Friday, February 1, 2013

A Family Business

I often have people ask me how I am able to run a home business while raising four kids. I generally give a quick answer of "It's not easy".  To be honest it was a lot easier before September of last year. I used to spend maybe two or three hours a day making items for my shop but since then it has developed into a full time gig. The lines between family and work time have significantly blurred as a result, and we find ourselves having to clear my fabric and sewing machine off of the dining room table long enough for us to eat together before I put it all back and sew till all hours of the night after kids have gone to bed (I don't sleep much). It has been a struggle adjusting our schedules but I think I am finally finding a rhythm. So to answer the question of how I balance both I have decided to blog a bit about how things run here in the land of Heart Felt Design.

First of all everyone pitches in.  Even Sam (3), and Hannah (5) like to help when they can.  There are a few Hannah stuffed pillows out there somewhere and they both helped me out just last week by filling these cute envelopes with my business card and coupons to my online store.  It was an easy and fun way for them to get involved.  Hannah still insists that she is old enough to use my sewing machine, but I think I'll give her another year or two.

My older kids, Josh (13), and Zeke (8), tend to help out in other ways. They are now enrolled in a local charter school full time so they are gone for a large part of the day.  Some of you may remember that we used to homeschool.  Sending them to school was a tough decision but  they have loved it so far and it has allowed me to expand my business. When they get home the boys often vacuum for me and pick up fabric scraps etc.  Since I went full time here I have less time to do housework which has meant a few extra chores during the week for the big boys but they have done a great job and haven't complained too much.  Josh also helps with some of my design work and comes up with great ideas.  He has dreams of opening up his own shop and as soon as my old sewing machine gets fixed I will be helping him out with that. This kid is amazing.  Oh and Zeke loves product testing and photo shoots. He cracks me up.

Then there is my ever amazing husband.  He picks up lots of slack. He is a morning person so he gets up and gets the kids moving in the morning so I can catch a bit more sleep.  He is not afraid to load a dishwasher or do a few loads of laundry.  He is a neat freak so I let him run with it. :)  That does however have it's drawbacks.  Ben can't stand clutter and  my creative mind leaves little room for organizational skills.  When I have had a crazy week and there are piles of fabric and thread etc piled on our table or on the living room floor it drives him nuts.  So to remedy this I have kicked him out of our shared office/studio and am taking over the entire space so theoretically my items will never need to venture outside the studio again. We will see how long that lasts.   Ben is also a master stuffer.  He stuffs almost all of my pillow orders and helps me package them and get them out the door.  

I also have a wonderful assistant who works with me part time.  She is the absolute best at organizing and keeping track of orders, as well as keeping me sane.  I love the days when she is able to come over and sew with me.  She brings her kids over to play with mine and we sit at my dining room table to sew and laugh together.  It is a blast.  And when things get absolutely crazy I have a couple of good friends who love to come over and chat, drink Starbucks, and help out.  The blurry hands on the right of this pic belong to my assistant.  She is a bit camera shy. :)

Well that about sums it up.  I don't sleep much and I have an amazing family and support system. If you run a home based business I would love to hear how you balance work and family.  

Update!  So my husband pointed out to me that I didn't actually mention any of our family time.  Oooops.   I try really hard not to work after the kids get out of school so I can be there to help with homework, make dinner, watch movies, play etc with the kids.  I take all day Sunday off as a family day and we often have Friday night movie nights etc.  

Monday, August 20, 2012


Some of you may know that my lovely hubby and I recently celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary.  I also had my 36th birthday the same day.  I really should have rethought that one.  To celebrate we traveled to southern California to visit some good friends of ours who also watched our kids for us so we could have a couple days to ourselves.  I really was a great trip and I was sad to leave.   Here are some of the highlights. 

We broke in our new (used) van.  It was so nice to have room for a long trip.  The kids all traveled really well especially sammy who was perfectly content to watch movies and suck on his sucker. 

Just look at all that room!  They could barely reach to hold hands which means less fighting!
I love the drive to California.  

One of the days we had without kids Ben took me to the Getty Center.  This is a view of LA from the top of one of the Centers buildings.  On a fun note it was super windy that day and there were soooo many girls with very short flouncy skirts on.  I saw more panties that day than I have in my whole life.  My hubby however missed out because he found a quiet corner and snoozed most of the time we were there. 

