July 18, 2013

Baby AND a business? Yes, it’s possible!

Filed under: Biz Mama,Small Business — Tags: , , , , , , , — lidia @ 10:00 am

baby & business? Yes it's possible!

Now that I’m a mom, I have a whole new appreciation for mothers—not to mention mothers who also run a small business.

My son is about to turn two years old and I’m comfortable with my new work-family routine (or lack, thereof). However, I went into motherhood with the concept of “balance” in my head. After the first few months of sleepless nights and baby-caring days, I realized balance is not humanly possible when you have a child.

Make it work.

I was happy to hear Meg Mateo Ilasco, co-author of Mom, Inc., introduce a new term for us working mamas in this Design*Sponge post: “making it work.” You may not achieve perfect balance every day, but you can make it work for you.

Do the juggle.

Joy Deangdeelert Cho of Oh Joy! wrote a wonderful post last year about how she prepared for and ran her creative business with a new baby. She calls it “the juggle,” which is truly accurate. My days are constantly shifting and changing, as I juggle whatever work/home situation arises.

Make a plan.

As Joy mentions, being prepared is key. I wrote a post on the Creative Freelancer blog about how I prepared my small business for baby. Of course, you can’t anticipate everything (like a baby who decides to arrive 2-1/2 weeks early!) but you will feel more relaxed if you have a plan.

I’m constantly inspired and uplifted by my fellow mama-business owners who truly are getting’ it done!

• • •

Speaking of… please vote for me in the Red Tricycle Awards for Awesome Mom-Run Businesses in Chicago! Click here and vote for typebaby.

Do you know any other moms in business who are getting’ it done?


July 12, 2013

Vote for typebaby in the Red Tricycle Totally Awesome Awards!

UPDATE! I’m happy to announce that my baby & kids line, typebaby has been nominated in two categories in the Red Tricycle’s Totally Awesome Awards: Most Awesome Mom-Run Businesses (Chicago) and Most Awesome Clothing Lines for Boys!

Red Tricycle is a fantastic online resource for parents, sharing kid-friendly events, dining, and activities in your own neighborhood. They are in multiple US cities, including most recently my hometown, Chicago.

I’m proud to be included on both of these lists, especially because they include many friends and fellow entrepreneur moms.

Click on one of the graphic below to vote for typebaby! Voting runs through August 15, 2013.

Vote for typebaby in the Red Tricycle Awesome Awards: Mom-Run Businesses


Vote for typebaby in the Red Tricycle Awesome Awards: Clothing Lines for Boys

March 23, 2013

Productivity must-haves for the working mom on-the-go

Filed under: Small Business,Time Management — Tags: , , , , , — lidia @ 12:16 pm

Productivity must-haves for working moms

Now that I have a child, I’ve realized that spending 8 hours straight in my office rarely happens anymore. But with these tools, I’m able to stay productive by managing my projects and marketing tasks on-the-go.

My productivity must-haves:

  • Remote access app: I use Team Viewer, but any application that allows you to connect remotely from your laptop to your office computer is a lifesaver.
  • Evernote: I use Evernote religiously. I keep track of projects I’m working on when I’m not in the office by updating my documents and spreadhseets, collecting references from the web, and emailing notes and reminders. It also syncs beautifully with my iPhone and iPad.
  • Smart phone: Being able to check email or follow-up with clients when I’m out of the office is a must.
  • Tablet: Makes writing blog posts or updating a website easy—especially if you have a little one napping in the car.

What are your must-have apps or tools for managing your business on the run?


March 4, 2013

Good advice from a Biz Mama: work ahead of deadlines

Filed under: Small Business,Time Management — Tags: , , , , , , — lidia @ 5:28 pm

Biz mama tip: work ahead of deadlines

Earlier this year, I chatted with fellow biz mama Alisa Bonsignore of Clarifying Complex Ideas who had this great advice for busy moms:

..learn to work as far ahead of deadlines as possible, not just because it gives [you] an extra opportunity to read through things with clear eyes, but because you just never know when a sick kid is going to wreak havoc with your deadline.

This advice rang true for me this winter, when my toddler got sick and then I proceeded to catch a nasty cold that kept me out of the office for almost a week (somehow Hubby was spared of this germ fest).

Of course, during this time, I had a large proposal due and several other time-sensitive projects. I was grateful for: 1) my laptop at home with remote access to my office, and 2) working ahead of my deadlines.

Because I like to work ahead of schedule to give myself time to mull things over, I had already started on projects with upcoming due dates. So the day I had to miss work because of a pediatrician appointment—and subsequent pharmacy run—was not as stressful as it could have been. So, I’m glad I took Alisa’s advice and prepared in advance.

