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Cloquet woman expands children's clothing store, all handmade with love

Handmade Mama offers rompers, blankets, bibs, booties and more from its Duluth store.

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Kayla Moorhead opened Handmade Mama, located in the Holiday Center, in April. (Steve Kuchera / skuchera@duluthnews.com)
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There’s new blood in Duluth's Holiday Center skywalk.

Kayla Moorhead expanded her custom clothing business, Handmade Mama, from an online shop to a storefront in the space previously occupied by How Sweet It Is bakery and deli.

On her website and in her shop, you’ll find rompers, blankets, bibs and booties with dinosaurs, sharks and flowers — all handmade by Moorhead.

The Cloquet woman learned how to sew from her grandmother, and in middle school, Moorhead made her own summer dresses.

“I was really proud of them. I remember my friends being shocked that I made them,” she recalled.

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After a years-long hiatus, Moorhead started handcrafting car-seat capes for her youngest son. From there, requests for her work started pouring in, and Handmade Mama was born.
It’s a one-woman show for the single mom of two.

Moorhead has five sewing machines at home and two at the store, along with an ironing station and many displays of her goods.

She is also building Handmade Mama Crafts , a platform for other small business sewers and artists to sell and showcase their works.

Moorhead took time to talk about finding clothing models at home, crafting goods for little humans and more.

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Kayla Moorhead works in her store, Handmade Mama, located in the Holiday Center skywalk in Duluth, on Tuesday, May 18, 2021. It’s a one-woman show for the Cloquet mom of two, and she has five sewing machines at home and two at the store. (Steve Kuchera / skuchera@duluthnews.com)

Q: What attracted you to sewing?

A: Sewing has turned into a type of therapy for me. I love creating items because it just gives me pure joy.

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Anytime a client sends a picture of a worn product, I swear I tear up every time. I just feel so grateful to do what I love. I am always in wonder if a client loves the products they purchase, so hearing it straight from them is the best! It really gives me the drive to keep doing what I do!

Q: You're a single parent of two, a student, a full-time employee and a business owner. (Did I miss anything?) How do you balance your to-do list? And how do you practice self-care?

A: I bring my planner EVERYWHERE! If something isn’t written down, I probably won’t remember to do it.

My self-care routine consists of baths, lots of baths. I do most of my social media planning, picture editing and even schoolwork from either the tub or my bed. I guess you can say I am never fully turned off; that is the entrepreneur in me.

Q: Do you involve your kiddos in your projects?

A: My oldest son, Colton, is the most help in the sense of telling me his ideas for the business. He’s always thinking ahead for me about what I should do next.

He even helps me with my order packing and post office runs, especially during the pandemic while he was at home, distance learning!

JJ, my youngest, is my little sidekick. JJ has always been my little model. He loves getting dressed up. It is one of his favorite things to do.

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Some of Kayla Moorhead’s work hangs in Handmade Mama on Tuesday, May 18, 2021. On her website and in her shop, you’ll find rompers, blankets, bibs and booties with dinos, sharks and flowers — all handmade by Moorhead. (Steve Kuchera / skuchera@duluthnews.com)

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Q: Describe your experience expanding your business during the pandemic.

A: In March 2020, the pandemic affected my job with Valentini’s, so I decided to start manufacturing masks. Everyone knows masks were high in demand locally and nationally. I found myself shipping them all over the U.S. — Hawaii, even!

Q: Any challenges or favorite parts to crafting clothes for little humans?

A: When it comes to manufacturing anything for littles, the biggest challenge was learning all of the manufacturing and compliance laws. It is something that is not always talked about or even known in the handmade community.

It takes a bit more paperwork and product tracking than the consumer even realizes. All of my materials I use to manufacture clothing need to be tracked, recorded and sometimes even lab tested, but then also tracked and recorded into each individual item I manufacture.

Q: What’s next for Handmade Mama LLC?

A: I’m always thinking ahead for what is next! My client requests always drive me into new products or creative ideas.

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Kayla Moorhead

Q: Tips for others who may want to learn how to sew?

A: My best advice is to buy a simple sewing machine. I’ve learned so much with sewing groups and videos from YouTube.

Q: Who is a mentor or leader in your life?

A: Carol Valentini is family and also my ultimate role model. I look up to her work ethic and drive every day. She’s watched and helped me grow into the young woman I am today. I would do anything for that woman.

FROM 2020: New era begins with Valentini’s Hermantown location The Italian bistro held a soft opening last week. The London Road location will remain open, but plans are for it to close later this year.

Q: You can (safely) dine with three people, alive or dead. Who are they and why?

A: I would dine with my grandparents.

They have been on lockdown during this entire pandemic while only leaving the home for appointments, the post office and grocery pickup. I know it's been a struggle for them to stay home and miss out on any events or parties taking place this last year.

I am so excited to be able to spend some quality time with them this summer in person, rather than via Zoom or FaceTime.

Handmade Mama

Melinda Lavine is an award-winning, multidisciplinary journalist with 16 years professional experience. She joined the Duluth News Tribune in 2014, and today, she writes about the heartbeat of our community: the people.

Melinda grew up in central North Dakota, a first-generation American and the daughter of a military dad.

She earned bachelors degrees in English and Communications from the University of North Dakota in 2006, and started her career at the Grand Forks (N.D.) Herald that summer. She helped launch the Herald's features section, as the editor, before moving north to do the same at the DNT.

Contact her: 218-723-5346, mlavine@duluthnews.com.
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