Guest Post: Raising Your Baby & Your Business

I’ve asked some of my favorite creative mamas to help out while I’m adjusting to life with our new baby. Today, our very own Emily from one of my most favorite shops – Clementine – and the author of our Brick + Mortar column is sharing some thoughts on growing a business while raising a child! This post in particular makes me love Emily about a billion times more than I already do – thanks Emily! –Nole

Hoo-rays and congratulations to Nole on the birth of baby Alice! Making a baby is no joke and we should probably start sending birth-day cards to moms. (Might I suggest “Happy Birth Day, from my uterus to yours!”) I love joining you all here in the Brick & Mortar column and I’m excited to share the behind-the-scenes jungle gym that is my life as a small-business-owning mom. –Emily of Clementine

Thoughts on Growing a Business while Raising Children by Emily of Clementine via Oh So Beautiful Paper

  • Surprise! I found out I was pregnant a month after opening Clementine; and so began my life rearing the Irish twins of boutique & baby. Three years in, I only have time to skim articles about work/life balance. I appreciate the intent. I have studied, worked, and advocated for women to be able to make healthy choices for themselves and their families. I also know that the simple question of “Can women have it all?” can lead to simply feeling defeated. I’m more interested in conversations about the struggles we’re actually facing as parents, makers, and small business owners:  Am I making enough to justify daycare? How do I plan for a baby while running a small business? How do I support my friends who are struggling to conceive? How can I become a more loving step-mom? How do I strengthen my marriage while raising a business and a baby? Will this work sustain me? These conversations (and not the answers, which are often fleeting, if found) helped me grow, happily, into my thirties and feel confident that the choices I make for my business and my family are mine, even if they are difficult to make.
  •  A Day In The Life: My Imagined vs. Actual Day. My every-day mom struggle is a common one: How do I keep it together and feel successful when my imagined day is often so different from my actual one? Online, a lot of us look like super-woman. I’m not. I can take a good photo, and mask exhaustion with humor, but every time someone asks how I “do it all?” my answer is simple: I don’t. It’s sharing the honest struggles that helps me feel human and face the day. And oh what a whirlwind 24 hours can be!

Imagined Morning: Julian sleeps through the night and totally wears underwear all the time and actual clothing for most of the day. He eats a good breakfast and gets to pre-school on time. I do a lot of yoga and leave the house in an outfit free of yogurt/snot/something unidentifiable.  Thoughts on Growing a Business while Raising Children by Emily of Clementine via Oh So Beautiful Paper

Actual Morning: I slept, sort of. Some people have eaten; other people have shoved cheerios into the couch and put on one sock. Julian is only wearing underwear, refuses to put anything else on and is halfway down the block on a scooter. No one has showered. We get to pre-school only 10 minutes late (success.) I give Julian kisses and talk about fire trucks. I hug him, tell him to have a totally fantastic day. Sometimes he still cries, it is still excruciating. Sometimes he runs off with friends, that is bittersweet too. Either way, I try to leave quickly (quick exits are the key to success). 

Imagined Day At Work: I am super productive, I get caught up on orders, inquiries, and bills. All new shipments get priced and displayed in the shop. I eat an actual lunch. I make good use of my time. My desk looks good. I answer the phone when it rings. (Just kidding, I hate answering the phone.)Thoughts on Growing a Business while Raising Children by Emily of Clementine via Oh So Beautiful Paper

Actual work day: Before going to work, I manage to carve out 30 minutes to take a walk and listen to a new podcast (bliss is walking in one direction, by myself, with the space to think). I shower! I get dressed. I jet. On my 5 minute drive, I make a mental list of 12-24 things that must get done today. I open Clementine’s doors at 10:35 (only 5 minutes late!) I love the smell and sight of Clementine. The windows, the light. I feel genuinely lucky and forget at least 12 things on my to-do list. I unlock the door to my coffee shop neighbor and order. I write down everything I need to do today. (Just kidding, I like lists < answering the phone.) Instead, I drink my coffee and “work on social media marketing” for an hour. Good thing I’m the boss.

Thoughts on Growing a Business while Raising Children by Emily of Clementine via Oh So Beautiful Paper

The mail arrives. MAIL! Gorgeous letters and packages. God I love you all. I drop whatever I’m doing  to unwrap, delight and instagram new inspirations. Back to work, I try to reply to product submissions (thank you, especially for the sweet notes). This means reviewing your catalog and making a yes, maybe, no determination of how your product would fit at Clementine. It’s not always easy, I try to send a reply email immediately. I don’t always (please follow up!). I flip to the other 15 tabs open on my computer (bills, orders, inspiration, content writing, consulting). I’m interrupted every 5 to 30 minutes by customers. Some days I plow through, others times I dive into conversations with friends and customers about life, parenting, design, paint, color, marriage, that we must grab coffee (we both mean wine). I love these conversations. I will drop anything for them. I will also drop every thing for a milkshake or anything from Middlebury Chocolates. Is it 3 yet? Close enough.

