I am thrilled to present you a wonderful redhead named Rachel. Before you throw stones etched with “narcissism” at me, I’ll let you know I was referring to dear Rachel Galloway whom some of you might know from the band Danielson (might I add, they are just amazing). I thought the photo above might’ve given you a good indication that I wasn’t talking about myself! Who likes reading about Rachel Dahl anyway?
So this Rachel (much cooler than I) formed a clothing store for little girls called Mamma Made Designs with the other crafty-cool girls from the band, Megan, Elin, and Melissa. I was able to chat with Rachel deux about a lot of fun things including her new venture (and long-time hobby) of making children’s clothes.
So how about I just let her do most of the talking, eh?
How did Mamma Made Designs start?
Mamma Made was started by myself, my sister Megan, my sister-in-law Elin, and my dear friend Melissa Palladino (all the girls of the Danielson Famile) in 2003. We all love to create and each of us had our special niches. Megan and I worked with fabrics while Elin and Melissa used knitting as the basis for their designs. We worked together for years creating beautiful garments for children and slowly families grew and time was more difficult to come by. Today I am the only one creating for Mamma Made, but all the girls know that they are always welcome to participate if time allows them.
What products are you offering?
We sold dresses, pants, jackets, knitwear, and hats/scarves. We love playing with fabrics, appliqué, combining textiles, and color. All of us love quality fabrics and yarns and we only used the ones we would dress our own children in.
Last year a new law was passed and made selling children’s clothing extremely difficult for small independent designers like myself. Very stringent laws were put into effect and before selling a garment you needed to have your sample tested for lead as well as a couple other items. The price tag on these tests to legally sell pretty much stopped Mamma Made for a year. It gave me some time to think about what I really loved to do and how I could still do it.
My new and only products now are my “sewing kits.” The idea is pretty simple. One kit comes with a yard of fabric that has the design and pattern pieces printed on it in a specific size. The consumer simply cuts it out and sews it together. Directions are included. This idea enables me to do what I love. I get to design fabric, the actual garment, work with digital patterning, create the sample, and write up the directions. I can sell it legally because it is not a garment I am selling but a yard of fabric. I also hope that this idea will encourage people to sew a bit more as it takes away the frustration of fabric selection as well as all the hassles that come with a store-bought pattern.
My good friend Mary from royalforest has joined me in this little venture of mine. She will be offering some of her own designs as Mamma Made Sewing Kits. She is an amazing designer and her designs really compliment mine.
Do you have any other hobbies, side projects, or things of that sort besides Mamma Made Designs and Danielson?
Yes! I love to sing and worship by my fireplace. I have both my guitar and my ukulele hanging up on the wall and it makes it really easy to just grab them every day. I have been writing worship songs for the past couple of years and I am hoping that this coming year my husband Jon (who is a brilliant musician and plays bass with Soul Junk) will record my first worship album with me. We are currently working on a song together called, “Glory” which will be on the Sounds Familyre Christmas 3 album this year. I am very excited about it.
Your costumes (from Danielson Famile live shows) are cute! Who makes/made them?
Well, we have all had our hand in stitching them at one time or another, but the real sewing hero is my mother, Marian. Daniel would have friends join us for different shows and she would be making new costumes or altering old ones so that they were comfortable on stage. The new Danielson costumes were co-designed by Daniel and my sister Megan and I know that Elin has put a lot of time and effort in sewing them right along-side my mother. The sewing will continue as Daniel has an idea to add patches to the costumes for different albums or shows that you play.
Do you still have your nurse outfit hanging around somewhere?
My Mom has my nurse costume in New Jersey, but I have my blue Ships costume and hat hanging in my closet. I do have my nurse (Fluevog) shoes as well as my Ships (Fluevog) shoes in my closet though.
The Fluevog shoes have a cool story behind them. Daniel contacted John Fluevog and asked if he would design shoes for our nurse/doctor costumes in exchange for a song that Daniel would write for him. He said “yes” and we had these amazing white shoes with the red hearts on them to wear with our costumes. I guess they gave out the song to customers who bought Fluevogs for a time. Then when our costumes changed Daniel approached John again and it was some time before he heard back. Once again new shoes were designed for us and you can actually still buy these shoes in the online store. They are called “Danielson” and come in two different color schemes.
Do you have a defined clothing style? What do you normally wear?
