For this week’s #ShopFranklin Spotlight, I interviewed Megan Travers of My Little Midge!
If you’ve ever been to Twist Bakery in Millis, you’ve already seen My Little Midge’s custom chalkboard art; the 23-foot-long menu above their counter is all Megan’s handiwork. Although Megan’s business started out with several different crafts, her chalkboard art quickly became her signature. “I liked how it was kind of what I was known for,” says Megan. She started with birthday chalkboards, which are still one of her most popular items, and expanded from there. For the birthday chalkboards, parents provide Megan with ten to thirteen facts about their child, such as their favorite foods, measurements, likes and dislikes, and so on. Megan takes that information and turns it into a permanent piece of art that captures the child at that age. “They change so quickly,” explains Megan; the artwork is a way for the parents to remember the little details that might otherwise be forgotten. These chalkboards aren’t just for kids’ birthdays, though. Megan has created them for weddings, anniversaries, and other milestones. “I can put anything on chalkboard and have it made into something that’s personalized,” Megan says.
Unlike typical chalk art, Megan’s chalkboard artworks are permanent. She starts with wood or canvas painted with chalkboard paint, to give the artwork that “authentic feel,” and sketches out her design with chalk. She goes over any imperfections, smooths them out and adjusts the spacing, and then permanently fixes the design by going over it with oil paint markers. According to Megan, this method allows her to be “more precise with my execution.”
After the birth of Megan’s second child, she became a stay-at-home mom, but felt the need to do something beyond caring for her family. Megan has always loved art, so turning her artworks into a business via My Little Midge was a natural progression. “I love what I do,” says Megan. “It allows me to be home with my kids and do something that’s fulfilling to me.” In fact, My Little Midge is named for Megan’s five-year-old daughter, Bridget, who has been “Midge” to her family since birth. Bridget wants to follow in her mother’s footsteps, and has her own table in Megan’s office where she creates her own art while Megan works. “She’ll ask, ‘Mommy, are we working tonight?’” Megan relates. Bridget even critiques Megan’s designs, often telling her “It needs more swirls!”
Megan’s husband was born and raised in Franklin, so the town was a natural place for them to settle after college. Megan loves Franklin’s sense of community, and loves that “they’re really pushing the whole small business thing… people want to see small businesses grow.” Franklin’s support for small businesses has led Megan to make connections with other business owners; she recently partnered with Kooky Critters for a giveaway, and works with Absolutely Fabulous Affairs to throw amazing kids’ parties. Megan is also in talks with other town businesses to do more menu artwork.
In the future, Megan plans to continue working from her home so she can be there for her kids, but would love to partner with someone for a storefront in future. Since all of her artwork is custom-created, Megan says her clients don’t always understand that it takes time. The “orders snowball… I’m like, OK, I can’t take any more for six weeks!” For Megan, “my kids always come first and I don’t ever want them to think that they don’t,” so as her business continues to grow, she’s looking for ways to merchandise her artwork on easily reproducible items such as mugs, prints, and greeting cards. “I don’t want to just plateau – I want to keep going, I want to see where this takes me,” Megan says.