Thoughts on Growing a Business while Raising Children by Emily of Clementine via Oh So Beautiful Paper

Megan comes in, she gets actual work done. I love her. I love trusting someone to help me. I have time to place my orders, shipments get priced, updated online and out on the floor. I wrap and write notes for Clementine’s online orders. Sometimes this means making quick emergency orders with vendors because something a customer ordered is out of stock (you know the feeling?) By 4pm I’m on a great roll, I’m totally in the zone and bam, it’s 5 o’clock. My desk is a total mess, but I have to bust out of the shop and down the hill to my car. I am only 3 minutes late for Julian pick up. He chatters and gives me a hug and the world stops. I love this moment more than anything in the world. Anything ever. Sometimes I get out early and when I do, we go on tiny adventures. I try to have no agenda and let him lead.

Thoughts on Growing a Business while Raising Children by Emily of Clementine via Oh So Beautiful Paper

Imagined evening: My family eats an actual dinner, we talk, we snuggle, we fall asleep happily before 10.

Actual life: People eat stuff, some of it is green and healthy (it’s Vermont, y’all, I may be busy, but our chicken nuggets are organic and I sneak in kale whenever possible.) It’s a wild nightly tangle of Julian, my husband and Julian’s big brothers. There is laughing and chasing and eating and did someone say ice cream? We have fights and whining. We have belly laughs. Some teeth are brushed. We read the same book again, because: toddlers. We talk about our day. Most people fall asleep. I finish all of the work I didn’t finish during the day. I place most of my orders between 10pm-12am. Bills I thought I already scheduled actually get paid. I have ideas. I plan for tomorrow. I hear the Colbert Report end. Time for sleep. Good night friends.

  • Balance: Being a mom and a small-business owner is a mildly ridiculous exercise in productivity. Everyday is a new game of ping-pong: a symphony of joy, a cacophony of frustration. I won’t say I don’t believe in balance, but as a mom who loves her work, there is an unshakable tension between the two. I’m not Type A or overly organized. I get incredibly frustrated with that because it breeds a messy desk and some internal anxiety, but I happily abandon perfection to focus on making Clementine a space where community builds and people are intoxicated with design and craft just by walking in the door.

Thoughts on Growing a Business while Raising Children by Emily of Clementine via Oh So Beautiful Paper

I try to go easy on myself when I don’t get it all done. I try to focus on friendships and experiences that fill my life (and my family’s) with as much laughter, creativity and kindness as we can stuff in. I believe that we can and should share the pretty instagram photos with a dash of the scared, ugly, unsure feelings.  We can be ourselves and moms. We can recognize that people we love are struggling to become moms. We can send more cards. We can have more laughs. We can be kinder. We can fail and start over. We can climb mountains to be creative. We can fill this life with more love.

First & last photo by Jessica Anderson, delicious chocolate photo by Middlebury Chocolates all others by Emily.

  1. I LOVE THIS POST! Thank you so much for this post! It was so refreshing and with the gentle reminders to surround ourselves with good things to balance ourselves as well. Thank you for making my morning!

    • Amy, thank you! I read this post just as I was headed out the door to work and it totally made MY morning! xo

      • I have shared this post with so many women entrepreneurs today as I thought about it all day long. Again, thank you for your honesty, thoughtfulness and reality check!

    • I myslef have atleast 10-25 to do list in a day, but still proud abd insane enough to accept that i wouodnt be able to accomplish all. But it takes guts and conviction to become a business woman, a mother, a wife and a woman at the same time. 🙂 Great read. 🙂

  2. First, you should totally create the “Happy Birth Day” card. Two: The world needs more paper shops like yours. Kudos girl!

    • Sandi – I am big on giving unsolicited advice to my (beloved) stationery vendors, so *hopefully* one of them makes the card! Thank you for the kind words, they truly make my day better. xo

  3. Thank you for sharing this honest and beautiful snapshot of your life and prioritizing family and creative endeavors. It’s truly refreshing!

    • Melanie, Thank you for commenting and for calling it refreshing. It’s often a funny moment of publishing these things and wondering how they’ll be received, so the responses are so so welcome! xo

  4. Great post, Emily!! Very timely as we prepare for our first little on in January…and plan for our third Stationery Show in May!

    • Thank you Sarah! I am so excited to meet your little bundle and I’m totally confident that you and Rich will be able to pull off NSS with style. I’m also, selfishly, excited to see what new baby goods you design! xoxoxo to you and your belly!

