Thursday, October 1, 2015

Business + Motherhood: Maggie Whitley

It's week four of the the Business + Motherhood series. We hope to encourage and inspire other business mamas giving a glimpse inside our work days and spaces.
Ya'll meet Maggie. She's mama to Max and Natalie; she loves to create, encourage, and inspire. Maggie was actually one of the first friends I made in the handmade community in 2009. We have emailed, texted and chatted over the phone for the past 6, almost 7 years! She has been an amazing supporter of my business over the years, and I'm so grateful for her.
1. How long have you been running your business?  It's been seven years now that I first found Etsy and decided I wanted to come a handmade maker, selling sewn products and joining a community of makers. My first shop is called Gussy Sews and features ruffled zipped pouches and bags for women. Each product is filled with colorful and personality. My second shop is called Caroline-made, and is the big sister to Gussy Sews. While the products inside Caroline-made still featuring color, they are a little more modern and sophisticated in design.
Earlier this month I co-authored an ebook with Elise Blaha Cripe, and it's called Building a Business: how to dream, plan, make, sell and share your online shop. Since quitting my day job in May 2010, I've had such a passion for encouraging women to pursue the gifts they were born with, not just for themselves to enjoy, but so they can encourage their community to do the same. I've mentored many women over the years on the topics of blogging and business, and compiling all that I've learned about handmade into an ebook has been an amazing accomplishment. I'm very proud of this ebook.
2. What does a typical work day look like for you? My life today looks very different from seven years ago. My husband and I are currently living in Los Angeles with our two small children and dog. We live in a cozy apartment, and we are truly just so grateful to be pursuing our passions each day. Since becoming a mama in March 2013, I've given myself a lot of grace to change the way I run my businesses. As our family as grown I've tried all sorts of things: selling product and blogging full-time, offering a handmade subscription service where members receive a monthly product in the mail (The Gussy Club). I've also started a new business (Caroline-made), have stopped selling completely, and have pursued new opportunities, like my ebook.
All of that to say, a typical work day changes based on the season our family is in. I love being home with our children full-time, so that is my main focus. From there I make sure I'm able to pursuing creative hobbies and projects for myself, because doing these things keeps the "Maggie" in me alive and inspired. Aside from being a maker and a mama, I'm a wife and a friend. And to do any one of these roles well I need to be taking care of myself first.
Nap time is an easy way to sneak in some creative time, but if doing something to restore Maggie is what's best, then I'll either read or take a nap (or both!). Depending on the ages of my kids, I'm able to do a little work or hobby pursuing while they play independently for 20 minutes. I've learned over the years that often times 20 minutes is all it takes for me to really get inspired about a project. Often times the 20 minutes of time goes so well that I'm able to do another 10 or 20, which really adds up quickly. Think about all of the time we spend wishing and thinking we could "just start"? Instead of letting yourself go there, just start! Just do it! Try! Set a goal and see how far you can get at accomplishing it! :)
All of these things are easier for me because I'm not working on selling a handmade product. My time can be flexible, and it is. I can be slow with making. If I were in pursuit of working for consistent profit then I would need to re-evaluate my time. Maybe you are in that exact situation? Let me encourage you: the time is there if you need it to be badly enough. We need to choose HOW we spend our time, but in most cases I would say "anything is possible". Two things are needed to support that, though: one, knowing how much time you are spending doing unnecessary/unhelpful tasks; and two, deciding what tasks are most important, all while remembering the simple motto, "I can't do it all." Inspiration is all around you, don't you ever forget.
3. What goals do you have for your business? Is this a hobby that you enjoy that earns income OR do you have big dreams and want to see this business grow? My goal is to maintain balance with the gifts I've been given: my handmade businesses and opportunities, and my children. Any work I do must create an income/profit, otherwise it's just a hobby. Hobbies are important, too, but it's good to remember they are for personal enjoyment (and nothing else). When Elise and I co-authored our ebook, we spent nearly two years writing and preparing for the launch. This isn't to say every day of the last two years was spent on it, but as our families grew, we were flexible with our timeline. In the end, however, the word we put into our ebook is for-profit. Investing in something knowing it'll bear fruit later is a really rewarding experience. Sort of like parenting ;)
The dreams I have for my businesses are most likely things we'll be able to pursue once we are no longer living in Los Angeles. So stay tuned!
4. What's one of your struggles with balancing business and motherhood? This is such a great question. Here is my honest answer: knowing what my purpose is. So much of what we do day after day as parents is rewarded to us in the future. We teach our kids how to crawl, but it takes time for them to do it on their own. We teach them how to read by sitting with them for a couple of years, practicing every day. We give them endless love and encouragement, even when it seems they aren't listening.
The same goes for my business, but on a different level. I know I have been given gifts to use as work, but my heart is in mothering our children first. I've taken a step back from what work looked like for me pre-kids, but where does that leave me now? Working fulfills me, and it's like a companion to mothering. Doing both is where I find my joy, but how do I balance them individually?
I find a lot of comfort knowing it's OK to make a change. Sharing how I feel with my family so they can support me has been super helpful, but staying in community with other handmade entrepreneurs has given me a lot of "big picture" peace.
5. What is your response to "How does she do it?" I laugh a little and say, "I make mistakes, too." Sometimes I forget, or am late, or get overly-excited, or feel too tired. I'm not perfect, but I wasn't created to be perfect. I was created to share my gifts, to never stop trying, to be in community, to love well, and to be honest. 
My goal is to be transparent about all of this, often. Really, I'm just like you: a work in progress :)
6. Do you have any tips for other business mamas or mamas who are considering opening a shop? I sure do! If it's on your heart, and won't leave you, you need to pursue WHY. I do believe there are ways to do all the things that are most important, but the trick is knowing WHICH things are most important -- because they can't all be. Elise and I poured our hearts and experiences into Building a Business. We cover over 30 different topics, you can see the full table of contents here. Before you open a shop, it's important to know why you are starting. What is your purpose? What are your goals? What kind of an income do you want to make? What service are you offering? Find yourself a mentor who will encourage you, listen to you, and be the voice of reason when you need it. Then, just start!
You can get to know Maggie a little more over at and be sure to connect with her on Instagram @maggiewhitley and facebook.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Business + Motherhood Series: Raising up Rubies

