As a new mom, I have been drawn to and inspired by other moms who are dynamically entrepreneurial: starting businesses in their own homes and using their ingenuity and the power of social media to share their talents with the world. Instagram is how I discovered the pretty pink delights 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 dreamy handmade gems for little ones, such as French laces, magic wands, dresses, toys, décor, and designer button jewelry from brands like Prada, Chanel and diore). Staying true to her passion, her business was discovered by influencers like Victoria KL and celebrities like Gretchen Christine Rossi, and subsequently took off in 2020.
In my conversation with Kali, I talk to her about how she balances being an artist, entrepreneur, and mother, and the advice she can offer to those seeking success on a similar path.
How do you imagine each piece comes to life? Who or what inspires you?
My daughter is my muse. When she started ballet classes, she filled me with joy and inspired me so much that I had to make a ballet collection including ballet bags, dresses, pillows and slippers to celebrate. Another example is the tooth fairy pillow; While I was telling her about this fantastic figure, I handed her the pillow (complete with a buttoned pocket for her tooth) that I made for her. This creation was inspired by my upbringing and childhood: I remember that I was given my own tooth fairy box, which was painted by my mother, since she is also an artist. Overall, I had a lot of positive memories growing up and my goal is to make Adaline’s childhood as whimsical and happy as possible.
As for 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 and 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 turn off once I have an idea in my head.
In addition to the pieces from your main collection, I note that you also offer luxury button jewelry. Can you tell me how you started this?
This is another idea that came to me in late 2020, I was on eBay and came across some designer buttons and thought these would be cute earrings. I bought them, which was kind of scary because I didn’t know if they would work, and I was worried I was wasting money.
However, my husband took the initiative to help me by removing the buttons and researching the best way to attach the jewelry.
I posted these earrings on social media and the demand was instant. I’ve perfected the craft of reworking them and now continue to use authentic one-of-a-kind pieces from a renowned European vintage fashion retailer who handles all of our sourcing. This was something totally new and exciting (because it’s for moms!) Now every time I share my latest designs (on my Instagram stories), they sell out immediately.
Can you share some positive experiences that have touched your heart? Instead, can you share some setbacks you’ve had and how you overcame them?
I have met so many fabulous women, made friends for life and discovered so much about myself in the last two years. I am so grateful to be able to do what I love, meet amazing people and have this as my job. This is my dream career and sometimes I have to pinch myself!
One thing I’ve been working on (conquering) is imposter syndrome, which a lot of successful people may struggle with, but no one really talks about. I think I deal with this topic sometimes because I’m a pretty private person. However, I have been doing a lot of self-love and self-care since I had my daughter; I also follow positive accounts on social media with mantras and uplifting quotes. Lastly, I think having the opportunity to get to know my customers well, to know how much they enjoy my products and to hear their kind compliments has helped me a lot.
In general, sometimes it’s hard to believe that a small town girl like me has been featured in certain publications like Vogue, that celebrities have worn my items and that we are currently selling at The Bay, an iconic Canadian company. All of this accomplished from a small pink office in my home!
Do you have any advice for new and veteran moms who dream of starting their own business?
I’m still in the learning process of balancing it all. I strategically waited to focus on making this a business when my daughter was in school and I had more free time.
However, it was challenging during the ‘pandemic years’ with all the closures just as my business was taking off. As you can imagine, it can be an extra challenge for little ones. In my daughter’s case (from the age of 3 to 5), she was cooped up inside the house for long periods, especially in the colder months, because the winters here in Muskoka can be quite harsh. As a result, I had to improvise with many activities; so in addition to homeschooling her, the coloring and sticker books saved my life because they kept my daughter happy and busy; those were the two things she didn’t need my full attention on while I was working.
Also, I think if you can, include them in what you do for a living. For example, my daughter would sometimes help me pack the orders and make sure the shipping boxes were covered with fun stickers.
Also, learn to be flexible. I remember being on a zoom call with Elle magazine and having to mute so many times with “mommy, mommy” in the background.
Lastly, my advice to moms who want to start their own business is to make sure you love what you do, stay true and authentic to yourself, and that will shine through in your work.
You have said that “pink is a lifestyle” (a phrase that you also sell stamped 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 colors, even when I was a child. Hahaha! I just think this shade is a happy color, and I bond with others who feel the same way! And yes, absolutely, pink is a lifestyle.
Is there anything else you would like to share with readers?
Motherhood is a beautiful and powerful thing: you can really discover yourself when you’re doing something you really love.