What’s a mompreneur? Well, it’s not a real word, but mom + entrepreneur = mompreneur.
I’m one of many mompreneurs I know and work with on a normal basis. For us, running our own business is different from a dadpreneur or an entrepreneur without kids.
Someone who understands the challenges of being a mom and making a living very well is my friend Kait Olson. Kait and I met years ago – before either one of us was married or had kids… but we did both have professional hockey player boyfriends. Both of them played for the Florida Everblades. When Kait would visit, I’d welcome her into the “hockey wives” circle and we’d have a ball together.
Recently, six years later, I noticed she was growing a business of her own. I loved that she was taking the leap and acting on her mompreneur ideas… and I’m obsessed with her business, Thimble and Pine.
Kait shared her story with me and it’s so amazing, I’m going to let her take over. Consider this, her mompreneur blog. I’ll let the mompreneur Kait take it from here.
My father owned a drywall business and was always encouraging us to build things. I have had an interest in crafting as long as I can remember. I always made my own Halloween costumes and was always sewing, baking, building lopsided pots with my clay wheel or attempting to build some random structure outside.
When I was 12, I decided that I wanted to be a professional magician and made myself a magical cape and watched my father build me a six-foot long box that my brother would “disappear” in. He also constructed me different props to make it appear to my neighborhood audience that I was levitating.
Kait the Great’s magical act was short-lived but I still remember that as one of my favorite childhood memories. It was something exciting that my father and I worked on together building and crafting and looking back I think moments like that were some of the happiest times.
After having my daughter London, I was quick to realize that we live in a world today where we are constantly being judged. Part of it was post-baby hormones and part of it was simple reality but I felt like everywhere I went someone was saying something negative and I couldn’t seem to do anything right.
- I was breastfeeding too much. I wasn’t breastfeeding enough.
- I wasn’t losing my baby weight fast enough.
- I wasn’t letting my daughter cry it out enough.
- I was scolded for co-sleeping. I was scolded for not co-sleeping and letting her fuss in her crib.
- I was disregarded when I said I wanted to just be a stay-at-home mom. I was judged when I said I necessarily didn’t want to stay at home and wanted a part-time job.
- I was actually shocked by the random strangers that would come up to me and tell me what I was doing wrong as a new mom.
The worst was the grocery store cashier that went off on me for buying baby formula. She couldn’t believe that I would buy formula and not just breastfeed and decided to lecture me in front of a bunch of customers.
Little did she know, I had just spent 12 hours in the emergency room with my daughter the night before and was told they thought she had a stomach condition and at six weeks old would need surgery. The doctor recommended a certain type of formula because he thought she needed it in addition to breastfeeding, because sadly, I wasn’t producing enough and she was having serious issues. (Moms, there is NOTHING wrong with formula!)
Literally every day was just an emotional roller coaster and me always second guessing myself as a parent.
Finding a Hobby
Then, I decided to tune everyone out and focus on doing what I thought was best. I recognized that for the most part that people were trying to be helpful and those who were trying to be hurtful didn’t need my attention.
One day, I decided I was going to build something for my daughter’s first birthday. Something special. I decided I wanted to make her a play kitchen, because to this day, I still remember the wood kitchen my great-grandfather Wayne made me and how much joy it brought to our house.
So, I went to the local hardware store and bought tools and supplies, came home, and started building one in my bathroom. Because my husband worked a lot at the time, I had to build while my daughter was napping or sleeping. I would lock myself in my bathroom (close enough to where I could hear her if she woke up) and the crafting just happened.
Everyday I would get new ideas. I would see something else inspiring and so my plans would change and evolve. After three months of planning, listening to my husband complain about the mess, constructing, having to go to the bathroom with zero privacy because there was literally a pile to the ceiling of tools and supplies… the kitchen was done and I was ready to introduce my daughter to it.
But, I had a slight problem. I made the damn thing too big and it wouldn’t fit out of my bathroom door! So I cried, drank some wine, spent an hour deconstructing it, carried it out to our living room, and then spent two more days putting the thing back together. When it was finally finished and I let London down to see it, she crawled right for it and immediately started opening all of the doors and throwing everything she could into the “oven” and “sink.”
My husband and I stood back, both looked at each other, and knew that I had done something really great. Not only was it great for my daughter, but it was also a really good thing for myself.
Becoming a Mompreneur
The next day something miraculous happened. I decided to not wear pajamas all day and actually put on real clothes (Not like a dress or anything – just yoga pants, but that was a step up from the flannel pajamas I had been living in!) I combed my hair for the first time since I was six months pregnant and actually had the energy to put on some mascara. I traded in the box of chocolates and I bought a juicer. I started eating healthier, going out more, and slowly the baby weight I had been sad about started melting away.
I started new projects for my daughter – a grocery stand, tent, pretend food… and everyday I added a different idea to my list about what else I wanted to make for London. I started making toddler size aprons for my friend’s and little cousins. Soon, I found myself working until 3am every night because I was so excited about what I was doing and I didn’t want to stop.
Friends started commenting at playdates and on social media about London’s kitchen. Suddenly, I found myself designing toys and houseware items to give away as gifts. I started following inspiring artists on social media and messaging them to tell them how much I loved what they were doing and asked for tips and advice.
I cut negative people out of my life and focused on the quality people who wanted me to succeed, were happy for me, and the new identity that I had found. I searched for other moms, dads, and friends who wanted to help and were just excited to be a part of what I was doing.
I always laughed when someone would say to me, “Wow. You have so much more time than I do. I can barely even find enough time to shower.” The reality is, no I do not have more time than other moms. I just prioritize differently now.
I wake up early, go to bed really late, and cancelled my Netflix subscription. I also stopped folding laundry because I feel like crafting is way more important than my husband having clean, folded socks and underwear.
Thimble and Pine
I found a home store locally that has two amazing owners who let me shadow them and learn more about my craft. I found a sewing instructor that was as excited and passionate as I was. We work together for a few hours every week perfecting things now. I recently found a woodworker and photographer who are also supportive and willing to help me get to the place I want to be as an artist.
After spending almost a decade following my husband around the world, pursuing a career as a professional hockey player, and many months in my pajamas stuck in a walking-zombie-mom state, I decided that I wanted something for myself and Thimble and Pine seemed to be that.
For me, the most important lesson I have discovered through this entire process is supporting one another will get us all further along in life. You don’t need the judgemental friend who isn’t happy for you or the store cashier who wants to pick you apart and offer destructive advice. You need to surround yourself with people who want you to do well, challenge you, and make you want to be better. This is who I want to be as a person, mother, wife and business owner.
I want to create an imaginative world where we can play and make long-lasting memories together. I want my daughter London to look back in 30 years from now and remember the wood kitchen I made her just like I remember the one my great-grandfather made for me.
This started out as a gift for my daughter and has turned into a gift for myself and anyone else who wants to tag along in this journey. I truly feel like the options are endless and I am excited to see what else we come up with next.
I am so incredibly thankful for the love and support that surrounds me daily and thank those close to me for helping me discover exactly who I want to be and what I want to do. Things are just how they should be and I am ready to keep playing.