It's week three of the the Business + Motherhood series. We hope to encourage and inspire other business mamas giving a glimpse inside our work days and spaces.
Meet Jaime of Raising up Rubies.
Hi guys ♥ I'm Jaime. mama behind Raising up Rubies. I'm wifey to a hottie and mama to two crazy girls who keep me laughing, dancing in the kitchen and pulling out my hair usually all in the same day #keepinitreal my husband's first responder career keeps us on a constant quest to find time to balance life, fun and sleep and everything else that's thrown at us. I grew up loving all things creative and started my first company when I was 6 years old, deciding I would sell my construction paper collages made with pictures I cut from the pages of my mom's old good housekeeping magazines. That was a short endeavor but ever since then I knew my soul was specifically imprinted with a longing to create, by the Master Creator Himself.
1. How long have you been running your business? I started Rubies 3 years ago when first blogged about my studio, and then opened my etsy shop a few months after that. Better Homes & Gardens came to do a story about the formal living room we turned into a craft room later that year, and the rest is history...
2. What does a typical work day look like for you? Welllll.... I'm a super huge procrastinator. and I'm anything but disciplined. I like planners. I really do. They're fun to decorate and post about on instagram... but following what they tell me to do or checking off the lists that I make for myself in them is a whole different story. Most days look like me getting the kids off to school, tending to dishes, cleaning and laundry. I try to be in my studio by lunch time, working the rest of the afternoon filling orders, creating product, emails, ordering supplies ... you name it.
3. What goals do you have for your business? Is this a hobby that you enjoy that earns income OR do you have big dreams and want to see this business grow? Goals... I have so many! I would love to see my brand grow into whatever God has for it ... hopefully a line of things, from jewelry to house decor, that encourages women to grow in their walk with God. And that helps make them & their homes feel beautiful at the same time. 
4. What's one of your struggles with balancing business and motherhood? It's hard to know when you should put your work aside for your kids or when you need to ask for their patience while you get important things done.
I mentioned before I lack discipline, so following routine or structure is a daily battle for me. But I know my home runs better when I do. It's hard for me to block off time just for work, or just for family etc... I find most days they all intertwine, and I get things done as they present themselves. My long term personal goal is to be more of a planner. To think of things way before they need to be done, and to not be a slave to the rush. Hopefully leaving more time to be intentional with my family and mayyyybe, just maybe have a little extra time just for me.
5. What is your response to "How does she do it?" How do I do it? I don't. I'm a hot mess 23/6. As handmade shop owners, we love our customers. We love our Instagram followers. They are the life-line of our business, and we couldn't do what we do without them. But I think sometimes it's easy for people to forget that regular life for us behind the squares does exist and that we are just like every other wife, mama, taxi driver, underwear picker-upper out there. So don't be fooled by the squares. They are for most of us, just a happy place to show the little pieces of ourselves that come to life. And the bonus is that we are so blessed to have all of the readers to share them with.
6. Do you have any tips for other business mamas or mamas who are considering opening a shop? Just be yourself. It doesn't matter what you make. Just be you. Everything we create was inspired by everything we see, so whatever it is you decide to take on, from jewelry to baby bibs, be sure put your own brand to it. People will love what you make because you are the brand and you make it. They will want to purchase your product if you stay true to yourself and be original!
You can view more of Jaime's colorful, happy work in her shop Connect with her and @raisinguprubies on Instagram and Pinterest

