We first met Justine of Parsy and the Date almost two years ago, when she started selling the cutest little dinosaur necklaces. Both of our girls were going through a dino stage, so we were so excited to find a funky, gender-neutral accessory that Maisie and Nory would love. Today, Justine has grown her brand to include a variety of accessories, toys, surprise boxes, and some of the most unique collaborations within the handmade world. We're so excited to share a little bit more about her below. Be sure to follow her on instagram and check out her latest collaboration!
When did you start your business and why?
Parsy & the Date has been in business for a little more than two years. There very honestly wasn't originally a why behind it. I have dabbled in making jewelry here and there throughout my life. Pretend shopkeeping was a favorite pastime for me as a child. Making things for my daughter was a natural extension of my interests. Sharing with friends, and then selling to a small online group of fashion-focused mothers was what happened next. I didn't ever have a real plan. My husband built a website and here we are. The first few months I sort of regretted opening and making this step that I didn't feel ready for. I am a deeply private person and it felt like too much exposure for me. I wasn't sure if this was a good fit, but over time I feel like I have really grown with the business. At this point, I couldn't imagine not having this creative outlet. It can be truly fulfilling.
What is the meaning behind your shop name?
My daughter's name is Parsons. She was named after her great-grandfather. We call her Parsy. When she was tiny she would pretend to write letters. She would finish them by scribbling something while saying aloud, "Kind Regards, Parsy and the date", not knowing the actual calendar date. She signed her art similarly. When I needed a name for the webshop my husband had built I figured that I would like to sign my work as she signs hers. "Parsy & the Date" is sort of the seal of completion for each piece that leaves my hands. It likes putting a signature on my work.
What inspires you?
Inspiration for me can come from almost anywhere, colors and textures in particular. I feel like when I first began making, inspiration was very literal for me. I was directly inspired by the findings I would stumble upon. I sort of allowed them to tell me what they wanted to be or maybe sometimes even limited them to what they could be based on my abilities. As I have grown in my design process, inspiration has become much more abstract. I get a vision of something and try my best to translate that abstract idea into a tangible piece. Often that means asking for help from other makers whose skill level surpasses mine.
What did you do before joining the handmade world?
I have been a stay at home mama since the birth of my daughter in 2012. My jobs and hobbies varied greatly over the years before that. I don't feel that any of them ever suited me fully. I never pursued anything far enough, with the exception of being a wife and mother, to make it worthy of note at this point. I can genuinely say that this is the very first time I feel like a business has ever actually fit me, which is rather ironic considering the amount of self-doubt I felt in the beginning.
What is your greatest struggle with your business?
There are many. As with most parents, balance is my biggest concern. It is cliche for a reason. It can be a real challenge to compartmentalize your time when you have so many very different tasks to complete in one location. I work out of our home, I homeschool my daughter, and I, of course, have all of the other responsibilities that any spouse or parent or person has within their home. I cannot do it all. I'm always happier when I just accept that.
What is your favorite part of your business?
One of my absolute favorite parts of shopkeeping is working with fellow shop owners. Whether it's in collaboration or simply just giving and receiving advice. I have connected with many other makers and business owners in a way that I very much appreciate.
What’s one unique/quirky/funny thing about yourself?
Oh gosh, I am painfully uninteresting. Depending on who I am speaking with I feel like the things I share that seem to elicit the most jaw drops are my father's age and having a home birth. My father turned ninety this year. I am thirty-three today (as I type this). So that seems to come as quite a shock to many. I always feel like my father experienced many different lifetimes before he had me. In many ways that had an impact on shaping who I am. The second topic that sometimes surprises some is that I had my daughter at home. I'm really fortunate to live in a very naturally minded community. I had so many fantastic options for our home-birth. For people not familiar with home birth it often sounds much more fantastical than it actually was.
Thinking into the future, where do you see yourself and your business going?
There are a few different things I would like to see come from Parsy & the Date. I have always said that I am an editor at heart. I do enjoy designing, but I know that there are many who are supremely more talented than I. Editing seems to be something that comes easily to me. I have worked with a handful of other small shops on mini collections in this capacity. I feel like I am good at looking at what they do and pulling out the best from it, essentially editing their aesthetic and blending it with my perspective. I would somehow like to see that translate into consulting of some sort in the future. I would also like to continue creating new pieces for my shop and adding more of my favorite brands, artists, and designers.
What is your favorite thing to do in downtime or to relax?
I'm pretty happy to just watch an episode of an addicting show at night. Enjoying a great meal before makes it even better. I am fussy about the quality of both.
What is one piece of advice you could give someone who wants to start their own handmade brand?
Have a perspective, offer something only you can. Most anyone can reproduce something with a little practice. Absolutely no one else can see the world exactly how you do, express that.
What’s your favorite piece you’ve ever made?
My favorites are ever changing. They evolve as my taste does. I really love working with vintage components. I love texture, color, prints. My favorite pieces are always those comprised of unique textiles.
How can customers browse your goods?
You can find me @parsyandthedate on Instagram or at parsyandthedate.com. If you are feeling really enthusiastic you can pop over to Parsy & the Date for Eclectic Children on Facebook for a bit of behind the scenes fanciness.