Editor's Note: This is the latest in a series of posts featuring local moms and dads in our Made by Mom and Dad Gift Guide.
Children's clothes and accessories held little allure for Hunter Forstchen until her second child - and only daughter - was born.
Then, she found herself fingering the fine clothes at upscale children's boutiques, donning her daughter in smocked dresses and other adorable outfits. But it didn't take long for Forstchen to realize how much money it would take to support that kind of wardrobe for her little girl, especially when adding another $10 or so to each ensemble for a matching bow.
So Forstchen, now owner of Katiebug Bows, decided she'd make those bows herself.
"She is the reason it all started," the mom of two in Apex said of her daughter, now a grade schooler. "It is an accidental business."
Indeed, Forstchen never set out to make money from her bow-making. It was only just to save some money as she outfitted her daughter. But the bows, which look so easy to make, take some skill.
And, she found out that "once I bought everything I need to make a bow, I spent $10," she said.
The front room of her house, once a dining room, quickly turning into a ribbon emporium. She fine-tuned her bow-making skills and found new items to make, including a weaved headband and other accessories.
"Meanwhile, I had a one-year-old who wouldn't ever wear anything," Forstchen said. But that didn't stop her from continuing the work.
Six months after she started making her bows, she began selling them in April 2010 - first to family and friends, then at local consignment sales. She eventually opened a shop on Etsy.com and now has her own website. She also sells her bows at holiday shows including the upcoming Cary Academy Holiday Shoppe and at KnB's Marketplace in Fuquay-Varina.
Forstchen has worked to add more products to her list, including hair ties; matching headbands for girls and their 18 inch dolls (the typical size for an American Girl doll); and streamers. She's worked with other companies to sell other pieces on her website, including neck ties for boys and hair brushes.
She's also worked with schools to create hair accessories in their school colors that are sold at the school's store.
"If somebody looked at me six years ago and said, you're going to start a business, I would have said, 'you're crazy,'" she said.
But Forstchen said she continues to improve her product and add to her selection. With help from her husband, she even created a template to reheat each of the plastic headbands she gets in bulk to ensure they fit correctly.
"We really work hard to make it as good as possible and as consistent as possible," she said. "I take a lot of pride in my work."
As for her daughter, the real Katiebug who inspired it all, she actually turned out not to be a big hair bow wearing girl. In fact, Forstchen said she sees her work on other people's kids more often than on her daughter.
In fact, at a Clemson University home football game this year, she found herself sitting in front of a girl wearing one of her bows. The family was from Cary.
"It's kind of crazy to think how things have changed in the last couple of years," she said.
Check Katiebug Bows' website to see Forstchen's work.
Go Ask Mom features local moms every Monday.