Today we have the privilege of being welcomed into the home of Madeline Ellis, mother of two and jewelry designer of mimosa by m.e. Madeline is the kind of person who is your instant best friend. She will graciously invite you in for a cup of coffee, and you’ll chat about all things “mom” as you adore her vintage treasures, clean style, and attention to detail. Her home is more than just kid-freindly: each toy and piece of art seems carefully chosen to create a beautiful, ready-to-play space. As a mom, she is warm, down-to-earth, and dedicated to her passions. Please enjoy this look inside her beautiful home and cozy up as she shares a bit of her story.
Q: Tell us a little about you and your family.
A: I met my husband, Dawson, studying landscape architecture at LSU. I graduated with a degree and lagniappe (a husband and some of the best friends I’ll ever have). After graduation Dawson and I interned at a small landscape firm in Costa Rica then came home to BR to “settle down”. He is part owner of Me-Moes Lawn & Landscaping and the happiest person I know heading to work. I worked at a local landscape architecture firm and made the scary decision a little over a year ago to be a stay at home mom and focus on making jewelry. We have a boy, Charlie two years old, and a girl, Lillie born in October. We’re having a wild time with this toddler, but he’s the most fun ever and we’re soaking up every minute of this new little girl. We both feel the need to be productive, but we are starting to realize that slowing down and enjoying our little family might be the most productive thing we can do.
Q: What do you love about living in Baton Rouge?
A: My inlaws 😉 Honestly, there are a million things I love about living in south Louisiana; I could fill a book. As for Baton Rouge specifically, I love that it’s a college town. We are so in touch with the college atmosphere long after we’ve graduated. As my grandmother would say, the young keep you young. I love the tree canopy we have, and I say tree canopy because if you go anywhere else you’ll quickly realize Baton Rouge feels like it’s under one big Live Oak, like we’re all living under a cozy blanket. I love that it’s the capitol. We have great museums, a park system that would make any city jealous and the river, how could I forget the river. There is something sort of magical about living next to such a massive natural force. I also love my family at First Presbyterian of Baton Rouge. I honestly feel spoiled that I’m able to experience the leaders there, and friend some of the best people I’ve met. They have a serious commitment to our community.
Q: Describe a typical day for your family.
A: I wake up around 7 (after a few night feedings of course.) Make breakfast and pack a lunch for my son to go to Mothers Day Out. I make a quick list of the things I need to have done for the day, orders, emails to answer etc. I dress everyone, and we head out to drop my son off for 9am. I run any errands I need to on the way home. I come home and make jewelry, fill/package orders, answer emails, update the website, and do bookkeeping depending on the day and what is most pressing. I pick up my son at 2pm and we spend most of the rest of the day playing. I cook dinner around 5:30 and we eat, do bedtime routine and he’s out for 7:30ish. From then until my bedtime, I try to sneak in a little more work. I’ve recently hired someone to help out with mimosa. She comes at night after the kids are down. It’s amazing how much you can get done with help and sleeping little ones! The hardest part about working from home has been not having a clear separation between home and work. I find all of the lines blur, so you never really feel like you aren’t working but then you never really feel like you are- if that makes sense.
Q: Will you tell us how you began mimosa by m.e.? What inspired you to take the leap?
A: As a kid, my grandmother gave me a few boxes of embroidery beads and fishing wire, and my mom gave me an old tupperware box for it. I started making jewelry then and carried that box with me to college. After working all day at my desk job, I felt so unproductive coming home empty handed. I picked up making jewelry again which fed my need to be productive and created an outlet for creativity. Dawson insisted I start selling what I had accumulated over the years. If it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t have sold the first piece. He supports and encourages me to push my boundaries in creativity, and he has made it possible for me to pursue mimosa seriously beyond simply a hobby. I formed the LLC and applied to the Baton Rouge Arts Market. From there, I was picked up by a few boutiques and have been selling online since 2008.
Q: Has the style of your home changed since having kids?
