A boss babe and stay-at-home mama, Stephanie Martinez has always had a passion for matching edgy and chic design outfits with her one-year-old daughter and mini-me, Jade.
In 2018, Stephanie decided to kick her fashion game up a notch by launching Honey & Rose, a “mama and me” t-shirt line that aims to capture the joys and challenges of motherhood and all the cuteness and giggles along the way.
Honey & Rose provides a unique opportunity for mamas and their little ones to showcase and bond over matching t-shirts with empowering and cute sayings. “I think it’s fun to match clothes with your child and there’s not a lot of companies that sell matching ‘mama and me’ items,” said the 31-year-old mama.
Through Honey & Rose, Stephanie hopes to get the message across that motherhood can be messy and difficult at times, but extremely rewarding as well.
“Motherhood is tough and there’s no ‘right way’ to do it, but I believe that as long as you are being true to yourself and put your kids first, you’re already doing a great job,” she said. “I like to post ‘real’ pictures of the not-so-perfect side of motherhood because it’s a reality.”
Stephanie, who grew up in Covina, California, recalls her early childhood and teenage years and how she always had a knack for exploring and creating new projects and items. In fact, her husband and high school sweetheart once bought her a sewing machine because she loved to make and create new things. “I made a bunch of random things, like curtains, purses, and headbands. So I knew from a young age that I wanted to be in the fashion industry.”
After graduating high school and marrying her high school sweetheart in 2012, Stephanie got accepted into the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM) but was not able to attend because her family was not supportive of her pursuing a career in the fashion industry and she couldn’t afford tuition at the time.
“So I switched to something that I could afford on my own and that would allow me to still be creative. For me, this was cosmetology.”
At the time, Stephanie enrolled in night classes for cosmetology at a junior college while working full-time at an office job she was not passionate about. But it was during this rocky time when she got the opportunity to explore new passions by working at a footwear company and designing shoes on her own terms—something she immediately fell in love with.
“I was able to learn how to design, while still doing customer service.” Over the years, Stephanie created designs for Zoo York and Echo and had the opportunity to work for Sketchers designing their junior shoe line.
“I’ve always had a love for shoes, so I pretty much loved everything about working in that industry. The traveling it required for trade shows, being able to be creative, and working with friends were just a few reasons why I enjoyed it so much. It was definitely my dream job at that time.”
After being in the footwear industry for over ten years, Stephanie decided it was time to explore other avenues, so she put her cosmetology license to use and got a job at a salon doing hair.
In 2017, her daughter, Jade, was born and Stephanie decided to become a stay-at-home mama and launch her own business, Honey & Rose, a year later.
During the first year of Jade’s birth, there were many times when Stephanie and her husband spent a majority of their time in hospitals, anxiously waiting to hear updates from doctors about their daughter’s ailing health. Stephanie shared that Jade was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect and severe acid reflux when she was a month old . She was also born with hip dysplasia which required her to wear a harness.
“There was a lot of tears from her and us during that time because she was in a lot of pain and we couldn’t do anything to help her. Due to these conditions, we would see different specialists monthly for the first six months. We also had to schedule regular check-ups with her primary pediatrician,” said Stephanie.
After giving birth to Jade in 2017, Stephanie realized it was too difficult to juggle work due to Jade’s frequent doctor appointments and health challenges. Stephanie wanted to dedicate her time to being the best mama she could be during Jade’s critical, formative years so she decided to stay at home and care for her little one.
“I decided it was best for me and my family if I became a stay at home mom,” said Stephanie. “I love being a stay at home mom and seeing all of her ‘firsts’ but I felt like I needed to challenge myself and just be creative again. Honey & Rose is exactly what I needed.”
Stephanie says she has always considered herself to be a strong woman, but that she believes that having a sick child has made her even stronger and tested her strength.
“Being a first-time mama is already stressful, but having a child with medical conditions on top of that was overwhelming. I found myself constantly (and still do) questioning whether certain behaviors were normal or a result of her health conditions. She’s doing so much better now, thank goodness! Now, everything else is like a walk in the park compared to those difficult times.”
