Credit – Katie at You Are Your Brand Photography
I’m so excited to share with you the first in my new series of ‘Meet the Creator’. I wanted to re-start this series (old readers will know that I used to do an interview series called ‘let’s have a chat‘) but this time I want it to focus on Mothers who create around their family life. As someone who has just had a baby, I can understand how hard it must be to create a business around looking after a baby, or even several children. I want to learn how they do it; the problems they face and of course, their fave beverage and snack because no working day is complete without one!
I will also be focusing on small businesses I love, most of which I’ve found through Instagram. Let’s face it, there’s a lot of competition out there, so I’d like to help put them in the spotlight a little (I mean, my following isn’t that big!) and find out more about how they run (do they have kids??) and highlight some of my fave products of theirs – they might become your new fave business too!
I love delving behind the scenes of a person’s life – it’s super intriguing; even the mundane details of their daily routine and what mug they drink from. It helps me form a clear picture of this working Mama’s day AND sometimes can give me inspiration for my own. Does anyone else have a fascination for routines?
Piece by Jackson
I first met Amy from Piece by Jackson just after i’d given birth. I think my little one was about a few weeks old. She kindly baked and brought around a box of lactation cookies for me – how lovely is that?! We need more people like this in the world! Anyways, Amy has remained a friend ever since and so of course I had to ask her to be interviewed for this series!
Amy makes the coolest copper piping and tile tables/plant stands/bookshelves – you name it – she’ll try and make it – as long as there’s tiles and piping involved! She has an amazing eye for colour – she’s a girl after my own heart as I’m quite the tile fan too – but I don’t think anyone is as fanatic about tiles as is Amy!
I first asked Amy to explain to me how she came up with the idea to make these unique tables, and what she said was rather inspiring…
“I would say the idea to make a table with copper pipe came from Pinterest. I had a 4 month-old baby and had A LOT of time on my hands during the night feeds, to scroll through the Internet. I came across a few pictures and tutorials and decided I’d make a table for our house and one for a friend. I was pretty proud of them and sent a few pictures around to friends who of course were typically supportive and told me I should sell them. I mean, I took it with a pinch of salt, because of course my best friends would say that to me! I was sleep deprived and hormonal, they’d say anything to stop me from bursting into tears! Then as the weeks went on, more and more people said the same thing; days with a newborn started to settle down and I decided to have a go at setting up an Etsy page, and business account on Instagram.”
I totally get this Amy. I know exactly how the mind can wonder during the night feeds! How long has your business been running for then?
“I made my first Instagram post as PBJ on the 3rd April 2018, and made my first sale on Etsy about two weeks later.”
That’s amazing! It really shows how determination can bring an idea into fruition. How do you manage the business around family life?
“My work has to slot in around my family life and my ‘day job’ in HR, for a food retail company. I work three days a week there and I do PBJ during my son’s nap time and during the evenings. Occasionally I treat myself to putting Rhys into the childminders for an extra day, so I can get a whole day to myself to work, but it’s all a balance between getting work done and wanting to spend the day with him – and of course the cost!”
Ahh, I bet having a childminder can become a godsend! Does it ever affect family life at all?
“I would say Instagram is probably the bigger strain. Even when I’m not physically making stuff, I’m writing posts, taking pictures or interacting with others. It takes up a lot of time and it’s hard to justify it to family as you can’t necessarily see the monetary value in investing so much time in it. I’m often on my phone when I’m supposed to be watching something on tv with my husband – he used to get so frustrated while we were watching Game of Thrones; he’d have to keep pausing it to explain things to me!”
Oh Instagram is a hard one. We need it to keep sales up/stay in the minds of others/build a following, but I don’t think a none-user would truly understand.
“It’s all a real juggle and I definitely don’t have the balance yet. I still need to keep my day job, if only for the conversation! Working from home can be quite isolating and I treat my followers and the friends I’ve made through Instagram, as my co-workers. Rhys hasn’t got much in the way of water cooler banter just yet!”
Yes, it can get pretty lonely can’t it – thankfully we have insta! What would you say is the best and worst thing (apart from lack of contact) about working from home?
