on the business of dig

A bit on the story of our family business and the direction it’s headed…


While working full time at the Missoula Art Museum, I started a small gardening business many years ago called dig this chick. Eventually, I stopped pulling other people’s weeds and started a blog to track my own weed pulling. I named it dig this chick. And then it changed and grew. I learned to sew on my grandma’s sewing machine because I was surprisingly pregnant and didn’t like any of the kid clothes in my budget. At first I made another blog, where I wrote about my pregnancy and changing life. Eventually, that seemed silly since it was all my life; no division between growing carrots and growing a human. So I merged the two together. I continued sewing and people liked my designs. I opened an online shop and started selling.

I still do all of my sewing on my grandma’s Singer Featherweight

It’s all dig this chick and that was a mostly spontaneous, trusting-my-gut choice. Or, rather, it just always felt right, like it was all the same thing. Me. Dig.

My studio, 2011. Still moving into my new space (in the apartment we lived in for the last six months).

I had an exchange with Margot yesterday:
Me: Bug, what do I do for work?
Margot: You write. And you sew stuff for other kids. And adults. With Ruby and me.

Margot, 2011

I didn’t use to be but I now am the most flexible, patient person I know. My business is a Family Business in the truest sense. My kids are with me most always. Most of the time it works really well. At times it’s really challenging.

Margot, Ruby and their friend, Reuben at our temporary shop space

I feel so lucky to work with my Margot and Ruby. It’s real and honest-to-goodness. They know I work for them, for our family. I do my best to model appreciation and abundance. They are witness to the tangible connection to the work we do, the effect we have. They get it. They know they are are a part of it, they are most of it really.

Margot and Ruby at the shop

Andy and Ruby setting up for the MADE Fair, December 2010

Summer MADE Fair, last weekend

We have two employees. Kathie is our amazingly wonderful seamstress. We’ve been working together for nearly two years. Sarahjess assists in all manner of dig things. She is a huge part of my family’s life and also babysits the girls on occasion.

Sarahjess is having a baby this summer!

Dig this chick is growing and we are over the moon about it. Last week we received our fourth shipment of 2000 tags! We are amazed and grateful for the over 6000 dig handmades floating around the world. What?! Thank YOU.

While we do continue to create and sell new designs, we spend most of our energy on the GEO line: attire and homewares featuring geographical silhouettes. We create custom, detailed, meticulously stitched appliqué shirts, hoodies, hot pads and tea towels featuring the place(s) you love.

handstamping and customization available

bottom photo set: a few recent group orders: hoodies for the bridesmaids to a Montana bride, t shirts for grandkids featuring a canoe, lake Ocoee and the Cherokee word for Ocoee, New Jersey tea towels for a family reunion.

And we have plans! Growth is an interesting, delicate thing with a small business. I chose this career so I could maintain a specific quality of life. My definition of success is wholly about feeding my creative brain, contributing to my community, supporting my family and spending as much time as I can with the people I love. I want to contribute beauty to our world. Dig this chick strives to grow smartly and sustainably. We applied for a grant to help us do that. Specifically, we applied to win $250,000 which we will mostly keep in Missoula, offering well-paying jobs with benefits. We will manufacture GEO items, expanding our reach and as we grow, we will give back. Will you take a moment to vote for us? Click here and click ‘login and support’ and then search for ‘dig this chick’ (Many non-facebook users have asked how they can vote. As far as I know, you need a facebook subscription to vote! Thanks for asking.)

Thank you so much for your support.

With appreciation,

Nici and family


31 Responses to on the business of dig

  1. love your blog, and I’ve voted!
    Good luck :)

  2. Jennie says:

    I voted!! Hooray!!!!

  3. Talk about Bloom and Grow. Holy.

    It’s wonderful to see people craft their own futures. Unique. Grounded. Creative. 100% you. Good luck with getting the grant.


  4. Brandi says:

    I love your blog, your pictures and your awesomely creative Dig clothes! You are an inspiration to me, another Montana mama!! I voted for you! Good luck, you really deserve it!

  5. Heidi says:

    I definitely voted for you, YOU ROCK!
    Thanks for your uplifting blog!


  6. ctb says:

    so, yea, no facebook.

    but dig, you HAVE my vote.
    everyday when i log in to see whats happening in your world! so my support it there for you. in vibe, in energy, in spirit.

    and i am sure that counts for something :) good things to you, dear friend.

  7. Jillian22 says:

    I just went to Ireland and FELL IN LOVE. I think I’m going to have to order an Ireland shirt! What do you think?

  8. Claire579 says:

    I live in Ireland!! So glad you’re in love :-)

    No Facebook either but love your blog and hope that your business continues to grow. What a wonderful thing you are doing.

