Hi guys! I've had this post on my mind for a while but the start of a new year seemed like the perfect time to get it done and finally share! It's my story. Well, not the full story, but the part that connects the points between becoming a new Mom to a small business owner. It's my 'just start' story, and I think there are a lot of folks who may be able to relate, even if the circumstances are different.
I know there's a small number of you out there who have joined me on this adventure from the very beginning, the Chelsea's Garage beginning. At the very likely chance you're a new friend since those early days, my first blog, 'Chelsea's Garage', was created in about 10 minutes using a basic available template on blogger, nothing custom. The blog was a place to share refinished furniture finds, DIY ideas, and every now and then, to discuss balancing life as a new stay-at-home-Mom to a litter of puppies. I mean kids! In fact, my babes were the very reason I decided to start a small business!
Motherhood. I revel in being Colin and Shire and Mason's Mom. It's one of the greatest pleasures in my life to watch the little beings my body carried now crack me up, read, rest their heads on my shoulder. Being their Mom is my very special honor, responsibility and gift. But generally speaking, motherhood has always intimidated me, more after I had children than ever! While I've always felt confident in how we are raising our children, I've felt insecure being labeled a Mom.
Especially a stay-at-home-mom.
Over the past 7+ years that I've been a Mom so far, I've filled out 30,000 forms on behalf of my family members, (school, doctor, insurance, etc). And every single one has a line to fill in your occupation. I dread this line. I inevitably get flustered and scratch in 'N/A', (which doesn't even make sense!!!), and hope the person I hand the forms to doesn't notice.
It's not that I think there is anything wrong with filling in SAHM, (Stay-At-Home-Mom), where the form asks you to write in your occupation. It's that I don't feel qualified to do so! I don't love to bake, I'm terrified about getting head lice when I spend any amount of time in the kids' school, I hate glitter, I feel panicky at the thought of helping my kids with their homework... In fact, thinking about keeping track of homework and due dates was the only thing during my pregnancies that made me nauseous. My list of un-qualifications goes on!
Being a stay at home Mom felt too big a pill for me to swallow and finding an outlet was my survival. Even when the twins were still cooking I was researching how to refinish furniture so I'd have some sort of plan of action once they arrived. As it turns out, twins legitimately cost you a full year of your life, especially when you find out half way through the year that you're pregnant again! So my plan didn't start right away; it began when my third was born and the twins were 17 months.
I started Chelsea's Garage after I had accumulated enough refinished pieces of furniture to throw a big garage sale complete with hot cider, shabby chic finishes and a few surprises, like snow! It was February, afterall; perhaps not the best time for a small business grand opening outside, but it was my small business and it gave me a job and a purpose outside of motherhood. I collected furniture to refinish for months and then advertised my first garage sale on Craigslist. I hosted another a month later of more refinished pieces, another 6 months after that, and a fourth a year after that. By that point I was full of custom orders to occupy my work hours which were 1-4pm every day during the kids' nap time - I hypnotized them every day to sleep all together that long. (Kidding! But truly, nap time was never optional. We didn't magically get three awesome nappers. It twas most definitely trained and the Lord was so gracious in allowing that to be fruitful. To this day it remains my single greatest achievement as a mother. LOL!)
There was never a perfectly convenient time that felt opportunistic to start. I just did. A snowy day in February while my husband managed our three diaper-butts inside was quite possibly the worst time to start, but there was no stifling the ambition to get going. A lot has changed since that February garage sale but the fire is still strong! It's such a joy to do this work and I feel so incredibly grateful that the Lord has guided me to a career where He has gifted me. Design and refinishing feels effortless; I can't say the same about motherhood! The opportunity to work with someone on creating their home, whether it's a single room they're renting or a full house, is an honor that neither Cate nor I take lightly. We love people and we love design; what a blessing to combine the two in our work!
It's been 5 years since I started a small furniture refinishing business and I can say with clarity that owning a business has made me a much braver, stronger, and more confident Mom to my kids. It's also given me the courage to fill in that pesky Occupation line on paperwork: SAHM / Small Business Owner.
If you feel the flickering of a flame to build your own small business, I hope this inspires you to just start. At least start the conversation about it with someone you love and respect and who will give you honest feedback. My husband, Matt, is really the reason I'm doing what I do today - he was my person that I had that late night conversation with about starting all of this in the first place. He's been 100% on board from the very start, and continues to provide wise council, encouragement and tremendous support to this day. Truly, an amazing man!
Thank you all for stopping by today! If this gave you any encouragement to start something of your own this year and want to talk a bit more, please don't hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org!