Mom's Who Make: OnTheRound May 12, 2013 08:28

I'm starting a new series here on my blog, about Mom's Who Make. This series will feature other fellow artisan makers who do it all while taking care of their children, and even some who also work outside of the home! 

To start the series out I will begin by talking about my own experience making and mothering. 

My career as a mother and a maker all began is 2007 when I had my first born daughter, Taylor. At the time I worked as a production assistant at a fiber art studio making nuno felt scarves. While I was on maternity leave from my job, I actually began OnTheRound. Being away from making while I was on leave really made me realize how important creating "things" was to my health and happiness  OnTheRound was born on a whim and a dream of having a creative business of my own-  that would hopefully support my family someday.  


Me & T at OL Studio
When Taylor was 3 months old, I went back to work at One Lupine Fiber Arts and I was so lucky to bring her right a long with me. Everyday we walked from our apartment to the OL Studio- uphill both ways I might add! At the studio, I had all the baby gear for snoozing, playing and  wearing to keep Taylor entertained while I cranked out the felt scarves and wraps. Taylor was like the mascot at OL, she would coo and flirt with every customer that came in and was always happy to visit with my boss, Jodi and co-workers, Nancy and later Melissa and Hannah. 

For me, that was such an inspiring time, to be a new mom and so welcomed and encouraged to bring my child with me to work.  Jodi gave me so much by allowing to keep Taylor with me, she made me see that it was possible to have a career with my child right by my side. Jodi showed me so much more than that though, she showed me that you could follow your dream to support yourself and your family with a small fiber arts business. 


Wool Felt Bangles
When Taylor was about 15 months old, I moved on from One Lupine. After Taylor started walking it became clear that getting any work one at OL was going to be impossible, but also I really wanted to figure out my own path as a fiber artist. At the same time, my now husband Evan, had really hit a wall at his job and we both felt that a drastic change was what we needed to shake things up a bit. So, we sold off all of our possessions, said goodbye to our families, and moved to Montana. 
My first craft show in Portland, ME





Our time in Montana was brief, after 2 months we were certain  that we were too far from our families and the east coast was really where we were meant to be. So, we headed back to Midcoast Maine, where I originally grew up.  

Shortly after that I began spinning yarn and started doing craft shows. I took everything I learned about working with my child and applied it to my own business. I spun night and day and often stayed behind while Evan and Taylor went off to do adventures to MAKE MAKE MAKE.



This was a hard time for all of us. I didn't understand how to balance work and family and was only focused on making money. After about 3 months on non-stop working on my Etsy Shop it became clear that I would need to go back to work outside of the home to make ends meet and to save money for a house. So, I went back to Bartending/Serving and began making felt beads for textile/jewelry artist Cara RomanoAlthough there was more money, nothing became easier for my family when I had to start working outside the house. I was exhausted and my family was clearly missing my presence. I never felt like I was dong what I was supposed to be doing and I felt a lot of anxiousness . 

My 2 girls, Taylor & Elliot
Thankfully, after 2 years of spreading myself entirely too thin, we were able to purchase a house, have another child and I quit my night job at the restaurant. 

After Elliot was born in February of 2012, I started my second round of crafting full time while staying at home with my children. This time around, I became much more aware of my families needs and my business' needs. I was finally able to create a schedule that balanced out OTR work, house work, and family. 
Image Courtesy of Kristen Kapur, Through The Loops!

For me, getting everything done means being able to think very non-traditionally about "office hours." When the opportunity to sneak some work in presents itself, I take it! Goals are extremely important as well. I start out each week knowing what needs to be done without setting up a specific times to do it, that way I can do the tasks as the opportunity presents itself.  

Taylor is in school now so that really helps shape out the dynamics of my day. When the baby is napping I try and fit in all my computer work, since my office isn't very baby proof. When she is up, we are downstairs or outside- this is most often when I get my dyeing and most of my house work and baking chores done. The middle of the day is usually just hanging out and snuggling or playing. I let Elliot dictate the terms of the day in the afternoon and I am careful not to have any expectations for what I might accomplish. 

In the afternoon I pick up Taylor from school, get ready for dinner, do chores and play. The kids go to bed promptly at 7:30 every night  and then I get back to work! I usually do my spinning at night, which is nice because it evolves sitting and usually a good movie or show. 

People often tell me that I work too much, but really I am made to work. When I don't have a long to do list I feel lost and a bit depressed. I've always said I am a machine- and I really believe that. For me, the struggle is more learning how to turn it off and take a break. Since having my second child I've become a lot  *better* at listening to my body and taking a rest. Also, I'm better at turning off my maker mind when it's time to focus solely on my family.

Thankfully my family is so supportive of my work. Both my kids and my husband are used to having wool crammed in every corner and all counter space being taken over. My home is far from tidy, but I'm always ready to jump into a project when a moment opens up. 

Raising children and building up a small home business is A LOT of work and it's not for everyone,  but I know from having worked outside the home for someone else, it's worth all the sacrifices. I am the busiest I've every been, the most tired I've ever been, and the happiest and most fulfilled I've ever been. 

If you are a mother and a maker and you are interested in sharing your story, please email me at rachel@ontheround.com