Saw this on on our way to dinner one evening.  Umm creepy much?

We walked the Promenade (outdoor shopping center)  in Santa Monica our first night away from kids.  It was so relaxing and there were tons of street musicians.  So fun.  Here is a lovely view of the beach just to the north of the pier. 

We ate tons of very yummy food.  

After our alone time we headed back to Hemet and hung out with our friends and their kids.  We drove up to Oak Glen together for some berry picking. 

Of course you cant have a trip to California without hittin the beach. I hate the beach. Sharks live nearby.  My kids however love it and have absolutely no fear.  They caught sand crabs by the dozen and some waves as well.  

It was good to get away for a while and relax.  Now back to our regularly scheduled programming. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

It's hard to believe that July is over already.  It went so stinking fast and now I'm having to think about school supplies and uniforms.  Well before I start having a panic attack about sending my oldest off to school for the first time in years lets take a look back at the last few weeks. :) 

Bumble Monsters made an appearance.  I love these guys.  They were a  crazy science experiment gone awry. Unfit for their original purpose of world domination (they are too 
cute and sweet for that) they have been released from the laboratory and are now looking for loving homes.

Got a custom order for my biggest monster yet!  This gal was huge, and I mean that in the nicest way possible.  My kids want everything I make and Hannah had a little fit when I told her for the fourth or fifth time that this wasn't for her.  I guess I need to make another one. 

Oh and then there was this little monster. He was a custom monster and I love love love that my customer had me add a tie.  I drew a picture for my coloring pages of a monster with a tie and she loved it and had me add it to the plush.  I think it turned out pretty cute. 

I did get a little down time here and there even if it was just running to the grocery store by myself or taking the kids out for a little ice cream treat.  I love love love this picture of Sammy and his Daddy.  We got Sam an ice-cream cone but once he got a look at daddy's huge shake he just had to have it and handed over his cone. :)  

We got our first basket of goodies from Bountiful Baskets last week.  It was full of yummy fresh fruit and veggies along with five loaves of the most amazing organic 9 grain bread.  I couldn't wait to dig in so I made us a meal made almost entirely from the basket.  Not pictured is the Rosemary Chicken and potatoes I made.  Yummy.  

We are getting ready to take a little vacation for a little family time and freedom before school starts again and we have to resume some sort of normal schedule like going to bed before 1am, or getting dressed before noon if at all. :)   My poor kids wont know what to do once I pack the pool away and they have to wear normal clothes and do math again. :)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Settling down

Last month was by far the busiest month I have ever had for Heart Felt Design.  It was nuts. Even with the shop closed down for a week I had over 40 orders come through not including a few from facebook and a large order I was finishing for Mondo Media. For the first time ever I felt a bit overwhelmed, I fell behind, and actually had a small panic moment at one point.   I am finally able to breathe and sleep a little easier, as I just sent out my very last June order! 

We have one more long month before school begins for the littles and I am planning to enjoy every minute of it.  I have decided not to homeschool this year and am sending the kids to the next best thing for us, a local charter school.  Some of them seem really excited but my oldest is begging to stay home. I will miss having them at home with me but the thought of having another month like the last one on top of homeschooling kind of stresses me out.  We will see how it goes.  Until then I am going to soak up as many snuggles, laughs, hugs and kisses along with the inevitable stickiness that comes with having small children.   

I know I am not alone in the struggle to balance work with family.  I am very thankful that my job is one that I can set down and walk away from when my kids need me, which, with four kids, seems to happen every other minute.   Even though the last month was crazy busy I was still able to join the kids in a bit of fun and sun.  Here's a little glimpse into our crazy life.

The kids swam every single day.  My wonderful husband got the kids a new pool this year.  The last one we had was about a foot deep.  My 12 year old was embarrassed to get in the thing.  Thankfully it got a tear in it and needed to be replaced. 

My daughter Hannah has lived in her swimsuit all summer.  She is in the pool from 10-5 with small breaks for lunch and some sun bathing.  I have used bottles upon bottles of sunscreen on this girl.

 Sammy on the other hand doesn't like to be in the pool with the other kids.  It makes him nervous.  He would rather watch from the side lines inhaling otter pops by the dozen. 
 One of the benefits of being so busy last month was that I was actually able to buy decent fireworks this year. This is Sammy trying out his very first sparkler.  He did fairly well.  

