June 7, 2013

Biz Mama: Heather Lins of Heather Lins Home

Filed under: Biz Mama — Tags: , — lidia @ 10:00 am
Heather Lins; her newest product, the Stitch the Stars Calendar; and Heather with her twin kiddos.

Heather Lins; her newest product, the Stitch the Stars Calendar; and Heather with her twin kiddos.

Biz Mama columnWhen Heather Lins was a kid, she wanted to be an interior designer. In college, she got interested in graphic design because it blended art and writing. However, as a practicing graphic designer, she kept having ideas for designs that were outside the traditional client/designer relationship. So she took her graphic design skills and used them to launch her own line of home textiles.

Heather Lins Home is a product and surface design studio focusing on eco-friendly home textiles and stationery. She licenses designs and also produces her own products.

Fellow Midwesterner Heather and I met at the HOW Design Conference in Chicago in 2011. I attended her workshop on starting a product-based business. Little did I know just how useful her advice would be when I launched my baby & kids apparel line several years later. I was also 7 months pregnant at the time, so I made a mental note to ask her how she balances a business with kids. So, here we are, finally!

 Heather Lins of Heather Lins Home

Tell us a little about your business/job responsibilities.

I am creative director to market analyst to chief box filler. Mainly, I am a doodler who likes to see her sketches become real things.

What are the ages/genders of your children?

We have three and a half year old twins. Avery is our little boy and Marta is our little girl.

Did you start your business before or after having children?

I launched my business August 2008. The kids were born January 2010.

How did your business life change after having children?

My children have acted as my true north. I asked myself: What do I want to show my kids about the world of work? I realized that I wanted to show them that work can be enjoyable, meaningful and lucrative. It’s not something to dread or be stressed out about or cast a shadow over our weekends together. In order to teach this, I’ve had to live it.

I am the happiest and most content I’ve ever been. Overall, I have become more focused, confident and resilient.

When starting my business, I didn’t know how we would balance family and work and I wondered if I had waited too long to have children. Perhaps this is why our 20s can be such as anxious time. (It was for me at least.) I didn’t know if I’d find a life partner, if marriage was for me or if I wanted to have kids. At 40, I’ve made all those decisions and they’ve turned out great. Why did I worry so much?

Blogs describe motherhood as being frazzled and drained. Of course, there are long days. Somehow, I’ve become more laid back and centered. (My husband might not agree with this.) Having kids has brought more fun into my life. I sing more. I use my imagination more. I get outside more. I play with play dough. Kids demand 100% attention, which means I’m in the present more.

Describe a typical workday.

We all wake up between 6 am and 6:45. I usually get the kids going while my husband gets breakfast ready for them. Then it’s reading, playing and getting ourselves ready until their nanny arrives at 7:45. We blast out the door for work. We’re back home at 5:15. Then it’s dinner together. Usually our nanny has prepared the main part of the meal and we throw the rest together. Then it’s a walk to the park or a bike ride, their bath and some books. My husband and I clean up and do a few chores, talk and it’s off to bed by 10 pm.

What is one tip you can share with other Biz Mamas?

Agree with your husband or partner that sleep is a high priority in your lives second only to your children. Sleep is the ultimate mood lifter, marriage smoother, energy booster, wrinkle cream, anti-depressant, weight loss stimulant and (is my mother reading this?) aphrodisiac. In order to get more sleep, Mike and I cut out TV. It’s not recommended for young kids and we realized we’d stay up later than we should to catch a show or finish a movie. It’s been over 3 years and we don’t miss TV. About once a month, we rent a DVD or watch an episode of Modern Family on DVD. As we’ve gotten more free time, we’ve added working out into our weekend routine. Mike even gets a bike ride in before work some weekdays.

Caring for newborns made me realize that we’re all big babies really. Adults don’t function well without sleep, nourishing food and exercise. We want these things for our kids; we have to do the same for ourselves.

Heather’s 2014 Stitch the Stars Calendar will be available in September. Watch her website for details.

Heather Lins Home

Madison, WI
Twitter: @heatherlinshome
Facebook: heatherlinshome

May 23, 2013

Biz Mama: Carrie Houchins-Witt

Filed under: Biz Mama — Tags: — lidia @ 10:44 am

Biz Mama Carrie Houchins-Witt

Biz Mama columnCarrie Houchins-Witt of Carrie Houchins-Witt Tax & Financial Services provides honest, affordable, and timely tax preparation and financial planning to ordinary families. Carrie is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM Practitioner (CFPTM) with nearly ten years of professional tax preparation experience and an extensive background in business and finance operations.

Carrie earned her B.S. in theatre and performed professionally as an actor and musician. She always loved numbers, and honed this skill while working in revenue management. She found a way to combine her varied interests when she began preparing tax returns for her actor friends. When she realized what an invaluable service this was, she took an extensive tax preparation education program and opened up shop.

