Rebekah Batson didn’t set out to become a children’s clothing extraordinaire, an advocate of women’s entrepreneurship and an inspiration to women at home and abroad. The 33-year-old daughter of a seamstress was a stay-at-home mom who wanted to save money by making cute hair bows and tutus for her daughter. The endeavor morphed into so much more, lending itself to a career using her talents to minister to others and making area kids look too darned cute!
How long has Mrs B’s Accessories been in business?
Mrs B’s Accessories became an official business in December of 2008, so almost five years.
What made you decide to go into business for yourself?
My husband and I always felt very strongly that I was to stay home with our children. We both grew up with stay-at-home mamas so this was very important to us. When we were blessed with a little girl in July of 2008, after two boys, I wanted to buy every hair bow and tutu in sight. Being fairly crafty myself, I started to make my own and a few other items to save money and to give as gifts to friends. It didn’t take long for my friends to start requesting items for themselves and for them to give as give as gifts, too. Pretty soon I had to charge at least for the materials and just got busy enough that I would maybe try this as a business. I started with just tutus, hair bows and fabric-covered wipe boxes, and some simple embellished T-shirts and onesies.
I took the leap and did my craft show in November of 2008. I decided to do it three days before the event and figured, if I don’t just go for it, I never will. I proudly represented my less-than-impressive corner booth (which was in fact a baker’s rack). A local boutique owner stopped by and studied my wipe boxes. She told me she came to the event looking for something unique for her shop and her friend saw me and told her she needed to come check out my display. She really liked my work and two weeks later, Mrs B’s was being sold in her boutique. Having been raised by an amazing seamstress for a mother, my love of sewing has grown so much. Now you won’t find many hair bows or wipe boxes, but lots of custom birthday outfits, clothing for both girls and boys, and all sorts of gifts for all ages.
What are some of the challenges you face balancing motherhood and entrepreneurship?
This is still a challenge for me. Both “being a mom” and “running a business” are no walk in the park that is for sure. When you mix the two, you really get stretched. For the first four years of my business, I worked from my home. It was very hard to separate work and home when it was always around me to remind of what project I could be working on instead of laundry and dishes. For those first years, I pretty much did the mommy and wife thing starting at 6:30 or 7 a.m. until 8:30 or 9 p.m., after my family went to bed. Then I would go down to my basement studio and work until about 3:30 or 4 a.m. I’d get a few hours of sleep, wake up and do it all over again. It was VERY hard, but I knew that in the grand scheme of things, it was temporary. I wasn’t willing to give up my time during the day with my kids and I wanted to work my business as much as I could so that when the day came that all my babies were in school, I was ready to take on whatever the Lord had for me. At the same time, I wanted to be so careful not to wish away the few precious years I have with my babies before they did start school.
In June of 2012, with my last little one in preschool part-time, I was blessed to move into my first studio located just two miles from my home. It was exactly what I needed for my business and with our family’s schedule; God’s timing was just perfect. It’s my space to spread out my work and be semi-organized. Now I know where all my materials are and it’s a good location for my local customers to come and pick up their order. It has allowed me to truly separate work from home, so when I am home, I am home. I don’t have projects in the next room screaming my name and distracting me from being HOME.
What did you do before Mrs B’s Accessories came into fruition?
I graduated from College of the Ozarks in May of 2003 with a degree in Family and Consumer Sciences and minors in Clothing and Textiles and Interior Design. That June, I got married, and one week after our honeymoon, we moved to Florida where my husband, Adam, when to school again. Knowing our stay there was temporary, I took an administrative job at a BMW dealership to help pay the bills. By the time he graduated 14 months later and we moved to Texas, I was pregnant with our first child. During my pregnancy I did some substitute teaching but once Seth was born, I officially became a stay-at-home mommy.
Between the business, all the expos you plan and those you attend, the mission trips and taking care of your family, how do you find time for yourself?
I try really hard to make sure I have a girl’s night every few months. My friends are really good about making sure it gets planned so that helps a lot. My husband and I also make a point to have a date night at least once a month. It’s very important to us.
Speaking of those mission trips, where do you go and what do you do with that endeavor?
For as long as I can remember, I have had a HUGE heart for missions. I grew up in a church that was very supportive of many missionaries and my parents had very close friends who were missionaries in places like Thailand and Africa. Our house was always where they would stay when they were in the states. I used to dream of being a missionary in Africa. In September 2012, in a casual conversation, my friend Mary Ann Lengye said I should come to Nicaragua with her and Project H.O.P.E. to teach the women there how to sew. My immediate response was, “Where do I sign up?” I instantly knew I was going, but responsibly asked my husband his thoughts, to which he replied, “Only if I can go, too!” Long story short, although he wasn’t able to go with me, I went in June.
Several of my friends and customers generously donated tons of sewing supplies and 10 sewing machines that we sent over ahead of us. Mary Ann and I named our new project “Sew Nicaragua,” and we have really enjoyed seeing how God is molding and growing this ministry into something really special. When we went, we took simple hand embroidery projects that were perfect for the women we spent time with in the cancer hospital. They so craved distraction and just something to do besides thinking about being sick and away from their families.
The group of ladies that captured my heart the most were the ones that I met at House of Hope. This amazing ministry works with women and young girls in the sex trade industry. They are fed the Word of God and taught a trade that they can use to give them dignity and support their families. I knew before we got there that we would be working with them but my heart was not prepared for what I learned there.
The poverty level of families in Nicaragua is one that would be hard for most Americans to wrap their brains around. If women can get a job that is not prostitution, it is usually working in a sugar cane field for $1 a day. Knowing this, I wanted the sewing projects we worked on to be ones that would be useful to them. When I told them I could teach them how to make cloth feminine pads, you would have thought I told them I could teach them to make bricks of gold.
These women cannot afford to buy feminine pads for themselves or for their daughters. They use rags and their daughters usually have to skip school for the week of their period. I still have a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that they can’t afford a pad. Not only was this project so valuable to themselves as women, but they saw the value of it in a business light, because all the women they know need them too. It was incredible to see them so empowered.
Sewing as a skill and a trade has already empowered many women in the community and on the Project H.O.P.E. base. I am excited to go again this Spring with a team to continue what God has planned.
What has been the most rewarding part about the business?
Mrs B’s Accessories has led me to so many amazing relationships, both professional and personal. I am such a social person and relationships are so valuable to me; the growth and exposure of my business makes everyday life so fun for me. Even if it is a brief encounter with a stranger at Hobby Lobby who has been following me for a few years, it’s so amazing. Owning my own business has definitely ignited a passion for women business owners. I now host and organize the Women In Business Shopping Events. Every Spring and Fall we celebrate businesses owned and run by local women. Our first event in the Fall of 2012 was a total success with 42 vendors and 400 guests, and we have continued to grow by leaps and bounds. Our Spring event will be held at the Springfield EXPO Center and will feature around 100 vendors. The women I have met through this event are just incredible! I count myself extremely lucky to have met each and every one of them.
What advice do you have to other mothers thinking about taking on their own business?
GO FOR IT! It won’t be easy and will not develop overnight, but you CAN do it! There is no get-rich-quick formula, but true success comes out of a woman who is true to herself, her family and her product or service.
Mrs B’s ACCESSORIES
To place a customized order for children’s clothing, accessories and gifts, visit Rebekah’s Facebook page and write on her wall or send her a message. Currently, there is a 21-business-day turnaround.