Three Mothers

Change is in the air everywhere, including here at Mommy Mailbox. Sarah, Ainsley and I are thrilled to share that we’re passing the reins to another hard working mama, Kate Gray. Kate has a background in subscription boxes and brings that instinct for style that our subscribers have come to expect from Mommy Mailbox. We’ll give her the space to share her story but we couldn’t be more excited to see her take the business to the next level and bring our mission to even more mothers.

The three of us started this business exactly two years ago. We each had two little kids at home, we wanted to keep our professional skillsets fresh and we were wondering what the next phase looked like for each of us. After flushing out the initial concept of Mommy Mailbox (and a few sleepless nights), we finally decided, Why not? Let’s go for it. We’re as ready as we’ll ever be. We sent out a few emails to vendors and were overwhelmed at the immediate positive responses. Our baby with three mothers was born.

Then came the work. We built our brand from scratch on a shoestring budget with little but sweat equity and a discerning eye. We fit in emails, orders, coding, pinning, marketing, shipping and branding in the stolen moments of naptime, nighttime and predawn hours because we knew this was an idea worth sacrificing for. One that could fulfill other mothers nationwide while also filling our own cups.  

The business grew. And grew. Opportunities came knocking, connections were made and brands we never dreamed would look our way were suddenly excited to be our partners. It was everything we wanted it to be and, dare I say it, often even more.  

It’s been far from easy of course. We’ve lost plenty of sleep, we’ve disagreed (once in a while) and we’ve shed tears. Our group text stream is endless and we’ve clocked more hours on the phone than a teenage girl with her first boyfriend.

But just as our business left the infant stage behind, our families were changing too. New babies, new houses, new jobs have meant our families needed us in ways we wanted to give. In a bittersweet moment, our trio realized it was time to send our baby out into the world to be nurtured by another mother. For now, our focus will be on our families and we are incredibly grateful this business has given us the chance to now do that. Kate is more than ready to take the business to the next step and you’ll only notice better and better boxes going forward.

To our subscribers and followers, we’ve loved sharing this journey with you. We appreciate your support SO so very much. We know big things are still to come from each of us personally and professionally and we can’t wait to explore what’s next.

XO,

Sarah, Jamie and Ainsley

Capturing Treasured Moments with TimeShel

I’ve been saying this for years, but I really want to be more organized with our photos. Between my iphone, my husband’s iphone and my nice camera, we are constantly snapping pictures of our kids but it seems like we rarely look at them again, much less print or frame them. In fact, it wasn’t too long ago that I realized most the framed photos in my house were from nearly five years ago when my little one was a baby! Embarrassing but reality and don’t tell me I’m alone.

Timeshel
Timeshel
Timeshel

We are so excited to partner with TimeShel, an app that lets you select photos from your iPhone, then delivers them to your doorstep beautifully printed. Like professional quality prints with gorgeous paper and coloring. It literally takes seconds once you’ve downloaded the app and you can do it every month for pretty cheap.

We’re always editing photos for Mommy Mailbox which means I rarely have time to do much with my personal photos beyond my Instagram feed. These are all moments I want to treasure and keep so I used TimeShel to print my feed in 4x6 prints and you guys, look how pretty!

Every subscriber received a code for a month of free prints in their September box. Show us your treasured moments you printed!

Hello Weekend

by Ainsley

It's Friday and I'm thrilled about it!  If you haven't grabbed our October box yet you can get it here.

Ainsley Anderson | Mommy Mailbox

Fall is in the air and I have been doing lots of browsing online the past couple weeks to update my wardrobe.  A few things I'm excited about...

Loving this knit bell-sleeve dress and this courier shirtdress in gordon plaid.

I am always on the hunt for a great pair of petite skinny jeans.  I'm only 5'0 and a good fit (that is actually tight around the ankle) is so hard to come by - but these jeans fit perfect.  If you're petite grab a pair.

Recently ordered this skirt, this skirt, this top and these flats.

Updated my daughters fall wardrobe with - this top, this top, this top and this dress.

Fall also = earlier bed times for the kids.  So I'm loving this this + this and sporting this hoodie on the weekends.   

xo Ainsley

Behind the Lens

by Ainsley Anderson

A huge chunk of my job for Mommy Mailbox is photography.  I am always working on photos for Instagram, the blog, the website, and a random marketing projects.  I'm normally a pretty clean and organized person but when I’m in my ‘creative zone’ all bets are off.  After a few hours of a Mommy Mailbox photo shoot it looks like a bomb has gone off in my house.  But I love it, the messier it gets the more creative I feel.  