  9. Madam Shen says:

    Dear Nici….I read your blog daily with my morning coffee. I adore how you live your life, raise your family, go about your work. Thank you for sharing how you do business. Very interesting. Especially the part where you are still sewing everything on your Grandmother’s Singer Featherweight. Love it. I voted for you, sure do hope you win the small business award!!!!! The girls are going to grow up being strong and confident women, just like yourself. Thank you for adding so much beauty to the world. Love, Sheri

  10. mumofsix says:

    Love, love, love Margot’s reply to your question.

    Voted for you last week. You deserve so much success. I admire you enormously.

    Please share your secret re patience…

    Love also that you use your grandmother’s sewing machine. I learnt to sew on something very similar. Beautiful

  11. I voted! Thanks for sharing the details about your business. It’s really interesting and I love that you incorporate your girls into it so fully : )

  12. Kelly Cach says:

    I voted and it was easy! I’m not super techy, but figured it out all by myself :)

    And hooray for the Idaho appliqué !!!

    Good luck and many blessings to you :)

  13. figwittage says:

    Lovely Nici, I voted! I love the Singer Featherweight, wow :)

  14. Sara Jakobs says:

    Got my vote!

    Great to see how the girls are involved and take part.
    I feel that work ethic is one of the most important things we can teach our kids today..it seems to have gone a bit wrong in the buy-buy-buy generation! Mind you that is my generation but growing up in a small town in Iceland I was babysitting by 10 and spent summers working on farms ( babysitting, once on a veggie farm growing, picking and packing) and i loved it!

  15. Allison says:

    Vote cast! And love your “Mama Digs” post…..training wheels rock! Peace, Allison

  16. Hi Nici, thanks for the interesting business details. I can see how you do it now, with kids at 2.5 and 4.5, but *HOW* did you do it for the first two years??? I am home with the kiddos, I write a little on my blog and sift through photos, I sew and knit just for the fam, but I barely skim by on getting food on the table and keeping the house one step above gross. I can’t imagine making and selling so many clothes on top of that! (I would *love* to imagine how it’s done as I’d like to get there myself one day, not necessarily clothing, but you know what I mean…something *more*, like work).

  17. Lucy says:

    As an owner of a small home-based business (http://herbalphilosophy.com) and as a mother and as a writer, I am endlessly inspired by you! Best of luck.

  18. Lucy says:

    As an owner of a small home-based business (http://herbalphilosophy.com) and as a mother and as a writer, I am endlessly inspired by you! Best of luck.

  19. Okay, done. And in the 11th hour!

    Also, you amaze me. I want to lick your wares like batter off the spoon.

    The fact that you learned to sew recently(ish)? Impossible! And inspiring.

  20. TRB Holt says:

    This made me cry…..what else is new?
    I am so, SO proud of you!

    xoxo, Mom

  21. @clove’s corner: Hmm, I don’t know! I just did, like we do so many things we can’t believe we can do when our children are small (ahem, no sleep for months on end). Ruby was in a sling most all the time for a year after her illness. So, I sewed and wrote with her right next to my heart. Margot “helped.” Every day was (is!) different and we roll with it.

  22. Laura says:

    I am transfixed. I have admired you here, on instagram, and been a reader for several months. You embody so much of what I aspire to in my life as well. And this? This was the clincher:

    “My definition of success is wholly about feeding my creative brain, contributing to my community, supporting my family and spending as much time as I can with the people I love. “

    Whoosh, momma! I voted for you eons ago, but if I could vote times a bazillion I would. I want to learn more, do more, be more, and give more. Thank you for your inspiration.

    Love to you, sweet lady. And bountiful blessings galore.

    Laura, mama of 4 + 1 on the way + another on the way on paper, dreaming of a small house in a big yard, filled with a garden, a clothesline, chickens and cows.
    (in beautiful, bountiful British Columbia, Canada)

  23. Ellie says:

    So I’m really bummed that some things just can’t be done these days without a Facebook account…really?…I’d vote for you in a second.

  24. Annette says:

    Love your blog.. I voted. Good Luck1!

  25. Amy says:

    LOve this so much. Love the evolution of your business and love the inclusion of your kids. I love seeing that it’s not always easy and that you go with it anyways.
    Your girls will grow up with a deep appreciation of what goes into something being “made” and will know just how important they were in the growth of your business.
    You truly do inspire me to not see any limitations in what I can do with my kids, but rather to see what I can include them in. So thanks for that.

  26. FinnyKnits says:

    Oh I sosososososooooooooooo hope you get the grant. I love the story of Dig and I love your makings. My bird hoodie hangs on the coat rack where I can get to it AT ALL TIMES (every evening when I step outside, every morning when I take Jada for a walk) and my MT potholder is at the top of the stack for priority usage.

    I’d be so pleased to see a grant used up in Missoula by Dig.


  27. City Sweet says:

    I really enjoy reading your blog but this post truly resonated with me. I really appreciate how you’ve found a nice harmony between your work and your family. So nice to see!

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