Last week, I had the opportunity to take over an instagram account for One Woman Shop, a resource hub & community for women building their solo businesses. I "carried the #onewomanshopbaton" and spent the day posting photos of what it looked like to work my small business. Technically, I am not a one woman shop, as I wouldn't be able to do dignify without my husband (whom we have, at times, referred to as the "Chief of Everything I Don't Want to Do"), and a growing community of help & support. Nonetheless, I thought I would share with you what a day in the life is like for me!
[There are echoes here of another post I did once: Behind the Scenes Photographing Many, Many Kantha Blankets]
I start almost every weekday with a super early writing sesh: 5:30 wakeup and at the desk by 5:45. It sounds bananas, I know! But, I beat my 3 kids out of bed and get some solid, uninterrupted and undistracted time until 7:30. I started this as an experiment in September, inspired by @seanwes, and I'm not looking back. For me, it's been just what I needed: dedicated time to write and focus before the emails and social media and personal needs of the day stay tumbling in.
[On another version of this photo, I included a little known fact about me: I use my right index finger for the space bar when I type. So ridiculous. Also, does every 31-year old's hands look this old? I need to take better care of myself...]
At 7:30, I stop working to come up from our home office and help herd the cats. We only have one daughter in full-time school (grade 1), but it starts at 8:05, and for a night owl (her), that's rough!
I love taking this break to eat, get a coffee (which I don't make at 5:30am... see previous post!), and take the 10 minute round-trip walk to school.@shawnblanc offered some great advice about staying focused: when he starts to wane or be distracted, he just steps away. A walk, a coffee break, a change of pace/scene for a few minutes to give himself an earnest break, instead of pressing through with half attention.
In true one-woman fashion, I do a bit (a lot!) of everything: writing, tech stuff, packaging, photography, importing, accounting (rarely!), marketing, social media, etc. etc.
Fortunately, my husband has taken over a lot of the order fulfillment, but I still handwrite the cards and help out. So, so not how I envisioned my life -- the dream of owning/running an online retail business was never even on my radar! But it sure is fun now!
This morning, I took a long break to colour this rocket ship that my little guy received for his birthday yesterday! This seems like the kind of dreamy life that we romanticize: a sweet mix of business-running and being a stay-at-home parent. The best of both worlds, right?
Actually, it is really hard. The kids are a little crazy & clingy from me being away all weekend (at#blogpodium15) and trying to work through the mornings this week (with Dad in charge). I have so much to do and photos to take today and emails to write and insta-takeovers to post! We are trying to get better at structure, but it's often a swirling mix of parenting and different work projects between two parents and trying to get as much as possible done in the mix.
Balancing work, family, health, house, friends, and everything else is very, very challenging. Keeping it real here, because if not here, where else?
Now I'm onto the main event of my day: product photography. All of the blankets we carry are made with repurposed saris in Bangladesh, so every one (of the ~1500 so far) is unique. I receive them, photograph them, and edit them for our online store to be as accurate and appealing as possible!
The actual photo shoot days are full and physically tiring. I love, love, love the one-of-a-kind nature of our kantha blankets, but we're also working on other variations that wouldn't require as much labour per item. This is a panned out view of what my "studio" looks like, aka my dining room!
I'm spending the afternoon photographing unique blankets for our next launch. This is the kind of final photo I'm going for: clean, clear, vibrant, accurate, and giving a glimpse of both sides of the#kantha blanket.
I try to do most of my photo shooting while my kids are at school/napping. But, inevitably I carry over or someone pops by... and inevitably, they photo bomb my product shots! I swear, there was a while that I felt like the only photos we had of my kids included blankets in the background!
Did I mention that it was my son's birthday yesterday? In case it hasn't been abundantly clear: there is a lot of work amidst chaos around here... #keepingitreal
This is the completed pile. As I finish shooting each blanket, I fold it in a way that it is ready to roll up & package once it's purchased. It makes the shoot last longer, but makes life much easier & speedier in the shipping stage.
At the end of the day in a one woman shop, there is *always* more to do. Emails to return, blog posts to write, orders to follow up on, campaigns to plan, etc ad nauseam.
I try to remember some advice shared by @eryneddy from her grandmother: "Work harder on yourself than on your business." And, one more thing: in the midst of all the fun work, hard work, tough work, or self work, don't forget: REST.
Every day around here features different joys, challenges, weird-things-I've-never-done, complicated work/family dynamics, and lots of lots of colour. Someday, I'd love to start writing another blog all about these things, but for now... there's work to be done!
Looking back at some photos from last Christmas, I came across this screenshot from my phone that really made me laugh:
My husband was dropping off our parcels recently, and a woman working in our shipper's office said, "I was looking at your site, and I think I might buy some of these blankets this year as gifts; I'm mostly shopping online." Another employee chimed in, "I'm going to do all of my shopping online, too."
That evening, he went with our kids to the mall to pick something up (masked, natch), and as he surveyed the hallways — with some permanently closed stores, some shuttered from lack of employees, etc. — Wayne's thought was, "I think I need to do all my shopping at the mall!"
Recently, dignify received a review on our blankets that addressed the variety of our styles (color/pattern), and the contrast/matching choices that go into our kantha. Let's take a glimpse behind-the-scenes at the number of factors that contribute to these decisions.
How do we choose the fabric? How do we match saris to create the kantha blankets? Why are some combinations bad? Why aren’t there more grey/buttery yellow/navy blue color combos?
I know that many of you have wondered about these questions from time to time, too!