 Of course we still went to see our local fireworks display.  It was crazy loud but fun.

With a five year old girl around there is always a lot of pretend play going on at our house.  We have sooooooo many boy costumes but Sammy always ends up in a dress. lol

We love movies at our house.  I probably let them watch way too many, but they are good for my sanity, and it's so nice to see them all snuggling together and getting along. :)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Today's post is a really hard one for me to write.  I have been struggling with the feeling that I need to say something about this issue for a long time and it's finally gotten to a point where I just have to do it. There can be a really fine line between finding inspiration in someone else's work and copying it and claiming it as your own. I have found an amazing online artist community on both Etsy and Facebook that is filled with wonderful artists who are full of integrity and original ideas. Then there are the ones who are not so original or honest, though those are, thankfully, few and far between. I usually ignore these people. However, there is one who keeps popping up all over the place. I get messages from other people at least once a week about this person and their tendency to "glean" ideas off of other artists. Just to put it out there, this is the artist in question's view on copying, in her own words.

"These people don't understand what "copying" means. If you take the exact fabric, shape, colours, and copy every single detail, then that's copying. There are no original ideas out there. Someone's borrowed something from someone, and you have to realize that they are probably jealous. Just keep doing what you're doing, and you'll be fine. CHIN UP!"

"Oh, and if your design is 10% different than this person's design, you're safe. That's the rule in the art world. Take something, change a minimum of 10%, and you're good to go."

10%, huh? Aside from being an unethical practice, this theory doesn't hold up in court, either. See the following articles on artist copyrights and 'fair use':

Myths about copyright
top 10 myths about copyright

You can decide for yourself but, as far as I'm concerned, and I know several other artists who strongly agree, she is a copycat.

She copies artists over and over again and we, the artist community, point it out to each other, privately, but very rarely say something out loud. This is a topic that we need to be more public about.  I am not going to name names today, because I'm rather positive that my pictures will speak for themselves.  If you still don't recognize this 'artist's work and would like to know who to watch out for and hopefully unlike and block on Facebook, please message me privately and I will give you the person's name.
Remember--in her mind, all you have to do is change a design by 10% They may not be exact, but you can tell exactly where the "inspiration" came from.
The worst part is that she claims the designs as her very own and often blogs and remarks about how awesome she is and how her business is so wonderful.
It surprises me that she won't even wait a while after she gets "inspired". She just jumps right at it and makes a similar item of her own.
For example, I came out with my little cupcake monster with a unique cute nose and the copycat even commented on a couple of my monster photos that I posted. Then, the VERY NEXT DAY, she came out with her "new" monsters with the same noses, saying, "I also love the furry noses, and I think they are a fantastic addition, something I thought of later on. I'm so glad I did it."  
Seriously? If she had said something about liking my monster noses and wanting to try something similar on hers, I might not have been as angry.

Here is one more photo of an item that was just copied today (7/10/12).
There are more.  I could sit here for hours and put together photo collages, but I'm not wasting any more time on this person.

Do you think I am being harsh or unreasonable? Many of the artists who are being copied are earning their living from the time that they invest in their craft. They work hard, thinking of new, fun ideas, only to wake up the next morning to see this person posting their items on Facebook, claiming them as her own. Where do you stand on this topic?

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Pay it Forward Handmade style

 Inspired by my lovely, crafty friend over at olga wassupbrothers, I am participating in a little craft swap with a twist and I'm inviting you all to join me. I cant wait to see what olga makes for me. Her creations are completely adorable and so is she.  Her owls are amazing. 

The idea is that the first three people commenting on this post will receive an item entirely handmade by me.  Those three people will then

 * do a similar blogpost and make something special for their first three commenters  

*and will send me something handmade in return as well  

Im So excited to see who joins in the fun! To be fair to all participants please only join if you fully intend to participate.  The first three people who comment with their email address (so I can contact you) will be entered. 

Monday, July 2, 2012

Music Monday and drowning in fur

I know I have shared my love for this band before but really I just cant stop listening to them!  They have this magical ability to calm and bring out creativity in me.  Their Album is only available at their shows and on iTunes at the moment.  Give them a listen.  


Also I got a rather large shipment of fur in the mail last week.  Over 20 yard of it actually.  I have no clue where I'm going to put it all.  I laid it out on my dining room table today to take some pictures. 

So many fun colors!

My kids keep asking me to make them blankets out of them.