Business

Eleanor Ruby Handmade went from coffee mugs to step stools

Entrepreneur started with onesies

A variety of signs are on display at Eleanor Ruby Handmade at NewBo City Market in Cedar Rapids on Friday October 26, 2018. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
A variety of signs are on display at Eleanor Ruby Handmade at NewBo City Market in Cedar Rapids on Friday October 26, 2018. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
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CEDAR RAPIDS — A new Cedar Rapids business grew out of a young mother’s desire to save money on baby clothes.

“When I was pregnant with my youngest, graphic tees became really popular,” said Lindsey Chally, owner of Eleanor Ruby Handmade. “I saw some really cute graphic onesies, but they were expensive. I’m a do-it-yourselfer, so I decided to make my own.”

The avid crafter invested in an electronic vinyl cutter, which came with a design program that allowed Chally to design her own graphics. After watching several tutorials on YouTube, she was ready to begin creating.

“I started with onesies,” she said. “And then I moved on to coffee mugs and wineglasses with sayings geared toward moms.”

Chally posted photos of her work to her Facebook page and, with adages such as “permanently tired” on a coffee mug or “mommy fuel” on a wineglass, her creations resonated with her family and friends.

“I started getting custom orders,” she said. “With the trend of graphics, I knew there was interest and I knew I could provide items at a reasonable cost.”

Chally set up an online store, naming her business after her grandmothers, Eleanor and Eileen “Ruby,” and expanded her inventory to include tote bags, dish towels, wooden signs and more.

She also broadened her skills.

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“When I started making signs, my husband originally made the frames,” she said. “But I took over.”

Chally learned how to use woodworking tools such as a scroll saw, table saw and nail gun and, with her new skills, expanded into wood projects, including log candle holders, child step stools and blanket ladders.

After selling her handmade creations exclusively online for the past two years, Chally opened a retail shop in NewBo City Market in September.

“I just knew this would be a great place for me,” she said. “The people who come here want to support local businesses and the surrounding shopkeepers are so helpful.”

Chally said one of her motivations for opening a retail location was to facilitate more custom orders.

“I wanted to give ideas to people,” she said. “They know what they want when they see it, and I can personalize it and make it unique for them. Personalization is fun for me.”

With three children at home and a full-time job as a direct care provider, Chally said time management is her biggest challenge. But as she has honed her skills, she has become more efficient — knocking out 14 signs in one sitting, for example — and she enlists her children’s help so she can spend more time with them.

She’s also learned to use her downtime to brainstorm.

“From the second I go to bed to the minute I wake up, I’m thinking of new ideas,” she said.

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Chally’s future plans for Eleanor Ruby Handmade include hosting DIY wood sign classes and private crafting parties. She ultimately would like to open her own location geared toward children’s activities with an adjacent cafe where parents can relax while their children work on crafts.

l Know a business in operation for less than a year that might make for an interesting “Ground Floor”? Let us know at michaelchevy.castranova@thegazette.com.

At a Glance

l Owner: Lindsey Chally

l Business: Eleanor Ruby Handmade

l Address: 1100 Third St. SE, Cedar Rapids,

l Phone: (319) 531-9397

l Facebook: eleanorrubyhandmade

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