Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Life as an Etsy Mama. {Part 1}



Balance.  

This is something that I've been working on for the past couple of years as my Etsy business continues to grow and I continue to evolve as a mom and small business owner.  Finding balance is hard for every working mom, I know.  Everyone's story is different.  Everyone's situation is different.  Everyone's reasons for working or not working are different.  This is my personal struggle with it.


Since I'm a new blogger, you may not know much about my story yet.  My husband was in the NFL for 7 years.  (You can read more about us HERE).  He retired and we moved to Mckinney, TX where we settled down to raise our family.  I'm not going to lie.  Getting a job was not something I (we) HAD to do thanks to the NFL and being smart with our money.  So for a few years, I settled in as a stay-at-home-mom and loved every minute of it.  What made our situation unique, was that my retired husband was also home every day.  So I had help a LOT.  And I know how blessed I am to have had that.  It was amazing and I thank God every day for that opportunity.  






After a few years though I began to get antsy. I wanted to earn money all on my own.  I had gone straight from college sorority girl to married NFL wife.  I always had a strong desire to be successful at something.  I was a smart girl.  I had gone to college on an academic scholarship and graduated with a high GPA and a business degree.  I wanted to use what I'd learned and feel like I was contributing...even if it was a teeny tiny percent of our income.  I wanted to feel productive.  

For a few years, I dabbled in some network marketing opportunities (31 Gifts anyone?), created handmade jewelry that I sold through a FB page and in a local boutique, got a part-time summer job as a marketing intern at a software company in Dallas, and worked as a preschool teacher two days a week for a few years while the boys were there as well.


My paycheck from teaching was super small but seeing money come into our account that I was earning myself was lighting a fire under me.  I knew I wanted a real paycheck.  The kids were in school (almost) full time by that point.  Mason was in preschool 4 days a week and Matthew was in first grade.  I  knew that I wanted something where I could keep a balance in my life and still be there for my kids...which meant I needed a job with the same hours as the boys' school.  So I got a job as a PE aide at another local elementary school and LOVED IT.


Maker Mama

Around the same time I started at the school,  I had also started making wood signs (using my new Silhouette machine) as a hobby and selling them.  It quickly became a little business so I was dealing with that on top of working full-time outside of the home. Every month business grew and I got more and more orders until I basically went from no job to 2 full-time ones. I was working round the clock, 7 days a week.  

Long story short---I couldn't do it all.  By the fall of my 2nd year at the school, I was coming straight home from school and working on orders until 9 or 10 at night.  I'd work through dinner sometimes and felt like I was missing everything!  It was awful.  But I knew that this new business I had fallen into was something that could really BECOME something.  I researched a lot and found that there were many many Etsy sellers who did it full-time and earned a real income!  More than I was making as a PE Aide for sure.  

This stage of my life was the hardest it had ever been.  I was barely sleeping, was eating like crap, barely saw my family, was super cranky and stressed beyond belief trying to keep my Etsy shop growing and flourishing while I finished out what I realized would be my final year at the school.  I knew I couldn't keep doing both.  But I certainly wasn't going to quit my job in the middle of the school year and leave everyone hanging.  So I toughed it out and made it out alive.  My business had grown so much by the end of the school year that I had to close my shop for 2 weeks in order to get caught up.


While I was doing all of this, Craig was playing the role of stay-at-home-dad.  He took the boys to school, picked them up, showed up at their class parties and knew their friends and friends' parents. I felt completely left out of all of that and it made me feel awful.  So I knew that my decision to take my Etsy business full-time was the right one.

Craig was a private QB coach and his work day didn't start until his quarterbacks got out of school so it was great having that situation.  I have to admit, I was super jealous of him and how much time he got to spend with the boys while I worked my butt off trying to build a business all by myself.  But there wasn't much he could do to help in the business area except for running my Home Depot errands and cutting wood for me when I needed him to.

It was my choice to go for it. I could have stopped at any time and we would have been fine but I really wanted it for myself.


I cried when I left on the last day of school.  I would miss all 700 of my kids and I would miss my coworkers who I loved seeing every day.  But I was looking forward to finding the balance again in my life.  

So last summer was spent growing my business and turning our guest room into my new craft room. I finally had room to grow.  I was no longer painting in the freezing cold/burning up garage.  I didn't have to glitter tumblers at the kitchen table.  It was my own little office and I was so proud that I was really doing this!!  