A: It’s changed quite a bit since having kids. Not my style so much as the function. I joke that you can track how old Charlie is by how high the breakables are. Rooms and furniture have to serve several purposes for us, the coffee table goes from holding coffee to playdoh to late night loads of jewelry. If you’re wondering where my studio is, it’s in boxes and drawers all over the house. I’m always looking for creative ways to add storage to our little old house. With limited space you have to be a conscious curator of what you allow into your home. Things also have to be pretty durable between two dogs and two little ones. We’ve switched out any furniture that cant be wiped down or taken apart and thrown in the washing machine. I never thought I’d have a bean bag in the living room, but its the best seat in the house if you’re a toddler, and they make for nice indoor jungle gyms when its raining.
Q: We can see that your home is filled with vintage treasures. What are your go-to sources for your unique finds?
A: My favorite are the serendipitous finds, like my grandmothers attic, the side of the road or the random estate sale. But if I’m looking for something specific, I usually head to Aladdins Lamp, Denham Springs antique stores, Craigslist, or online to support my fellow etsyans on etsy vintage. And when all else fails: eBay.
Q: How do you balance being a mom and running a business?
A: Oh I definitely don’t! Some days work out seamlessly, Charlie plays quietly while I crank out a few orders then we head to the post office and he flirts with the USPS lady while I check out then we hop over to the park for a play date… But most days are me scrambling to fix breakfast, check emails, finish a last minute order that has to go out that day and someone throws a tantrum at the USPS office (no flirting involved) and the park is rained out. I’ve had to let go of my pride and thinking that I can do it all alone. I had to learn to accept help and, dare I say it, even ask for it sometimes. I never thought of myself as a perfectionist but I definitely like things to be done a certain way, the problem is there isn’t always time for that and things have to be done.
My husband is the man behind mimosa. he works my booth helps out with production and business and has been known to spark an idea for a piece of jewelry or two. My pregnancies are really hard for the first 5 months, I’m basically useless. It’s a very humbling time, I can’t help but rely on others and I am so thankful to have an amazing support system to have kept things going. With the last pregnancy, Dawson had to step in and take over most of my work, at home and for mimosa so he’s gotten good at it.
Q: How has being a mom affected your designs?
A: Completely. Things have to survive my kids. I wear every design I make, and if they can last through my toddler then it’s a go. I’ve become a lot more sentimental. I like things that are just pretty for being pretty, but I love when something has meaning behind it. I love for things to have layers and stories. I had a professor who would always ask after we designed something ‘so what?’ I feel like that about jewelry, it’s pretty but so what? What is it doing? What is it saying? I know that’s a lot to ask of an accessory but it doesn’t have to just be a pretty pair of earrings it can tie you into where you’re from, encourage conversation or help raise money for a cause. I treasure my small part in birthdays, graduations, new loves and good-byes. I’m always inspired to create pieces that go beyond just pretty things but are attached to a movement and a purpose. I don’t know that I’m always answering that question ‘so what?’ but it’s something I’m very conscious of.
Q: What is the greatest lesson you have learned since becoming a mom?
A: To be thankful, in all of it. Every bit of it is a gift from carrying them for 9 months (even if you puke every day for 5 of them) to chasing them around the post office. I don’t want to ever take them for granted, if we get them we only have them for a little while, be thankful for that slow down and make the time count.
Q: What is your favorite piece of jewelry and why?
A: Well this is a three way tie- My grandmothers wedding ring. I love that I have on my finger the same ring she wore when she baked cookies with me, when she taught me to cook and sew and eat (like a good southerner). She was the best ever and to have something so significant that she wore everyday… It’s the best. My wedding and engagement rings Dawson gave to me. We went to Saunders Lux with the idea, but he made it happen. Our engagement ring is a little blade of st Augustine grass and my wedding band is a mimosa leaf, no surprise. The last is one I made- Charlie’s funky, little silhouette. He has two cowlicks right in front that have made his profile almost comical since he was a baby.
Thank you, Madeline, for inspiring us! I love what she said about living under one big Live Oak. I’ve never really thought of Baton Rouge that way, but now I always will. I also love her openness in asking for and accepting help. Don’t you think that is something all moms need to learn and embrace? I also want to paint my entire house white. Such a clean look!
Moms, what inspired you most?
If you’d like to share your own home with us as part of the Heart & Home series, send me a note!