Meet a Mom: Mary Courtemanche of Huntington a “MOMtrepreneur” who combined her two passions, love of reading and love of crafting to create her own business: Felt Loose and Fancy Free – while celebrating her life as a mom. Long Island Mamas is proud to feature her story!
When Mary Courtemanche started taking her son, Hudson, to library programs, she fell in love with the way that the librarians used felt storyboards to illustrate the stories and get the children involved. She says, “I loved the concept, and started to do some research… I wanted to make a felt board story that would be both educational, but also very beautiful – like a well-made toy, with lots of details to bring it to life.” Mary set forth to create Felt Loose and Fancy Free, where she creates and designs gorgeous high quality felt storyboards for children to not only play with, but learn from.
However, Mary wasn’t always in the crafting business. Hailing originally from Pennsylvania, she moved to New York after college to work at Random House Publishing. It was her dream job, and though she never intended to stay, she fell in love, both with her future husband and New York. Upon assisting Garfield creator Jim Davis at a book signing at Book Revue, Mary fell in love with Huntington and proclaimed she would one day live there. Low and behold, shortly after, she and her husband moved to Huntington (which happened to be his hometown). Not long later they welcome Hudson into their family, and Mary decided that the three hour commute to Manhattan was a little much for her. She decided to stay home with her son… it was then that Felt Loose and Fancy Free was born.
Mary began Felt Loose and Fancy Free by asking a friend to help with the design concept and logo. She did a lot of research into the products and only uses thick, high quality felt in her storyboards.
Mary creates gorgeous felt storyboards with themes such as The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Under the Sea, transportation, and matching colors and numbers. She loves that her boards can be used for playtime, but also as a literacy tool.
She admits that she rarely takes a break from the chaos of being a mom and business owner, but that she also thrives in it!
Luckily, her son is still a good napper, so she works at nap time, and binge watches television shows while cutting and ironing felt late at night. As she says, “I think moms are really amazing multitaskers, whether by nature or necessity.”
Mary is overjoyed with life on Long Island, and says, “I’m from a small town, so I think I appreciate everything Long Island (and Huntington particularly) has to offer more than most. The proximity to the beaches and parks, the free offerings at the libraries, the endless kid-friendly restaurants right in town. Not to mention businesses designed just for kids – I’m a big fan of The Sandbox Playspace. Few places can keep my son playing independently, but they’ve set it up in a way that makes going there new every time.”
Mary is truly an inspiration for all moms who want to start their own business. When asked about being a mom and starting a business from home, she says, “Start small and grow. This has been something I’ve struggled with, but I think keeping a balance is important to sustaining a business. Being a mom is a big job, but having something you can be personally proud of is also important. I love the idea that even once Hudson (and any children we have in the future) are off at school full-time, I will have created the foundation for a business that will keep me home and close by as they grow up.”
You can find all of Mary’s storyboards on her online store, and follow her on Instagram too, for updates! She has a new website coming out in 2015, so be on the lookout for that as well…AND if you want to see how great Felt Loose and Fancy Free products are for yourself, from now until December 20th, Mary is offering all Long Island Mamas 10% off your entire purchase using code: LIMAMAS10.
By: Olivia Howell
Photo Credit: Mary Courtemanche
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