I am SO SO excited to be kicking off this series featuring mamas in business. It is something so near and dear to my heart. I feel those of us raising babies and businesses are a special breed of people. We have to balance our passions, our time; and strive to be the best at what we do at home and at “work”.
First up is my sweet friend Blair of Boone & June. She is an amazing illustrator and watercolor artist. I’ll let her tell you about herself below, but she even let me talk her into doing all of the adorable illustrations on this gorgeous new website (how lucky am I?!). Be sure to check her out, she’s a local Charlotte, NC mama too!
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your family:
I have always lived in North Carolina. I grew up in a small town an hour west of Charlotte, and graduated from Appalachian State University in Boone. I currently live in Mooresville with my husband of almost 9 years and our two kids, Graham (5) and Paige (2)… and of course our fur baby, Jake! We love our laid back, low key life… looking forward to our Dateline on Friday nights and T-ball on Saturday mornings!
2. What prompted you to start a business?
I don’t know that anything really prompted me to start a business. It’s still hard for me to believe that I am running a business! I think its easy to blur the lines of motherhood and business when you work from home with your kids around all the time. Before having kids, I was an interior designer. And after having them, and spending several years with them at the center of my focus every day, I started to feel a little bit lost in motherhood. Like part of “me” was missing. I have always loved art… studying it, looking at it, and making it. I just love the creative process all together. So about two years ago, I really just sat down and tried to figure out what I needed to feel like myself- and that is when I started to paint again. It has evolved into a business naturally from there, and I am so grateful for it!
3. How did you decide on the name/brand of your business?
I wanted something that was a true reflection of me, my family, and what my business is… and of course that sounded and looked pretty! I chose Boone & June, because I feel like I can attribute a lot of my love and discovery of art to my time in college in Boone. It’s a beautiful small town in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains, and rich in culture and gorgeous scenery. And both of my children were born in June, so the name June makes me feel excited and nostalgic. I loved the way the two words sounded together, and I love what they symbolize for me.
4. Tell us more about your product/business and your role:
I mostly paint custom watercolor wedding bouquets for customers from my Etsy site. I knew I wanted to sell my art, but I had no idea what to sell. One day I was just scrolling Instagram and decided to paint a wedding bouquet that I saw. Looking back at the first one I did, I laugh at how bad it was! But since I have started, I have grown so much as an artist and learned what works and doesn’t work. I have also created custom artwork for wedding ceremonies, wedding stationery, Christmas cards, baby shower invitations, and business stationery. And I’m currently designing some art prints and stationery to sell on my Etsy site as well.
5. Do you have a storefront or do you work from home?
I work from my home studio… and the playroom couch, and the kitchen island, and the back deck, and the carpool line… basically anywhere I can get some wifi, or spread out my paint.
6. What does a normal “work” day look like for you?
I try to work on the mornings that both of my kids are in preschool. I save the work that can’t be done with them home for that time (like phone calls, painting orders, and running things to the post office), and the work that I can do along side them playing (like emails, sketching from the couch, and sharing to Instagram) is what I try to do when they are home. I have a very supportive husband who is always willing to do the night shift with them when I have a lot of work to get done. But I always try to finish by 9:00pm so that I can spend some time with him before we go to bed.
7. How do you handle work + kids? (what is your schedule? do you have childcare?)
I don’t have childcare. I still consider myself a stay at home mom, first and foremost. They are only this young for such a short time that I can’t bare the thought of missing out on something. So because of that, I find myself pumping the breaks at times- saying no to things that I know aren’t going to help me grow and only take time from them. I am trying to grow my business “slow and steady”, so that when they are both in elementary school full time, I can really take this wherever I want to and give it my whole heart. For now, I love that the nature of my business gives me the flexibility to work one day, and then lay on the couch watching Lego Batman and wiping snotty noses the next.
8. How do you balance all of the roles that you have?
I just try my best. I don’t think I have all the answers, and some days I feel overwhelmed with mom guilt. Those are the days I have to shut the phone down, close the door to my office, and give all of me to my kids. I always come back to my work feeling better and like I can give it 100%. If I try to do it all, all the time, I only give bits and pieces of myself to what I’m doing. I feel spread too thin. I have to have some days that I feel like a supermom, to be able to then turn around and not feel the mom guilt when I let them watch too much tv so I can get some work done. And I do the same for my marriage. It would be easy to dump the kids on my husband and work all weekend, not to say that never happens… but I try not to. He loves to fish, and I love my “alone” time… so we kind of trade off on giving this space to each other, so that when we are together we are really enjoying our time together and appreciating one another.
9. What is the best aspect of having your own business?
The flexibility of not only my day to day activities, but also having the flexibility to develop my own brand and turn it into anything I can dream of.
10. What is the hardest part about owning your own business?
Being paralyzed by fear. I am ultimately the only one responsible for my business, and if something goes wrong I have to be accountable. As an employee for someone else, its easier to hide behind the umbrella of a larger company or feeling the power in numbers. It’s just me here, if sh*t goes awry… I have to really pull up my big girl panties and deal with it.
11. What are some long-term or future goals you have for your business?
I love this question, because it forces me to really think about this. I never want this to start to feel like a “job”. When I start to feel overwhelmed or stressed out, I have to remind myself why I started this whole thing to begin with. I know that there will be some stressful times, its unrealistic to think everything will be easy. But if this isn’t fun for me, or I’m not feeling like I’m able to escape from the other stresses in my life by going into my office, shutting the door, and cranking up the music, then I’m doing something wrong.
12. What do you do when you’re not being supermom?
It’s rare that I’m not being supermom, I mean lets be honest. (Totally kidding!!) But those rare times typically involve me sitting on the couch in front of the tv with a glass of wine- either binge watching something on Netflix with my husband, or curled up in bed, totally judging the women on Real Housewives.
13. What famous person would you love to have dinner with, and why?
Probably Blake Lively, or Cameron Wimberly (she’s reality tv famous- I guess that counts) Both are moms, and seem super down to earth… someone I could really laugh with and have a good time.
14. What are the best resources that you’ve found as a small business owner and mom? (podcasts, online or local resources, people, great vendors, etc).
For me, I have found a few other business owners that work in similar industries that I really look up to and admire. I like to see what works for them, and try to find ways to implement that same type of structure or guidance into my own business. I have taken several online classes, and a few workshops to help grow my business and enhance my artistic abilities. I read tons of books and blogs too. I think there is always room to grow, and I am always searching for new ways to be better at what I do.
15. What is one piece of advice that you can give to a mom starting a business?
Don’t get discouraged. The to do list never ends and it can seem overwhelming when you realize how much work it takes to get started, especially if you’re already giving 110% to your family. And then once you do get started, don’t expect immediate success. It’s easy to compare yourself to others who are killing it. Don’t do that, there was a day when they too were sitting in your shoes. Being a business owner will always be an uphill battle, and the minute you feel some success there is always going to be something that takes you back down a peg moments later. Just know that if you stick with it, and work hard, more and more moments of success will come.
Be sure to go show Blair some love!!