My kids are usually in daycare when I have a photo shoot planned but every once in awhile I have to work while they are around and they just can't help themselves.

Rugs USA

by Ainsley Anderson

My go-to place to shop for rugs is Rugs USA. Rugs USA offers affordable, durable rugs. Their rugs fit everyone’s budget without skimping on quality.  I can always achieve “the look for hundreds less” when I compare their rugs to those on other retailers.

I bought this rug for nook 2 year ago from Rugs USA.  I wasn’t sure how it’d hold up because it was so affordable.  Since we had just moved into a new house and I wanted all new furniture, I needed to save money where I could.  You guys!  This rug has held up beautifully.  Two year later with many spills and millions of passes of the vacuum ---it still looks brand new.  I’ve read horror stories of jute rugs falling apart but my Rugs USA jute has been a dream.

Rugs USA | Ainsley Anderson |  Vintage Castle Medallion Rug here.
Rugs USA Vintage Castle Medallion Rug here.
Rugs USA Vintage Castle Medallion Rug

A few weeks back I was browsing through Rugs USA and fell in love with this rug.  As soon as I unrolled the rug, I was amazed at how thick and durable the rug actually was.  I was expecting a blue rug but I was shocked at how many colors it had-- it picked up the warm brown of my sofa, the ashy brown of my wood floor, the gray tones in my pillows, and the creamy canvas in my armchairs.  When my mom saw it for the first time, she started telling me all the places she wanted it in her house.  It really is that good! You can find this same Vintage Castle Medallion Rug here.

And since I can’t help myself… I’m got my eye on this one for our play room, this, this or this for my office, this in navy or this for my son’s room and this one for my daughters room.

xo Ainsley

Swim Suit Season is here!

by Ainsley Anderson

A few tips before you buy your next suit:

1.  Don't be afraid to splurge on your suit. A good quality suit will flatter your body.  Plus I'd rather people be looking at my cute suit than my stretch marks.

2.  Find the right fit for your chest.  Different cups can help make your body feel more proportioned.  For example a BANDEAU top can make your chest feel bigger (great if you're small chested).  If you don't know your preferred 'chest' order 3-5 different suits with different cups styles, try them on and return what doesn't flatter your body.  Once you know what fits best, you can safely order that similar style year after year.

3.  Order suits online.  Personally I'd much rather try on swim suits in my bedroom than in a tiny dressing room and I like having a second opinion (which can be weird in the dressing room). 

4.  Nervous about getting the right size?  Measure your body!  Simple advice a girl friend shared with me years ago and I've continued to share with all my friends.  I swear it never fails!  Most sites have a sizing chart - measure your body, find your size and it should fit like a glove.

swim suits 2016

one | two | three | four | five | six | seven | eight | nine

Moments with Moms: Ainsley Anderson

Sharing motherhood through our Moments with Moms blog series has been a part of Mommy Mailbox since the beginning. As we celebrate our first year in business, we felt it was only fitting that we take a turn in the hot seat! Today, we turned the questions around and interviewed each other about the way we parent. Turns out that although we run a business together, we’re all raising our kids a bit differently! Read about how each of us are doing motherhood, and grab our December box here to get all our favorites this holiday season.

ainsley anderson
ainsley anderson
ainsley anderson

Tell us what you do for Mommy Mailbox.

First, I designed and developed our Mommy Mailbox website. On a daily basis I am managing box subscriptions, inventory, email subscribers, doing site updates and running the blog. I am also in charge of all photography -- I style and edit every single photo you see on Instagram (and up until 2 months ago I was running all our social media on a daily basis… thank goodness I have some help with that now!)  I also am the one responsible for creating all things visual such as logos, stickers, postcards, magazine ads, and marketing emails.

Running Mommy Mailbox is a lot of work but luckily I LOVE what I do.

 

Why did you decide to jump onboard this small business adventure?

Sarah was my close friend (and neighbor) from my prior life in California. She called me one day to catch up and told me all about her business idea. Later than night, I explained the concept of ‘‘Mommy Mailbox’” to my husband. It was probably a 5 minute conversation while I finished cooking dinner and that’s all it took. He was 150% on board and that really gave me the confidence to commit. My husband had just started a two year MBA program and I think he liked the idea of me having a ‘project’ since he’d be gone a lot.