  5. Wonderful Emily! It all seems to come colliding at once doesn’t it.?! Family growth, personal growth, work growth. Gawd I don’t know how I do it and saying no and letting go and telling myself ‘I’m doing the best I can’ is about all I can muster. Love this post and one day I will get back down to your shop. It’s crazy to think last time I was there with Wes last winter I was pregnant and didn’t know it. Thank goodness I can order online 😉 and dang I need a touch of the photography talent you have there, your new shop is stunning.

    • Tessa, Thank you! I have been so impressed watching you sew and run and raise your two little ones. I think it was an early run you took after Lily was born that made me think “ok, I can at least go for a walk”… I’m excited to connect again soon! xoxo

  6. Emily – I absolutely LOVED reading this post. Even though I don’t have any little ones, I think the idea of work/life balance (and the lack thereof) is so important to talk about. The idea of Imagined vs. Actual is hysterical, and oh-so-true. Sometimes I think about that when I’m on instagram (whether it’s my own, or someone else’s). I have to remind myself that there’s also a difference between perceived & actual. Ha!

    Thank you for always sharing your experiences & advice to those of us in the creative/paper industry. You are a gem!!

    • Katie, Thank you! I’ve loved having your designs as part of the shop and am always so thrilled to have another vendor to share this work/life world with. And yes, generally all of my adorable photos of Julian come in the middle of various tantrums and frustrations, but there is so much good too! Your “tiny human” card is the one that gets closest to my Happy Birth Day/Uterus idea of a card. I love it & you!

  7. I felt like I was reading a day in MY life – just better written! Your words were bang on. I own a home decor shop and have a five-year-old. BUSY. Juggling it all and letting some of it go, is how I survive. I too drop my child off early before work, but I don’t take the time to go home again, exercise and shower (shower! genius idea.). I am going to try to incorporate this into my schedule – I just know it will do me a world of good. Thanks so much!

    • Pamela, I feel like I spend half of my day apologizing for something I forgot to do. Luckily, I have the best customers and vendors and I love this business so much. The walking is a NEW thing for me. My son started a new daycare in September and at first I was bummed because it’s in the opposite direction from the store, but it made me reassess our morning and I try to drop him off in an outfit I can go for a walk in. It really has been such a great change. Your shop looks so sweet, thank you also for the kind words! xo

  8. You are awesome and I love your store… I visit as frequently as possible! I never realized how awesome you really were, thank you for such an honest and beautiful post.

  9. Thank you SO MUCH for sharing. This is SO inspiring! We just had our second baby, and are contemplating opening a Brick and Mortar of our own… And thank you also for touching on the social media struggle between the “beautiful” and “real”! Your shop is incredible, thank you so much for this peek at your life!

    • Aly, Congratulations on your new baby! I’m in awe of people with more than one little one, truthfully. It’s so insanely hard to get out the door with one. Also, yes, I often want to instagram my closet just to let people know what a total nightmare it is, but I spare you… Thank you for the kind words and for your comments!

  10. Thank you Emily for this refreshing post. I too have grown tired of the work/life balance discussions, and essays on having it all. I love to see others also focusing less on “having it all” and instead striving for our best while enjoying the journey, with the realization that some failures or dropped “to do” items are normal and ok, especially for us mothers with businesses. Would love to visit your shop if I were closer!

    • Amen, sister! It’s hard not to think that some new thing will come along and revolutionize our lives, yet I feel better and prouder when I just make minor improvements to my day. xo to you!

  11. My children are grown and out of the home but I still struggle with the balance between keeping a nice home, doing yard work, taking care of church responsibilities, keeping my husband on the top or close to the top of my priority list, running Paper Bandit Press, and spending time with my children and 9 grandchildren. You would think it would get easier as you age. For me, it gets more complex.

    I loved your honesty, your great writing skills, and your willingness to share. Thanks! Kim

    • Kim – it’s both helpful and hard to hear that it doesn’t get easier. I think there’s something about running your own business that really adds to the complexities of time. It’s so rewarding, but it’s also another character in your day. Thank you for the kind words and have fun with your beautiful family. I’m excited to see you at NSS again next year!

  12. Emily, thank you for the genuineness you fill this article with. It’s so easy for us to imagine how “together” everyone’s lives are when we see edited glimpses on Instagram, Facebook, etc. I appreciate how real you kept this. And you know what? I find it all the more beautiful and relatable. I have no idea what awaits me in future motherhood (t-minus 8 weeks), but I get the inkling that my imagined and actual lives will be forever changed. I hope to strive for flexibility and embracing the humanness and limits of it all.. through frustrations and joys… that’s truly living. xoxo -Lynsey

    • Lynsey – I am so excited to meet your little one from afar and someday in person! It’s a ride. Make make make now (I have another order coming), but it’s going to be so jam packed with love and perfect in those early days. Eat it up, then we can talk. xoxoxoxo.

  13. I’m constantly looking for this kind of post thanks for your honest, funny, well written entry. This scene isn’t too far off for me and I worry about how I will juggle everything….

