See how Bitte founder, Maia McDonald Smith, managed to pull off a seriously stylish backyard garden party in honor of her daughter’s birthday below!
First things first! Tell us everything we need to know about your adorable children’s brand, Bitte!
Bitte is an online boutique that sells responsibly made toys and clothes for little ones. We focus on items from small makers that are sustainably created and manufactured. The idea really came together after I had my daughter. As a new mom, I really wanted to invest in items that were supporting small artisans and businesses—items that wouldn’t immediately end up in a landfill, but were created out of quality materials that could last for years of imaginative play and wear and were manufactured using sustainable and eco-friendly methods. And, as a designer, I wanted items that were beautifully designed and aesthetically pleasing. Lastly, I wanted to be able to find all these items in one place, because as a new mom, time is at a premium. That’s when I teamed up with my mom who has more than 30 years of experience in the natural toy industry. We searched high and low to bring together the best products we could find that met these ideals. I couldn’t be happier with what we’ve created with Bitte.
What do you wish you had known before starting a business?
Just how much non-stop work it is. There’s always something more that you can be doing or working on, so it’s sometimes hard to step away and create time for just me and my family. That’s my biggest struggle right now.
What inspired you to throw a “Backyard Secret Garden” party theme for your daughter’s celebration?
We had recently moved into our new home, which has an amazing backyard. We have more fruit trees than I know what to do with, and in one corner is this great apple tree that leans to one side, creating a sweet canopy that feels like a perfectly kid-sized secret hideaway. My daughter loves playing under there and I thought it be a great little spot for her birthday celebration.
What is your favorite thing to do with Ingrid at this age?
She really likes exploring, so going on hikes or playing at the river is always fun. She also loves to dance, so our nightly dance parties are a favorite at our house. She has the best dance moves—it’s a riot.
Got any tips for other parents looking to throw an at-home soirée for little ones?
Try to plan way in advance, because birthdays always seem to sneak up so fast! And make food that can be prepared the day before so you’re not too busy in the kitchen the day of. And just try to not go so overboard that you’re more focused on the party details then just enjoying the day with your children.
My favorite detail was the fabric banner…It was the banner my mom had created for my wedding out of fabric my sister designed. I love that I was able to reuse something that had such beautiful significance to our family.
What’s your favorite birthday tradition with your daughter?
She’s still so young, we haven’t established too many birthday traditions yet. I’d really like to start doing mother/daughter date days on or near her birthday as she gets older. I don’t get as much alone time with her because my husband is the stay-at-home parent, so I think setting aside special times for just the two of us will only get more important as she gets older.
Favorite resources for child-friendly party décor: Go!
Harlow & Grey is my new go-to. Created by my dear friend, Jeanne Chan, and her cousin, Gloria Wong Tritasavit, their items are so cute and modern. I also really love Oh Happy Day’s new party shop. You can always find really fun, unique items for any party theme you can think of.
How do you stay organized as a busy mom and an entrepreneur?
Well, I don’t know that it helps me stay organized, but the Facebook mom groups I’m part of definitely help me stay sane! As for organizational tools, I love TeuxDeux, it’s really simple, but helps me stay on top of my to-do list. I also can’t live without Dropbox or Google Docs. I’m still not an expert at being organized though, so if anyone has any tips, I’m all ears!
Tell us about your favorite detail at the party! And what was Ingrid’s favorite detail?
My favorite detail was the fabric banner, which I draped in among the tree branches. It was the banner my mom had created for my wedding out of fabric my sister designed. I love that I was able to reuse something that had such beautiful significance to our family celebrations and was made by so many of the women in my and Ingrid’s life.
I think Ingrid’s favorite thing at the party was just the fact that she got to hang out with so many of her favorite people—and bubbles and balloons!
What sites do you love to peruse for motherhood advice and perspective? Do you have any digital role models?
I like Mother because it always has beautiful imagery and interviews with interesting and inspiring moms; I like Oh Joy! because her site is so colorful, lively and upbeat; and I like Hither & Thither because it has great family travel advice. I mostly just read the non-mommy-related blogs that I followed before having my daughter though. For parenting advice, my role models are mostly other moms I know, but there are a few moms I follow on Instagram that I find really inspirational in how they are parenting. My favorites right now are Erin Feher, Courtney Adamo, Kendra Smoot, Hannah Carpenter, Christine Pobke and Erin Boyle, of Read Tea Leaves.