This month’s mom boss is Phoebe from Cotton & Clay Co. She makes the most gorgeous macrame and clay pieces and has such a fun, boho style. Also, she has the most adorable little boy- and she’s LOCAL!
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your family:
Hey there! My name is Phoebe and I am the wife to my college sweetheart Brent and mommy to our one year old son Otis along with our fur baby Rango. We have been married for 4 years now and live a pretty simple life. My husband is a police officer and I am a stay at home mom by day and a business owner by night. I like to think of myself like one of the PJ Masks.
2. What prompted you to start a business?
I grew up in a very artistic family. Art and creativity are all I know. I also love home décor and making a space beautiful but I am not cut out for interior design work. Been there, done that, totally not for me! I have been doing macramé since I was younger. It all started at summer camp and my love for it blossomed into what it is today. I was nannying full time and one day realized it was time for me to pursue this macramé thing whole heartedly so I jumped right in not knowing what it would be today and I am so thankful that I did!
3. How did you decide on the name/brand of your business?
Cotton & Clay Co. actually started as Mama Macramé Baby Goods. It all began when I made my son a baby teether. I used a wooden ring and attached some macramé onto it. I then coated the ring in virgin coconut oil. The knots in the macramé were stimulating to him and coconut oil is a proven anti-inflammatory so it was a hit with him! It kept him entertained and help relieve some of the pain that can be associated with teething! It was a hit with local moms as well. But then I had people saying they don’t have a baby but they love the look of the teethers and what my business stood for (simple design, natural materials, and effective use for you and your family) so they started asking “what can we get” and that is when my keychains started. I was getting custom orders for wall hangings. Then my macramé potties came to mind. All these prodcuts that incorporated macramé in the non traditional sense! I realized I was reaching an audience bigger than babies so the name was changed to Mama Macrame Natural Goods and is now Cotton & Clay Co!
4. Tell us more about your product/business and your role:
I am the sole owner and creator of my business. It is a one woman show over here, with the occasional help of Otis. My products range from home décor to accessories. I want my shop to be considered a “one stop shop for all your boho needs”. I love macramé, I love décor, I love plants, and little knick knacks so I want to make sure I cover all types of needs my customers may have while staying true to who I am and the brand I want to portray. The motto I adopted from the beginning of my business is “simple, natural, effective”. I believe in simple design. My products are not flashy. They are simple which makes them so versatile. I believe in natural materials. I try to make sure almost every material I use is natural and/or organic. I want my products to be safe for you and your family or whoever may be using them! I also believe that all my products should be effective. Whether it is a baby teether or a macramé pottie homing one of your plants. I want to make sure my products serve a purpose for you!
5. Do you have a storefront or do you work from home?
I work from home and our neighborhood pool sometimes when I need to work during the day and my husband has off and can man the fort for a few hours!
6. What does a normal “work” day look like for you?
My work day is a little different than most. I try not to do any work when my son is awake because I want that time to be for him and me. I normally wake up around 6:30 feed Otis and play with him. Then around 8 I get breakfast started for my husband and me. Come 10 Otis is ready for his morning nap and that means I can squeeze in about an hour and a half of work. I try to finish up orders from the week before and get them packaged so I can get them shipped out before the post office closes. Otis wakes around 12 and we have lunch and go have fun. Lately we have been going to the pool everyday so we can be outside and enjoying this amazing weather and I am pretty determined to teach him how to swim this summer. Come 3, I try to get to the post office before the lines get long. Come home and start getting dinner ready for Otis. Feed him and bathe him and get him down around 6:30/7. Then cook dinner for myself and begin my actual work come 9. I try to work until 1am some nights are longer but 1 seems to be the magical number! Then I go to bed and wake up about 5 hours later to do it all again!
7. How do you balance all of the roles that you have?
This has been a tough one for me. I am still learning about this and it has been a tough lesson for me to learn. I have had a few breakdowns ever since starting my business with being a wife and stay at home mom it is TOUGH! I so badly want to give my all to my business AND my family but the truth is I can’t do both. If I give my all to one thing then the other will be lacking and not getting the best of me. That is why I made the rule that no work is to be done when Otis is awake. I want that time to be dedicated to making memories with my son not somewhat paying attention to him while I try to fill an order.
