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Tiny feet, healthy dreams: Footware business is more than a business for this mom

By on May 31, 2017 in Articles with 0 Comments
“I am very passionate about children’s health,” said Alison Talbot, whose idea for a business leaves plenty of time for raising her son, Jasper.

“I am very passionate about children’s health,” said Alison Talbot, whose idea for a business leaves plenty of time for raising her son, Jasper.

By Cameron Wood

An idea popped into Alison Talbot’s mind as she watched her son crawl on the splintery wood floors of her home, an idea that would soon sprout into a thriving local small business called Little Rutz.

“I started making moccasins for my son when he started crawling to protect his feet,” Alison recalled. “I didn’t really think to do this as a business until I’d made quite a few pairs for friends and family, at that point I realized if there was this much interest just in my immediate network, maybe I ought to pursue it more seriously.”

Alison, as one of those “crazy people who decide they’re going to do something and just do it,” jumped right into chasing after her idea. She picked up scraps of leather from Dustin Spencer, the owner of Vermilyea Pelle, a local leather goods company, and began picking up sewing tips from the employees at the American Shoe Shop.

“I just kept testing and playing with the leather and my patterns — I even busted my home sewing machine trying to power through thick leather I shouldn’t have. I bought an old industrial sewing machine from Dustin and was back in business. This machine (her name is Stella) is a beast with a powerful motor. Surprisingly, my fingers have only gotten caught in the belt once, ouch, you live and learn.”

Through trial and error, Little Rutz was born. With the mission of handcrafting toxin-free footwear for our valley’s children, Alison uses only the best materials and puts love into each product. Her website, www.healthylittlemoccasins.com, reads: “Inspired by mine — made for yours” as a testament to her primary source of inspiration: her son, Jasper.

“My business has developed pretty organically, without huge startup costs, and mostly on my own schedule. This has been ideal for me since I’m also raising the coolest little human,” Alison gushed.

Alison’s mama gene is what drives her passion for creating safe and comfy shoes.

“I am very passionate about children’s health and am an advocate for living a life as free of toxins as possible to give our children the best chance at a happy, healthy life. More and more we are becoming aware of the effects of toxins in our environment and what that means for us and our family members of all ages — but especially the youngest members of our families during their early years,” she explained.

And due to her efforts, Little Rutz has bloomed into an ongoing business.

“When it comes to producing a retail commodity I notice a big difference in production depending on the time of year. Most of my sewing occurs around the holidays,” explained Alison. “If I look at last year’s production I’d say I make a couple pairs a week on average and that has been a really nice organic growth for me.”

However, monetary income is only a small part of what Alison gets out of her business.

Examples of Little Rutz shoes: “More and more I see the value of locally-crafted products,” said Alison.

Examples of Little Rutz shoes: “More and more I see the value of locally-crafted products,” said Alison.

She also gets the satisfaction of using people skills from her past career in dental hygiene and her tech background from her IT and admin degrees.

On top of it all, she has the freedom to stay active and get the “adult connection” she craves from the natural remedy classes she teaches.

“I think a lot of stay-at-home or work-at-home mamas are looking for this type of personal growth, something they get to call their own, outside of raising little people.”

Alison has used her business as an outlet to find like-minded individuals in the valley, building a circle of people who care about family health. She urges others to check out her website or email her at aktalbot@gmail.com if they are interested in joining a “beautiful community of people filled with love.”

For others interested in following in her footsteps and making a business out of their own spontaneous ideas or passions, Alison has some advice: “I would recommend reaching out to others in the industry. Finding a mentor who can encourage you and also give you realistic expectations is so valuable. We have a lot of amazing, giving entrepreneurs in our valley who are happy to help. We have a Central Washington SCORE office that offers free advice to small businesses — this is a great resource to get started on your business venture.”

In the end, it took a jump of faith and a little backbone to find success in her craft.

“Some people call this stubborn. I call it embracing dreams and living life to its fullest… More and more I see the value of locally-crafted products and what it means to support these businesses, our community and these families.

“So, if you’re considering starting your own business, just know that it will be hard work, but that there is a whole community here that wants to see you succeed in your dream.”

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