 

What has it added to your life?

I love having an outlet to create and there is never a shortage of projects.  Creating a business from scratch and seeing it take off is the best feeling. I am really happy with how we’ve grown and I know part of its success is what I’ve brought to the table. I’ve learned so much this past year about running a business and I love the people I work with.

And of course, it has kept me plenty busy those nights my husband is on campus.

 

How has life changed for you (both better and harder) since becoming a mother?

I love my kids so much and I feel like I’m growing up with them. I’ve yet to have a perfect day of parenting but luckily kids forgive and forget. I’m in constant awe of a child’s love for their mother. To them my coloring is the best, my stories are the funniest, my tickles, my hugs ---- it’s all so beautiful in their little eyes.

Motherhood has been a journey for me. For a long time I tried to fit this ‘perfect mommy’ mold. Guess what?  Cloth diapers were too much work and organic milk tastes weird to me. I have experimented a lot and have weeded out the 'perfect mommy pressures' I used to feel.  I am running my family the way I want to.

So I may not bake homemade bread, like....ever.  But I do enjoy taking beautiful pictures of my kids & have been known to do some incredible things with legos.  I just can’t think of anything I’d rather give my children than a mother that knows who she is and loves herself.

 

What are you most looking forward to about future stages of parenting?

Part of me really doesn’t want my children to get any older. I love my small children and I’m very happy where I’m at. However, I do have dreams of throwing away the stroller and carseats and spending Saturday’s at the mall with my teenage daughter.

 

What makes you most nervous about being a mom?

All the things I know I still have to teach my children. How will I teach them to be independent? To be kind?  To work?  To  learn?  To give?  To love?  Shaping them into the person they’ll become is such a heavy load to bear.

 

What advice would you give to an expecting mother?

There is no shame in crawling into baby land and staying. I had both my babies in the winter-- so long days in the house & staying in my pj’s for days was my favorite part of the newborn phase.  Slow down and savor it while you can. 

 

What about a small business owner?

Give it everything you’ve got.  Running and owning a company takes a whole lot of blood, sweat, and tears. Be prepared for sleepless nights and your mind running constantly.  Being a small business owner will stretch you in ways you didn’t know you could be stretched, just set goals and don’t give up.  When catastrophes strike (and they might) move on and stay positive.  

 

You recently built a new house. Tell us about your style at home.

We have white walls and wood floors and I couldn’t love it more.  I prefer my home to be simple and classic with mixes of traditional and modern elements. My mantra in life is less is more and quality not quantity. That is reflected in my home. I save up, sell stuff and wait to buy what I will love for a long time.  When designing I stick to my favorite 3-4 stores and trust my gut.  My goal: a home that is cozy and comfortable.

I’m Cheating on My Doc with Amwell

Attention time-strapped mothers, let me tell you how I saved an hour and a half yesterday and got something done at the same time. Have you guys heard about Amwell? Amwell is an app that allows you to video chat with an actual MD from anywhere. Scheduling, waiting and debating about a doctor visit are all out the window. Amwell provided all our November box subscribers with a free “visit” and I knew this week was the perfect chance to try it out.

amwell review
  photos by by  Ainsley Anderson

photos by by Ainsley Anderson

Let me start by saying I recently moved and don’t yet have a new family physician. A few weeks ago I came down with what I was pretty sure was strep. After two miserable days, my equally miserable husband talked me into calling around to find a doctor. I spent 30 minutes navigating my insurance company’s website to find nearby providers, then called four trying to get an appointment. None would get me in that week since I was a new patient. NONE! I was so desperate I ended up going to urgent care, waiting for over an hour and plunking down $55 to be treated (it was indeed strep).

Now here we are a few weeks later and I could feel the telltale signs of a whopper cold sore brewing at the corner of my lip. I promise I’m actually a pretty healthy person but the combo of the Born for This box launch + Halloween did me in.

Enter Amwell. Here’s how it works:

  • Download from app store and go through the sign up process.

  • Sync your health information. I didn’t do this because I was anxious to talk to a doctor but later wished I had. I’ll definitely do it next time so the doctor can see my medications, concerns, etc.

  • Select a provider – two were available to talk to me right away. The app also let me select a pharmacy in my zip code.

The next part was what took actual work on my end. I went through a medical history checklist, then several screens of entering my insurance info. Although it’s a bit tedious, it’s the same process I’d go through in my doctor’s office and I appreciated that the Amwell doctor reviewed my information before she spoke with me. So maybe I should just quit whining. After I entered my insurance information, my visit was discounted from $49 to $9 (my plan doesn’t have copays), which was far less than I paid for urgent care.