How do you manage to stay on top of your workload—especially when you have sick kids or an unpredictable schedule?

February 27, 2013

Biz Mama: Jamie Russo of Enerspace

Filed under: Biz Mama,Local (Chicago) — Tags: , , , , , — lidia @ 10:00 am
Biz Mama: Jamie Russo of Enerspace

Left to right: Enerspace yoga session, Jamie Russo, and the Enerspace coworking space in Chicago

Biz Mama columnJamie Russo of Enerspace has a lot of start-up experience as well as big co consulting and brand management. Her passion is health and wellness, particularly helping people create a lifestyle that helps them excel at their business endeavors and achieve superior mental and physical wellness. After growing a health services company that became focused on getting employees at large companies engaged in their health, she conceived of this idea to fully integrate work and wellness.  The ability to self-select a work environment through coworking spaces is an explosive trend and she is shaping the ability to choose an environment that fosters optimal well-being. Chicago is the first location. Enerspace will be taking workplace + wellness national in 2014.

I was introduced to Jamie—a fellow West Loop business owner—through a mutual friend. I found that we had much in common, including children around the same age and a love of health and wellness. She loves to talk and write about integrating wellness into work space design and is available for speaking engagements and guest blogging (contact her).

Jamie Russo of Enerspace

Tell us a little about your business/job responsibilities.

I am the Chief Work + Wellness Officer of Enerspace which is a coworking space for entrepreneurs and mobile professionals. The first location has been open almost exactly one year and we just doubled the size of that location so I still wear a lot of hats. I have an outstanding woman running the space now and am trying to shift my focus to growing the business and writing and speaking about workspace design of the future.

What are the ages/genders of your children?

My daughter, Dagny is 15 months old. Our first “child” is a male mini GoldenDoodle named Miles J. He’s three.

Did you start your business before or after having children?

I had wanted to start my own business for a long time. A few years into the last start-up, where I had been the first employee but still not a founder, I was committed to making that happen. I got to a point where I just needed to be more in control of my life, both bigger picture and day to day. That was for me but also turned out to be very important to integrating a child into our family. While working on my business, I also got pregnant with Dagny. A famous Chicago architect once said “Make no little plans” so I forged ahead. I signed my lease in September, had Dagny on November fifth and started the build-out for Enerspace a couple of weeks after that.  I opened for business when she was three months old (and in the hands of an amazing nanny).

How did your business life change after having children?

Before I had a child, I was almost solely focused on career success. I worked long hours (nights, weekends), traveled a lot to meet with clients. I had an end goal in mind but wasn’t enjoying the journey. Now that I have a child, I have an unalterable commitment to doing what I am passionate about while STILL being successful. I just define my own success now.

I believe in working smarter, not longer, and I try to stay focused on designing my work around the life that I want to live vs. (barely) living around my work. This outlook is for my personal happiness, to help me to be a better mom day-to-day and to be a role model for my daughter.

Describe a typical workday.

Due to the nature of owning a coworking space and the stage that it’s in, there is no typical day. When I’m in Chicago, I get up at 5:30, go to Rowfit, then spend as much time with members and networking as I can. When I’m in the Bay Area, I get up at 5 am to get a start on priorities for the day and get organized. I go to CrossFit three times a week from 6 am to 7 am and other days I run sometime during the day to get my Vitamin D and to refocus and stay productive.

My ideal typical day would be: Get up, catch up on news, participate in social media activities, generate some content (blog post, book chapter), work out, make breakfast for Dagny while addressing any time-sensitive things going on at Enerspace. I have someone that runs the space but I am still very involved. Then, eat breakfast with Dagny, drop her at the sitter. Come home, answer emails, work on PR/Marketing, work on business plans for expansion, network for coffee or lunch, continue projects from the morning, catch up on a few personal things, take Miles to the dog park, pick up Dagny. Enjoy a healthy family dinner with my family. I try to doing significant work after Dagny goes to bed to a couple of nights a week. The other nights are spent with my husband planning weekend trips and watching Downton Abbey and Homeland.

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

Value your time. If you own a business that you can/want to grow, then think about what activities are taking time away from that growth. Cleaning your house, planning meals, buying groceries, cooking, getting the dog groomed.  Outsource those things.  In Chicago, for $15-$20/hour, you can have a very qualified individual do all those things for you.

