Monday, July 13, 2009

How Does She Do it!- WAHM Indie Series -Part 1

Many work at home moms, myself included, struggle with the duties of caring for the house and family on a daily basis- I have started a weekly feature where I search the net to find extraordinary mothers who have found and mastered a way to maintain a home business as an indie crafter.

How Does She Do it??" Is a series of interviews with indie moms of children from birth to teenage years who have graciously volunteers to share their skills, lessons & experiences with us. There will be two guest posts a week every Monday starting July 13th, 2009 all Summer long.!!!

Our First Featured Guest is a great indie crafter-Children's Footwear and Repurposed Leather Accessory Designer:

Audrey Hussey - KaBoogie -

Tell us about yourself: (background, family, personality.

I am a typical type A, I come from a family entirely populated with entrepreneurs, business owners. We don't do well working for others, but WITH others. We tend to be craftsmen, My father owned a large sign company while I was growing up, I learned the art of design from him. One brother owns a neon plant, another a manufacturing plant. My sister runs a home daycare.

How or Why did you make the decision to pursue your art career and work from home?

I have a B.S. in Graphic Design, worked as an art director for over 12 years before I left advertising. I then turned to craft, making things to sell and trade; toddler furniture, frames, sewn things. This was back in the mid 90's. My mom and I used to laugh at the fledgling home decorating shows, doing things we had been doing for years. I didn't turn to online sales, or my current craft until my girlfriend showed me her shop 1 1/2 yrs ago. I am too cheap to buy $28 baby shoes online with designs I hated, so I made my own, recycled from my husband's bomber jacket. I was hooked!

I see that you home school six children? Wow! How do you balance work and family in this manner?

I never considered anything BUT homeschooling. As more children came, they just eased into my routine, having done one, two, three, etc., weren't much more difficult. This year we are trying out a very small (28 students) private school. My eldest needs much more intellectual challenges than he is getting while I tend 2 preschoolers and sew. I would like to see if I can bring my biz to the next level, and take a mental break. Yes, sometimes I get saturated. The middle children just like trying something new, but they have the choice to come home next year if they want. They come first! The two youngest will stay home with me. The balance often leaves me drained, I tend to work late at night. I think all moms, regardless of employment or not, feel this way at times.

Do you ever find yourself feeling overwhelmed or stressed out? If so how do you diffuse or deal with these moments during business time?

I've always been the type to take on more than I can probably handle at once. Then, I just BOOGIE! lol! My husband helps a lot, I employ a niece and some of my kids help. There's a lot to be said for training up your children to do as much as they are capable of. You have to relax some standards and prioritize. I make sure dinner is always on the table, we stick to a relative schedule, and rarely use babysitters. Not all people would want to take this much on, nor should they. I do tend to thrive on it, though. I can't go to a birthday party without a basket of shoes to finish up, or some needle felting to do.

I see you have some children under 5? How do you spend quality/downtime with them during a busy or hectic work day?Please walk us through an average day at home:

Summer days are sort of unscheduled. During school I don't work until the elder 4 are well into their work. Then I work alongside so I am available. At the same time, I set the little two up with play doh, cutting paper, coloring or TV, yes, we use TV as part of our day. This year the 5 yr old will school with me, and the 2 yr old will learn by osmosis. After lunch, most of school is done, chores get done, then we go our own ways, they play, I work, baby gets a nap. If the 2 or 5 yr old wants mom time then, they come to me.

My children are extremely self sufficient; the benefit of a large family is no lack of playmates, they rarely come to me bored. We often have homeschool activities, or karate, music lessons or bunches of other homeschoolers come by and the melee begins! Dinner is always eaten together, then after bedtime reading, I work and promote online here in the den where I work, the older kids and hubby come in and we're together for a couple of hours. I work in the midst of the family, jumping up and down, running to and fro is the norm for me.

Alot of mothers cannot afford child/daycare in this economy or have no support system, while other moms are simply aren't interested in others caring for their young children but they would like to find a way to support themselves and their families at home? In your humble opinion, what advice would you give them?

I think if you have to support yourself by your craft, with or without kids at home, you have to hustle. You also have to lose the one thing that holds us all back. FEAR. Fear keeps most of us in the small time. Fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of the truth. Is what we do marketable and is it the best quality it can be? There is also fear of success. Incredible but true. What will I do on the next level? I am stuck there right now. Do I have what it takes to bring it there? You have to be willing to go through the muck and the pain of growth. To not be willing to take no for an answer or let others pull you down (you know who they are). To think outside the box. Take a risk. Do something totally different. It can be done, we know that.

Is your craft your primary source of income? How do you manage during slow sales times/seasons?

Thankfully this is not my primary source of income. I am in a dry spell, outside a large wholesale order, and am using the time to rethink where I put my efforts. I will be streamlining my product line. The one thing I've learned is to make what sells. The desire as an artist to create what you want can't always happen, but you can still make what you love. When people come to my craft show booth I notice they seem lost among too many's like when someone offers you 15 choices of ice cream when 3 or 4 would do.

What do you love most about owning and operating your own creative business?

I like that I can step away from work and make other things, not necessarily for sale, but for me, or for gifts. I love that i can make some extra cash and not stress the budget. i especially love that I can rescue gorgeous pieces of leather clothing from landfills and give them new life.

Despite new CSPIA regulations- Why do you think consumers should shop handmade for children?

The CPSIA threw such a wrench into my machine, so to speak. I did send a batch of samples for testing and was not surprised that they came back well below the limit. Since babies gobble their shoes down haha! When and if the requirements become as originally written into the law, I will probably be forced to buy new leather from tanneries who can provide me with 3rd party compliance. That or shut down. My hope is that we do not let our guard down, that the head of the CPSA will prevail against those who want her removed, and that common sense requirements will be put into place.

People should prefer handmade, the onus is on us crafters to provide safe products. Large manufacturers will usually be the ones breaking existing law, as we've seen, and will continue as long as they use facilities outside the jurisdiction of US inspectors, and certification that is forged or fudged. In this economy, the government can ill afford to forsake us in favor of lobbyists from huge companies. Common sense also must prevail against consumer organizations who's knee jerk reactions against perceived threats cause such over-reaction.

You can learn more about her work at these links
Twitter me:

Thanks so much Andrea! Hope I didn't ramble on too much!-

Not at all!! Thank you for sharing your wonderful experience with us!-" YOU ROCK!!

Coming up:


kaboogie said...

Thanks so much for featuring me! I hope someone can take something away from this, I surely have so much to learn myself. Great questions, thought provoking but fun to answer!

Traci said...

Audrey, you got that right about the fear factor. What if? What if? I do it all the time. Even afraid to show my fellow artists for FEAR that someone will cast doubt.

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