Ten months ago, I became a mom for the first time. Four months after that, my second baby was born. I know the math seems kind of weird, but that’s because the second baby was my Etsy store, Casa Confetti. Yes, I started a business with a four-month-old. Yes, it’s been CRAZY. It has also been one of the most rewarding things I have ever done, and although I’m still learning to juggle motherhood and entrepreneurship (a.k.a. mompreneurship), I wanted to share a few things I’ve learned along the way. Maybe this will inspire some of you who are on the fence to take the plunge and join me on this crazy journey. Come over to the dark side. We have cookies. And milk (of a different kind).
Identify a need and carve out your niche.
I started designing invitations and printables while planning my wedding, when I decided to save some money by making my own welcome cards and favor tags. But it wasn’t until I was pregnant with my son and planning my baby shower that I really hit my stride. I had become seriously obsessed with finding the perfect baby shower invitations, and no matter how hard I looked I just didn’t see anything that fit my style. I finally got so exasperated that I decided to design my own. Without realizing it at the time, I had found my niche!
Know your market.
By the time that I decided to take the plunge and start Casa Confetti, I was pretty much an expert in the Etsy printable invitation market. I knew what search terms yielded what kinds of results because I had run so many searches myself, which allowed me to tailor my product descriptions in order to maximize views. I knew what other Etsy stores charged for their products. And I had identified the major players in the printables market, because I had seen their names pop up in searches over and over again. A little more research into the nuts and bolts of setting up an Etsy store and I was ready to go. But I can’t stress how important doing this kind of background research is – you’ve got to know your market! And studying the habits of other, successful entrepreneurs is a must.
You can’t do it all, and that’s okay.
Being a mom is a 24/7 job. Being an entrepreneur is a 24/7 job. So, yes, a lot of the time it feels like I’m trying to squeeze 48 hours into a 24-hour day. And I don’t really know how to do it. It means that a lot of the time, a lot of things don’t get done. And that’s ok.
As a mompreneur, you need to be realistic. Everything takes about ten times as long to do with a child. Of course I wish I could sit in a quiet space designing invitations all day, but that’s not an option with a tiny tyrant around. Instead, I work with what I have. Coming up with a new, original design takes lots of time and energy, so once I do one, I make tiny edits and squeeze out about ten different variations from it. It becomes a baby shower invitation, a birthday party invitation, and a bridal shower invitation. I make a few minor changes and, voila! Three additional products.
My best-selling items are baby shower and first birthday invitations, because that’s what I know best. It makes me happy to work with customers who are in the same life stage as me, so I try to stick with that. Eventually I’d like to break into weddings, but for now, I like where I am. Which brings me to my next point.
Love where you are.
The flexibility that being your own boss affords you is invaluable when you’re a mom. Even if I have to work until 2 a.m. to fulfill my orders from that day, and then wake up at 7 a.m. when my husband brings my crying baby to the bed, the fact that I can be there for the little things makes all the difference in the world. I can put off orders for an hour to take my son to the park. I am hyper-diligent about getting orders out almost as soon as they’re received, so that if my son, Levi, is having a bad day, I can afford to spend time with him and cut myself some slack.
Any entrepreneur can tell you that starting your own business is full of highs and lows. Some days I feel like I don’t even have time to breathe. I’ll be bombarded with orders and questions from potential buyers, and I find myself questioning how in the world I’ll get it all done. Other days are slower, and having Levi there as a constant makes it easier to ride out these lows. I’ll start to feel down on myself for not being at the level where I feel like I should be, but then I remember that part of the appeal of this job is having time to spend with my baby. If I can do that and still make money, then it’s going as well as I could ever hope.
Don’t sell yourself short.
Even before I had Levi, the question started popping up in almost every conversation: “So, are you going back to work?” The truth is that at first I didn’t know the answer. I knew that I didn’t want to work full-time, but if I was being honest with myself, I wasn’t sure that I was willing to go the full-on, stay-at-home-mom route either. Motherhood had given me this crazy surge of courage. I firmly believe that the best gift you can give your child is a happy mom. So I got to getting happy.
At first when people asked me if I was back at work, I’d get embarrassed and kind of mutter under my breath, “No, just staying at home.” But I wasn’t JUST staying at home! I was working 24 hours a day! I had started a business and had already had more sales than I could have ever anticipated. So I’d quietly add, “Oh you know, it’s no big deal, I just started a little Etsy store on the side. It’s silly.” But then my store started taking off, and I started to feel immensely proud of my store and my ability. I realized that I had been selling myself short – if I were a man, I’d have been introducing myself as a CEO. So why as a woman was I “just a mom?” Once I changed my attitude, I started feeling so much more fulfilled and empowered. I get to spend time with my son and still make more than I was earning as a lawyer. As everyone says, the key to having it all is realizing that you already do!
Gaby Abrams is the owner of Casa Confetti Party Designs on Etsy and a stay-at-home mom to Levi (10 months old). She lives in New York City with her husband, Jake. Prior to having a baby and starting Casa Confetti, Gaby worked as a lawyer. Follow Gaby on Instagram at @casaconfettishop or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.