BIG DREAMS

I had big dreams as to what life would be as a new work-at-home-mom.  I was going to sign up to volunteer every week at the boys' school.  I was going to be on the PTO and head up a committee.  I was going to drop them off at school every day and then go straight to the gym to get in a good workout now that I had all this time. I was going to pick up the boys every day after school and hang around the playground while I chatted with all the other moms. I might even go to the mall in the middle of the day or meet girlfriends out for lunch!

Ummm no.

I was DELUSIONAL.  

None of this happened. I forgot I had actual WORK to do.  My etsy business had become exactly what I'd hoped for.  A FULL-TIME 40 hour a week job.  During peak times of the year (Christmas and Teacher Appreciation/Spring), it would be even more hours than that.  And I had to treat it as such or else I could lose it all.  With Etsy, you are competing with SOOOO many other people who are doing the same things you are.  And the more sales you get, the higher you are ranked in Etsy searches.  So if you close your shop down for awhile and then re-open, it can take awhile before you get back to where you were when you left. If ever.  Trust me, I learned that the hard way last May!

Yes, Etsy has allowed me much more freedom.  I CAN do all of those things that I listed above but it would be at the expense of my business (and possibly my sanity).  I need every hour available on most days in order to stay on schedule with all of the ship by dates.  When I do take a day off to sub up at the school or go on a field trip with the boys, I usually plan in advance so I have things ready to go on my day off, or I have to work twice as hard for the next couple of days in order to get back on schedule with orders.  I pride myself on my reviews for my shop! Take a peek at them and you'll see how sweet some of my customers are!  I WANT to make people happy and their shopping experience with me as easy as possible.  And every time I get another sweet review it makes me happy and content with the career path I (finally) chose.  It's not conventional, that's for sure.  But it is my sweet spot.  I get to be home every day with freedom to do what I want, when I want and how I want. But I also get paid!  And who doesn't like that?  ;)




Tomorrow I'll be posting Part 2 of my life as an Etsy Mama and give you a glimpse into what a normal day is like for me and how I've learned to balance things. I'm still a work-in-progress.  My business is still in its infancy.  I didn't even get serious about Etsy until last year.  I have so many ideas on how I can make my life and my family's life better.  Starting with doing what my friends do and waking up at the butt-crack of dawn every day and maybe going to bed a little earlier so that I'm not a zombie the next day.  ;)  We'll see how that works out.  

I want to have it all.  I want to be the PTA mom AND run a successful business all on my own.  I want to find a way to make time to splash in the pool with my kids this summer instead of being holed up in my craft room, pounding out orders all day long but still maintain and grow my shop and get all orders out on time.  I'm still figuring things out and until then I've learned to give myself a little grace.  I'm doing the very best I can even though I'm making mistakes along the way.  By this time next year, I hope to be a well-oiled machine.  :)

I'd love for you to stop by tomorrow to read Part 2 and please checkout the Etsy shop HERE.  Happy day, friends!

{Linking up a day late with Erika and Shay for their Workin' It Wednesday make-up post!  And also Erika and Ashley for some Tuesday Talk!}





7 comments:

  1. Love.
    www.rsrue.blogspot.com

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  2. Finding balance can be so hard! I loved reading your story. I also loved the ending about being everything (being the PTA mom and the business mom). Thanks for sharing this and I look forward to coming back tomorrow.

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    1. Thank you, Jenna! I'm determined to find a way to make that happen! Hope you enjoy part 2 today! :)

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  3. Loved reading your story!

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  4. I'm positive that you and I are long lost besties. Finding the balance is so freaking hard. My Etsy shop is just me. I do everything. I also serve on 2 PTO boards. And sometimes I swear my volunteer jobs are full time jobs especially during peak seasons like Christmas and teacher appreciation. During those times, I just do not see my family. It's so hard to balance both.
    But girl you are rocking it.

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    1. Hahaha! It's so fun finding other Etsy Mamas! And yes, it's so hard since it is all on us to run the business. Doing the designing, the creating, the packaging, shipping, ordering, photographing, social media and not to mention how long it takes to get something listed to Etsy! Haha. It is a lot!! But I think I'm getting better at it everyday thank goodness.

      Thank you so much for your support!! You seem to be doing so great too! Two PTO boards! I can't even handle one!!

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