The moms that I know that own businesses, and don’t seem like they’re on the ledge half the time, get other people to do these things for them so that they can either make more money or have the leisure time and flexibility that you deserve for working so hard/smart.  If you can bill a client $75/hour, then it makes economic sense to pay someone $20/hour to take your dog to the groomer. Save your down time for value-added activities like enjoying the dog park with your dog, eating dinner with your family, or getting a manicure!  For $100/week you could eliminate your errands enjoy your weekend and maintain your health and sanity.


Chicago, Illinois / San Mateo, California
Facebook: enerspace
Enerspace Blog

November 5, 2012

Biz Mama: Crystal Reynolds of Crystal Ink Design

Filed under: Biz Mama — Tags: , , , , , — lidia @ 10:00 am
Crystal Reynolds

Biz Mama Crystal Reynolds, her workspace, and her family

Biz Mama columnMy first featured Biz Mama is graphic designer and mama of two Crystal Reynolds of Crystal Ink Design in Calgary, Canada.

Crystal and I met “virtually” at the 2011 HOW Design Conference when she was seeking participants for a collaborative post-conference project. I loved her approach of making connections and we have kept in touch ever since.

Speaking of connections, Crystal has a blog called Creatives’ Cupboard in which she connects with other creatives in-person and online. She recently celebrated the 1st anniversary of Creatives’ Lunch, her local gathering for Calgary creative professionals.

Crystal Reynolds of Crystal Ink Design

Tell us a little about your business/job responsibilities.

I am currently running a print design solo design firm with goals of focusing on the niche market of publication design. As a solo firm my roles and responsibilities pretty much cover the full spectrum including from bookkeeping, client relations, sales, production, creative direction, art direction and business development. Oh don’t forget office cleaning and management. Yes, I am living the life.

What are the ages/genders of your children?

I have two girls ages 8 and 6.5. My first was conceived with purpose. I wasn’t happy with my job at the time and felt that I wanted instead to work for myself instead of for someone else’s bottom line. That way I would benefit from my efforts instead of a corporation.

Did you start your business before or after having children?

I had been running a freelance business on the side of my salary jobs for about 5 years before we had kids. Once my year maternity leave was up I made the decision to focus on freelancing and not return to my position as manager of membership services at a high end fitness club.

Having children gave me perspective that one of the challenges of my position worrying about whether guests had towels for example, was not worth the stress. The driving factor to go it on my own was having the authority over my day. Flexibility required when one has children and the opportunities to be available for those moments that count.

How did your business life change after having children?

Since I was working part-time freelance in design before kids, after kids it was still part-time. As I found head space free from motherhood demands the business was my escape. Design was where I found my happy place when parenting made me insane.

As kids grew I needed space for my creative work. For me I couldn’t do that with kids around so found part time care for them. One of the key things I learned was to communicate my working office hours so earn I could be reached by my clients they could have my full attention and focus without kid distractions, as well this has helped to organize and balance my day and the variety of roles I have (designer, mother, wife and friend).

Now that my children are in school full time I have a much more regular work schedule, being house bound I have craved more interaction so started connecting with other creative professionals by hosting a creatives’s lunch where we simply meet up at a restaurant, buy our own lunch and let the conversation flow.

On the work front, seeing a change in my client needs I applied for an in house position at a creative studio and landed a part time freelance gig. It is the best of both worlds. Some regular work as well as an opportunity to work collaboratively. It has been an amazing experience to learn from others as well as flex my design skills on projects I haven’t landed myself.

So as far as how children have impacted my business you could say I have more focus and drive to be efficient and focused. I am a lover of print and I keep in my office a saying my printer has shared, “in the end, it is only ink on paper, you won’t be fretting about these projects when you are on your death bed.” Perhaps a little morbid, but it helps to give me perspective when clients or project deadlines are intense.

 Describe a typical workday.

Wake up an hour or more before the family. Coffee… Breakfast if a good day. Get kids and husband lunches made, their breakfast as well then drag kidlets out of bed, fed, dressed and out the door. Watch them get on the bus from my office window.

Depending on the day I am either out the door to freelance at a studio while kids in school or they don’t need me and I have the day to focus on my clients and the variety of projects I have on the go. (Creatives’ Cupboard, role as president for U of C Kinesiology Alumni Chapter, partnership in cookbook creation and design). Around all of this I still have the business to manage, tidy the house, I cook all the meals and work to have a social life with friends and colleagues.

Then…. The kids get home around 3:30pm and I step away from the computer to focus on them while they cry about being hungry, homework is hard and just overall sisters at each other’s throats… And it isn’t even supper yet. So if I was out freelancing during the day, my evening is filled with catching up on my client work and maybe catching a TV show to chill out then on a good day be in an appropriate mood to be social with my husband. Lately I have been making the effort to get to bed at a decent hour.