Despite battling all these medical conditions at a very young age, Jade is strong, just like her mama. Her ferocious and lively spirit are what inspire and ignite Stephanie to keep creating a badass clothing and female-powered line that her daughter will be proud of.
“Jade has never let any of her health issues get in her way and you would never guess that she has medical issues. Her strength and personality definitely influence the designs for Honey & Rose. She is not a typical ‘girly girl,’ which is why most of our designs are a little edgy,” said Stephanie.
Today, Stephanie is even more excited to find that her small business has morphed into something bigger than just personalized and screen pressed tees. Honey & Rose also sells everything from toddler shoes to hats and more.
Stephanie misses designing shoes, so she’s recently decided to incorporate and apply her knowledge and fashion design background to create her own kids’ footwear collection for Honey & Rose.
“I took a little bit of something that I learned from all of the different companies that I worked for and used all of the creative skills that I gained throughout the years to launch Honey & Rose.”
Some of her recent toddler shoe designs include “Coco Black Cheetah” and “Coco Gold” sandals for kids in cheetah print and gold. All of the t-shirt designs for Honey & Rose are also created by and heat pressed by Stephanie.
“I have to make time in my busy mom life to be a mama, create and make new products, ship orders, connect with our footwear manufacturers, and manage our social media accounts and website. It sounds like a lot and pretty overwhelming but I’m enjoying every minute of it.”
When Stephanie is not working on a new t-shirt design or toddler shoes for Honey & Rose, Stephanie enjoys yoga, going to the gym for a good workout, and doing DIY projects with her mini-me, Jade, and spending time with friends and family.
Stephanie says Honey & Rose is meant to be a fun fashion line that embraces motherhood through pop culture references and cute sayings that represent the many wonders of motherhood. She gets her shoe and clothing design inspiration from music and pop culture references (and even some Drake references).
“The shirts I create are a fun way to make great memories with your children. It’s so fun to wear matching shirts! I also like my designs to be relatable and relevant to what is going on in pop culture and music.”
Her line also strays away from gender stereotypes, and instead, focuses on designs and phrases that represent strong, fierce mamas and little ones.
“Shopping for Jade can sometimes be difficult because everything is so girly and pink. Jade is a unique girl with unique style. There are not too many items out there that fit her personality. So I was inspired to create a brand that I would put on Jade.”
Of all her designs, Stephanie is proud of her “Enjoy Motherhood” and “Enjoy Childhood” shirts inspired by the Coca-Cola font, which she says is made out of recycled material. One of the greatest moments she’s experienced through her business is the ability to give mamas and their kids the opportunity to bond and make long-lasting memories by sporting matching apparel, she says.
“All of our shirts are American made and eco-friendly. Our supplier practices responsible manufacturing, which means that nothing goes to waste. All of the extra scrap material gets recycled and re-purposed into shirts and other products.”
Stephanie is all about elevating voices and supporting other women. Most recently, she has partnered with MomMarket, a mom-owned business that supports “mompreneurs.” “They host events that feature mom-owned small businesses, while also creating a platform for us to network and grow.”
She also frequently teams up with other mamas that own businesses through social media and says they often provide donations for raffles or giveaways that promote self-care and wellness for mamas. On October 14, Honey & Rose, along with other partners, will be doing a pop-up event in Pomona, California, to support the City of Hope and cancer research.
Stephanie considers herself a #bossbabe because she has carved her own path and never gave up her dream of pursuing the fashion industry and supporting other mamas who want to share the joys of motherhood through other creative outlets.
“I didn’t let anything or anyone get in the way of my goals. I go after what I want no matter what. And pursuing my dream of owning my own company while being a stay at home mom makes me a #bossmama! I love that I get to be creative while building a future empire for Jade. I hope that by seeing me be a #bossmama she will learn that she is able to do anything as a female.”
-Written by Monica Luhar @monicaluhar