Thursday, September 17, 2015

a few things on Thursday

-Have you signed up for the Pen & Paint Newsletter? Next week I'll be sharing some free Fall coloring pages with subscribers. You can sign up here!
-Calendars will be in the shop on September 30th. I'm so excited about these, and I will be offering a handlettered calendar too. You can never have too many calendars right? 
-Tomorrow there will be a Fall giveaway on Instagram and Facebook. Come enter to win some fun goodies from some of my favorite handmade shops!
Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Business + Motherhood: London & Granger

Today continues the Business + Motherhood series. We hope to encourage and inspire other business mamas giving a glimpse inside our work days and spaces.
Meet Felie of London & Granger.
I’m Felie (pronounced Fel­ee), the owner and maker behind London and Granger. I make one-of-a-kind zipper pouches and mixed­media hoop art. My daughter London will be 4 in October. She’s a very active little girl who loves putting stickers on everything (including me), going boulder climbing, and playing restaurant owner. Menu items often include chicken adobo (a Filipino dish I make often in our house), soft bread, and chocolate coffee with a little bit of orange.
1. How long have you been running your business? I started sewing to stay busy while London napped, my husband encouraged me try selling my makes online and in January 2013 I opened my business.
2. What does a typical work day look like for you? During the day I try and go out on an adventure with London—story time at the library, the park, downtown, or just running errands like grocery shopping. When we’re home, I sneak in moments of work between “quiet time” and times London’s playing in her room by herself. But most of the time I don’t get to sew until after London has gone to bed, when I can really focus my attention on my business.
3. What goals do you have for your business? Is this a hobby that you enjoy that earns income OR do you have big dreams and want to see this business grow? One of my biggest goals is to be able to provide a steady enough income from the business, so that I can leave my part time job. While I haven’t yet reached that goal, I look forward to the day that I can.
4. What's one of your struggles with balancing business and motherhood? One of my biggest struggles is making sure I’m dedicating time to my daughter, and making sure I’m not constantly glued to an electronic device or always sewing. So being sure to put the phone or laptop down during the day is important. I also don’t want her to think that “mommy is always in the craft room sewing,” so during the day I don’t do a lot of work on the sewing machine.
5. What is your response to "How does she do it?" I’d probably laugh because “how does she do it?” wouldn’t be possible without the support of my husband. He’s so supportive and there for me that I’m able to “do it” with his help and encouragement.
6. Do you have any tips for other business mamas or mamas who are considering opening a shop? One of the biggest tips I have is to, Stay true to yourself and remember not to compare yourself to others, because we’re all at different stages of the journey.
Connect with Felie & view more of her wonderful work:

