Yin and Yang: How do you balance work and family?
I don’t!!! I love that I can work from home because it means I am able to pick my kids up from school every day, take them to activities after school, and just be around more than I would be if I worked elsewhere. Having a child with special needs means that there are greater demands on my family time, with appointments and paperwork etc etc etc, and working for myself actually allows me to have more time for my family, for which I am eternally grateful, and have worked hard to achieve. Any balance I do manage to create comes from the conscious decision to work in a home studio, rather than elsewhere: working school hours, and many late nights, in order to make the most of the times when my family is around.
Busier times of the year call for less weekend time with family, but I always try to make up for that in other ways, like being there on week nights, and sometimes bringing them to markets with me! If you come to my house, you will see that family life works, because my business explodes to every corner of our house, just as family life explodes into my business life. The balance for me is in bringing them together, and when it’s not, the tension is definitely difficult!
The drive: What challenges have you overcome?
Whilst there have been, and still are, many things to learn, be it from tax, to sourcing supplies that align with my values, to time management and social media, if I’m honest, one of the biggest challenges I’ve faced has been the ability to take myself seriously as an artist and small business owner. I began this journey with some pretty negative input from the world around me, and some preconceived ideas that I had formed growing up, which meant that I had rather heavy negative self talk to overcome. I wouldn’t say it is 100% overcome, and if you read the words in my work, you will more than likely be able to see some of my journey around this.
Believing that I am worthy of the small success I have achieved, and allowing myself to be proud of what I have built still come as second nature. Interestingly, encouraging others in the finding and fostering of their own self worth is a huge motivating factor in my work, and has also seemingly been a fundamental factor in hummingpea‘s success!
For better or worse: What are the pros and cons of running your own business?
Being in charge of my own workdays definitely has it’s positives. There is the obvious perk that can never be taken for granted, of being able to manage my work time around the needs of my family, and the flexibility which this allows. But unfortunately, that same flexibility can simultaneously also be the down side! As I said earlier, it can be hard to separate work from family life. It’s easy to get distracted by an email or job when I’m in the middle of cooking dinner, or have promised the kids to help them with homework. Just as it’s easy to accidentally start doing the dishes or playing a game with the kids when I’m in the middle of gluing something together upstairs. I’m not sure if the pros outweigh the cons or visa versa in this scenario, and it is a constant challenge that ebbs and flows with the busyness of both worlds.
It’s also sometimes hard to manage the expectations of others around when I’m working and when I’m not. It can be a challenge for me to set firm boundaries around when I’m available, and create a rigid routine that I stick to. The flexibility for me is paramount to life working, but also the exact thing that makes me run out of time for my work!
There are the obvious pros, such as being in control of how much work I take on, not having to answer to anyone, making all the decisions, and the perhaps more hidden ones, like the pride that comes with the success of the achievements I do make. But with all of that responsibility there is also the stress of carrying the weight of it all on my own. As well as getting to own the pride, every problem to solve falls on me, and I have to own all the mental responsibility as a business owner doing everything solo. At times it can be an extraordinary amount of work, and sometimes I’d love to have people to bounce ideas off of, and make decisions for me!
Hopes and dreams: What next?
I have hopes to continue to expand my business further into the wholesale and online realms, as well as to run regular embroidery workshops for kids and adults. I always have so many dreams and am not someone who has a still mind or lack of ideas! I hope to streamline my business in some areas, which will allow me to be more creative in other ways, and create more eclectic, one-of-a-kind abstract embroidery pieces too. In January, our family is expanding, and with the birth of my third daughter, I have high hopes to be able to continue hummingpea in a gentle capacity, whilst raising my girls, but also remembering who I am every step of the way. Life is full, and so demanding – but it’s important for me to dream big, and I hope to be able to create a lifestyle where my family and I are flourishing in who we are, and also able to support ourselves.