{Handmade Business in 31 Days — Day 16, Work verses family time.}

Day 16// About this time four years ago I had just found Etsy and the idea of women my age knowing how to sew, run a handmade business AND make a living fascinated me. Like seriously, I was fascinated. Up until that moment I never considered myself an entrepreneur, but something happened during that first Etsy visit and before I knew it I was on my way to becoming one. A couple of months later I was gifted with my first sewing machine {from Zack’s grandma + mom}. My second “gift” came a couple of months later I suddenly lost my full-time job. It was early 2009 and the advertising industry I was working in was suffering big time. Within a few hours of losing my job I realized I could shift all this new-found free time and devote it towards continuing to learn the trade of sewing, which hopefully would allow me to become a handmade shop owner, too.

Within a couple of weeks I had listed a few items in my Etsy shop… but would it last? I wasn’t sure.

From the very beginning I spent a lot of time learning, practicing, sewing + selling my handmade items. Then the process would start all over again once we were sold-out, and this was especially true if I was asked about custom work. I was constantly learning, then implementing what I learned.

Every item I made I had to learn how to make just a few weeks {or days} prior. It was a bit crazy, to say the least…

Looking back at this precious time of Gussy Sews beginning I see a pattern: having a supportive husband/family truly allowed my business to flourish. I worked very hard during the morning + afternoon, would stop for a bit for a long dinner, and then was usually back at my computer or sewing machine for a couple of hours in the evening. And my life looked like that for a long time. In fact, four years later it still looks like that {although not as often}, and I’m 20 weeks pregnant!

When you work so incredibly hard to succeed at something you LOVE, time doesn’t have the same meaning as it does when working on something you don’t care about, because…

…When you’re driven, you value your time. When you’re bored, you are irresponsible with it.

I realize not everyone wanting to start a handmade shop has the same family/home situation as others. Some of you have children, others do not. Some of you have support at home, others do not. Some of you are ambitious + bold, others are timid + uncertain. Regardless of which situation you most relate with, accept your situation and make it work FOR you instead of AGAINST you.

To address this in a different way:

Setting crystal clear goals of what your business means to you, what your family means to you, and including both when deciding how to spend your time each day will allow you to stop struggling over work verses family.

You must take the emotion out of it.

One month prior to losing my job in February 2009 Zack lost his job. Oh yes he did. So that meant we were:

  • newlyweds {married only 8 months}
  • recent college graduates
  • living in a city far from family {hello, Detroit}
  • unemployed
  • and we had to figure it out WITHOUT giving up + moving back home with family

Those were some rough months of unemployment but they taught Zack + I so much about the importance of separating work time verses family time. We needed to come together as a team if we wanted this to work, and truthfully that meant no negativity when separating work from family time. We choose to be 100% invested in whatever slotted schedule // time frame // season we were in.

If Zack needs to offer extra support during a busy or stressful season, he does. If I need to put the focus on the family and slow down a little bit, I do.

I’m not here to tell you what your work time verses family time plan needs to look like, but I am here to encourage you + push you to work your best at finding balance. Some seasons you’ll feeling like you’re juggling — Lindsey likes to use the word “juggle” and I can’t disagree with her ;) But you have to {!!!} be good at separating work from family time.

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” – Sally Berger

Don’t you just love that?

Need even more encouragement to be a rockstar at separating the two?:


The bottom line is you must be realistic with work verses family time. I can’t make it easy for you. I can’t tell you how to make it work. But I can encourage you to pedal fast when necessary so you have the momentum you need to make the uphill climb of handmade business.

Homework// Whew. That was a tough one to write. Hope it wasn’t too hard to read ;) Now is the time to evaluate how you separate work from family time, if you even separate it, and/or getting creative with the beautiful life you’ve been given and allowing it to work with you instead of against you.

So tell me below in the comments, which of the three areas from the Homework section will you be working on?

wanna make some changes to your handmade biz?

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  1. 1


    I loved this post today, Maggie! Thank you so much for sharing your heart and wisdom-learned lessons with us! Seriously…”…When you’re driven, you value your time. When you’re bored, you are irresponsible with it.” Ah-maze-ing word friend! Ah-maze-ing!

