Two of my biggest passions continually strive against one another, my desire to be at home with my kids and my desire to have a creative and competitive outlet. On one hand, I love being a mom of three young boys who constantly make me laugh, cry, and stand back in amazement. On the other hand, I’ve always been competitive and creative — whether playing volleyball in college or building a territory in the corporate world.
While I know many women find ways to combine these two passions, it’s easier said than done. Starting a creative small business while also being a mother can feel like an overwhelming proposition. Most days it’s all we can do to keep the dirty dishes from piling up while we try to keep our children safe, engaged, and well loved; however, the part of my brain that desires business couldn’t be shut off, and one day I had the “ah-ha” moment that birthed my company, Rooted Leather.
One afternoon I was carefully folding baby clothes that my boys had outgrown, while they were running, laughing, and wrestling around the piles of now too-small clothes. As I watched them and folded, I was moved by how many memories filled each piece of clothing; the onesies my sons came home from the hospital in, the sweater they all wore for their first birthday, the striped shirt that clung to each boy as they took their first few steps. These memories were wrapped tightly in these outfits, memories tied forever to this fabric. The idea for Rooted Leather was born.
Starting a creative small business while also being a mother can feel like an overwhelming proposition.
At Rooted, you send me a piece of your unique fabric: a onesie, your Grandpa’s tie, a bridesmaid dress you wore for your sister’s wedding…and then I carefully line your high quality leather bag with it. I protect these special memories and hopefully bring a smile to your face every time you open your bag.
There it was. A good idea. Something I cared about. A way to bridge the gap between my competitive thirst and my love for my kids.
But moving from an idea to a business is a different thing, and it almost didn’t happen. Any new business faces a bunch of obstacles. But for me, the biggest hurdles were between my ears — lies that I had to overcome (and keep overcoming).
Maybe you hear these, too:
1. I’m not good enough at my craft.
As a 33-year-old woman, I knew my way around a sewing machine but hadn’t ever sewn high-quality leather. And an industrial sewing machine might as well have been a miter saw. But instead of backing down we can learn, we can ask for help, and we can get better — and then we can keep improving. It’s also key to remember that we don’t need to compare our work with others, it can be so easy to do in the creative world. We only need to compare our work with our own; to continue evolving our craft.
… for me, the biggest hurdles were between my ears — lies that I had to overcome (and keep overcoming).
2. I can’t take time away from mothering.
Effectively caring for my kids, husband, and home are important priorities for me. We sacrifice some things to make that dynamic work for our family. In light of those sacrifices, I wondered if it would be selfish to start something new—would it keep me from excelling at my top priority?
Ultimately, as I talked with my husband and close friends, I felt it would actually be good for my boys to see their mom work hard at a new venture. There’s also much good for children to not have the world revolve around them. It’s a balancing act, and sometimes we can fall off the tight rope. But trying something new and working hard is worth it and beneficial for our entire family.
Not every mom needs to have a side hustle. But it’s not impossible if she wants one, either.
3. No one will respond to my idea but my mom and my sisters.
IE: A good ‘ole fashioned fear of failure. Putting yourself out there — especially creatively — is never easy. It’s always a risk. Failure is possible. Insecurity crops up and causes doubts. More than once I’ve asked my husband and friends if this is really a good idea and wondered aloud about whether it would work. But sales have come and my customer’s notes, emails, and reviews remind me that it’s worth it. We can celebrate the little successes along the way because growing a small business is a journey. Stopping to acknowledge the good things helps us to keep moving forward.
Rooted Leather is still a relatively new business and I don’t know where it will lead. But I’m thankful for an outlet that combines my two big passions and even more thankful for what I’ve learned in making it a reality. You may not be interested in starting a business. But, like me, there are lies — often loud ones — that keep us from taking a step in a new direction. Instead of listening to ourselves, we need to start talking to ourselves. Only then will we have the courage to move forward.
Do these lies ring true for you? What’s something that you’ve been thinking about starting? What’s holding you back?
Images via Sara Forrest