Jennifer Rittenberry HOME PAGE
Being a photographer in the newborn industry has afforded me a lot of new friendships with some really wonderful people. Some of which are my prop vendors! I thought I’d change it up a little today to feature one of my favorite women in the industry to work with. Meet Mila from Art My Blanket! I can remember my very first purchase from her and actually found her on Ebay about 3 years ago. We both have come a long way in our businesses since then. She is such a remarkable prop maker that I wanted to share her with you today and let you get to know the woman behind the computer screen!
Here is how our interview went 🙂
Tell us a little about yourself!
My name is Milena, or you can call me Mila, I am a person behind ArtMyBlanket Props for newborn photographers. I am a mom to two beautiful kids: my daughter Alisa, 3 years, and our recent addition to the family baby boy Maxwell, he is 3 and half months. I’ve been married for 4 years. We recently bought our first house and moved to Pound Ridge, NY. I finally had a chance to get my very own craft space and I couldn’t feel happier about it. You know, those crafty people. But long before that, I was born and raised in far east of Russia. There is a little town called Tynda. If you look on the map, you will find it almost on the border with China and not too far from the deepest lake in the world called Baikal. I say not too far, but it takes a day and half to get there by train. Russia is huge and people have very different perception to the distance. The winters are very harsh there, its starts in September and ends in April. That massive snow we got in New York this year surely reminds me of home.
What did you do prior to being “Art My Blanket”
I’ve been living in Europe for five years before coming to the United States. I have a Hospitality background. Finished my degree in Switzerland, worked in front line and sales, in both small boutique hotels as well as big corporations. I had an interview for management training in US, I passed and that is how I ended up here. I came to Washington, DC first and then when I met my husband I moved to NY.
How did you get into knitting?
It’s a total mystery for me. Believe or not. I never thought of it before I got pregnant with my daughter. They call it nesting instinct, surely it was. I wanted to make something very special for her, before she was born. I opened YouTube, the rest is a history.
What made you take the leap from being at a full time job to awesome knitting meister?
When my daughter was 5 months old I came back to work, I loved taking care of my baby girl, but I got to the point that I had to do something else in my life as well. But when I got back to working full time I quickly realized I could not do it either. At the same time my passion for knitting and craftiness grew, as well as my yarn stash. I started to sell some stuff online to get some funds for my hobby, solely to buy more yarn until the time I opened for myself the fiber arts (working with natural fibers). That’s where my mind got blown away. I tried to learn as much on fiber types, dying and spinning and I registered my first fiber related business. I have it till today, and never looked back.
Do you recall the first thing you ever knitted? Yes! Baby booties for my daughter.
Do you remember the first sale you ever made? Was it to a photographer still in business?
Yes, it was an Easter Bunny Hat. I was so excited, my first sale! I can not find her photography page, unfortunately. It could’ve been a mom, buying props for her coming baby photo session. Don’t know.
3 words that describe your style best:
Beautiful, soft and unique. I’d like to stress the last one, because it is so important to me. I am all for originality, I try to create my own designs and that is why I make my yarns for blankets from scratch. I want to make sure it’s completely original and I am in full control of design. Just one of my core principles. You know, when I just started I had a line of blankets that were selling really well. However, when I found out that there is actually a person behind a design idea (it was not copyrighted but she started to make them first), I discontinued, though so many vendors selling them to the day. I just couldn’t feel a relation with the product. Originality, that is what I strive for. Sometimes I get the messages from customers asking me if I can do something similar. They usually send a picture. I say, sorry no. It’s not the sale that is most important, it’s a whole concept of being happy with what you create and how you do it. If a photographer looks at the prop and thinks “that looks like from ArtMyBlanket” then my mission is complete 🙂
You always have fresh designs and cool texture to your work. Where do you find pattern inspirations (a place, a book, while shopping, etc):
Thank you! I believe that inspiration is such a beast that doesn’t want to be chased. Thus I don’t limit myself, I just observe. But of course nature. If you look how balanced the colorways in nature you don’t need to go any further. They are beautiful, appealing and comforting. I always take notes, many notes, not to forget the color combos. I experiment a lot and I ask photographers if they like it. The customer knows better, right 🙂
I would have to agree with her on that, but I will say that she comes up with some of the coolest colorways for me to use in my newborn sessions. They always add the perfect touch! A few examples below for you to see some of her beautiful goodies in action! I know I gasped really loudly when this package came in the mail. It was one of those “heart racing a mile a minute” moments when they came popping out of the mail bag <3 You prop lovers out there know exactly what I’m talking about. HA!
Funniest thing you’ve ever knitted as a gift to family / friends:
Turkey Hat for my daughter on her first Thanksgiving.
Just for fun I threw in these few little “First thing that pops into your mind” questions.
Guilty pleasure: good chocolate, I’ve been living in Switzerland long enough.
If you’re not knitting, you’re out doing: I am running to the Post Office. I am joking, taking care of kids, doing interior design for our house, spending quality time with friends and family.
Next vacation planned: we are going to Las Vegas for the first time!
Are you the Chef in the family? We have equal amount of responsibilities and listen to each other equally, but I’d say my husband is.
Best dish you’re known for: Beef Stew
If you could meet one person from the newborn industry, who would it be and why: There are so many people from the industry I’d love to meet as I am following on their works daily. But let’s start with you Jennifer 🙂 (haha, she’s a jokester!)
The fastest thing you can knit: washcloth.
I want to sincerely thank Mila for being such a good sport and participating in this blog session. I really enjoy working with her so much and hope that you will take a few minutes to visit her shops. You seriously won’t be disappointed!
Mila also has other online stores besides what you see on Facebook! Check out more of her work on the links below:
Jennifer Rittenberry Photography specializes in newborn, baby, family, child and maternity photography in Louisville, Kentucky and surrounding areas including but not limited to Mount Washington.