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Business + Motherhood Series: The Felt Flower Shop

Today kicks off the Business + Motherhood series. I will be featuring a variety of other business mamas. We want to give you a glimpse of what it's like to combine the joys and chaos of running a small business and mothering a growing family. Our hope is to encourage and inspire, and to remind you we don't do it all ;)
Meet Cole. She is the mother behind The Felt Flower Shop

Hi, I'm Cole. I am a wife, mama to three boys (Micah 9, Skylar 6 and Madden 3), urban missionary and the felt florist behind The Felt Flower Shop.
1. How long have you been running your business?  I opened up my shop in August of 2010. It started out as a way for me to be able to stay home with my boys but over the past five years it's turned into so much more than that. God has used this little flower shop to help me build relationships and make connections for urban ministry we're doing now as a missional family in downtown Phoenix. This whole process has been an adventure watching it grow.

2. What does a typical work day look like for you?  Lately I've learned that I have to create focused work hours for myself, because energy and time are scarce in this current season of life. Two of my guys are in school right now and I just have one at home with me during the day. There are no brother's to play with during the day while mommy works! So one thing I do every morning is try and eliminate all possible distractions. I make sure the house is picked up, I have my coffee, water and snacks on my desk and I spread out lots of toys, activities and snacks and turn on Daniel Tiger to keep Mr. Madden entertained for at least 1-2 hours before his nap. Push notifications go off, and I've recently given up watching TV while I work. Not that TV is bad, I just know that it can kill productivity for me. So instead I listen to music, books, podcasts or my bible app while I work with my hands. I also try to schedule all my errands on the same day because I know that if I leave the house it hurts my work focus for the entire day.  
3. What goals do you have for your business? Is this a hobby that you enjoy that earns income OR do you have big dreams and want to see this business grow?  I'm so thankful for how far this business has come, and for all the amazing experiences that it's brought into my life.
Five years in and I still absolutely love what I do. I'd like to do more markets and community events and I have a few goals for the future. Next big steps to see some real growth would be to delegate more tasks and hire on help which I've decided against at this time, but someday. One day at a time.

4. What's one of your struggles with balancing business and motherhood?  I have a really hard time saying no and an even tougher time slowing down. I'm realizing that there's just always going to be more work to do but my boys aren't going to be this small again. Sometimes its necessary to pass on even good opportunities to make sure you're not neglecting the things that are most important. I have to choose to clock out and I need to make the time to really invest in my relationships.
5. What is your response to "How does she do it?"  I don't do it alone. Ha! I can't do all the things. When you're running a small handmade business you have to wear a lot of hats. But it's so important to know when to ask for help and when to give things up.  I have friends that help me with projects that I'm not strong in, my dad and even my 6 year photographer son help me out. 

6. Do you have any tips for other business mamas or mamas who are considering opening a shop?  I think it's a constant struggle for most people to not focus on the numbers and not lose themselves by getting caught up in trying to become something. Don't focus on the stats, the likes, the follows. Don't compare yourself to others. Focus on doing good work and building connections with the people that already love what you do.
You can connect with her on Instagram @TheFeltFlowerShop + @ColeFranke & Facebook, and to view more of her beautiful work be sure to visit her shop.

