{“Mama + Biz Owner” — Using this tip to work around the slow times, part III.}

Have you met the ladies behind Vintage Honey? They are incredibly enthusiastic + creative, and my guess is you’re going to finish reading their “Mama + Biz Owner” story feeling super revitalized with your own handmade shop. Owning and maintaining a shop is no easy task, life constantly changes as families grow + evolve, but knowing what keeps things turning full circle is key to handmade success and these ladies have it down! Yeow! I love their energy and tips on making it work… while having a lot of fun at the same time. When you’re finished with the feature be sure to join us in the comments — and remember you can view past Mama + Biz Owner posts here and here.

We are, Jennifer & Melissa… not only are we sister-in-laws (we married a set of cute brothers!)… we are BFF’s!! Between the two of us, we have five children!  Jennifer has all boys… oh-boy!  Jaden is 9, Jaxon is 4 & Jett is 2.  Melissa had two sweet kiddos, Kiana who is 7 & Kylen is 5.

We both co-own & run an sweet lil shop on Etsy, The Vintage Honey Shop!  We are based out of Nashville, TN.  We sell handmade paper & fabric items.  Jennifer is the fabric side of the shop & Melissa is the paper side!  But we both help each other out with everything!  We make a great team!  What our shop specializes in is our fabric beaded Teething Necklaces!  They are chic necklaces for Mama to wear, but babies can gum on them while they are teething!  Mama gets to look cute & she doesn’t have to worry about her necklace cutting her baby’s gums!  They are our top selling product that keeps us busy like bees!  You can come visit our {SHOP}, learn more about us on our {BLOG} or ‘like’ us on {FACEBOOK} to follow all the daily ins & outs of our shop!

Before we both had children, our lives consisted of working, going to school & spending time with our husbands.  When you don’t have kids to run after, you can throw yourself into projects & have uninterrupted time.  Once we had children, we learned real quick to adapt to constant interruptions.  We are both SAHM’s (with the exception of Melissa who works weekends as a Critical Care RN), so a typical day consists of trying to juggle caring for our children, homeschooling (Jennifer!), chauffeuring the kids to sport practices & “trying” to keep up our home!  Oh… and fitting in shop work in between!  Most of our shop work is done early in the morning, in between naps, sitting in the car rider line at school & in the lobby of gymnastics practice!  But the bulk of our work is done once our kiddos go to bed!  We try to schedule to have at least 1 work day a week in our studio (a spare room in Jennifer’s home) where we both work on stocking up on shop items.  We keep up with our social media outlets via our iPhones!  We can reply to emails, post pictures to Instagram & update our Facebook page all while running after our kids!

We both are very creative people, but we didn’t know just how to express those talents that were inside of us.  Maybe there was something about “creating life” inside of us that jump started the crafting bug!  We started crafting & sewing a just few years ago.  We mainly made things as gifts and for parties.  After a few years of hearing our friends & family members begging us to open up an Etsy shop, we decided to take the plunge!  We opened our shop in January of 2011.  We opened it for fun… not even sure anyone would buy anything.  In the beginning, running the shop was more of a hobby.  But now, as orders are pouring in, our focus has changed from being hobby based into more business based.  Even though our focus has changed, our level of fun hasn’t!

As women, we naturally adapt to changes in our lives to make things work… we have to! If we didn’t multi-task, nothing would get done!  We create, stock & fill orders in between our daily family lives.  Our faith, husbands & kids come first.  Our shop comes second.  It is a balance that we struggle with sometimes, but it is a work in progress.  The majority of the items in our shop are “Ready to Ship”, so that makes it easier on us & our busy lives to not having to worry about filling an order.  We do have a few “Made to Order” items, but we allow ourselves enough “turn around time” to be able to still create a quality product & still be able to put our family first.  Currently, it is just the two of us running our business.  We would eventually love to hire on more help in the future, but for now we are two-woman crew!

Since we went into our business already having children, we are learning as we go!  The biggest thing that has inspired us & has encouraged us to keep moving forward IS our children.  We want to inspire them & teach them that they can be entrepreneurs and business owners.  We want them to know that you can run a successful business… and have a great family life as well!  Our kids love our shop!  Jennifer’s son, Jaden, stalks our Facebook page fan numbers!  Even with the small amount of fans we have, he thinks we are famous!!  Melissa’s daughter, Kiana, loves to help us in anyway that she can in our necklace production!  She is our own lil intern!  We love to involve our children as much as we can, even if it means them running out our outgoing orders to the mail box!  We work around & with our children to create the BEST shop that we can!

