A Few Questions with…Rachel of Mignon Kitchen Co. and elephantine

Many of my favorite bloggers also run online shops, something that to me sounds like a lot of fun (and hard work!). I was curious about what that would be like, so today, I’m sharing an interview that I did with the lovely Rachel of elephantine. In addition to sharing gorgeous original photography and writing on her blog, Rachel also runs Mignon Kitchen Co. and elephantine jewelry. The thing I love most about her kitchen shop is that the items are so unique; they’re useful, charming things that I haven’t seen elsewhere. In addition to curating the products, Rachel also does all of the photography for the site-making it a real reflection of her personal aesthetic. Some of my favorite kitchen items have come from Mignon Kitchen Co., so I was psyched to get a little peek into the logistics of running this charming shop.

Me: What inspired you to start Mignon Kitchen Co.?

Rachel: I wouldn’t ever claim that I’m an expert in the kitchen, but I do love spending time there. And when you have passion for something, it’s hard not to share it in some way – for me, that ended up being a curated shop of kitchen goods. It’s been such a fun, hard, and rewarding project.

Me: How would you describe the overall aesthetic of the shop?

Rachel: I’ve tried to create a friendly, sweet aesthetic. I hope I’ve managed to communicate that through the products, photography and design.

Me: What qualities do you look for in the items that you choose to offer and companies that you choose to work with for the shop?

Rachel: First of all, I always choose products that I would personally use. In ways, my shop is a reflection of me, and I want to make sure it stays that way. As for the companies I work with, they’re a mix of independent artisans, small businesses, and larger manufacturers – I particularly love to work with independent makers, but a mix of sources is necessary for some types of items I carry.

Me: How has blogging effected your business, and vice-versa? Did you start the blog to help grow your business, or did the business grow out of the blog?

Rachel: I actually started my blog first, and even now that I have two small businesses I try not to promote them too much on my blog. Of course, I mention when I have a new product available. But my blog is more of a personal journal – I share links to favorite things, write short stories, and post a lot of my photography (flowers, food, my favorite places in Seattle, and so on). It’s a mix of a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Overall, though, having a blog with a significant enough readership definitely helps out my businesses – it sends traffic to my other sites, and it also creates a personal connection.

Me: How do you source the lovely items that you choose to offer in the shop? 

Rachel: There are two ways I typically source products. One is that I already know exactly what I want, and I search around for a company that makes it. The other way is just by chance; often, I’ll see a beautiful item in a roundup on a blog, and then do a bit of research to find out if it’s available wholesale.

Me: Which are your most popular items? Which ones are you most fond of yourself?

Rachel: The gray chevron napkins are very popular, especially for baby showers and weddings. The fondue au chocolat is popular as well, because it’s so unique. I personally love the berry colander, and the heart measuring spoons


Me: Any unexpected moments or difficulties that you hadn’t anticipated about running your own online shop? 
Rachel: Yes – it seems so obvious to me now, but when I was first starting out, I didn’t consider how much storage room I’d need! When you buy products wholesale, you generally have to purchase a case of them, and for some items that takes up a lot of room. I also have to store several different sizes of shipping boxes, as well as bubble wrap, packaging tape, and so on. It tremendously helps to be organized… and it turns into a huge headache when things get unorganized.

Me: What’s been your favorite or most exciting moment so far since opening?

Rachel: I’ve been featured in a few printed magazines with large readerships, and that’s been really exciting.

Me: Your shop offers a lot of great baking items. What are your favorite things to bake? 
Rachel: One of my favorite things to bake are soufflés, because you have to enjoy them right away before they collapse – that immediacy makes it a special treat. (I’ll actually be adding ramekins to my shop soon.) For a while I was also trying to bake layer cakes, and that was pretty enjoyable, even though my frosting skills could have used some improvement.

Me: How do you manage to balance your time between running two different shops, blogging, and working on your novel?

Rachel: I guess the simple answer is that I work a lot and I’m pretty efficient at getting things done. But I used to blog four or five times a week, and I’ve had to cut back to three times a week, because I just don’t have the creative energy to generate that much content. And I’m often working on my novel at ten or eleven o’clock at night, when I should probably be sleeping instead. But I just get so much satisfaction out of all of those things, and that makes it completely worth it.

I can’t thank Rachel enough, first of all for being so incredibly sweet and nice throughout the interview process, and secondly for giving us all of this great and interesting information about what it takes to run an online store. I definitely think she has achieved her goal of creating a friendly, sweet atmosphere with her shop and the products she chooses (I’m excited for the soon to be added ramekins!). Here are a few of my personal favorites from Mignon Kitchen Co.:

All images by, and used courtesy of, Rachel Ball.

Keep up with York Avenue!

14 comments

  1. Hunter says: October 23, 2013

    I love this interview so much! I have been thinking about starting a business and this is really helpful 🙂

    Hunter
    http://www.preponabudget.com

  2. Alyssa says: October 23, 2013

    What a great interview–how fun!

  3. viviana88 says: October 23, 2013

    Cutest feature! I must check out this shop asap.
    http://www.fashiontruffles.com

  4. Rachel / Elephantine says: October 23, 2013

    thank you again for featuring me, jackie! x

  5. Short and Sweet Blog says: October 23, 2013

    Her shop is absolutely gorgeous and so is her blog. Obsessed.

  6. Preppy Pink Crocodile says: October 23, 2013

    Such a cute shop! Thanks for sharing!

    KK @ Preppy Pink Crocodile

  7. Jackie-York Avenue says: October 23, 2013

    You're so welcome! Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  8. Jackie-York Avenue says: October 23, 2013

    They are both perfection. I'm obsessed as well 🙂

  9. Jackie-York Avenue says: October 23, 2013

    My pleasure, Rachel. So happy to have you!

  10. Jackie-York Avenue says: October 23, 2013

    You're going to love it, so much cute stuff!

  11. Jackie-York Avenue says: October 23, 2013

    Thanks Alyssa!

  12. Jackie-York Avenue says: October 23, 2013

    That's awesome, Hunter! I thought her answers were very informative and I'm glad they could help you.

  13. Girl and Closet says: October 28, 2013

    Love Rachel and her shop Mignon. She has incredible taste!! Thank you so much for this interview… loved reading it!! 😀

    xo
    By The Shore, a life + style blog

  14. Jackie-York Avenue says: October 28, 2013

    I'm so happy that you liked it! I loved doing it since as you said, Rachel's taste is impeccable + she's super nice. Thanks for reading 🙂

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