I am also learning to extend grace to myself. This has been really hard for me to do which has lead to lots of tears and feelings of failure. There are times where an order will go out a few days late and I feel absolutely horrible. I always let my customers know the time frame but I still feel so guilty. Little do they know my son fell down and busted his lip open or we all just got over the stomach bug or I got zero sleep the night before because Otis was not feeling well. Those are the moments customers don’t see. They don’t know what you have going on in your day to day ontop of trying to run a business and they shouldn’t. I try not to ever make excuses and do my best to stay on a tight time frame but life happens and when it does happen I am learning that it is OKAY. I am a small business and my customers know that. Thank God I have had great customers and they have been so gracious towards me. Now I am learning to be gracious with myself!
8. What is the best aspect of having your own business?
I love being able to stay home with my son while also doing what I love and being creative.
9.What is the hardest part about owning your own business?
Learning how to manage it all and do it with a smile. There are days where a customer will be upset that I sent their order out 8 business days after their order placement instead of 7 business days and I have to keep a smile on my face and say I am so sorry. Meanwhile I am over hear barfing my brains out while being a stay at home mom and caring for my son while also trying to care for myself. Being a small business owner isn’t glamorous at all especially if you’re a mommy too. It is TOUGH but all the awesome times make you forget about the messy times. If they didn’t I am pretty sure I would have given up a few months ago.
10.What are some long-term or future goals you have for your business?
I would love to have a showroom one day and display all my creations amongst all the wicker and rattan pieces that I collect and sell. I love to create a space that showcases my products in a way that causes customers to be inspired and realize they too can do something similar which encourages them to make a purchase. I would also love to start teaching classes. Whether that is to a group of eager teenagers, or other stay at home moms wanting to learn something new!
11.What do you do when you’re not being supermom?
I LOVE to go thrift shopping. I am a big bargain shopper. Our entire home is decorated with thrifted goods. I think I spent $1000 total on decorating our home. I get so excited over a good deal and I love finding vintage pieces. I am also a big sun chaser. If I am not at home with Otis or at the thrift store you will certainly find me outside by the pool. I grew up at the beach and was at the beach everyday in the summer so I try to do the same here buttttttt at a pool since we live 2 hours from the beach *insert extremely sad face*
12.What famous person would you love to have dinner with, and why?
I would love to have dinner with Salvador Dali. I used to be an art major before I switched it up and chose something else. Art is my passion. Salvador Dali is by far my favorite artist. He has been ever since I could remember. If I could go back in time and sit down with him even for an appetizer I would over the moon! I want to pick his brain and ask him where he got his inspiration. What made him pursue art? How did he stay true to his wild self in the mix of so many other artists? Why did he have that crazy mustache? Haha.
13.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)
As a business owner I look to those who have gone before me and have succeeded. My friend Emily with Crisp Interiors is amazing and has a successful interior design business. She is my role model and I look to her for lots of advice and she is always so gracious to extend all her wisdom! She will tell you that she doesn’t know much but she is way too humble! This mom is a rockstar! She has two children and is pregnant with their third and she still manages to run a business and keep a beautiful home. She is MOMBOSS GOALS!
When it comes to motherhood, I look to my mom. She raised five children and did it in a way that I do not understand. She is the most patient, gentle, loving, and forgiving woman I have ever met. She gives me the best advice and always encourages me when I feel like I am failing as a mom due to business stress. She brings such a wave of peace into my life when I need it most!
14.What is one piece of advice that you can give to a mom starting a business?
GRACE, GRACE, GRACE. Being a mom is tough! There is no question about that. Being a business owner is tough as well. Don’t ever let yourself get so stressed with work that it effects how you mother your child. Recently I was so stressed with getting an order done that I was getting short with my son. My husband so gently reminded me that it is ok to put work off. No order is worth losing my peace and getting worked up. I am still learning, but it is ok to say no to customers. It is ok to be late on orders. It is ok to take a break and close shop for a week. Your family ALWAYS comes first. No business is worth not being present and being the best wife and mom you are capable of being! You are superwoman but even superwoman needs a break! And never feel guilty for saying “I need help” or “I need a time out” you deserve a break!
Be sure to go follow Phoebe for some awesome boho inspo!