FARMINGTON Seven minutes on "The Martha Stewart Show" and the orders keep coming.
When Farmington mom Ashley Steele was first contacted this April about appearing on the show, she thought the request was a scam. She had only begun selling her Hiccup brand baby blocks and wooden handicrafts a few days earlier on the virtual marketplace, Etsy.com.
Why would Martha be calling?
"This is nothing like Martha Stewart material," Steele told herself.
But a few weeks later, there she was, dressed in a hip black suit and talking to the queen of crafts and home-oriented ideas about how to create a Hiccup baby block. The two went step-by-step through the process Steele uses to design her blocks, which come in three sizes and are decorated in paper from Utah-based scrapbook company, BasicGrey.
Steele's husband, Jake, is one of a few people who design paper for the company. His work adorns most of his wife's handicrafts and has a look that is both modern and vintage, with color schemes ranging from earthy blues and reds to monochromatic pink tones.
When applied to baby blocks, the paper designs look sweet but still chic. Stewart herself said she loved the design during her segment with Steele.
"It's unique and back to the basics," Steele said in a recent interview. "I really like the handmade feel."
Steele uses Mod Podge to affix BasicGrey paper to a variety of wooden blocks, animal-shaped pull-toys, picture frames, bookends and magnet boards. She can also customize an item with various embellishments or by printing a favorite picture of a child or ultrasound image of baby-to-be, to paste to a block.
Each wooden handicraft takes a few hours to create.
Steele and her husband said they never imagined their company would be big enough to appear on "Martha." Steele has received phone calls from boutiques across the country and now spends most of her nights working on orders.
"Ashley is the work horse," said her husband, Jake. "I try to keep up with her, but it seems like she doesn't need sleep. Sometimes I look at her and I think, 'I don't know how you're awake.' But she's having a really good time and thinks this could really be something."
The idea to create Hiccup happened about two years ago when the couple started discussing ideas for a home-based business. Originally, they wanted to design baby clothes but didn't have money for a screenprinting machine. Then, Ashley Steele became pregnant with the couple's now 1-year-old son, Milo, and the idea was postponed.
But earlier this year, she became "antsy," according to her husband. And so Steele began creating designer baby blocks as a starting point for their little company.20 comments on this story
Now, their house is filled with blocks and wooden handicrafts. The kitchen table has a variety of finished items with labels indicating where they should be shipped. There's a desk in the couple's family room with stacks of items in various stages of creation. Behind are shelves full of blocks, pull-toys, picture frames and bookends.
While super-busy designing her toys and blocks, Steele said she is amazed how quickly her business became noticed and is hopeful it will continue to be a success."It just went so fast," she said with a laugh. "I was very unprepared for this."