• 05/09

    Motherhood and entrepreneurship are two nouns that are more similar than not – they both thrive on nurturing, creative thinking, patience, planning and smart work. Women are naturally equipped for both rolls – we have proved to be able to spin more than one plate at the same time for centuries and we have assertively raised babies into capable human beings... and businesses from the ground up.

    99% of the clients I work with are women and I dare say that 90% of those are mothers. Some are drained from working uninspiring 8-5 jobs, some others have used blogging as a form of catharsis but never wanted to get anywhere with it... while others (like myself) didn't have any "luck" after several years of pouring themselves into their blogs and businesses – yet interestingly enough, 100% of these women deal with the same feelings of self-doubt and worry.

    I dug into my server archives and rescued a decent list of questions I get asked whenever I’m working with a "mom-preneur". Here are 5 of the ones I think are the most common and the most important ones:

    How did you decide to start a business?
    I became a mother almost 11 years ago and 6 months into motherhood I created my first blog and my first business while sitting on the floor of a tiny villa here in Brazil. I sincerely knew nothing about what I was doing, both in motherhood and entrepreneurship. I simply knew 3 things and those things only: that we needed money, that my baby kept me up for hours at a time while she breastfed into a milk coma and that I was going bonkers not doing anything... and that is how everything started. No, I didn’t have a revelatory dream. There wasn’t a prophecy or a call. I needed to maintain some level of sanity so I jumped in with both feet.

    What do you wish you had known before starting?
    To be honest, the only thing that I wish I had known was that I was doing the right thing at that time. I made many mistakes and the entire ordeal was a mess sometimes. It looked amateurish when I started and there wasn’t much or any information to find online back then but that learning curve taught me a lot – even that I didn’t want to run my business like a machine and that I wanted to keep this a one-woman operation working from the comfort of my home. But the thing that got to me was that irrational mommy guilt you feel when your tiny swaddled baby is taking its 9th nap of the day and you feel that by sitting in front of a computer you're missing out on precious moments that you will never get back. It wasn’t like that and it isn’t like that now that my little swaddled baby is just about my height and has feet as big as mine.

    How do you juggle motherhood and business at the same time?
    You don’t. I could end it there and drop the mic but I won’t. The reality is we all need to stop trying to be everything all the time. Nobody can constantly be at 100% in every area of their lives at all times – and that is the case with being a mother and an entrepreneur. You will eventually sort out a plan that seems to work for you... but 90% of the time you are just going to need to pick your battles: one day you will thrive at your business and get the rush of a professional bad-ass and some others you will be super mom and tackle all your little one’s appointments and needs and even sneak an extra hour of playtime in there; but we all need to understand that only some things are urgent and only some things need our undivided attention at any given time.

    Do you have a routine while being a freelancer?
    Yes, I have a weekly routine that tells me what to do every day from Monday - Friday and that forces me to work in a systematic manner. My days look different and I pay attention to different things during the week giving each task my undivided attention. A good routine for mothers who work from home should always start with them - say, having time alone in meditation in the morning... and then end with them as well – maybe reading a book in bed or spending time in exquisite silence. Of course, as a freelancer, your routine will probably look different from day to day but time for self-care and (if possible) weekends offline should be non-negotiable.

    Should I venture into a business of my own?
    What advice would you give new entrepreneurs?

    10 years ago I’d have simply said, "Yes!"... but in these times I need to be honest and say that you should start a business only if you have a clear idea of what that would look like and you are willing to put in the time to patiently see it evolve. If you are determined and already have a clear idea, I’d then tell you these things:

    ¹ Be clear about how much time you want to devote to growing your business on the daily. Calculate what your time’s worth according to your capabilities, resources and available time and don’t accept anything less than that.
    ² Treat yourself as your only source of income – so invest in your well-being and mental health.
    Communicate to your children and set boundaries: you need some sort of delimitation between home and work.
    ³ Working from home is being flexible and using what you have around you. Do not invest in anything until you’re truly seeing it take shape.
    ⁴ Loneliness is a common denominator for at-home workers, especially when your little ones are not yet in a talking phase.
    ⁵ Structure your work weeks and if possible make weekends off non-negotiable.
    No matter how much more you think you can do by sleeping less and working more, never sacrifice your mental health for your work.
    ⁶ Save a part of your money whenever you surpass your earning goals – for a rainy day.
    Be aware of the privilege that it is being able to always have your kids an arm's-reach away. That will allow you to swiftly take your work hat off and enjoy times with them without the guilt of stopping work for the day and vice versa.

