Marci asked
My question is personal, so feel free not to answer. Based on some of your posts, you seem to always find some “alone time” with your husband (date night, for example). Any advice for those of us trying to balance a career (I work part-time), children, housework, husband, etc…

Erin asked
did you take any classes in making jewelry or are you self taught? also, what do you use to oxidize your silver and polish to give it that finish? it looks to have that perfect matte look that i’ve always tried to achieve, but have never perfected!

Jenn asked
i’d like like to ask if there were any specific setbacks or roadblocks with your jewelry business before it got big? and, if so, how did you overcome those obstacles?

Laura asked
How many hours per day do you work on your jewelry? or does it depend on orders, etc.?

Heidi asked
you are working at home. How do you arrange with your kids, when i want to do something crafty the girls always sit on my lap! and want to help. And when they are in school i have to do the common thing around the house you know, like cleaning, washing ironing…..
Do you have a special room for your work?

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Thanks for your great questions. I will start tackling them a few at a time.

When David was born I was working part time as a specialist in our local school district. I was planning on working about 25 hours/week, but after David was born I cut back to 16 hours. Steve and my sister Susan each watched him one day a week so that I could work. It was so hard to go back to work, but the people I worked with were amazing and I loved my job, so it was good for me. That said, I really wanted to have a home-based business so that I could be home with my son and have flexibility.

The business started small. We didn’t take out any loans. I got a business license and had cards printed. My friends hosted home shows and I had regular customers. I was fun and more of a hobby than a business. I kept my job and worked on jewelry in the evenings. A few years ago Steve and I decided to take a leap and I quit my job to focus on the boys and growing the business. It was very scary but freeing, too!

I have run into the typical obstacles any one will run into when growing a small business. With custom work, nothing can actually be created until the customer orders it, so when lots of orders come in, it gets crazy. My goal is that everyone loves their jewelry, but some people are harder to please. This really bothered me at first, but I am learning to let it go. Jewelry is a competitive market and I am always having to create new designs and try to stay ahead of the curve. Balancing the business with family needs has changed at different stages as the business has grown.

I don’t have a special studio for my workspace (someday maybe!). I work at our kitchen counter or the dining room table. That way I can be in the main living area and interact with the family more. Only recently have a started taking classes to learn more techniques. I wanted to learn how to use a torch and didn’t feel comfortable teaching myself!

I quickly realized that working at home doesn’t mean you can give your kids undivided attention and get lots of work done. Inevitably, your attention IS divided. Trying to divide it in a healthy, balanced way can be tricky. I don’t have it all figured out, but here are some things we try to…

*Hire a sitter a few hours a week. Before preschool, I could not get work done with the boys home all day. I needed help. I loved that I could be here and jump in even though I had work to do, but the sitter could play and keep them occupied. It wasn’t realistic for me to try to meet all their needs while I worked. Now that they are in school I get most of my work done in the morning or the evening. I work about 25 hours a week and that feels manageable (most of the time!).

*Let the kids be a part of your work, but teach them to be play independently, too. I love when Matty asks about my tools or necklaces. I also think it’s OK for kids to play so mommy can get some work done.

*Make sure you have focused time with your kids multiple times a day. A trip to the park, snuggling on the couch with a book.

*Make time for yourself/your marriage. Whether or not you have a job, moms need time. At least I need time. I am a better mom if I can get regular breaks. Our marriage is stronger when we have focused time with each other. We try to get a least 1 date a month (but two is even better!).

*Be okay with imperfection. The house won’t always be tidy and dinner may not always be a homemade four course meal. Oh well!

Jesse Sostrin, a professional development consultant, just started a great four part series on women and juggling many roles. It’s great, great insight. Read it HERE.