I reached out to four mamas in the industry to see how they manage to do it ALL. Belle Brooke, Kristen Baird, Kat Cole & Shannon Cartwright all had different experiences on how they found or are still finding a balance, but some common themes came through. It is not easy, so don’t be super hard on yourself. Set boundaries. Ask for help. Be flexible.
Setting boundaries for yourself is necessary. All of the moms I spoke with make a conscious effort to separate family time and work time so they can give all of their attention to one or the other. They also set up rules to protect their “me time” to try and avoid feelings of being overwhelmed or exhausted.
Depending on the age of your children there are different times during the day that you can solely focus on work. Little ones usually have a set nap time and as they get older they may go to preschool or have some activity they attend during the day. If your studio is at home these are ideal times to focus on your business.
Things get trickier if you and your babies are home all day together. Kat Cole’s daughter is almost two and she said “There is just no way to sneak in a call, email or bench time when it's just me and her, she's all over me all the time. I try to guard that time so that she knows my attention is with her. And it all goes by so quick, I only get one opportunity to savor these moments- and there will always be time to make another brooch, which I sometimes need reminding of." Kat does sneak in work during naps and when her partner is home to help. Her studio is located above their garage and she has a ritual of putting on her apron as she walks up which gives her “mental space to be a maker again".
Kristen Baird is a planner so she does try to stick to a set schedule for her jewelry business. Her son is able to stay at his grandparents’ house for half of the day Monday-Thursday. This is when she gets the bulk of her work done. To separate family and work time Kristen says she closes the curtain and gate to her in-home studio which helps her mentally unplug from business mode.
A boundary that Shannon Cartwright sets for herself is that she doesn’t work after her son goes to bed. She finds that lack of sleep makes her days of juggling parenting and working even harder. Shannon said “I find that my mind goes into hyper drive and I don’t end up going to bed until the wee hours of the night, and I am absolutely exhausted the next day. Setting that rule for myself gives me permission to rest and refill my cup.”
Belle Brooke Barer shares Shannon’s thoughts on making sure you get time to rest. Belle’s advice is “you have to take care of yourself. Sleep is the key! If you are not getting good sleep you are not equipped to run and manage a business.”
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
Most jewelry business owners are very independent and want to do everything themselves. Some may even call them perfectionists or workaholics. Doing everything yourself can only last for so long before you get burnt out. This is even truer when you are trying to be super mom and super business woman at the same time.
So do not be afraid to ask for help. This is Shannon’s number one piece of advice. She said “It’s almost impossible to make the transition to becoming a parent and do it all on your own!! It truly takes a village.” Childcare can be very expensive so living near a support system can be a game changer. Kat and her partner moved closer to family so they would be able to have them involved in child care.
Whether you need help watching your kids or need to delegate some work tasks to an employee do not be ashamed in needing help. Kristen says she is so lucky to have family close that can help out with babysitting. She has also hired a small team and delegated out digital tasks such as photography, graphic design and social media.
Kids are unpredictable and don’t always follow the schedule you had in mind for the day. Also, as we learned from 2020 life can change drastically and quickly. As a parent and business owner you need to be able to adapt.
Belle definitely had to change her routine when schools closed during the pandemic. Her studio is located at the gallery she also owns so she was able to separate work and home life with physical space. But since the shutdown her studio is now also her daughter’s school. Belle stated “it has been challenging but I have adapted to having my child there while I am trying to work, it’s not ideal, but we will get through this”. Recognizing that different stages of business and parenthood will eventually change and pass can help when experiencing an especially tough time.
|The transition from maternity leave back into work can also not be what you expected. This was true for both Kat and Shannon. Rushing back into full-time work was not able to happen for them. Shannon originally planned to be back at the bench in the fall but ended up waiting until the following summer to return part-time. She knows she was lucky to have that option and stated “The journey to parent hood and running your business is SO different for everyone, it’s really key that you listen to your gut and do what’s right for you and your family.” Kat had very similar thoughts saying “give yourself and new family member the time you both need in the beginning, it takes time to get back to a place where work/life balance is possible”.|
It is hard!
There is no way to sugar coat this. Being a parent is hard. Running a jewelry business is hard. Doing both at the same time is extremely difficult, but you can do it! It’s all about figuring out what works for you. Belle’s words of wisdom, “You are going to have to make tough choices about how you budget your time. You are going to be tired. But, having kids will change your worldview in a way that is more valuable than anything else I have ever experienced.”
The balancing act will continue to change as your family and business grow. There will always be times that are more challenging, but keep going! You will learn, adapt and fail along the way. Try to enjoy the journey and don’t sweat the small stuff. Belle’s advice is “do the best you can and leave the rest behind”.
Find Your Parenthood Tribe
Finding and connecting with other working parents can help keep you sane. Sharing stories will help you through feelings of "mom guilt". If you don't have any Mama Maker friends check out our Facebook group - The Jeweler's Spark. We have a thread that can link you up with other jewelry making parents.
Final Thoughts & Advice
Work life balance looks different for everyone. Owning a jewelry business and raising a family at the same time will require patience and hard work. You have to set boundaries, be ready to adapt and ask for help. It can be tough, but it is worth it!
Also, there is never going to be a perfect time to start a family or a business. Kristen said, “You just have to go for it. There's no amount of obsessive planning that will prepare you for a child and everything that entails. Your heart will grow and perspectives will shift into place once a little one is in the picture.”
Shannon also explains “Becoming a parent really changes you. When you go back to work things may seem really strange or foreign. Don’t be afraid to allow your business to change along with you.” Ultimately this is your family and your jewelry business. Prioritize creating the balance you need to have a happy, healthy life.
Thank you to these woman who prove you can run a successful jewelry business and be a great mom!