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Office Space: Michele Dawbarn, owner of Squeaks and Beeps

A former bank manager turns an interest in sewing into Squeaks and Beeps, a line of baby products and children’s apparel.

Michele Dawbarn of Squeaks and Beeps in her home sewing studio in Olathe. With her husband, John Dawbarn, the pair market a line of children's clothing, bibs, and burp cloths.

A typical day

7 a.m. Wakes up and gets her daughter ready for school.

8:30 a.m. Goes to Starbucks for coffee.

9 a.m. Gives her son, Jasper, an activity to keep him busy and calls her seamstresses to catch up. Checks her email.

10 a.m. Sews, organizes fabric, prepares for shipments, creates new designs.

12 p.m. Has lunch and takes her son to kindergarten.

2 p.m. Gym time.

3 p.m . Picks up kids and takes them to activities, like karate or dance.

5:30 p.m. Makes dinner.

8 p.m. Puts kids to bed.

8:30 p.m. Works with husband on new characters, fabric and color schemes.

10 p.m. to midnight Sews.

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Accidental beginnings

After years of being frustrated with too-thin burp cloths and unimaginative children’s attire, Dawbarn asked her grandmother for sewing lessons five years ago. The two of them began by making a quilt for her daughter, Hazel. The former bank manager was shocked by how much she enjoyed the craft.

Internet sales

Using quirky designs and vibrantly-colored fabric, the Olathe mom made nursing cloths and bibs and sold them on eBay. A boutique owner in Chicago became a regular buyer and encouraged her to start a business. A year later, in 2008, Dawbarn created her own label, Squeaks & Beeps, and started sewing clothing for little girls.

Hubby help

Dawbarn’s husband, who has a background in art, works alongside her. He designed the label and the logo. He also illustrates the characters printed on her collection’s skirts and T-shirts. “It’s cool for our kids to see us working so hard together and still having fun,” Dawbarn said. “Everything we do is for them. We hope one day they can carry on this business together.”

Sweet success

Hundreds of Squeaks & Beeps designs having been selling quickly online and at the Big Day Boutique in Olathe. In July, the website Zulily featured Dawbarn’s line for three days, selling 2,000 orders. They will be featuring her designs again in November. She also has her own team of seamstresses now.

Like mother, like daughter

Hazel, Dawbarn’s 7-year-old daughter, often offers her opinion, which her mom takes seriously. “It started when she suggested contrasting colors and prints, which didn’t make sense to me, but I hesitantly made her a dress using them,” Dawbarn said. “That dress ended up being one of my biggest best-sellers. She has a real knack for it, and now she helps me sew.”

Second chance

A decade ago, Dawbarn ended her career as a bank manager when she got held up at gunpoint during a robbery. Traumatized by the experience, she didn’t think she would ever find another passion. “I was longing and trying to grasp on to something I could be good at,” she said. “I never saw myself as a creative person, so I feel grateful I discovered how much I love to sew.”

Happy ending

These days, Dawbarn is working toward expanding her business into department stores and boutiques nationwide. The 33-year-old is also working on designing her own fabric. And she’s loving every minute of it. “I get to be a stay-at-home mom and have my own business,” she said. “I wouldn’t have that if I had stayed in banking. It sounds cliché, but I really believe everything happens for a reason.”

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