The most asked question of me is how? How do you have 2 kids, 3 dogs & work from home? I have to say it is not easy. This post will hopefully fill in some of the behind the scenes of my bag company. And I will be honest, it is not always pretty. I am faulty.
Success is a relative term.
How would you define your own success? For me it is balance. I left the high paying job because I wanted to be here for my girls. I wanted to see the many moments, be their taxi driver, and wipe those tears. So for me, having a million dollar business wouldn’t fit in my busy mom schedule right now. I’d be right back where I left. No I wasn’t making millions but someone sure was!!
Many times when I ran track & field, I was actually the pace setter. I am like a metronome. Well it is time you apply that same philosophy to your business. If you make thousands of sales this year. What then becomes of the other elements of your life? Are you willing to outsource? What about your family? It is all a very delicate balance, just like going out too fast in a race. Often, you get very tired & sometimes you are unable to finish the race.
Here are all the things you are doing wrong.
Actually I am kidding. Too many posts from Etsy, businesses offering their e-books on how they became successful, and from other Etsy sellers alike are all going to drive you mad. You are going to be so upset, stressed out & constantly changing every single thing that you do at least 4 times a year and maybe 4 times a month. STOP IT RIGHT NOW. Stop chasing them & find out who you are and what makes you happy. If you show your passion & your happiness it will shine through your product & you will find your own level of success.
The simple things in life.
What sells online? Pretty pictures. That is all you’ve got!! The fact is, you will be found & not overlooked if your pictures are pretty. Recently someone said, “Jen, I love your blue pictures but they need to be all white to be in an Etsy T”. They are not completely wrong but quite frankly, I don’t like my all white pictures. It does not make me happy. It doesn’t give life to my bags. It is not me.
You will find no recipe here!!
I am by no means perfect. I do not have a successful recipe for success. So you should stop reading the rest of this post right now. If you’ve decide to read on then you will find some of the things I do to help me stay sane. Maybe some new tips that you can try but what I am really hoping you will do, is share your ideas with the rest of us. If we all pull together & share the real stories of the Etsy Mom (or Dad). Then maybe more of you will stick with it & not give up.
It is not a sprint, it is a Marathon.
My kids are now in preschool & elementary school. They were not always this self sufficient. I stopped working when the little one below was 6 months old. It was not long after that when I made my first bag. I had quick success in the beginning. It has now evened out at a pace I feel quite comfortable doing.
Here is a pic of little miss on my lap “helping” me sew. She was about 2.5 years old in this pic.
Here is a picture of big sis under my ironing board. She was practicing her hand sewing at age 6. I was ironing one of my biggest orders, for Vineyard Kinda Life. It was a huge store order. Again, early success.
Today in real life.
We moms are resilient creatures. Somehow we manage to find away. If you stopped by my studio yesterday when I was forced to multi-task because my girls were home from school for a snow day, here is what would have seen.
- My studio is transformed into a my little pony kingdom.
- Or for my older daughter, my office becomes a hideout under my ironing board or in my oversized chair to find a quiet spot to read a book.
- The TV with NickJr going in and out. Not constant.
- Running in circles in our basement/playroom.
- Jumping on the trampoline.
- 5 yo opening up her own store and I have to go shopping.
Seeing these activities, I have not abandoned my children. In fact, I am right here with them. Being present. They are learning about sewing, though they don’t even know it. I hear the 5 yo’s beautifully creative stories and my heart melts. My 9 yo has a quiet place to read stories & act them out in her mind. I can hear her sweetly playing her violin. Sometimes she will sit quietly and read to her little sister.
It is not a full on productive day.
I accept early on in the day, that I will not be as productive as when they are at school or if I am lucky to have a sitter that day. I don’t have full-time help but on occasion, I do have a high schooler/college student who will come by to help out with my girls. So maybe I only get a little bit done until they go to bed but a little bit may just be the prep work I need for a very quick productive evening. So I find the tasks that I can get done with them in my space & the rest I leave until later.
Other Ideas that I’ve used over the years.
- Child not feeling well? Set up a DVD player & an oversized comforter, lots of pillows & let them relax close by your side.
- Let them bring their small toys into your studio. Let them play. Give them fabric scraps to use as blankets & scarfs.
- Give them a craft, coloring project or even a small task to help you. For example, they might be able to cut paper for thank you notes, stuff bags of fabric, or sticker items that are complete. They will feel like they are a part of the business and not resent what you do. Also, they will grow bored and move on to something more interesting.
- Move your studio to another location. In the summer, I would move my studio to a better view of our backyard and sometimes I hand sew outside.
- Give them a clear idea as to when they will have your attention. Don’t just say in a minute. I give them attention by doing something with them first and then I can get some shop time in without constant interruptions.
- I also make sure mom & kids are well fed. I take frequent breaks to check in on them. This lets them know that I am here & I haven’t run for the hills.
I’ve said this before, success is a relative term.
Each of us is growing a small business at our own pace and it will be different for all of us. What works for one, may not work for another. It also depends on what your widget is, the price of your widget and how long it takes to make it. So don’t get irritated by frequent posts on ten ways you could do it better. If only it were that easy. Yes we can all strive to take better pictures and enhance our descriptions one listing at a time. Some days I feel I am doing all that I can in order to keep up. Some days or some weeks it just seems like I am failing on all fronts. Being a stay at home mom & running a successful shop has been nothing short of a balancing act. You can read more about this experience in a “Busy moms journey to find work-life balance“.
I hope this post helps you get through another day and hey…if you get a chance to do something bigger or go back into the corporate world. You have my support. This post is not meant to judge anyone. We all must do what works for each of us & our families. Sometimes we are forced to change because we have to. Just know your friends are here to lend a supportive ear.