The app connected me with a doctor who was in California but was licensed in Arizona where I am. We talked for a few minutes, went over my concerns, I held the phone awkwardly up to my lip so she could see the sore…..you get the idea. By the time the ten-minute conversation was over, she had sent my prescription to my pharmacy and I was back to my to-do list.

From start to finish, the registration and call took me a total of 20 minutes. Roughly the same amount of time I would have sat on hold to make an appointment with a family physician. Kidding (sort of.)

In short, there are a few hoops to jump through the first time around but after that, I can’t imagine the process being any easier. I estimated that it saved me about 90 minutes overall and all the hassle of fitting in a doctor visit into our day. I can see my Amwell being a lifesaver for my family when we travel too.

Have you ever tried telemedicine? What do you think of online health care?

XO,

Jamie

SHOP STRANDS

by Ainsley Anderson

We have gotten fabulous reviews about the Shop Strands necklace in our March Mommy Mailbox.  It really is the perfect touch to any outfit.  We've dressed it up, dressed it down and the compliments just keep coming.  Today we chat with the woman behind Shop Strands.  Meg Ham and Ellery Pugmire are best friends, mothers, and inspiring business women. Read below...

#shopstrands #mommymailbox
#shopstrands #mommymailbox
#shopstrands #mommymailbox

Q: What inspired you to create Shop Strands?

A: As stay-at-home moms we are all about practical, comfortable, versatile fashion and we noticed how adding a simple piece or two of jewelry could really help us at least appear, if not feel pulled together, and pretty. We wanted to offer on-trend accessories that fit the bill on what's cool now, but meet that quota in an affordable price range.

We also thought that starting a business together would help give us an outlet without requiring us to be away from our kiddos more than we prefer. Talking on the phone every single day and exchanging hilarious business related texts has definitely been an upside. We get to learn and laugh together as we go!

Q: What are your current favorites listed in your shop?

A: Ellery's: Petite Druzy Cuff Antique Vertical Bar Pendant Tiny Tortoise Brick Studs Gray Hi-Lo Tee Strands Aztec Poncho

Megan's: Simple Gold Bracelet Pink Stone Pendant Turquoise Gold Fringe Necklace  Simple Turquoise Pendant

... All of these pieces have been on serious rotation the last few months for us. We love them, and live in them. Great, great pieces here.

Q: What advice would you give to moms wanting to start their own business?

A:  We've said time and time again, that it's really just a matter of doing it. That's the hard part, but it's also the part that makes all the difference. Anyone can dream, and anyone can come up with a great idea, but a stick-to-it attitude and work ethic is the difference when it comes to making that great idea become a reality.

If you want to have your own business- hang in there! There will be good, exciting times, and there will be times that are a down-right drag. Ride the rollercoaster, but stay on the ride! It's worth it. 

Also, although some people would say otherwise, but having a friend to do it with has been a major plus side for us. We think alike and are best friends, so we get along great, and just like any good relationship, we really depend on each other for strength. It seems that when one of us is burned out or discouraged the other one's got a second wind and some inspiration up their sleeve.

Q: What are you hoping to add to your wardrobe this spring? 

A: Ellery: I've been eyeing these great sandals for a month or two now. These scream spring to me! I can see them with light, easy dresses or shorts and a classic white button-up.

Also wanting to incorporate a couple cute graphic tees into my exercise wardrobe. Dreaming of wearing this with my Athleta leggings to my next yoga class.

Megan: Dying to get my hands on these babies. So glad to see them make a come back and happy they provide support also, which I desperately need going to Disneyland!! i recently bought these shirts, i'm obsessed with the fit and length. Also i don't mind getting spit up on them ;)

Celebrate by Kate

by Ainsley Anderson

When my Mommy Mailbox arrived this month, my daughter was totally taken by the Celebrate by Kate confetti.  Confetti... so simple, but a total luxury at our house.  Deep down I wanted to save it for our next party, but she begged and begged.  So why not have a little fun?  We made our weekly tea party a little more special, stuffed some in our Valentines, made a festive garland and took some belated birthday photos she actually smiled through.