Have fun with your work!  If you love what you do, it comes across in your work!  As a mother, your children are your first priority.  You really have no choice BUT to work around them!  Set time aside daily to focus on your business, even if that means during nap time, after they go to bed or on the weekends when Daddy can play with them while you work!  Ask for help when you need it!  Ask a retired neighbor-lady to come rock your baby while you work or hire a pre-teen to “baby sit”… they can gain experience & you will be nearby to lend a hand if they need it!  Also don’t let slow times in your business slow YOU down!  Use that opportunity to stock your shop up or create new products!  We have made a lot of items that we thought were great, but just didn’t sell.  We moved on to something new!  And we keep moving on!  We are constantly trying new products into our shop!  It keeps our creative juices flowing & keeps us from feeling stagnant!  We are always reading up & researching how we can make The Vintage Honey Shop the best that we can.  We certainly don’t feel like we have “made it” or “arrived”… but we are gonna “Fake it, till we make it!! :)

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SHARE WITH US: What encourages you to stay motivated and keep going? Do you struggle with this or do you have it figured out (for now)? What is the best tip you’ve received about having fun while balancing family + work life? How does multi-tasking fit into your day-to-day schedule? Do you do it or do you run from it? Share with us below!

Comments

  1. 1

    says

    Sigh. Balance is hard. I’ve found that multi-tasking doesn’t work very well with kids at home. You really need to have all your concentration on one thing or the other. So, I try to use my time well and make every second count. And, I just try to do the most important things. Trying to do too much in a day leads to burnout and chaos. It simply takes me longer to do things than it used to. As far as having fun, we make sure to schedule a babysitter for 2 nights each month (we schedule the month before so it’s on the calendar!) and we have a date night. It’s invigorating for my husband and I…we keep all our other appointments like oil changes and dentist….why not schedule our dates? Also, the weekends are for family and we make sure to go out and do fun things with the kids then. No working on the weekend if I can help it! The motivation thing…I’ll never have figured out. I guess it comes in waves that I surf when I can! :)

    [Reply]

    Gussy Sews Reply:

    @Megan, Oh I love your perspective! I totally agree — multi-tasking isn’t for everyone. Especially depending on your kids ages and such. Love that you dedicate weekends to family, and you schedule date nights. A+++

    [Reply]

  2. 2

    Eubie McCrary says

    I love this! I struggle I suppose in the area of taking advantage of the time I don’t have my kids around. It should also be a little easier because they are 16 and 10. I believe another challenge I have is my stuff is all over the house and I do not have one set place because I have years and years of supply accumulation. So with all this said I am at a place where I need to put my talent to work and NOW! I want to take it more serious and not just let everything around me control why I don’t move to the next level. Grrr… So if anyone can give me some tips on how to move to the next level that would be awesome! Thanks! :)

    [Reply]

    Gussy Sews Reply:

    @Eubie McCrary, What do you think about the idea of going through your supplies and narrowing them down to what you really have an interest in? You could set them aside in the basement or garage, don’t throw them away, but this way perhaps you could re-find your focus? xoxo

    [Reply]

  3. 4

    says

    Mulit-tasking works for us a day by day!! Some days it works, some days it doesn’t! Our kids are first…we try to never put our shop before them. As SAHM, our kids & husbands are our life 24/7. To be able to run a shop, we have to fit it in as much as we can, when we can! Our work spaces are near their playroooms, so we can work on our projects & watch them while they build forts! And most times we join in!! ;)

    But yes…it is HARD…we admit, it is a struggle…a very hard one, but one that we find worth trying to make work! Every day is a new way of trying to figure it all out & trying to make it work!

    [Reply]

  4. 6

    says

    Finding balance is VERY hard!! We have 5 kids and 1 on the way (as Gussy already knows this:))) and somedays I am just too tired to get in the studio. My shop has been opened for 4 yrs now and it has done very well, but there are for sure ups and downs in the business. Something that I struggle with thinking is it me, is my shop, am I over:/ Totally agree that you have to keep going and try (but it is soooo hard) not to compare to others.

    [Reply]

    Gussy Sews Reply:

    @April Foss I Sew Lucky, …or maybe you need to hire help ♥

    [Reply]

  5. 7

    says

    i loved this post, girls, and could relate so well, as i have a 4 and 2 year old to chase around while trying to run a business. my business currently consists of my blog (it doesn’t bring in much) and a little area in a brick-mortar store, where i work thursdays and some saturdays. i struggle with keeping enough handmade in the shop, so have reworked what product i offer to make it be things that take less of my time. i am constantly worried about balancing family, the Lord, marriage, maintaining a household, friends..plus the blog and shop. i just keep my head up even when i’m not seeing the “success” i’d like…most of all i do it because i love it and want to bless people. thanks for your advice!

    [Reply]

    Gussy Sews Reply:

    @Mindy Harris, Hey girl! Taking time to know what your priorities are will make running your shop so much easier, that’s for sure. And I love the challenge of finding a way to make it all work, even though it may be super crazy at times. Keep chugging forward, if you love it everything will align perfectly. xoxo

    [Reply]

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