Whimsical fabrics and colorful beads cover the dining room table inside Samantha Echols’ small Edgewood cottage. They will soon be part of unique sets of baby merchandise for her booming business, Indie & Chic. At the age of 29, this young mother of three (Max age 4, Sam age 2 and Eleanor age 1) is not only discovering how to balance work and parenthood, she’s aiming to empower other moms in the process.
The Company of Moms
Loneliness struck Samantha while she was home with her first child and her husband, Rob, was deployed with the National Guard. “Most of my friends didn’t have children yet, and I needed a way to share with other moms,” she says.
She coupled that feeling with the fact that she wasn’t completely satisfied with the baby products she was finding. She describes the chew bead necklaces at that time as “too chunky,” so she began making her own. Rob, who is now in the Reserves and works a civilian job, was the first to encourage Samantha to sell her creations. That’s when she began to realize that Indie & Chic, which had originally been a jewelry business she started when she was 19, could evolve into something more.
Making matching pacifier clips, rattles, burp cloths and clothing to go with her necklace designs felt like a natural progression. However, she believed the key factor for this new business idea would be enlisting fellow moms to help. “Creating community has always been an important part of this,” Samantha explains.
Her desires resonate well with the first mom she hired and Birmingham mother of triplets, Courtney Wright. She feels thrilled to find a part-time job that allows her the flexibility to work around her children’s schedules, but is quick to note that Indie & Chic means more to her than just that. “Samantha is such a breath of fresh air, and I think of her business the same way,” Courtney says. “She is always striving for growth while also being extremely collaborative. She genuinely wants feedback on every aspect of the business and really appreciates the relationships that are growing out of this brand.”
Indie & Chic now employs a total of four local moms. Samantha puts together kits of the materials, such as silicon beads (ideal for babies who like to chew) and stylish wood pieces for teething rings, rattles and necklaces, and then pays the moms per piece to put them together. She jokes that there’s no need to be crafty for this job. “None of them came by it naturally,” she says.
With Samantha’s teaching, however, it didn’t take long for these ladies to find their groove making baby products. But when it comes to the sewing part of the job, Samantha turns to perhaps one of the most special moms of all—her own mother, Shanne Adams.
An artful eye and a tireless work ethic run strong in Shanne and Samantha’s family. Shanne, who has been sewing since she was 13, currently sews on the side while also helping the Indie & Chic line. Many Homewood natives also know Shanne from her days running the Top Stitchin’ embroidery store. “We were in Edgewood for 20 years,” she says. “Samantha was raised in my shop.”
The mother and daughter moved to Homewood from Dallas, Texas, in 1993. Shanne initially worked an insurance job that wasn’t very conducive to motherhood. Opening Top Stitchin’ allowed her to spend more time as a mom. Samantha believes those years made a huge impact on the person she is today.
A self-described “fabric junkie,” Samantha says she’s always loved playing with color. The fanciful high-quality material she uses for her products reflect that. She proudly selects female artists’ work for the cloth prints. Samantha enjoys packaging these pretty products together as matching sets, but they can also be purchased individually. She describes her unique style as “Anthropologie meets baby” and stresses the importance of keeping a fresh look to the line. “I don’t want to look like I’m decked out in ‘mom gear,’” she jokes.
Despite spending her childhood in a crafty environment, this is not how Samantha envisioned her future. After receiving a scholarship, she attended school near Lake Superior at Northland College in Wisconsin. She majored in pre-vet and worked around animals in her early 20s, but becoming a mom inevitably inspired her to return to her more innovative roots. Shanne was not so shocked to see her daughter start her own business. “She’s determined, self-reliant and industrious,” she says. “I’m very proud and not at all surprised.”
Making New Connections
Samantha never loses focus on how Indie & Chic can unite moms while still creating adorable baby items. Her dedication to this goal can be seen in the 40 hours per week she currently pours into the business. Samantha takes advantage of her children’s nap times and late nights to work inside the makeshift office she’s created inside her laundry room. “If I have free time, I’m using it for my business. I don’t know how to be idle,” she admits.
Samantha hopes these long hours will pay off by helping her gain more recognition for the Indie & Chic brand while also changing the way moms work and shop. For example, she’s currently planning events where moms can shop, hang out together, and listen to guest speakers. Her mission is also evident on indieandchic.com. While it showcases an impressive array of baby gear, it also offers something else—a blog where moms can talk about the highs and lows of raising young children.
Ultimately Samantha aims to have an open studio, complete with childcare, where moms could find fun part-time jobs or simply enjoy buying gifts for babies (a concept she has seen in western parts of the country). With fellow moms supporting Samantha and her big dreams, Birmingham shouldn’t be surprised to see such a studio pop up in the near future. Courtney may sum it up best when she says, “I love that Samantha, and Indie & Chic, is not just about selling a great product. She believes in creating a place for moms to share their stories, feel seen and heard, encourage one another and celebrate the crazy joy that is motherhood.”
Samantha attended market in Atlanta for the first time in January. “The experience was both exciting and terrifying,” she says. Despite her nerves, Indie & Chic was picked up by a showroom. The brand is now sold in 40 shops across 16 states. Here’s where it can be found locally.
- Swaddle, Homewood
- Once Upon a Time, Mountain Brook
- bKids, Mountain Brook
- Chickadee Interiors, Vestavia Hills
- Pepper Place on May 26, June 9 and 23, and July 21
Shoppers can also check out the products online at indieandchic.com.