#celebratebykate #mommymailbox
#celebratebykate #mommymailbox
#celebratebykate #mommymailbox
#celebratebykate #mommymailbox
#celebratebykate #mommymailbox
#celebratebykate #mommymailbox

As a mom I always try to have cute party supplies on hand for last minute celebrations, its an easy way to make life fun.  So obviously I'm swooning over the Celebrate by Kate shop in Madeira, Ohio.  Pretty sure pink + gold is my love language. 

#mommymailbox #celebratebykate

RISE BISCUIT

Mmmm, baking is my love language. We found the Rise Biscuit Co mix in our February box at the Phoenix Flea where they sold out twice! One bite and we knew why. Here we are enjoying a little pre-Valentines Day snack time with these babies and our own babies.

#mommymailbox #risebiscuitmix #februarymommymailbox
#mommymailbox #risebiscuitmix #februarymommymailbox
#mommymailbox #risebiscuitmix #februarymommymailbox
#mommymailbox #risebiscuitmix #februarymommymailbox
#mommymailbox #risebiscuitmix #februarymommymailbox
  Photos by  Ainsley Anderson

You must try your Rise Biscuit slathered in cream and strawberries.  If this isn't the ultimate treat for moms I don't know what is!

I’ve been trying really hard to allow my kids to make their own choices for meals. Within my boundaries of course! For example, for dinner, we always have a protein, and a veggie and then something else. Last night, we had BBQ Ribs and creamed corn, but our dinner just didn’t feel complete. I pulled out my buttermilk biscuit mix from Rise Biscuit Co and the kids and I had a great time mixing, kneading, and shaping the biscuits. The biscuits were the perfect addition to our dinner and they definitely gave our meal the homecooked taste and feel that I needed last night.


I love these biscuits so much I’m having them for breakfast again today! Pull out your mix and have our kids help make these buttermilk biscuits with you!  Don’t forget to hashtag a picture of your biscuits using #risebiscuitco.

ONE LOVE ORGANICS

I know we shouldn't play favorites, but lets --our team is obsessed with the Dry Shampoo from One Love Organics featured in our January 2015 box.  Here is why:  it smells like you're laying on the beaches of Hawaii, it blends into your hair effortlessly and it lasts more than one day!  The cute packaging is just the cherry on top.  Missed our January box?  Treat yourself to this great product here.

Below, Ainsley Anderson shares her favorite greasy hair style, an easy side braid that is the perfect excuse to go even longer between washes.

One Love Organics for Mommy Mailbox

MAKE PIE PICKS

by Ainsley Anderson

Guys, a confession. I’ve been cheating on my statement necklaces a whole lot with delicate, subtle pieces like this little lovely from Make Pie Not War that was featured in our December box. Alana Little makes each piece by hand and we love the sentiments behind her work. Pretty sure if we were all eating more pie, there’d be a lot less to be unhappy out. Check out a few more of my favorites from Make Pie below.

ainsley anderson
makepienotwar mommymailbox

xo Ainsley

MOMMY LIPS

by Ainsley Anderson

Most days you'll find me in sweat pants, cleaning my kitchen and fighting my baby as he tries to crawl into the dishwasher. As a mother I have to make a conscious effort to feel like a woman and I start with my lips. I've found that nothing makes me feel more "human" than a little lip color.

Because my mommy lips are constantly kissing, smiling, and "shhhhh"-ing - finding the perfect lip-fit is key. No kid wants their cheeks to be covered in pigment but that can make maintaining pretty lips challenging. Today we are sharing our favorite mommy lip tips.

PERFECTMOMMYLIPS

As a  busy mom living in a dry climate, Sarah loves her Burts Bees tinted chapstick in Pink Blossom. Her gorgeous lip secret is that she heals her chapped lips with Aquaphor (the lotions she uses for her kids!), which provides great moisture and gives them a pretty shine. 

mommymailboxjamie

Jamie loves Mac Viva Glam but also keeps a tube of Sonia Kashuk Sheer Pink Lust in her bag at all times. Great color for everyday, lovely packaging and at a great price point. 

ainsleyanderson

I love lipstick and I have an enviable collection of colors. MAC Please Me is my tried and true every day staple, it is basically the same color as my lips with a pop of pink.  My favorite part is the matte finish so I hardly know its there.  I swear by it.  I exfoliate my lips on a regular basis and I'm obsessed with Sara Happ's lip scrub. I also never put on my lipstick until I've flossed my teeth, I promise it just makes my lipstick go on better ;).

It's almost the holidays so don't be afraid to slather a little something on those pretty lips of yours and try something new.