“The best thing – not having to get dressed!! Well, technically I always make sure time I have time for a shower before my husband leaves for the day. It gets me off to the right start for the day. I usually work in my ‘comfies’ though. My faves are a pair of jazzy patterned bottoms because they’re baggy and comfy to work in. I move around a lot to work so I need to be comfy; skinny jeans don’t cut it! Goodness knows what the couriers think when I answer the door!”
“The worst thing is probably all the distractions that come with being at home, like housework; ready access to snacks, and Netflix! The last two are necessary to get through the day, but if something I’m watching is particularly interesting, I find myself looking up a lot more than I am looking down at what I’m doing!”
Since we’re on the topic of snacks – what’s your preferred beverage of choice when taking a break, and how do you spend that time?
“Coffee is always the beverage of choice. I’m a total coffee snob – can’t stand instant! I’ve got a coffee machine and milk frother and they’ve kept me going through parenthood so far! I’m awful at staying hydrated, always have been. I need to start keeping a water bottle by me in reminder. I don’t really take breaks – I’m often moving from the table, to the floor, to the shed, so I tend to just nip to the kitchen for a snack or maybe I might sit on the sofa and do some admin to give the illusion of resting!”
I’m with you on the instant coffee thing! So when do you find the time to work?
“My days off from the ‘day job’ are Monday and Wednesday, so those mornings are always set aside for working on orders, photography, admin etc. I also don’t start work ’til 1.30 on Fridays, so I’m able to do some bits on Friday morning. Currently that time isn’t enough, so I’ve been working a fair few evenings too. It’s very hard to switch off when you’re workbench is also the dining room table/ floor. It very rarely all gets packed away as I’m always dipping in and out.”
You must need to stay pretty organised! How do you do it??
“Lists. I have lists everywhere. I would be UTTERLY lost without my phone. My Etsy app is great for keeping track of my order deadlines and I have a paper diary for all the orders I get outside of Etsy. I don’t think I would call myself overly organised though; I’m sure I could be so much more efficient with my time and planning. I just keep making it up as I go along and it hasn’t steered me too wrong this far.”
I’m a big list-maker too! Love them. Do you have one particular moment during running your business that stands out so far?
“There have been a couple, can I pick more than one?!”
“There’s nothing like the buzz from your first sale – when I first got the notification of my first Etsy sale, I was so excited. The app makes a ‘kerching’ noise when I make a sale and it makes my tummy flip every time, even 167 times later! Also supplying The Aroid Attic with plant stands has been huge for me. I’m so so grateful to Charlotte for stocking my work, and it’s amazing to see something you’ve poured your heart and soul into standing in a real bricks and mortar shop.”
“The final one is probably the bookcase I made a couple of weeks ago. It was the biggest piece I’ve made so far and it was a long time in the planning and putting together, but I’m extremely proud of it. It’s very surreal to think of someone having my furniture in their home, but I’m so chuffed that customers chose me to spend their hard earned money with and will hopefully treasure their piece for years to come!”
That bookcase was something else! You should be proud. Soooo, any big projects coming up that you can/can’t talk about?
“Not really, accept I want to really push forward with my event work. I’ve made several pieces for sale and for hire for weddings and it’s definitely something I’d like to do more of. It’s a lot of pressure to get something just right for such an important occasion – but it’s very cool to think you’re part of someone’s big day.”
That must be a lovely feeling. Lastly, any tips for other working from home Mama’s?
“I would say making sure you have a shower and prioritise what you need to get done for your baby at the beginning of the day, so you know you can carry on with what you need to do and not get flustered when they wake up or it’s time to collect them and nothing is done. I’m very much speaking from experience here! As soon as Rhys is down for his nap, I try to get his lunch ready and pack the car if we’re going out for the afternoon.”
Oh I like that tip. At least then you’re all ready to go and can dedicate brain space entirely to your work without worrying. Thanks Amy!
Piece by Jackson has very kindly allowed 10% off any item in her shop (not bespoke orders)!
Visit PBJ’s Etsy page and use the code JESS10 – valid from Monday 24th June until midnight Sunday 30th June.