Derek Jensen

Mae Crawford

Derek Jensen
Mae Crawford

A local shop needed vendors.  Mae applied and quickly developed her own style for high quality children clothes.

Take us back to you as a kid. Who did you want to be?

Like most kids, I was all over the place. At one point I wanted to be a country music singer while at another I wanted to be a professional boxer. Homeschooling mom/business owner/seamstress was never on the list, though. 

What was last Monday like for you?

I like to get up before my kids to sip my coffee and get some work done. Once they're up, it's breakfast, chores, getting dressed. We spend the morning doing school work and break for lunch midday. After lunch I take my oldest to school for a class. Afterwards, we tend to be home having some down time before my husband gets off work and they know that's when they can pick out a show. Evening consists of dinner and probably a little bit more work before it's time to get the kids off to bed.   

Walk us through the days leading up to starting Mae & Co.?

Oh boy, that was a while ago. I remember seeing a post on Facebook for a local shop looking for vendors. I had been making clothing for my children for a few years and they were getting older, which meant they were getting pickier about what materials and styles they wanted me to make. I decided I'd apply and set aside time to work on my own style of clothing. Once I was accepted I quickly went into a whirlwind of getting a proper business together.

"I decided I'd apply and set aside time to work on my own style of clothing."

What keeps you busy?

I thrive on busy, so pretty much my entire life. I have my three kids that I homeschool. We have a farm that we've been renovating and slowly building an orchard on for the last 3 years. Plus, I run my business which includes markets, running my website, and stocking Swell Shop for Baby in the shops at Roosevelt. When I have free time, I tend to fill it up being involved in politics. 

How do you stay focused?

I'm a habitual list maker and organizer. When I feel like my brain is all over the place, I write down everything that's cluttering my thoughts and prioritize. If I know that I'm working on the most pressing task, I can relax and just focus without stressing about the rest. 

What’s been the biggest challenge?

I feel like the answer depends on the day. Sometimes it's finding a balance, sometimes it's forcing myself to do parts of running a business that aren't interesting to me (I'm looking at you sales taxes), and sometimes its getting myself out of a funk and feeling creative.

How did you overcome it?

I'm not one to stew on problems. Instead, I come up with a compromise or put my head down and push through the difficulty knowing it won't last forever. If I'm feeling uninspired, I try to get out and around other art or makers. Seeing creativity come to life is so motivating for me. 

"I'm not one to stew on problems."

You get to redo something you’ve done. What would that be and why?

I don't think I'd redo anything. I've learned a lot from the things that failed or went awry and I'm pretty happy with where I am now, but I also don't spend much time brooding over it. I've got too much ahead of me to focus on regrets. 

Someone is starting their own thing. What would you say to them if they came to you for advice?

I'd encourage them to focus on creating the highest quality product they possibly can and then to price it as such without hesitation. If you make quality products, you should be confident. Also, I tell people I often times use what I call the Spaghetti Method. I try a lot of things and whatever doesn't work, I discard. Whatever works, I put more effort into. Lastly, I would suggest they get involved with other local makers. Whether you're collaborating or just talking ideas, you can gain a lot of knowledge and insight from others. 

Why Des Moines?

I was born and raised in Pleasant Hill, just outside Des Moines. I thought for a long time I'd live a big city like Chicago or Denver once I was out of college. I even moved to Denver for a year, but I came to realize I like to have a bit of space and I hate traffic with a passion. 

What’s one new thing that has caught your eye?

I'm loving that enamel pins have made a comeback. I feel like I'm in middle school/high school again but I've been building my collection from local makers at markets. 

You can grant Des Moines one wish. What’s that wish?

A museum or an aquarium. As a homeschooling mom it really bums me out that we haven't brought those to our city. 

For someone new to DSM where do you suggest they go?

I'd have to get to know them and their personality, but I tend to encourage people to come visit us at our farm. I love sharing our space with others and inviting people to come pick peaches or hang around a bonfire. 

"Focus on creating the highest quality product they possibly can and then to price it as such without hesitation."

The most underrated thing in DSM is ________. Why? 

Shameless plug, but it's our handmade community. I'm consistently impressed with the quality and range of products available in our state.

What are you most proud of and why? 

I'm proud that my family and I dare to dream big and work hard to make those dreams happen. Maybe it's a little chaotic, but I love it and feel accomplished with all the small steps we complete. 

"I'm proud that my family and I dare to dream big and work hard to make those dreams happen."

It’s been six months, what do you hope to have accomplished?

I'd like to be in the downtown farmers market. In prior years my kids were young and I didn't think it was a good time to try that venue, but this year I'm ready to take on the challenge and hope to be accepted. 

One thing that matters most to you is what? 

Knowledge. I really like to learn and am constantly seeking to learn something new. Teaching my children has been awesome for this. I'm relearning basics with them, sometimes with new techniques and often with new or updated information that's different from my education. 

Photo credit: Raelyn Ramey