    Neither mom-life nor entrepreneurial life are easy to manage; you will win some battles and you will lose some – but it is important to keep sight of what made you take that leap in the first place, as it is important to let go of self-doubt and worries.

    Make sure your business is constantly growing and that you don’t have to completely neglect one thing for the sake of another. Trust your instincts and always – and I mean always – look for help in people who are here to help you... yes, like me.
  • 05/08

    My smart, witty and ride-or-die (not so little) daughter Emma is turning 11 this July. She’s been brought up in a minimalist home since forever – even though she could argue it was she who taught me to be a minimalist even before she was born... and she’d be right. You see, contrary to the popular belief that babies are a handful and need a million things for their well-being, something in my mommy brain made me believe babies needed only the bare necessities to be safe, to feel loved and to grow up happy – and in my own particular situation, I was right.

    So much is told to women while they’re pregnant – not only by their doctors but by society in general (about the well-being of our children). We’re told that we need 1-1000 gadgets to feed, comfort, teach and entertain our babies and they do that by playing on our worries and our vulnerabilities. That’s how we end up with these tractor-like strollers, blaring "educational" toys, rockers, bottles... all tucked away in our basements – and as our children continue to grow, we continue to be pressured into buying the next fad that we think will make our lives easier and our little ones happier.

    The reality is that babies and kids, in general, need less than we think to grow up healthily and happily. I’m not saying that all they need is dry nappies and full tummies but however long our lists are, the reality is they probably need only a small percentage of that to be all they're meant to be.

    It is true what they say... that once you become a mother, you will never (and I mean never) know a life without worries. And it didn’t take me long to realize how the system manipulates women into becoming consumers by using that innate potential for worry to their advantage. Sadly, over-buying things that our kids don’t really need is like having a headache and taking a (placebo) pill to make it better. While we might get the sense that the problem is gone, it will continue to be there until we address it.

    Mothering as a minimalist gives us the power to raise kids that are mindful, healthy and that don’t suffer the pressures to keep up with oftentimes unattainable lifestyles. It creates little humans that feel a sense of responsibility and empathy towards others; and that has been the case with my daughter. Ever since she was little, she’s never had an issue hearing the word "no" when wanting a toy and not getting it. She’s detached from material things and takes care of what she has so when it comes time to give things away, she can give them away in the best shape possible. She cures her boredom with creativity and she doesn’t feel the pressure to get the next cool toy or wear the next line of clothes.

    So you might be asking yourself how you might mother as a minimalist too... and here are the basics of what you need to know:

    Care for your own mental and physical health first
    Even the littlest thing is capable of getting to us when we are not taking care of ourselves. We become more reactive and less rational when we don’t put our needs first; when we don’t feed our bodies and our souls the way we need.

    Connect with your kids
    There is nothing that children crave (or need for that matter) more than connection. Play with your kids, have conversations, ask questions, reply to theirs and truly spend time together away from phones, televisions and distractions.

    Do not purchase things for your kids by reasoning that either you want to give them all you never had or all you did have
    Emotion-driven purchases will always pile up. Forget about that toy you always wanted and never had. I can assure you the lack of or the abundance of something didn’t create your character and it won’t create your kid’s character either.

    Have conversations before you say "yes"
    Ask your kids why they want that toy or that one specific brand of glue to make slime (real-life scenario for me) and use that to teach them how advertising works. Use technology to your advantage and research the difference between the product that advertisements are telling them they need and other equally-as-good brands that might be cheaper (and in the end even better for our planet). We should all be making informed purchases in the end.

