March 2011 Baystate Parent Magazine

Page 34

ensures that the pair cut everything just so, using high-quality fabrics. Yet fourteen years ago, Susan was 24 years old, a recent graduate from Assumption College and working for a local law firm, when she decided to launch a custom invitation and high-end corporate gift bag company, Bel Scriba. “I loved having a small part of the special times in people’s lives,”says Susan. As her friends started to have babies, Susan noted how genuinely impressed they were to receive one of her mother’s handmade baby blankets as gifts (“They’re perfect for swaddling babies!”they said). Susan saw the potential in partnering with her mother and began to offer custom baby gifts in the Bel Scriba line, incorporating her mother’s well-loved blankets.

babylicious

‘explodes’ when the recipient opens it. “I am super happy there and have fun,” she says. And while Susan does not know how to sew herself, she did learn how to custom embroider each blanket with the baby’s name. After she stitches a baby’s name, Susan takes a photo of each blanket as a tribute to the life the blanket will touch. “I wonder, ‘who is this little person?’ “I like being a part of their life.”

It’s A... Business!!

s e i k n a l B f o s s e n i s u B e h ER T T H G U A AND D

S R R E E H N T T R O A M P S S E N I S BU S y A D otograph N h p in r BO tt a ichele qu BY carrie wattu, m

Susan Postero and her mom, Lynne McAtee, do not cut corners in their high-end baby blanket business, Bel Scriba. Well, that’s not exactly true. The mother-daughter business partners do spend every Saturday in Susan’s 34 MARCH2011

North Grafton home cutting 200 to 400 yards of material for their signature Bel Scriba baby blankets that they call, Binkeez™. “She has a wonderful kitchen island,” Lynne says. “Sue stands on one side of it, and I stand on the other.” Lynne

Now that she had her mom’s prized blankets in her lap, Susan began to work on branding them. Inspired by a Chronicle television segment on the Boston-based T-shirt company, Johnny Cupcakes, Susan decided on a bakery theme to market their high-end baby cakes, called Babeez Cakes™, constructed out of their blankets and burp towels (Bel Scriba calls them Binkeez™ and Burpeez™). At first 68-year-old Lynne did not understand her daughter’s creative vision for the company, describing herself as “an exceedingly simple person” who prefers to sew quietly behind the scenes. “Her thing is the product and quality,” says Susan, “My thing is smart business and marketing.” However, once Lynne saw the whole concept come together, everything from the packaging to the Web site, she began to trust. “Her presentation is just beautiful,” says Lynne, “ She always does the extra stuff that makes something very basic so special. Sue has added all of the touches and her own way of caring. “ As the new line became a reality, mother and daughter began to form a new bond as business partners. Lynne sews everything handmade on a nearly 10-year-old sewing machine set up in her daughter’s childhood bedroom in Shrewsbury. “It’s a sturdy thing and has sewn thousands of blankets,” says Lynne. Lynne, who is retired, sews all day long. “It’s very simple,” says Susan, “She sews. There’s no radio. No TV. She just sews.” “It’s wonderful at my age to settle in at the sewing machine. It always brings me joy,” says Lynne whose daughter regularly treats her to professional massages. “I am not a seamstress,” says Lynne, “I stitch and turn a corner. The only thing that is different is that I stitch in love,” a love passed down from her grandmother who was a seamstress in World War II. Thirty-nine-year-old Susan works fulltime as an administrator in a Central MA law firm by day and by night, heads to her home-based studio decorated with Babeez Cakes™ merchandise, Gund bears and Little Miss Priss™ tutus. “I put all the orders together at night,” she says, “which includes wrapping each Babeez Cake™ in such a way that the cake

Binkeez™ Around the World Both Susan and Lynn see the baby blanket as a universal sign of comfort. “A blanket is simple and for comfort,” says Lynne who says she has traveled all over the world from her sewing machine: Africa, Mongolia, South America. “My blankets have gone every place,” she says as whatever money she earns at Bel Scriba she uses to buy more fabric, paying it forward by making blankets for those in need. Since September 11th, Lynn has donated 14,000 blankets to needy organizations in the United States and abroad. Recently, Susan and Lynne have given their Itsy Bitsy Binkeez™ to NICUs across the United States, most recently to UMass Memorial. They also support the March of Dimes, The Ellie Fund, Tee Up for Tots, The Tara Bean Foundation, 15-40 Connection and The Layla Grace Cancer Research Foundation. “Sue’s had a very special heart since she was a little girl,” says Lynne. At the same time, Susan describes her mother as “a selfless, loving, caring human being.” Babies born in impoverished countries are sometimes wrapped in nothing but rags, so Lynne sees each blanket they donate to organizations such as Samaritan’s Purse as “helping the helpers.” “I like to be a helper to the helpers who give their lives volunteering for others,”says Lynne. “We love knowing that our blankets have a small part in comforting others,” says Susan.