Friday, September 4, 2015

a few things on Friday 9.4.15

Can you believe it's September?!  Fall is in the air and seasonal items are in the shop! Stay tuned for more - I've been working on Halloween cards and new Thanksgiving/Fall items. Also, 2016 calendars will be out this month. I will be offering a hand-lettered desk calendar, an illustrated calendar (with all new designs), plus a few other new options. 
Next week I will begin a fun series on business + motherhood. I hope you'll join me as I feature some wonderful business mamas. We will share our stories and how we "do it all" (spoiler we don't).
I'm working on coloring book! I can't wait to share more. I'll be posting sneak peeks here.
Pen & Paint has a newsletter now! Don't miss out on sales, free printables, and other great stuff. You can sign up HERE
I hope you have a wonderful Labor Day Weekend!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Sign up for the Pen & Paint Newsletter

I'm happy to share Pen & Paint now has a newsletter. Yay! This way you will stay up to date on sales and shop announcements. I want to make the Pen & Paint Newsletter worth your time and inbox space:
  • When you subscribe you will automatically be entered for a monthly shop credit drawing.
  • Subscribers will get a heads up on sales and discount codes so you don't have to worry about missing the news on my blog/social media.
  • Special Pen & Paint printables will be offered for subscribers only (coloring pages, printable art, holiday items, etc).
  • Exclusive discount codes for subscribers.
  • Information about new products before they hit the shop.
  • Access to tutorials.
  • Lots of good stuff that I haven't come up with yet ;)
I hope you'll consider signing up for the Pen & Paint Newsletter today! -> SUBSCRIBE

Thursday, August 13, 2015

You add beauty to the world...

Illustrated Inspirational Floral Art Print by Pen & Paint
 I'm pretty sure one of the sweetest things my husband has ever said to me was this: You add beauty to the world. He wasn't talking about how I dressed or my appearance, but he was talking about my art. Those words of encouragement stuck with me over the past six years. Any time I doubt why I create and pour myself into my work, I hear those words. 

These words are for you too. Whenever you doubt your purpose remember you give something no one else can give to the world; you give yourself.  You add beauty to the world.

Friday, August 7, 2015

trust the process

Trust the process: it sounds very ideal and it's probably overused, but in reality it holds so much truth. 

From time to time I'll share on a #penanadpaintsketch how my creative process can be a struggle. I really want to share those feelings of inadequacy with other creatives. I want them to know they are not the only ones who feel their work isn't good enough. I want them to know it takes time and lots of mistakes. I want them to know even through mistakes beautiful things can be created. Every time I take time to open up I am encouraged by others and I see a wonderful dialog open up. Yesterday when I posted this someone commented, "But it's also about letting yourself make stuff you hate! It's just a piece of paper... Not the end of the world (though it can 100% feel like it)." Talk about perspective. It's just a piece of paper. You can start over again. You can trust the process and push through, and something magical will happen. You can finish what you started and hate it, but at least you did it.

I hope you are also learning to trust the process, no matter what it is.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

FREE Back to School Printables

School starts back this week in our neighborhood so I created a few free printables to help teachers and students get to know one another. 

Getting to Know My Teacher - Our teachers do so much, and this is a way to show them appreciation from the first day of school on through the year.  I have designed a printable for parents to send (even with a small gift like these or this); it has a list of simple questions to learn more about your child's teacher so you know what things they might enjoy. Click here to view and print through Google Docs.

Getting to Know You - With a classroom full of lots of unique individuals teachers need a little help getting to know their new students. This printable is designed for teachers to print and have students to fill out during that first week of school. Click here to view and print through Google Docs.
Of course let's not forget homeschoolers!  I've made a Back to School Interview. This sheet can be used at the beginning of the year for your child to record some of their favorite things and goals whether they attend school outside of the home or are homeschooled. My husband has the opportunity to homeschool our boys, and we'll be using this interview on the first day of school! Click here to view and print through Google Docs.
I hope everyone has a smooth transition into a new school year! Enjoy these Pen & Paint printables and please remember they are for personal use only. They may not be altered or used commercially.