Workspace Tour: Holly Marsh of MarshMueller

We're excited today to present another studio tour from one of our members! Holly Marsh of MarshMueller is now on her third studio-- so she has a lot to say about the pros and cons of being at home vs. having a separate studio space. And we are so glad she's been able to adapt in the different phases of her life. Read on to see where she's been and where she's at now!

Q: Please, introduce yourself!
A: I'm Holly, and I run MarshMueller, a handmade business creating quirky, yet necessary accessories for babies, kiddos, and humans like you. I started my business while on maternity leave with a colicky baby over five years ago, and it has grown from small Etsy shop to a pretty much full-time business, selling across multiple channels and in 20+ retail stores down the West coast. 

I tend to make items that fall on the practical side, as I was super Type A when it came to my baby registry when pregnant with my first child, and then realized within that first year of parenthood that many of the not-so-cute items were used constantly, and the "cute" items rendered themselves useless. I designed all of my items based on my needs as a parent, but use bright, cheerful fabrics with a side of quirkiness. I live in Astoria, Oregon (Goonieville, yo!), with my husband of almost 13 years, our two boys (ages five and two), our two Pomeranians (Marley and Ziggy), and our cat Roxie. 

Q: What sort of workspace set up do you have now and has it changed at all since you started?
A: I'm currently in a studio in a large room on the second floor of our home, which was built in 1940. I'm incredibly fortunate to have such a large space. I'm still rearranging it to fit my needs, but it's so far the largest space I've had for my business.

I've moved my studio three times- it was born in my 900-square-foot home in Portland, Oregon, then moved into a different bedroom when my son outgrew his nursery (his was the only room in the house with French doors, so it was a safety issue), and then I moved my studio to a bona fide studio space down the street from our house when our second kiddo was born. 

Fabric! I currently have a mix of bolts of cotton and mini-bolts of cotton. In the last few years, I pivoted my business toward wholesale, and buying fabric by the bolt not only gives me better margin, it also gives retailers longevity and it gives me peace of mind that I won't run out of a certain print right away.

Fabric! I currently have a mix of bolts of cotton and mini-bolts of cotton. In the last few years, I pivoted my business toward wholesale, and buying fabric by the bolt not only gives me better margin, it also gives retailers longevity and it gives me peace of mind that I won't run out of a certain print right away.

Having an offsite studio definitely helped me up the ante (literally and mentally) with my business. It helped me take it more seriously, which was serendipitous, as it was also the year I did my first trade show, and hired my first sales rep. The offsite studio helped me schedule my work time around my infant son's nap schedule and my older son's preschool schedule. It had an incredible amount of natural light, which made product photography easy (it's not easy most days in the Pacific Northwest). 

Pros of this studio space: Tons of natural light, secure building, relatively inexpensive rent. Literally two minutes down the hill from my house.

Pros of this studio space: Tons of natural light, secure building, relatively inexpensive rent. Literally two minutes down the hill from my house.

With the pros of an offsite business, there were definitely some cons. Between two children and a part-time job (gotta love consistent income!), the available time to work during the day was (and still is) super limited. I've built my items and my business during the evening hours, and that did not change when I moved my studio offsite.

This created an extra burden on my husband, who was with the kids when I worked offsite, so I wasn't able to work as late as I was used to; the dude had to get to bed at a decent time so he could function at work the next day! The building my studio was in also had a lack of exterior lighting, which was unsettling when going to work at night, not to mention the creepy clown homage displayed on a wall in the hallway leading to my studio (I'll save you the nightmares and won't include photos). 

I had moved my studio out of our 900-square-foot house in Portland because of this guy:

I had moved my studio out of our 900-square-foot house in Portland because of this guy:

I'm currently thrilled to have my studio back home, as I feel I can co-parent and work better. I can work during naptimes and after bedtimes, all the while keeping an ear out for any kiddos waking up (thankfully they are pretty good at sleeping through the night *knocks on wood*). While my studio took three coats of paint to cover the stain applied to the high-quality tongue-in-groove paneling, I'm super happy with the fact that I'm back home.

I do hope to move my studio offsite again once my youngest enters Kindergarten, as it will offer a better "work/life balance" (gah, I loathe that phrase but there isn't a better one to describe it). Plus, we'll actually be able to have a guest room and my husband can finally have a permanent workspace (we currently share the space, so that's another challenge!). 

Computer/serger area. I'm fortunate to have some window and wall space to showcase art from fellow maker friends. On the wall opposite this one is my cutting table, which I purposely neglected to photograph, as it is in a constant state of disarray. No, it is not "honest craft room" studio level, it's "call Hoarders" level, so use your imagination. :)

Computer/serger area. I'm fortunate to have some window and wall space to showcase art from fellow maker friends. On the wall opposite this one is my cutting table, which I purposely neglected to photograph, as it is in a constant state of disarray. No, it is not "honest craft room" studio level, it's "call Hoarders" level, so use your imagination. :)

Q: What is your favorite thing about your workspace? Your least favorite?
A: Favorite: the amount of space I have- it's not too big, not too small*

Least favorite: *I'd prefer it to be a teeny bit bigger to house my photography setup and my shipping supplies, which have both spilled into the alcove upstairs. 

Q: What makes you feel the most productive in your workspace?
A: When my youngest is in preschool (he goes two mornings a week now!), I put my phone across the room, and I crank up some good tunes to get into that ever-elusive productive zone. 

Magical sewing area! I spend most of my time here and at the ironing board. The machine I'm currently using is a Bernina 350SE, and it's the Tula Pink edition (I met Tula Pink at Quilt Market when I was a fabric buyer and have been a fangirl ever since).

Magical sewing area! I spend most of my time here and at the ironing board. The machine I'm currently using is a Bernina 350SE, and it's the Tula Pink edition (I met Tula Pink at Quilt Market when I was a fabric buyer and have been a fangirl ever since).

Q: Where can people find your stuff?
A: People can find my items at www.marshmueller.com, on Etsy, Amazon Handmade (inventory is limited, as I'm super slow at adding it to Amazon), and approximately 20 retail stores in Washington, Oregon, and California.