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.