Mother’s Day is this Sunday, and we want to celebrate by introducing you to some inspiring local entrepreneur mamas. We first did this five years ago, and it’s still one of our most popular posts. We all go through the same challenges and can always learn from each other and find strength (and laughter) in our shared experiences.

We’re starting this Q&A series with the talented Michele Chiaramonte, founder of Little Miss Workbench and mom to Mali, 7. Michele designs and makes the coolest wooden toys for young kids. They’re educational and thoroughly playful, beautiful and sturdy. It’s kind of amazing how she’s equally comfortable spending hours with the circular saw or discussing partnerships with J. Crew and Anthropologie. Catch up with Michelle about the highs and lows of motherhood, business life, and life in small-town Long Island.

If you were picking, what would you be getting for Mother’s Day?

If I were picking I’d have a fun day out in Greenport. Doing our usual trifecta: coffee (Aldo), carousel (historic Greenport), pizza (1943 pizza bar). The coffee is roasted right there in the shop, the carousel is an antique, hand painted wooden structure (amazing). The pizza is brick oven and delicious.

What’s your most embarrassing mom story?

Mali was only four weeks old. I had been having a tough time with breastfeeding and wasn’t willing to give up. I would pump when Mali wasn’t nursing. Picture a very sore, new mommy sitting on the couch with an open shirt with two pumps going as the mailman was standing at our (glass) front door with a delivery. Yep that was me. Oops.

A recent proud moment?

There are many proud moment but to sum it up – Mali is kind and caring to everyone she meets. Her silly jokes will keep you laughing whether you are feeling slap happy or grumpy. She is an old soul with a beautiful heart and mind.

What advice can you give to other moms who are starting a business?

If you have an idea, really develop it. Meet other people who are doing what you’d like to be doing. Try to get a sense of what it takes to make your vision come true. There are a lot of things I didn’t realize until I was in it and wish I had had a mentor to help walk me through it.

You juggle so many different things, what helps you stay organized?

Consistency. If I start a project, I finish it before start something new. If I am prototyping, I’ll start a couple of ideas and keep coming back to them. When I am in production mode I have at it until it is complete. That’s not to say I don’t find a random camera body lying on the workbench after I’ve cleaned up and put all of my tools away. That certainly happens but being neat and methodical definitely helps keep things in order.

What’s in store for Little Miss Workbench in the next few months?

Community workshops are taking place at Brookhaven Free Library throughout the Spring and Summer for both children and adults. Additionally we are currently working on collections for Anthropologie and One Kings Lane. Teaching, creating, building – it is a dream come true!

It’s Saturday morning, you have no plans. What’s your ideal day with your child?

Heading over to Ho-Hum beach (Fire Island) for the day. Nothing more fun than walking along the water all the way down to the inlet. My little explorer and I love searching for seashells.

Don’t miss Michele & Little Miss Workbench and our upcoming Cut & Crafted Summer show at Industry City! June 9 + 10 at the Factory Floor.

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