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! Today I’d like to acquaint you guys with a longtime vendor friend of mine; she was one of the very first vendors that I started working with when I got into newborn photography. Meet Ashlee Boone from Mama Knits! I have seen such wonderful feedback from other small business owners sharing in the successes of their peers in the newborn industry through these blog posts. I hope you are enjoying them! I love shining a light on others and my hope is for Ashlee to become more than just the person typing on the other end of the computer to those of you that don’t know her <3
Tell us a little about yourself!
My name is Ashlee & I’m the lady behind Mama Knits– luxury knit props & more for tiny humans. My husband and I have been married for 7 years. We have 4 children; all girls! Roxy Rose- age 6, Rylee Reese- 5, Ainsley Grace- 2, & Alice Paiste Mae- 1 year.
I’m from the West Coast of the United States (Washington and California) and met my husband in SoCal while he was serving in the Marine Corps. We are currently living in Oklahoma, but have plans to move to the Northwest in the next two weeks to settle down closer to family (and the ocean of course)!
What did you do prior to being “Mama Knits”?
I studied graphic design for a while in school- always loved working on & with computers. After I was out of school, I managed a hotel and cared for my husband’s grandmother, Doris, who was ill with Alzheimer’s (10 years in). Halfway through my first full-term pregnancy I decided that I wanted to be a full time Mama when our daughter came into the world, so I left my job at the hotel & continued to take care of Doris. After our daughter Roxy was born, I took a few months for maternity leave. When I returned from leave, I brought her with me to Doris’ house during the time I cared for her. I decided to become a full time SAHM, in December 2009, when we found out we were expecting our second daughter, Rylee.
Any story behind how the name was dreamt up?
I am “Mama” to my children (as my own mother is to me) & I am always knitting wherever I go. Using “Mama Knits” as my business name came to me because of these reasons & inside jokes with my husband…. It just fit. Simple & sweet. It was perfect.
How did you get into newborn prop making?
I started making baby blankets, hats, bonnets and headbands in 2008 when I was pregnant with our firstborn. People would buy sets for personal use or to give as gifts. I did this sparingly for a few years. After a lot of support (& a lot of pushing.. haha) from friends and family, I opened an Etsy shop in 2011. It was fun for a while, but I wasn’t fully passionate about it. I wanted to do more…to create a business that ignited a fire in me. So I started making knits just for the “tiny humans” and started a facebook page in January of 2012.
What made you take the leap from being a full time employee awesome prop maker?
My children were the reason for me leaving the workforce & applying myself in creating a business of my own. Now I do what I love the most- I’m a mother to our girls while knitting luxury props for tiny humans!
What do you think you did in the history of your business that propelled you to the next level of prop vendors?
I’m not sure what propelled me to where I am, other than having some truly amazing clients and operating my business with honesty and grace while striving to maintain my originality.
Do you recall the first thing you ever crafted for a newborn?
I think it was a blanket/bonnet set. Unfortunately, the laptop that I used at that time *died* and the files weren’t recoverable. I make sure to back up everything now (in two separate places)!
Do you remember the first sale you ever made? Was it to a photographer still in business or even a photographer at all?
The very first sale ever was to a friend, and it was a baby shower gift set. The first sale I had to a photographer (a very dear friend) was a box of hats, bonnets, diaper covers, and I think a blanket. The photographer was Natalie Bee Photography. She was so amazing then and she’s even more amazing now!
3 words that describe your style best:
It’s hard to choose just three! If I have to though… Organic, Pure, Natural.
You never cease to stun us with your beautiful props. Originality is hard to come by and to stay ahead of the trends. Where do you find your inspiration to consistently being a trendsetter?
Thank you so much! I feel that I definitely found my niche. I love flares of color, but my true love is natural tones and fibers. I use only the finest fibers available (merino, alpaca, angora, camel, silk, etc) for all of my bonnets and blankets, and dye most of them myself if I want that special pop of color. I strive to maintain my originality by writing my own patterns, dyeing most of my own products, and knitting everything by hand. My inspiration comes from my children, my imagination, and from my time in nature. My girls have the most amazing imaginations & they’ve definitely inherited the creative bug my husband and I both seem to possess. They inspire me every day! Of course, my husband’s, friends’, and family’s unceasing encouragement is what pushes me to be more and to do more. Thankful for them and for that!
Most inspiring photographer to you right now and why:
Newborn Photography by Jade. I started working with Jade not too long ago, and am very inspired by what she does. Her newborn and maternity work are both flawlessly gorgeous and awe-inspiring.
Not only is her work beautiful, but so is she inside and out. Such a wonderfully sweet lady!
Current Photographer Crush or someone in the industry that you’ve gotten to work hands-on with:
Nicole Smith Photography. I recently had a chance to meet and hang out with Nicole in Colorado. I always thought she was inspirational, but after meeting her in person & hanging out for an entire day with her I was amazed at just how awesome she really is. She is a truly caring, sweet, kind, and downright hilarious person. Thankful for that experience and for getting to know her better! Love that lady!
From the Colorado Springs Trunk Show. (from left to right) Laura of Vanilla Lullaby (so sweet), Me, Nicole Smith, Nicole McDaniel (another wonderful lady/photog), Erin of Lavender Gray, and Sharon of Lavender Willow (so funny & kind) ♡
Do you have a vendor that you team up with from time to time?
I work most frequently with Erin from Lavender Gray. She is one of my dearest friends & my vendor bff. We have had so much fun over the past two [plus] years working together! It’s so wonderful that we can work together, build one another up, encourage and push each other to keep going even when we are SO exhausted! This business can take a lot out of a person, so I am very thankful for a sweet and supportive friend like her <3
Funniest thing you’ve ever made as a gift to family / friends (photo if you have it):
Oh goodness… I think it would have to be the turkey hat I made for my daughter in 2012!
If you could meet one person from the newborn industry, who would it be and why:
That’s a hard decision! There are so many amazingly talented women in this industry… I think at this point I would love to meet Courtney from Twig & Olive. She has been so wonderful since I started working with her & her talent amazes me! Would love to see her in action and also just chit chat a bit. 🙂
Your favorite prop to make and why – it can be a throwback!:
That’s another tough one…. It’s a toss up between my Wild Lamb blankets, Plush blankets, & my Rose bonnet. The blankets are both so fluffy and soft & the bonnet is the very first pattern that I wrote. Love my job!
Any plans for upcoming changes to your store or your line in the near future (send a teaser photo!):
There are a few things that I’ve been playing around with for the past two years and am just now finding the time to get them to where I want them to be! I’ve also been working on a collaboration with a special someone. It’s been talked about for a long time, but is just now starting to gain momentum. So excited to bring some new things to my shop and to the industry! Hopefully everyone else loves them [as much as I do] when we finally release!
Ashlee also has other online stores besides what you see on Facebook! Check out more of her work on the links below:
Online shop: www.MamaAKnits.com
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.