  2. 2


    I’m really fortunate that my girls are no longer at home and I have lots of free time to spend creating and having fun doing it. Hubby pretty much understands that I love what I’m doing. I did make the mistake in the beginning not to share with him that this could be a real business and not just a “one time craft show event”. We do spend time together playing tennis and walking together throughout the week. You need that time away from your work to stimulate your creative juices. When Kristy and I talked about doing a mother/daughter craft business, I didn’t know how that would work because of her photography and blog business and her world traveling. But it’s worked out just fine. Actually, it’s been wonderful having the whole family involved, including my second daughter Lynsey, who loves being a model for the headbands and cowls.

  3. 3


    oh man that line about time got me! i NEEDED to hear that. i have a lot to think about and a lot to change because i realize i have been really bored and thus, irresponsible and unproductive. but yes, one day at a time. thank you for preaching it tonight maggie! :)

  4. 4

    sarah says

    Hi – been following your blog for awhile but too shy to comment! Silly me. I love what you do and checking in with your blog is so much fun.

    I too am moved by what you said about being driven vs irresponsible with your time… that is a very powerful way to think about it. And I’m realizing, I am bored. I wouldn’t have put my finger on it that way, but it’s true. I have a lot of dreams and goals that never seem to happen because… I’m irresponsible with my time.

    Thanks for the clarity – I’ll be thinking on that! And good luck with little baby bump! :)

  5. 7


    So working to get this under control. Thank you for this post. Realizing that big dreams = big organizing. In fact I’ve spent the last two weeks working a major schedule for work/family. My oldest is 19 and there are 18 years between he and my daughter. I quite literally forgot what was like to by an excellent mom and to still work my dreams and goals. It really has taken me the past 10 months since she arrived to just get settled again. Craziness. But a good craziness.

  6. 8


    I live that line too for years I’ve seen because its enjoyable and I live doing it. It doesn’t feel like work to me. Sometimes I get distracted and I need to stop sewing in order to do another project around the house like painting or installing a pool.

    U have shed so much light. Spoken so many words of encouragement. I am grateful.


  7. 10


    Because I still work a full time 8-5 job I find that every moment I am home is dedicated to sewing. My husband schedules time with me to make sure that we have some time together. We try really hard to eat our meals together and enjoy that time without rushing through. Hoping to find better balance so that I can have dedicated time to family and not feel guilty about taking the day off from working on orders.

  8. 12


    Hi there, I love this series and Gussy Sews too :) I can relate so much to you about taking time out for family and keeping priorities straight. It is so hard for me to have good time management. I have a five year old little girl and she’s my sweet helper/ craft show baby. :) Now that she is bigger it’s so fun for her to be mommies assistant. But there are plenty of times when I need to take time out and get outside and play be silly and enjoy the moment. Thanks for all your great advice!

  9. 14


    This is the constant struggle of having a handmade business, especially when you have children. When we moved, our childcare situation changed and I no longer have time during the day with no children. This has been challenging and I definitely don’t have it all figured out, but at least I am learning what DOESN”T work. My studio now houses a dollhouse and children’s books on the bookshelves for days when I have to work. It won’t be like this forever, but you still have to make it work.

    My husband does a lot of freelance work as well and he needs time as well. It’s not always 50/50 in a marriage, sometimes its 70/30 or 90/10 (eek!). No matter what we are working together and make sure we have pow wows regularly to make sure we are on the same page. Awesome advice as always!

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    This is good convicting stuff. Figure out the difference between being driven and bored. I think I need to ask that of myself about EVERYTHING I do. How I spend my time. What I eat! What my motivations are for making decisions. Ashley, are you bored or driven?

    Good, good truth speaking you are doing here girl!

  11. 17


    I need to allow the life God has given me to work for me instead of against me. I feel like I am always thinking, “Well when ____ happens it’ll get better…” That’s where I’ve been the last 2 years & I need to get out of the funk!

  12. 18


    I love how you have worded the homework assignment. The sentence “getting creative with the beautiful life you’ve been given and allowing it to work with you instead of against you” is such a powerful one! and it is sooo important. Thank you for this lovely series,



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