    Teach your kids to detach emotions from things
    Don’t encourage your kids to want material things to fill voids. They should feel happy, entertained, cool, interesting and more, regardless of having that one object or not.

    Use the "one in, one out" technique with them
    If buying something they want fits your life, your home and your budget ask your kids to get rid of one thing before you bring a new one into the house. If they are not able to let go, then maybe it isn’t time to continue to purchase things that will simply accumulate in your home.

    Teach them to save
    Instead of whipping out your credit card when your kids ask you for something, check out the price, have that conversation and offer your kids a part of the money to buy it. Explain that the other part can be paid for using their savings. This is not only to teach them the value of money but it also stops them from wanting everything and it makes them stop to consider their own desires.

    Prioritize experiences and knowledge
    Saying "no" to the unnecessary will open room to invest in things that will have a lifelong impact in their lives. Maybe you can trade the next Transformers for a nice theater play, an art course, Jiu-Jitsu lessons or something that will give them know-how and the comfort of time spent in a group of other children that share their same interests.

    Do not buy good behavior and do not punish bad behavior with material things
    Kids should be obedient, studious and kind simply because it’s good for them – not because they’ll get something out of it or they are scared that something will be taken away from them. Rewarding your kid’s common good behavior with things creates entitlement and that will be detrimental to how they grow up. Use your words to encourage them and teach them, not things.

    Spend moments in gratitude
    Everyone can overlook how lucky we are when we are on auto pilot. Have daily, weekly or even a moment once in a while in which you and your kids spend a moment to express gratitude for the things you have. Gratitude helps us to not take things for granted and to value what we have. It makes us happy and allows us to also be perceptive of the needs of others. This is a gift you could be giving your children, one that will change their lives forever.

    Living with less leads to a fuller life, no matter your status or age - minimalism can have a positive effect on your well-being and that of your family; it allows you to not feel like you are falling short all the time, it reminds you how to live, it gives you the freedom of "slowness", it allows you to truly delve into unforgettable moments of play and it inevitably and indefinitely takes a burden off your shoulders.

    Wherever you are at in your life and whatever your finances look like right now, give "less" a chance. That’s my proposal (and my challenge) to you.

    ph. cover: caroline birk other: sanne hop
  • 04/22

    My love for Vilas is evident. Even if you haven't been following for long, you probably already know that. I'm not quite sure if part of it is the nomad in me – or maybe it's the 'stresser' in me that sees beauty in the escape to paradisiacal places – but Villa Castelluccio by Andrew Trotter is my latest obsession.

    In a world of modernism, bluntness and sharp edges, here comes an interior that is soft in all the best possible ways. Soft curves and arches make an appearance; all the textures bring a sense of warmness and comfort to this space. It is impossible not to be enchanted by it.

    It comes as no surprise that this place has made an appearance in several online publications. The majestic combination of the perfectly crafted interiors and the views of Ceglia, Puglia, are a match made in heaven.

    Don't you think?
  • 04/18

    "Fake it till you make it" is one of the most thrown-around phrases that almost every entrepreneur and blogger uses to motivate clientele and readers – but in my opinion, it’s no recipe for success.

    I believe that it can actually have the opposite effect – if to start with, you do not believe that you have what it takes to live out your dreams. If you doubt yourself, you will simply mask those insecurities with over-confidence, a fine suit or whatever you feel that you should fake in order to get to where you want to be.

    Authenticity is extremely underrated these days but strangely enough, it is what makes people interested in you and what you have to give. So all the little parts about yourself and your journey are important. It’s what makes people not only look up to you but also believe in the possibility of them achieving their own dreams. Not everyone has had instant success. There are plenty of people who are incredible at what they do and have started from absolute rock bottom in every sense of the word – and there’s no shame in that.

    So, if you absolutely feel like you have to fake it until you make it, make sure that what you are changing first is your own perception of yourself... and ask yourself if maybe instead of pretending you shouldn’t be showing the honesty of where you are at and let people see you grow to the point where you make it.

    As long as your motivation is in the right place, you will always get there, whether you fake it or not.

    Ph. Dagmara Jarzynka with thanks
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