Alta's Garden Babies: custom-made baby products
Erin Berentschot didn't know how to sew until five years ago, when her kids needed fleece hats. Her husband was the one to teach her. Her friend Kelli Pedersen had been sewing for years, learning from her grandmother, and the two decided to get together to make baby blankets for friends and family.
Everyone told them they were good enough to sell, so they tested out the market first at the craft fair at the Southpark Mall in Spencer two years ago. The test went well, and Garden Babies was created, the name coming from Pedersen's son who picked up on the two friends' love for gardening and creating baby items.
Since that first craft fair, they have attended craft fairs in Algona, Emmetsburg, Aurelia, Cordyn, Inwood, Newell Fonda, Storm Lake Saint Mary's, MOPS in Alta, and Trinity Lutheran Church in Alta.
They have also broadened their inventory to include a multitude of items: bibs, burp rags, block towers, lovies (a small version of a blanket for babies and toddlers to cling to) nursing covers, car seat tents, crinkle toys, crocheted hats, boy's ties, hair bows, covers for wipe cases and changing pads.
With seven children between the two of them - the Berentschots - Sydney, 5th grade; Alyssa, third grade; Cadence, pre-k and Brystol, 9 months; and the Pedersens - Kodey, 5th grade; Kash, 2nd grade and Kerrigan, pre-k - Berentschot and Pedersen are busy ladies. They order fabric they like from local stores and online, and get together about once a month to cut the fabric for different items. Their children are often the reason they come up with new products, such as the tummy time mat for infants, and the tutus for toddlers, as well as from suggestions from their customers.
Berentschot and Pedersen truly believe in their products. The bibs have batting in the middle to absorb spills and dribbles, and have either cotton or flannel on the back. The blankets and lovies have either cotton, flannel, and ultra soft minky fabric incorporated into them, and car seat tents can have the same options on the back.
The pair also makes custom bedding sets that include a dust ruffle, sheet, crib blanket and bumpers. "The bedding is the most unique thing we make," said Berentschot. Creating custom bedding can take up to three weeks to complete.
Their husbands, Chad Berentschot and Ron Pedersen, are very supportive of their wive's business.
"There are many products made in the Iowa Lakes Corridor and we are proud to help showcase them as we learn about them," said Kathy Evert, president and CEO of the Iowa Lakes Corridor Development Corporation, who is helping to promote this hometown business.
Garden Babies' Facebook page is the main way they get their products out. On Facebook they have pictures of all their products in many different fabrics. To find their page, search Garden Babies in Facebook. A price list of all their items can be found under the Notes. They can also be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Iowa Lakes Corridor Development Corporation is the regional economic development agency for Buena Vista, Clay, Dickinson and Emmet counties. Its mission is to foster, encourage, aid, promote or otherwise assist in the economic growth and development of the region. For more information about the Iowa Lakes Corridor Development Corporation, call 712-264-3474 or visit www.lakescorridor.com.