Carrie’s own journey with personal finance has taken her through many common financial milestones. She knows what it is like to struggle financially, to save for a house, and to put away money for her children’s education. She explains taxes and personal finances in a simple, thorough way that anyone can understand [editor’s note: I can attest to that!] She wants you to be in control of your own life, and wants to help you reach your goals.

Carrie was born in West Virginia and grew up in Des Moines, Iowa. She currently lives in Coralville, Iowa with her husband, Corey and two young sons, Waylon and Carter Birch.

Carrie and I met in guitar class at the Old Town School of Folk Music. For the last several years, she has been preparing my business and personal tax returns—not to mention, making tax-time more stress-free! I also recently designed Carrie’s logo.

Carrie Houchins-Witt

Tell us a little about your business/job responsibilities.

During tax season, I prepare and file tax returns for individuals and small businesses. During the off-season, I create comprehensive financial plans for individuals. I also do a small amount of bookkeeping, business planning, and payroll.

What are the ages/genders of your children?

2 boys – Waylon is 6 and Carter Birch is 5.

Did you start your business before or after having children?

At the same time!  Years ago, before children, I realized I wanted to be a business owner. I knew I would enjoy the flexibility, and I wanted to benefit from my hard work.  I found out I was pregnant while I was taking my first tax preparation training courses. I sat for the CFP test (intense 2-day exam) while 8 months pregnant with my 2ndchild.

How did your business life change after having children?

My business has grown naturally as my family has grown. I chose to stay home with my children, so I worked from home during naptimes, nighttimes, and weekends. As the boys got older, I got a few extra hours a week to work while they were in preschool. My clients understand this arrangement, and I think they respect the my work/life balance. Starting this fall, both boys will be in elementary school, so I will have 6 solid hours per day to work!

Describe a typical workday.

For the past year, my days have looked like this:

Wake up at 7 am. Get myself and the boys fed and dressed. Drive boys to their schools, and back to my office. Settle in for 2.5 hours of work, then go pick up the little one from preschool. Play and take care of him until we pick up the kindergartener a few hours later. Run errands, take care of the house, and start to make dinner. Husband comes home—eat dinner and get the boys to bed. Then my husband and I will have some down time. Although, during tax season, I spend most evenings working at the kitchen table, and most weekends in my office.

What is one tip you can share with other Biz Mamas?

Try to find the balance that will work for your family, and understand that it will change from day to day, from month to month, and from year to year. One of the main advantages of being a Biz Mama is that you really do control your time and your life—don’t miss out on the important moments for your family.

Carrie Houchins-Witt Tax & Financial Services

Coralville, IA
twitter @carriefinancial
Facebook: carriehouchinswitttaxandfinancialservices

September 19, 2012

Sneak peek: a new look for my blog

Filed under: Biz Mama,Featured Design Project — Tags: , — lidia @ 10:00 am
The inspiration for my revamped blog

The inspiration for my revamped blog (of course, modeling one of Mama’s onesie designs!)

Or should I say, a new voice for my blog. As many of you know, I had a baby boy a little over a year ago. Since then, my life has changed in so many ways—including the focus of my blog.

Many of my posts now incorporate the knowledge and inspiration I have gained through motherhood, so I decided to rebrand accordingly.

My “new” blog titled biz mama still includes my insight on creative small business and marketing, but it will also feature regular interviews, chats and guest posts—including input from other working mamas.

New regular columns:

  • Biz mama: Insight and inspiration from mamas getting’ it done.
  • Small biz spotlight: Getting to know a fellow small business owner.
  • Industry insider: Short chats with others in the creative industry.
  • Client stories: A brief interview with one of my clients.

I’ve always felt the best way to gain inspiration and knowledge is to collaborate with others, so I look forward to collaborating with other biz mamas and small business owners on my “new” blog.

Interested in being a featured biz mama, small business or industry insider?

Email me for info and the current schedule.

September 6, 2012

All I really need to know in small business, I learned from my baby. [@foundingmom guest post] #bizmama

Filed under: Biz Mama,Small Business — Tags: — lidia @ 2:49 pm

A few more things my son taught me: Take frequent art breaks. Always make time for fun.

Being a small business owner for almost 12 years, I’ve been accustomed to running my graphic design studio in a very organized, methodical way. When my baby boy arrived, things quickly changed in my home and business life.

Now, a year later, I realize the many things he taught me that can also be applied to running a small business successfully.

Lose your preconceived notions.  

When I first had my son, I wanted to be a babywearing mama. After multiple attempts (and baby carriers), I realized: This boy doesn’t like being in a baby carrier.

In business, the same rule applies. We sometimes approach our businesses with preconceived notions, only to be disappointed when they aren’t working. It’s okay to change your focus, client base or marketing strategy if it isn’t getting the results you want. In fact, it’s a good thing.

Read the rest of my post on the Founding Moms blog.