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29 Sep '14

A Gem of a Story

Posted by Kari Spikkeland in Behind the Scenes

I love crazy stories with good endings. Running Brimful is mostly about following a usual protocol and learning how to juggle that with my home life...but every once in awhile a gem of a story pops up - like what happened a few weeks ago.

We've received a lot of love to the shop over the past weeks, so when fulfilling several orders at once - routine is a must. I haven't previously experienced order fulfillment to being anything other than perfect and normal...until Annie sent me the oddest text recently.

"Have you been missing a diamond ring lately?", she texted.

I was in utter surprise. "Wait, what?", I texted back.

I dropped everything to check our inbox, where I found an email from the best customer, explaining that she had found a diamond ring in her order and wondered if it could possibly be mine.

And oh, this wasn’t any ring, it happened to be my late mother's ring and priceless to me.

Crazier still, I didn't even know it had gone missing!

I have absolutely no idea how it managed to find it’s way to Illinois, but I’m so extremely thankful to this customer for sending it back! (I did sweetly asked my 3 year old if he might have put anything in a box, but to no avail.)

Now Annie and I can laugh, we sure completed our first year of business on a funny note!


06 Jun '14

Together Again

Posted by Annie Messing in Behind the Scenes, Happy Friday

Can it really have been a year since Kari and I (and our hoard of children) were together?! I am home in Portland, OR this month...and Kari and I have wasted no time in hanging out. We happily mix our wonderful friendship with Brimful business talk and tasks. Since I don't get the pleasure of being around our products, you can imagine how happy I've been "playing" and photographing our toy inventory.

It's a blessed thing to get along so well with one's business partner...and have six little children that love being around each other too. If you are a Portland area reader or will be visiting Portland with kids in tow, here are a few favorite places Kari and I like to take our families:

1) Powell's Books Store - As the largest independent used and new bookstore in the world, it's truly a treasure trove for book lovers young and old.

2) New Seasons - We love this local grocery store's fresh food buffet...it's perfect for lunch with kids.

3) Cannon Beach - While not always sunny and warm, this beach town has incredible ocean scenery, a cute downtown, and the best taffy shop.

4) Bi-Zi Farms - A great little farm stand with freshly picked berries that are washed and ready to buy.

5) Jameson Square - The tidal pool/fountain is gentle yet fun for school age kids and toddlers...and the water is treated, which of course every mother appreciates!

Hope wherever you are reading from, you have a wonderful summer weekend ahead of you!



P.S. The felt dress-up crowns that Sander and Mei-Mei are wearing in the photos above are available here.

24 Feb '14

Reflections on Owning a Small Business, Part 2

Posted by Kari Spikkeland in Behind the Scenes
first international order


I'm thankful for each one of our customers. It's always exciting to ship out orders of our well-crafted, fun products...and then later, hear back how well received they were!

Less than a year ago I wasn't sure how I would manage running a business. Eight months before launching Brimful, my family began our homeschooling adventure. I knew it was insane to homeschool and start a business. Friends and family told me I was insane!  How in the world would our family manage? I'm still learning to manage and adjust, but so far it's been very rewarding. This is what I have discovered: 

1) Drop the superwoman ideal. I have no doubt she's out there, but I'm not her.

2) My husband is golden. He was the one who encouraged me to embrace this opportunity. Having his support in school and work means we work together to make sure our family stays balanced in all our undertakings. 

3) Having a kick-ass business partner is the way to go. I can imagine running a business by myself, it isn't pretty! 

4) Homeschool hours are holy. Prior to launching Brimful I marked in red set weekday school hours. During this time I'm unavailable to work and only focus on the children and school. (I do cheat now and then to take a peek at texts/emails rolling in or to fulfill an order during break time). The boundary between school and work has given me peace. I'm giving my best to my children. When school is finished I can focus on business tasks with a good conscience. 

5) Night owls can't rise early. The weekends (not week nights!) are made for starting/completing larger projects - use them wisely! 

I might take multiple breaks during a photo shoot to let a certain little one take their own pictures, give my opinion on a new rainbow-loom design, and remove lego parts from mentioned photo shoot. But that's ok. :)

As we near 6 months in business, Annie and I continue to be excited about what's ahead. Did you know that Brimful just went international? We now ship to all European countries as well as Canada and Mexico. We are grateful and thrilled by each new customer that comes our way and supports the shop. Thank you.




27 Jan '14

When a Product Doesn't Work Out

Posted by Kari Spikkeland in Behind the Scenes


Since the first time we learned about Mixmates from the creative folks at Caravan Shoppe, we've been looking forward to carrying their new blocks at Brimful! After a shipping delay that pushed delivery into the new year, it was with excitement I received our shipment of blocks last week. 

Sadly, because the quality of the blocks doesn't meet the high standards we've set here at Brimful, Annie and I have decided to not carry Mixmates.

There's no denying the design is pleasing and unique -we love it! But there are some improvements that need to be made. We hope these changes will take place and look forward to carrying Mixmates at that time. We're sorry to disappoint those of you who were planning to purchase these blocks at Brimful

We do have another shipment of wooden toys coming to the shop soon, so stay tuned!



15 Dec '13

Reflections on Owning a Small Business, Part 1

Posted by Annie Messing in Behind the Scenes
me and brimful


Many mornings, after dropping my older two off at school, I sip my second cup of coffee and get to work on answering emails and reading various online articles. More often than not, as I type away on my laptop, my 22-month old is trying to crawl over it. Mid-email to a vendor in Poland, I may have to take a break and play with some block. Or while trying to edit a photo for Instagram, I'm also changing a diaper. 

This crazy thing called "owning your own small business"...it's not glamorous, but it IS fun. Kari and I often discuss how even though we juggle motherhood while running Brimful, the experience has (thus far) been very affirming. Creating a business/brand from nothing and watching it grow - there are actually many parallels with motherhood! We have exciting days where really cool things happen...then days when sales are slow or vendors can't come through in the way we hoped. 

But it's all good. The learning experience and the challenges we've faced and overcome have taught us the power of teamwork, the power of trusting our gut, and the power of delegation! 

For fun, I created the graphic above to show you'll the half of Brimful that are my responsibilities. This is what I spend my days doing...while also folding underwear, overseeing homework, and figuring out what's for dinner. Kari will do her own responsibility graphic sometime...I think her half is even crazier than mine!

During this season of gifting and shopping and being thankful, I just want to express my gratitude for your support of our small business. Each purchase is an affirmation of a dream come true.

I hope your little ones love the gifts you've chosen for them from Brimful. We'd love to see and feature photos of them with their new toys!