I can’t tell you how happy it makes me when I come across a mommy artist who’s in the same position as myself; making beautiful creations while being home with her sweet kids. My next featured artist is the very very talented Rachel of Fog and Thistle. Rachel’s work caught my eye soon after I started selling on Etsy because it is so unique. She specializes in paper cut creations which she uses in her adorable nightlights, shadowboxes and artwork prints. I can attest of the cuteness myself as I was the lucky winner of her nightlight giveaway. Rachel’s attention to detail is exquisite; her designs are simple and yet so timeless. Rachel recently appeared as a guest on Martha Stewart show. So, without further adu, here is Rachel….
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
We moved from Manhattan to Montclair, NJ three and a half years ago and haven’t looked back. I’ve been married for nearly nine years to an amazing, smart, supportive guy I’m proud to call my best friend. We have a daughter, Amelia, who is 4.5 year old and a 18 month old son, Leon. In addition to Fog and Thistle, I do some occasional freelance graphic design gigs preliminary is ports marketing. In a former life, I worked in the now-dying world of publishing.
How do you run a business while being a mother to young children?
Chaotically! There are days I long to have an entire day to just work uninterrupted. Occassionally I feel frustrated because I feel like I have to battle the clock. My daughter is in Pre-K five mornings a week and both kids are in daycare a couple of afternoons a week–I make the most of Leon’s nap and those hours when they are both out of the house. Running a house is time consuming, so it is a bit unkempt and I’m learning to be okay with that. I’d rather take the kids to the playground or to their activities than do dishes or fold laundry. Despite the challenges, I feel forunate to be able to work at home and be with my kids.
Do you have a studio/work schedule? What works for you?
I’m up early. Over my morning coffee I check emails and get my blog fix–updating and reading others. Then I have to get everyone up and ready to go. Once Amelia is on the bus, I go up to my studio at 9 am and work untill 11:30. If Leon isn’t napping, he’s playing by my side, and I break frequently to play with him. My daughter gets off the buss around noon and we all have lunch and do things together. On daycare days I drop the kids off at 1:30 and I can work four hours without interruption. Then it’s dinner, play, bath, stories and bed by 8:30 for them. I can get back into the studio at night for a couple of hours if I need to (and still have energy.) I’ll often put in a few of hours of work over the weekend.
When did you start doing what you do and how did you come about realizing that this is “it”?
I started papercutting when I was pregnant with Leon. I needed to make some art for the nursery and Amelia’s new bedroom. The first papercut was my Ah-ha moment. I use to paint–insecurely, with a lot of second guessing and a terrible internal dialogue. Papercutting forced me to adondon the endless revising and made me a lot more confident as a result. I think I do better with some of the basic limitations of the medium.
What inspires you?
Other Etsy artists and various bloggers. I’m in awe of all the talent out there and especially enjoy journeying along with other people’s accomplishements.
How do you separate working on your growing business from spending time with the family? Any tips you would like to share with us?
Truth be told, one a day-to-day basis I have a hart time separating. While it’s easy to walk away from the worktable, my laptop is ever-present, and I’m constantly checking in–Etsy, emails, blogs, Twitter. I do best when I break my routine, like going out of town. I like to shut down completely when I’m away for a weekend or on vacation.
What’s your idea of a perfect day?
Breaking the morning routine and waking up on my own record. House neat and orderly. Coffee already made. Gorgeous weather outside–not too hot or cold and no humidity. Watching my kids play hard outdoors for hours. Everyone decides to take a nap in the afternoon at the same time. Barbeque on the back deck.
Do you keep/have a wish list?
I’d like a gorgeous garden…each year I work on improving it. I want to go back to Italy, but this time with my husband. I want my kids to grow up with a healthy self esteem. And I’d like to take a photography class.
My Google Reader is ever growing. There are a lot of talented and interesting people out there. Cicada Daydream, Little Brown Pen, Bliss, The B-Line, Sweet Fine day, Please Sir, Paper Schmaper, and yours of course to name a few off the top of my head.
Most favorite Etsy shop?
Surely it’s not possible to pick a single favorite!
What’s the one thing you can’t live without?
Family aside, I can’t lieve without listening to NPR. I listen to podcasts all day long while I work. My favorite shows are This American Life, Planet Money, and Radio Lab. I find them both entertaining and informative and let me feel like I’m multitasking a bit while I work. A part of me must miss the chitchat of the office scene. A cop of coffee next to me and I’m golden.
What makes you smile, Rachel?
Seeing Leon dance. Watching Amelia make “art like Mommy”. Sharing goofy inside jokes that only my husband gets. Beautiful gardens. Seeing my kids play together. Pile of orders ready to go out. Collaborating with my husband. Home cooked meals someone else made. Vacations. When a new idea comes out great.