopping for a minute to chat about the weather, what’s new and what not... What a great town we have...

What was your vision or dream for your shop, Downtown Knits?

I had thought about opening a yarn shop for at least five years prior to leaving my career at IBM of 26 years. I belonged to the local knitting guild and there were not a lot of places available for us to go to meet as a group and the variety of yarns were small.  

We were lacking a space that offered a community atmosphere. A place for people to gather, socialize, make friends and create together. This was one of the main goals of what I wanted to do.  Prior to opening, I traveled to the northeast to visit local yarn shops to gain an understanding of what was out there and what I thought needed to be changed. I spent months talking to friends (fellow knitters) and other shop owners and began to craft a business plan. We opened May 2010 with very little inventory. I wanted to build my business around “what the customer wanted,” not what I thought they did. I asked each one of them when they came in to tell me their needs and that’s how it grew and continues to grow... To date, I’d say it’s exceeded my expectations...

What is the most rewarding part of owning your own business? The most challenging?

Most rewarding, that’s easy... The amazing friends I’ve made at the shop. Also, watching people come in, grab a seat on the couch and strike up a conversation with each other then to see their friendship blossom into something special.  There have been so many countless friendships established at Downtown Knits... this is what makes me the most proud!

Challenging – Simply put TIME. Owning a business consumes your every minute no matter where you are or what you are doing. Don’t get me wrong, I love it. Besides coffee, it’s what fuels me...  

Do you have any advice to give to small biz owners/entrepreneurs?

  • Do a business plan and look at it often, change it when needed. It will help you stay on task and focused. Mine is five years old now and I still look at it every three months to ensure I’m doing what I set out to do.
  • Get a good CPA and Bookkeeper, they will become your best friends in business.
  • LISTEN TO YOUR CUSTOMER, notice what they’re talking about, ask them for advice, get them involved.
  • When you’re ready hire a really good hard working team and make sure they are a reflection of you & your brand! Involve and listen to them, delegate... this is how you create loyalty.
  • Have FUN... it you don’t enjoy it, it will reflect on to your customers.
  • Last but not least... Sleep... it’s sometimes over rated, but sleep when you can... you need all your energy!

Fall Collection Preview!

Morgan CoxComment

Hello!  I am a newbie here in the blogosphere but I'd like to use this space to share updates on our brand, stories, inspiring artists and designers, DIY's , and other tidbits of interesting info with you all!  Here at Cuckoo Children's Co. we are working on our collection for Fall 2016/17...a long way's off right?  Not so much.  Turns out it takes quite a bit of time to get your first apparel collection on the ground and running.  We have more fabric to source, relationships to form, and funding to secure!  However I am sure the journey will be fruitful and that I will learn a lot along the way!

Here's a peek at our collection preview...inspiration, materials, and sketches! Hooray!