    • Thank you Jen! You’ll get it done. A lot of jewelry can be made with a baby worn on your belly! I spent several months with Julian in the shop in an Ergo and truly there was nothing I loved more than working with him. xoxo!

  14. Emily, you are a champ. Really. I love hearing these words from you, and knowing that someday (someday!) my business may be more than “a mildly ridiculous exercise in productivity.” Also, I’m making a print of that phrase so I can chuckle every morning at the studio while I try to get some work done (and I’ll make sure you get one too). xox

    • Oh, Kelly! I think you know that any post of mine that can inspire a print by you means my work here was successful! xoxo you’re making incredible things including that little girl.

  15. Yes yess yesss! And messy desk and ideal day v actual and the hustle bc I’m late. Hope we can meet one if these trips to VT. I’ll up there frequently this year. Xo

  16. Thank you so much for your thoughtful and realistic post, Emily! Your imagined:actual structure is spot on and so refreshing to hear. I usually feel pretty accomplished if I get more than half of my to do list completed while running beve and spending my day with Lennox – and yet, it is so rewarding. I look forward to seeing you at NSS and may even make it to Clementine when we’re up North for a wedding next summer. I’ll finally see Chris’ (and your) old stomping grounds!

    • Thank you Lauren! I must admit, this year was my first NSS alone and watching those of you balancing bringing your babes along and trusting family and friends, reminded me that it does change, each stage is an opportunity to shift the balance and hopefully understand what works best for our family. Excited to see you again. Need more tape, so I’m sure I’ll be in touch soon!

  17. Emily, Thank you for this article! My little boy just turned two and it is wonderful. I love how you said that it is such a real tension between being a mother and business owner. I’ve often had my doubts if I truly have enough passion to be great at both. How can I be an always present loving mother and this on-fire business lady who gets things done? In the first maybe 6 months of my son’s life, I really really struggled. Felt guilty while I worked, felt guilty while I played. Finally it came to a point that I had to remind myself that my family was and will always be more important than the next order. By mentally letting that sink it, it has really helped to not feel that pull of guilty tension (at least not as bad as before). Thank you for your honesty and openness. Sometimes I think the ‘perfection’ that people and other business owners put out on social media can be the most harmful to other aspiring business owners, but I’m just as guilty in making everything seem peachy keen.

    • Phylecia, I agree, the tension can be constant! Luckily I’ve found (and have eagerly listened to wiser, more seasoned moms tell me) that everything changes. Sometimes they get harder, but often we learn how to do what we do better. I’m a big believer on letting go of the guilt, even if the tension remains – thus the honesty! Thank you for your coments and good luck with everything! xo

  18. Thanks for a great post! I think it’s probably a good idea for everyone to compare their ‘imagined’ vs. ‘actual life’ realities… just to keep in mind what matters and that maybe you’re not as far off (I mean dinner does have something green, right?) as you think you are. One question for you- what podcasts do you listen to? I’ve recently started listening, and am always on the lookout for new ones to listen to, especially those that others that seem to be like-minded enjoy! Thanks- have a great day!

    • Jessica, thank you for these thoughts, I do agree! I am actually going to do a post that includes my pod-cast favorites, so stay tuned!

  19. YES! This last paragraph eloquently expressed my daily struggles. I work from my converted garage / home-office-studio, and especially contend with that messy-desk (life) frustration. “Being a mom and a small-business owner is a mildly ridiculous exercise in productivity. Everyday is a new game of ping-pong: a symphony of joy, a cacophony of frustration….” Thanks for a spot-on post!

    • Thank you Samantha! I know a lot of the frustration goes away just from commiserating with other moms about it and realizing we’re all on such similar pages. Thank you! xo

  20. Emily, your sense of humor is the ebst. I can relate to so many of your worlds and yes, we are lucky to do what we love the msot and spend time with our family as much as we do!

    • Angela, you are the best! I love seeing your kids (actually helping you!) in your shop and dream of that day! xo

  21. Emily, this is just beautiful. So perfectly captured. Thank you! I hope to visit your wonderful shop someday and to meet the woman behind these extraordinarily wise words.

    • Laura, Thank you! I would love to meet you! I don’t know about being wise, but I do love people and talking to them. xoxo

  22. i love your honesty and sense of humor. You have such a genuine love for your family and what you do. I have a 4YO and remember the days of having her in a sling at NSS and other shows. Thank you for sharing.

    • Viola, Oh balancing a baby at those shows seems just absolutely wonder-woman-like to me. I brought Julian to the store with me for 10 months and I’m so grateful that I was able to find child care quickly because it became quickly clear that he needed new experiences. Thank you for your kind words and for commenting!

  23. This is SUCH a great post. I do not have kids right now but I love to read up on how women juggle the job of working +mothering. Thank you for being so authentic!

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