I would like to make one comment here about my day. I mentioned my husband a little but the fact is he is half of how I survive in a day. We divide up our responsibilities for the house evenly and I never hear him complain. If anything he complains about, is the limited time I have for us as a couple which as most married peeps know, a marriage is in constant flux and always needs work and TLC when you can.

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

Sleep. The fact is you can kill yourself to try and catch up, but the fact is your job is NEVER done. So get your 7-9 hours of sleep at night (for those who don’t have young babies) or at least make sure to balance your day with anything that will re-energize you.

And NEVER feel like you need to explain or defend this sanity time. If you are waiting for someone to tell you to take a break… You will be waiting a LONG time.

Thank you, Crystal!

Crystal Ink Design

Calgary, AB Canada
www.crystalink.ca & www.creativescupboard.com
Twitter: crystalinkdesig
Facebook: CrystalInkDesign


October 15, 2012

Book Review: Mom, Inc. by Meg Mateo Ilasco & Cat Seto

Filed under: Biz Mama,Book review — Tags: , , , , — lidia @ 10:00 am

I’m a fan of the “Inc.” series of books (Craft, Inc., Creative, Inc., Blog, Inc.) for creative businesses. Mom, Inc. by Meg Mateo Ilasco and Cat Seto is a great addition to the series (and my bookshelf).

What’s in the book

Mom, Inc. offers useful tips and information for moms starting or running a business. Ideas such as writing a Mom Statement and finding support networks are useful for moms just started out as well as seasoned biz mamas. I’m part of a local mompreneur group and find it so helpful.

They also talk about ways to balance work and children—which can be tricky, especially for new moms. And if you are a mama-to-be, you will appreciate their timeline for preparing your business for baby’s arrival and after.

What I love about the book

I love the authors’ clear, honest writing style and appreciate them sharing their knowledge and experiences. Both Meg and Cat are not only successful designers and small business owners but also moms, so they are an inspiration to myself and other biz mamas.

I also enjoyed reading the stories from well-known biz mamas, such as Skip Hop’s Ellen Diamant and DwellStudio’s Christiane Lemieux. As a fan of their baby products, I was inspired by their stories of starting and maintaining their successful businesses.

Mom, Inc. is currently a fixture on my desk…marked with many sticky notes!

Read more Biz Mama
book reviews.

October 5, 2012

Blogging mamas

Filed under: Biz Mama,Small Business,Social Media — Tags: , , — lidia @ 10:23 am

In my recent research on blogging, I’ve discovered that many bloggers are also moms. This surprised and delighted me. It’s nice to feel like you have a connection with people you follow online.

Some of the blogging gals already had children when they started their blog, while others started their blogging careers while pregnant or after their first child. Now before you start thinking: they have it so easy, not having a “job” to go to every day. Many of the bloggers, I found out, work full-time on their blogs and care for their children, which isn’t an easy task.

Blogging, like other freelance careers, offers the flexibility to work on your own schedule—which is perfect for moms. But is also means long hours and hard work, which requires a a lot of planning and balance when you have a family. Now, I don’t plan to become a full-time blogger but I really admire the ones who are. Give them a shoutout next time you are on their blog!

A few of my favorite blogging mamas

A Cup of Jo

Oh Joy!

Mom Inc. Daily

Making it Lovely

More blogging mamas…

Speaking of blogging mamas, Babble just released their list of Top 50 Design Blogs for Mom (including many of my faves!)


Who are your favorite blogging mamas?

May 10, 2012

A round-up of “moms in business” blog posts for #MothersDay

Filed under: Mompreneur,Small Business — Tags: , — lidia @ 2:02 pm

My wonderful Mama! photo @ Simply Jessie Photography

With Mother’s Day approaching, I wanted to share a few mom-themed small business blog posts Ive come across:

  1. Biz Ladies: Lessons about Motherhood and Business by Meg Mateo Ilasco on design*sponge
  2. How Has the Mom in Your Life Supported Your Small Business? from Sarah Petty’s Joy Blog
  3. 5 Rules to Maintaining a Healthy Work/Life Balance from The Business of Being a Mom
  4. The rise of the mommy economy from Oregon Business (via @boogiemom)

…and something just for fun…

Throughout my personal and business life, I have been inspired and encouraged by my mom. Now that I’m a new mom myself, I’m even more grateful for my wonderful mom.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mama!

We believe motherhood is boot camp for running a business. Whether you want a big business or a small one, a home office or sky rise, you are halfway there when you embrace your strengths as a mom and pack them for your journey as a business owner.

—from The Business of Being a Mom website

Have you written a post about being a mom in business or honoring your own mom? Share in the comments!

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