As a new mom, I’ve been drawn to and inspired by other fellow moms who are dynamically entrepreneurial – starting businesses in their own homes and using their ingenuity and the power of social media to share their talent with the world. Instagram is how I discovered the pretty-in-pink pleasures of Adaline and the Fairies. Founder and mother Kali Elizabeth Lewis, named her business after her daughter Adaline.
As a self-taught designer, she began this endeavor as a side hustle in 2017 offering handmade, dreamy gems for little ones such as French bows, fairy wands, dresses, toys, décor – and designer button jewelry from brands such as Prada, Chanel, and Dior). In staying true to her passion, her business was discovered by influencers such as Victoria K. L. and celebrities such as Gretchen Christine Rossi – and subsequently took off in 2020.
In my conversation with Kali, I chat with her about how she balances being an artist, entrepreneur, and mother – and advice she can offer for those seeking success on a similar path.
How do you envision each piece coming to life? Who (or what) inspires you?
My daughter is my muse. When she started ballet classes, I was overjoyed and so inspired that I had to do a ballet collection which features ballet bags, dresses, pillows, and slippers to celebrate. Another example is the tooth fairy pillow; while telling her about this fantastical figure, I presented her with the pillow (complete with a buttoned pocket for her tooth) I made her. This creation was inspired by my upbringing and childhood: I remember being gifted my own little tooth fairy box – which was painted by my mother, as she is also an artist. Overall, I had many positive memories growing up and my goal is to make Adaline’s childhood as whimsical and happy as possible.
In terms of materials, I try to source a lot of my items from other small businesses, local fabric stores, and Etsy. I spend a lot of time finding the perfect shades of pink and quality fabrics/trims. I order a lot of my pink trims and laces from a small shop in France. Quality is number one. I have a creative brain that is hard to shut off once I get an idea in my head.
In addition to your core collection pieces, I notice you also offer luxury button jewelry. Can you tell me about how you started this?
This is another idea that came to me in late 2020, I was on eBay and stumbled upon some designer buttons and thought those would make cute earrings. I purchased them – which was a little scary as I didn’t know if it would work – and was concerned that I was wasting money.
However, my husband took the initiative to help me by removing the button loops and researching the best way to adhere the jewelry together.
I posted these earrings on social media and the demand was instantaneous. I perfected the craft of reworking them, and now continue to use unique authentic pieces from a reputable fashion vintage dealer in Europe who does all our sourcing. This was something totally new and exciting (because it’s for moms!) Now whenever I share my latest designs (on my Instagram stories), they sell out immediately.
Are you able to share a few positive experiences that have touched your heart? Conversely, can you share some setbacks you’ve had – and how you triumphed over them?
I have met so many fabulous women, made lifelong friends, and discovered a lot about myself the last couple years. I am so grateful that I can do what I love, meet amazing people, and that this is my job. This is my dream career and I have to pinch myself sometimes!
One thing I have been working on (conquering) is imposter syndrome, which a lot of successful people can struggle with – but no one really talks about it. I think I deal with this issue at times because I’m quite a private person. However, I have been doing a lot of self-love and self-care since having my daughter; I also follow positive social media accounts with uplifting mantras and quotes. Lastly, I think having an opportunity to get to know my customers well, learning about how much they enjoy my products and hearing their kind praises – has all helped me a lot.
Overall, it’s hard to believe sometimes that a small town girl like myself has been graced in certain publications such as Vogue, celebrities have worn my items, and that we are currently selling on The Bay, an iconic Canadian company. All of this accomplished out of a small pink office in my house!
Do you have any tips for first-time and veteran mommies who dream about starting their own business?
I am still in the learning process of balancing it all. I strategically waited to put my focus on making this a business when my daughter was of school age and I had more free time.
However, it was challenging during the ‘pandemic years’ with all shut downs just as my business was taking off. As you can imagine, it can be extra challenging for little ones to deal with. In the case of my daughter (when she was 3 years old until she was about 5), she was cooped up inside the house for long stretches, especially in the colder months, because winters here in Muskoka can be pretty harsh. As a result, I had to improvise with lots of activities; so in addition to home schooling her, coloring and stickers books saved my life because it kept my daughter happy and occupied – they were the two things she didn’t need my full attention for while I worked.
Additionally, I find that if you can, include them in what you do for a living. For instance, my daughter helped me sometimes with packing orders and making sure fun stickers covered the shipping boxes!
Also, learn to be flexible. I remember I was on a zoom call with Elle magazine and I had to mute so many times with “mommy, mommy” in the background.
Lastly, my advice to moms wanting to start their own business is to make sure you love what you do, stay true and authentic to yourself, and it will shine through in your work.
You’ve said that “pink is a lifestyle” (a phrase you also sell emblazoned on a baseball cap) – is it safe to say that this shade is also your favorite color?
Yes! Pink is definitely my favorite color – pale pink, to be exact. A neutral blush. I have always been very picky about coloring, even as a child LOL! I just think this shade is a happy color, and I bond with others who feel the same! And yes absolutely, pink is a lifestyle.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with readers?
Motherhood is a beautiful and powerful thing: you can really discover yourself when you are doing something you truly love.