On a day to day basis, I stay pretty casual. I have three girls ranging from 3 to 9 and although I like to look nice, I also like to be comfortable. On the East Coast I definitely dressed up more, but here in California I tend to wear jeans and nice soft shirts (I love Anthropologie!). I love a cute cardigan and in the summer I do like to wear sun dresses a lot. However, when I go on tour I definitely change my style of dress just a bit. People in the music scene definitely have a distinct flavor and although I don’t change myself for that, I find I wear more cute/funky/sporty wear.
Would you or did you ever wear one of your stage costumes out as a regular outfit?
No! (laughing) I would not want that kind of attention.
What is new with (Brother) Danielson(ship) (Famile) and the whole gang at Sounds Familyre?
The Danielson names over the years have officially evolved into simply “Danielson.” After 5 years, Daniel is releasing his new album called, “The Best of Gloucester County” and it is absolutely phenomenal. I have to say that this album was one of the most difficult to sing on and if any of you know Daniel’s music, that is saying a lot. “Ships” was a lot of fun to sing on, but there is something really special about this album. For 2 weeks after I finished recording my vocals, I would sing these songs while I slept at night.
Daniel, Elin, Lenny (my Dad), and Marian (my Mom) started a new label called Great Comfort Records last year. The goal for this label is to provide another avenue for worship music. I am very excited for them. So far they have released 2 albums from Bi-Frost Arts and are going to release an album by Glen Galaxy (Soul Junk) called “Thank You.” It is one of the most amazing worship albums I have ever heard. They are also going to release the next Lenny Smith album this year and that one is also really special. I play my ukulele on that one!
As you can tell, I am a big fan of Danielson (and so is my husband), because I keep asking about them. When was the last time you went on tour with the family?
I played with Danielson for All Tomorrow’s Parties located in Butlins Minehead, England in May 2010. It was curated by Matt Groening (creator of the Simpsons) and it was really cool to talk to him again. It was a 3-day festival and we hung out the entire time and got to see some amazing bands. Daniel, Elin, myself, Josh (bass), Andy (electric guitar), Evan (keyboard), and Patrick (drums) were all able to go. The show was really amazing if I do say so myself.
Are you touring anytime soon?
I don’t know any specific shows yet, but since Daniel’s new album is coming out, I would expect they would do some sort of West Coast tour. If so, I’ll do as many shows with them that I can.
How is your immediate family (husband and kids)?
We are doing really well. We just moved into a new home last year and we have 37 mature avocado trees! I laugh a bit because as I get older I seem to want to go back to my roots. I grew up with a farm right behind our house so it’s really nice to have a little land. Jon grew up in similar surroundings, so we are really enjoying the space and the mountains! I have a beautiful mountain that I get to look at every day when I go outside. I feel so incredibly blessed.
What do you like most about being a mom?
I love being a mom. It really is the most rewarding thing I have ever done and will ever do. When I step back and look at my designs and all the “stuff” I do, it will simply go away and end up in the trash. But your kids…you really are investing life into them. I love the simple stuff…hanging out together, talking, reading books. It’s the quiet moments together in the midst of all the busyness that I want to remember and hang on to.
Is your husband, Jonathan, still doing stuff with his brother, Glen, for Soul Junk (of whom my husband and I are also big fans)?
I thought Jon’s name was Jonathan too when I first met him, but he quickly reprimanded me and said, “No, it’s Jon.”
Jon is still playing with Soul Junk. They practice every Thursday night like clock-work. Glen’s family lives only 15 minutes from us and it is really nice to have them so close. They are working hard on the next album and I think they are going to record it soon.
Isn’t 1960 (the newest Soul Junk album) awesome?
1960 is an amazing album and in fact “Walk in Liberty” is my 3 year-olds favorite song. She walks around the house singing it all the time. I’ve heard 1961, which is fantastic too. I don’t know when it will be released but I believe they recorded it last year. It’s fun to be on the inside track because I get to hear things a lot earlier than everyone else. The album they are working on now to record is 1962. It’s hard to keep up with Glen. He has another project under his name Glen Galaxy which will be released soon on Great Comfort Records called “Thank You.”
How often do you get to go and visit everyone in New Jersey?
We try to go at least once a year. This past year I took the girls out for the summer and we had a fantastic time vacationing with everyone.
