i haven't talked much yet here about my life as a maker/entrepreneur/work from home mom, but since theo was born, my identity as a person has become tied so much more deeply to this business i've built. at the same time, it's been so so hard to manage a business i've been working full time from home, for 3 years, as many hours as i needed to, and now since theo was born, having to really scale back the number of hours and find efficiencies to allow me to get the most done during the shortest amount of time.
it's so easy to "lose yourself" in motherhood, and in the first year, my experience has been that babies need so much from their mamas. there have been so many times where having a creative outlet kept me from having a breakdown in the first year, and to say it aloud sounds super cliche, but between motherhood, and covid, this job has been a way for me to keep some of my pre-theo identity alive, and i'm really grateful to have that. sure, there are some days (... a lot of days) where i think about quitting, or i wonder if i'm good enough of a business owner, or good enough of a mom, which i'm sure is the dilemma of all moms, especially working moms. there are some days where it's so easy to find time for this job, and other days where i don't work at all and definitely feel the frustration of that. BUT here's the thing: this job allows me to have that space to focus on work, but also prioritize theo's needs in a way i wouldn't be able to if i worked outside of the home, or had a traditional work from home job with set hours and tasks.
some days i wonder how i ended up here. never in my life did i imagine doing art for a living. being a maker/entrepreneur actually came between miss and mrs on my timeline of life titles. i chose not to include it in the already mouthful of this blog name cause, it's important, but like one of those linked in profiles that has 47 titles at the end of someone's name, WHYYYY?
i didn't plan on owning a business. it honestly just happened. i was just over here minding my business, planning my wedding and making all the cute pinteresty things i couldn't find locally, and in hindsight what feels like a blink, 'miss to mrs weddings' was born. i opened an etsy shop in 2017 selling handlettered items, and then added vinyl cut out items, and 3 years later, i hardly do anything with vinyl now. i prefer handlettered acrylic, unique wood stuff, and take so much pride in the lasercuts i've been making these days.
here are a few things i've know about entrepreneurship, being a maker, and owning a small business.
1. it is hard AF. no one could have prepared me for the struggle of DOING IT ALL. marketing team? me. legal? me. CEO? me. purchaser? also me. designer? me. painter/prepper/cutter/sander? definitely all me. lettering? 100% me. website maintenance? customer service? packaging? again, me. it's funny when clients or people on the internet make assumptions about staff or a warehouse i work from. meanwhile, i'm over here, hair in a bun, working the early mornings and late nights in my basement, while raising a toddler. although this business has been grown by me, and i'm responsible for every level of decision making, over the years, i've had help. which leads to my next point..
2. i believe no one is self-made. i don't really think it's ever the truth. my mom used to help me pack things. my dad taught me how to cut on his saw, and lends me tools when i need them. my parents even let me work from their basement, for the first year and a half of this business. this past winter, when i got an unreal number of orders, mike was sanding and staining and packaging to help me out. i had a friend helping out for awhile when i was pregnant, too! i've also had so many offers for help from friends and family. and lastly, without clients, there is no business. self-made is a nice imagined experience, but i really think it falls flat when trying to describe how much work and collaboration goes into building a successful brand.
3. there are endless creations you could make, if you are creative or have good tools. i have hundreds of ideas every month, but i can't possibly make all of them, so i find i have to set realistic boundaries around creating new collections or products. the final products you see me debut and offer for sale are the best ones, or sometimes (to be honest) the quickest to assemble before a launch.
4. i'm in my own lane. i know there are a million and one makers who make wood signs, or calligraphy items, and if i stopped making my things in fear of other people making similar items, i'd never make anything. i've had plenty of people steal my ideas, or ask for my supplies, both of which i don't entertain, and i don't believe in copying - i've worked hard to have developed my own style over time and urge anyone who asks for business advice, to do the same. i have my own business goals which guide my workflow, my pricing, my colour schemes, sale seasons, and my designs, of course. the benefit of being self-employed is the ability to decide all of that for yourself, so from the beginning, i have not entertained thoughts or opinions about what i charge, the colours i use, my lettering style, and i've never accepted orders that copy other makers' work. to this day, nearly 4 years in, 'm super clear up front, that i design all my own items and these designs, though similar to the work of other calligraphers, are 100% my own and never copied or replicated.
more blogs to come on this topic maybe? stay tuned.