With Mother’s Day this Sunday, we talked with some of our tenants who are both mothers and small business owners here at the Mill. We wanted to hear from them how they strike a work-life balance, which is particularly difficult for a small business owner who is responsible for building their business and keeping it successful, and how the roles support one another. We also asked them to share any special memories they have of their children being here at the Mill. We think you’ll enjoy reading what they shared!
Carly Fuller with Carly Fuller Photography
As a new mom and entrepreneur who struggles with being a perfectionist, finding a balance has always been challenging. I have found that motherhood has encouraged me to become more flexible in the ebbs and flow of life and work. Instead of trying to give equal share of myself to work and my daughter, I now focus on being flexible with how every day unfolds and bending with the circumstances. I try to allow for more space for my family time, as these days will not return again.
My photography business was my first baby, and I’ve nurtured it for 17 years. I filled my days and nights with photography, in some ways filling the void of not having a child. Owning my business has helped me multitask as a new mom, juggling working from home and caring for our new baby girl. Each available moment I use more wisely since free time is a commodity now.
My fondest memory connected with the Mill so far in the four months that we’ve had our baby girl is projects in the studio! We found out early that our baby girl enjoys doing projects with us here. She calmly slept and watched as we replaced the trim on the walls and redecorated. It was the most relaxed she had been without being held her entire life! We now know we can take her anywhere as long as her two moms are doing a project. Hopefully one day she’ll pitch in or even hold a reflector or camera!!
I strike a work-life balance with a lot of help! Having the support of my family and definitely with the help of our volunteers and employees. “It takes a village” is quite applicable here. I’d say I have a bit more patience and grace with myself and others. I know it sounds super cliché, but there is only so much someone can do in a day and I think I’ve finally accepted that rather than giving myself a hard time. I feel very lucky to be able to bring Remy to work with me at the Mill. I feel very cared for here and I know by extension so will my daughter.
Desiree Chaves, Candids and Colors Photography
Being a business owner has been a lot of trial and error. Both my assistant and I are moms. My assistant does her work around her kids’ schedules and we take bookings around my kids’ schedules. We both make being there for our kids’ moments a priority, so we do our best to book around kids sporting events, shows, days off, etc. I think being a business owner and doing our best to be actively present for our kids shows them that they can do anything they want.
My fondest memory of my family and the Mill was the move-in! We had 4 days before our first appointment. My whole family spent late nights helping me get the studio set up. We ordered dinner from Rams Head and ate in a crazy mess of stuff. My son also got to experience our 3rd floor residential ghost, which resulted in him refusing to come to the Mill at night, but I thought it was funny.
Lee Salter, Building Dynamics
The first thing that comes to mind are a slew of clichés; most notably “pick your battles” and “life is a marathon, not a sprint”. When I had my first son, I was sure that I could just weave being a parent seamlessly into my life and that my career goals and aspirations didn’t have to shift. Needless to say, following the birth of my second son, I realized how very wrong I was – LOL! What I couldn’t have predicted is how much better my new path would suit me. Like my eldest, I had ADHD growing up and I still juggle ADD to this day. Although ADD makes fitting into society’s neat little box of norms quite tricky, it also allows for a high degree of creativity and has facilitated my ability to feel comfortable with new situations and navigating life’s many unknowns. When my oldest son started kindergarten, I knew I wanted the flexibility to be there when he got home from school and to play an active role in that journey. That’s when I decided to leave the comfort of my position at a well-established company to work as an independent contractor. From there I connected and came onboard with Building Dynamics, the engineering and industrial hygiene firm where I’m now a partner. The best part has been having the freedom to spend quality time watching my children grow up while at the same time building a rewarding and meaningful career.
My role as an engineer and business owner strengthens my role as a parent because it allows me to model the satisfaction and joy of forging my own successful path in the business world and hopefully give them the confidence to follow their dreams in the future. My role as a mother strengthens my role as a business owner because the trials and tribulations of raising independent minded children have made me more open to seeing things from other perspectives. It has also helped me learn to reflect and prioritize more effectively. All of these skills have been as invaluable to my professional development as they have been in my personal life.
I’ve had the office at the Mill for thirteen years so there are a lot of fond and interesting memories here with my children, most recently checking out the new Roggenart Bakery together. It’s a warm, welcoming, and delicious atmosphere, the perfect place to sit and catch up with my active and busy children. Now that my children are growing up and forging their own lives and friendships, it’s not always a given that they’ll take me up on an offer for breakfast and small talk. Luckily, we live in the community so it’s easy for my kids to come and go at their convenience.
Lisa Stanley, LS Interior Design Group
I’ve owned and operated my business since I was 23 years old. My younger daughter was 4 the day I opened shop. It is a challenge balancing motherhood and a business, but I have always placed my children first and foremost. Clients come and go but family is forever, and my daughters mean the world to me. I made them a priority throughout my life and would even involve them in business affairs – they attended client meetings and installations and were always in my studio. I was class Mom for both kiddos every year, chaperoning field trips and events, and I scheduled these priorities into my work in order to make them happen.
My girls are strong, kind and powerful women today. I felt a strong sense of commitment to raise independent women who would face an incredibly chaotic world knowing their strengths and ability to accept any challenge thrown at them – good or bad. My eldest daughter became a biomedical engineer and works as a project manager for Jansen Pharmaceuticals, is married and is the best mommy to my grandson. My baby girl is a licensed cosmetologist who owns and operates a successful nail & lash studio right here at the Mill.
Jeannette Kendall, Success in Style
Making sure that family is always first and of course making lots of sacrifice. I continually need to remind myself that I can’t do it all and it’s ok to ask for help. Three of my girls are now part-timers here and they as well as a small group of amazing employees and a staff of very generous volunteers are the moving parts for a smooth operation.
When you have kids, as well as running a business, expectations are always high…but not always fair. I still have high expectations but have learned to look at things differently and realize simplicity is golden.
My fondest memory of my family and the Mill was when one of my daughters took sewing classes with Leona’s Sewing Studio. She made me a dress which I modeled in their fashion show. All these young kids—so proud and professional. It made my heart sing!
Sharyn Winer, Artcraft
When I started Artcraft at Savage Mill 31 years ago, my “babies” were 16 and 18 years old.
As the business grew, we worked and traveled together searching for artists, sharing ideas and learning from each other. Adam eventually became my business partner and expanded Artcraft beyond my dreams. Now my grandsons are 16 and 18 years old. Max likes to run the register and Grey is a budding jewelry artist. And I am one happy Mom and Grandmom!