When you go to New Jersey to help record Danielson albums, is it for long periods of time? Do you camp out in the studio just like in the Chopping Block (second Danielson album) days?
I don’t go to NJ to record Danielson albums anymore. If I happen to be there and things are set up I will record, but now if Daniel needs me to record vocals I do it at home. Jon is set up with some very nice recording equipment and I get set up in my closet and record for hours. That seems to be the best place in the house because the clothes swallow up any echoes.
When we were recording the instruments for my Dad’s new album, I did fly home for that because Daniel wanted to record everything as a live unit. It was pretty amazing. So, no. No more camping out in the studio.
Do the kids get to spend any time in the studio? If so, do they like it and the music?
The kids have been in both Glen’s studio as well as Daniel’s new studio but they haven’t hung around while people are recording. They did sing for Glen once though at his studio. The closest they got to something like that is when Jon and I are recording together at home. We did have them sing on our Christmas song two years ago for the chorus. All the girls love music and both Rosemary and Esther play piano. I think it’s important for the kids to have a piano base and then if they want to explore more instruments, they can. I started with piano and now I play piano, flute, guitar, and ukulele. It’s fun to have some choices.
Where do you find your inspirations for creating art both in crafts and music?
For my music, I am inspired by the Psalms. When you first read them, you can kind of breeze through because they are poetic songs. The more I delve into them, however, the more I am struck by how deep and powerful the words are and how they personally affect me in my life. For my designs, I am inspired by color. I start with my color schemes and the designs seem to emerge from that.
How has your faith inspired you?
My faith in the Lord is what keeps me going every day. I find my peace and joy and excitement in life because of Him. To step back and look at life and everything that people do to stay busy, it makes you realize how meaningless so many things are that we do. It all fades away to dust. I am trying (and fail and try again) to live life and everything within that realm with the knowledge that I was created just as I am to bring glory and honor to my Father. Everything else just falls into place from that.
What is your favorite piece from your wardrobe?
I have an Anthropologie sweater that I really love.
Do you have a fashion icon or inspiration?
I adore the fashions from the 40’s and 50’s. In fact, at one point in my life I lamented that I wasn’t born during that period of time because my figure suits the styles. And who doesn’t love Audrey Hepburn as a fashion icon?
Any thoughts on modesty?
I wish that women knew, really knew, how beautiful they are. If they did, I don’t think that they would try quite so hard to gain approval from not only men but women as well in the form of clothing choices. You can tell a woman to her face how beautiful she is, but 90% of the time, she’ll shake her head and nod yes, but in her heart she doesn’t believe you.
What styles of music do you like best?
This may surprise you, but I love classical music. I love the complexity of it and it never ceases to make my heart happy when I hear it.
If you were to name your top three favorite bands of all time (without naming bands you are involved in or those with people you know), who would they be?
I love Blond Redhead. We actually had the privilege of playing with them a couple times and they are really cool people. I don’t know if they would remember us though. I also really like Hanne Hukkelberg, a Norwegian artist. She has a beautiful voice and I love her use of melody.
What bands or albums are you listening to and/or really into right now?
Right now I’m kind of listening to a bunch of different things. I’m listening to a lot of Django Reinhardt music, the newest Blond Redhead album, “Penny Sparkle,” and last week I started revisiting some Bob Dylan, although Rosemary doesn’t care for him at all. Today because it is now officially after Thanksgiving, I got out Sufjan Steven’s “Songs for Christmas” which everyone should own a copy of. It’s fun to start listening to Christmas music. I am definitely one of “those” who blasts the Christmas music in the house.
What are your goals for Mamma Made Designs? Would you like other people to help once the business kicks off? What are your needs?
I guess my goals for Mamma Made are to keep working on my sewing kits and get a good collection together. I will keep plugging away and hopefully people will really love the idea. I just have to take things one day at a time.
Any final words?
It’s really easy to get sucked up into anything you love to do. It can simply become all consuming. I just want to encourage everyone to do what you love to do, but remind yourself every day that what you do is not who you are.
- Mamma Made Designs official blog | Myspace | Twitter
- Danielson‘s official website | Myspace | movie
- Soul Junk‘s official website | Myspace
- Sounds Familyre‘s official website | Myspace | Twitter
Danielson movie preview:
Danileson- Did I Step On Your Trumpet?