This beautiful mama puts so much intention into her custom handmade silhouette portraits . An amazing artist and mother. She gives us a little insight into how she balances her business and raises her family in our behind the brand interview of A Family Print Shop!
Tell us a Little about yourself, your family and your business.
I live in South New Jersey, right outside of Philadelphia. My husband and I currently have two children plus an adopted puppy. I specialize in illustrated child silhouettes.
What did you do before starting A Family Print Shop?
Before becoming a mom I taught 2nd grade at a private school in the city. I knew that we would do whatever it took to have me stay at home with our child(ren). Soon after having that first baby, we hit some hard financial times and I decided to try to help my husband by starting this business. Lo and behold, it flourished at the perfect time, when we needed it to the most. It's been a blessing.
How did you come up with your company name and why?
Actually my shop was called something else at first, when I had a lot of other products for sale. At one point my husband started a woodworking shop on the side and named it "Family WoodCraft." I thought I should have my shop sort of pair with his, so we came up with "A Family Print Shop." It nods to the fact that we are a family running these businesses, while creating art OF and FOR other families!
What inspired you to start your own business and how did you start it?
In 2012, when our finances started becoming really tight, my husband gave me the idea of selling wall art online. He's even the one that gave me the idea of doing silhouettes! I had asked him to help me make one of our son sometime before, and he thought it would be something unique to offer to people. So I designed some art, listed it on Etsy and hoped people would buy it!
Is there a specific tool you use that makes managing a business easier?
This made me laugh because as someone who is pretty organized & detailed, you'd think I would have something more professional at this point. However, I love using a pencil and paper, so if I need to keep a list of something that's what I do. I also plan a lot in my head and usually it all stays put. :)
What Were some of the learning curves of just starting out?
I never anticipated this becoming an actual part time job so once I joined Instagram to promote and things picked up, I really had to learn so much. But I'd say the biggest learning curve was taking my art from the level I started to where I am today. I am self taught and at times it has been frustrating- feeling like I just can't make myself better than I am. But that isn't true, you always can if you invest in learning and pushing yourself to NOT give up.
What's it like being a business owner and mom, how do you schedule both?
The hardest part is shutting off my mind. I've made a firm point to only work when my kids are asleep (other than the occasional packaging of a few prints while they're playing.) This has been so important for two reasons. 1, so I can actually focus and work efficiently. 2, so that I can really enjoy my days as a stay at home mom & homemaker. But like I said, shutting off my mind is tough. I'm always thinking, always planning..so that's been a constant struggle to learn how to turn it off. Also, I always lock myself in the bathroom for a few minutes to post on instagram or respond to emails. I don't want them always seeing me with a phone in my face. They'll just grow up thinking their mommy had to use the potty a lot. ;)
What has been your greatest lesson in business and motherhood?
No amount of success or money can compete with getting to take part in raising and loving another soul. Mothering is always first for me.
Do you have any advice for aspiring entrepreneurial mothers?
Decide what your goals are. Is your family most important? Or is becoming a successful business-woman? I'm not saying you have to have one or the other - however, you cannot have both to the same extent. Learn to be content with how much you can invest in your business, in order to prioritize your family life.
What does a “normal” day in your home look like?
In this current season, my husband leaves for work before we awake. The kids come wake me up (usually around 630) and then we head downstairs for breakfast. I take the dog outside real quickly, then put a pot of oatmeal on the stove and maybe even make myself some coffee. The kids play or get a treat of watching a show on the computer. We eat breakfast, them oatmeal + me a smoothie. After that we head into the school room where we homeschool. Our son is doing Kindergarten and our daughter is following in his footsteps. That takes about 30-45 minutes and from there we do some reading together and more playing. Maybe we'll run an errand. Maybe we'll play outside. Then it's lunch, naps (I do some work during this time.) Once they're awake they play or help me with chores. A few days a week we also have soccer practice and homeschool co-op during the afternoon time. Soon after it's time to start dinner. They usually help me or play. If they're being especially whiny, then I'll put a show on for them. After that there's time for more playing, reading, baths & bedtime. Was that too many details?! Sorry, I'm known for not being able to tell a short story. ;)
Besides business and your family, do you have any hobbies you love to enjoy (when you have the time)?
I love thrifting! Is that a normal hobby!? I also love to cook and try new recipes!
I’m a huge coffee lover, and I'm always looking for new types, do you have a particular favorite?
I only recently started drinking coffee, actually! I love Organic light roast with vanilla almond milk, honey and cinnamon. Yum!
Who has been an inspiration to you in your life and why?
My friend Lisa. She's old enough to be my mom (don't tell her I said that!) yet she's my closest & most trusted friend. She inspires me in living simply, caring for my husband, children, and home in a way that would honor God. But again, simply - basically, not needing to live a "pinterest life". She is selfless, admits her faults, and doesn't sugar coat anything. Just being around her makes me want to do things better!
If you could travel anywhere or do anything in the world what would that be?
I want to travel through Europe soo badly! And when I say travel I really mean "eat my way through Europe."
If your children learn one thing from you what would you wish that to be?
Learn to be content in all circumstances, whether you have a little or a lot.
Thank you Essie for sharing your tips and tricks on running a business and being a mother! Now go check out her shop!