Welcome to Week 23 of Motherhood by Design – the series where mothers who also run creative businesses share their inspirations and their experiences juggling the demands of raising children while growing a creative career.
"My children (both boys, mind you) appreciate handmade cards….they understand the concept of putting a little bit of themselves into their communication with people."
I've had the pleasure of knowing Angela Finet for more than 10 years. During the time when my kids were very small and sewing was not practical for me, I did a lot of paper art and frequented Angela's wonderful shop in Reston, Virginia. She offers terrific classes and a fantastic inventory of supplies and her staff is so knowledgeable and helpful - visiting her shop is always a pleasure and so inspirational! I'm thrilled to have her share more about herself in today's post.
Welcome to Motherhood by Design, Angela - can you please describe your family?
My sons Lucas, age 16 and Eric, age 14.
What is your business?
Owner, Angela’s Happy Stamper in Reston, Virginia. I also teach bookbinding and other stamping classes as a freelance artist all over the country.
When you were a child yourself, how did you spend your free time?
I was always outside. I played sports, had a paper route, worked in the garden and yard. Inside, I pursued music.
Did crafting or handwork play a significant role in your childhood? If yes, in what way?
No, because I was never encouraged. My dad really pushed sports and my art teacher told me not to take art in high school because, for me, it would be a waste of time. Sad, isn’t it?!
When you were a child, did you have ideas about your own future as a mother? Was motherhood something you’d always imagined for yourself, or is it an idea you grew into later in life?
As the oldest child, I spent a lot of time babysittng my younger siblings – and my brother had special needs. I didn’t think much about having children of my own, because I was a little bit eager to have some “me time” without that responsibility. I didn’t have children until I was 30.
In your early years of motherhood, did you have/make time for your creative pursuits, or was your creative work put aside for a while? If the latter, when did you pick it back up?
I was given a starter scrapbook kit when my oldest son was born, so I basically started my creative work with the birth of my children. I interviewed to work in my local stamping store while I was in labor (literally) with my second child.
Did you start your creative business prior to becoming a mother, or after?
What prompted you to start your creative business? Is it something you saw yourself doing when you were a child?
My younger son got meningitis when he was a year old. That radically changed my life. He has a profound hearing loss as a result, so my time early on was spent driving him to various doctor’s and therapist appointments. This was an outlet where I got to just be “me” and not someone’s mom. It also was an opportunity to “finish” something. It feels good to sew a book (as opposed to do a load of laundry) and have a finished product instead of a t-shirt tossed in a hamper the second it’s empty.
How do you balance your creative work with your role as a mother and how has that changed over time?
I’ve basically worked while my children are in school or at night after they go to bed. I try to be very present with them when they are home. I’m fortunate to have found wonderful and talented women to work in the store so that I can do both.
In what ways does motherhood affect your work processes?
I think I might have tried to do more on my own (instead of letting the staff do their very impressive thing) if I hadn’t been a mom. It’s better for the customers to have more creative diversity that a larger staff of unique people allows than to just have my limited creative suggestions. :)
In what ways does motherhood affect your creative products?
I started out making scrapbooks about my children. But as the demands of motherhood increased (with my child’s disability), I stopped scrapbooking their lives and started exploring my own interests. I really appreciate that brief time each day to just be me.
What is the biggest impact that your children have had on your business?
They’ve kept me from being a control-freak, work-a-holic. And that’s good not only for me but also for the customers.
How do you think your creative pursuits, including your business, affect your children?
It makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something. The tasks of motherhood are never ending, so having a moment to create something (even on a small scales) feels so good.
Is there something you hope your children learn from you by having a creative business?
My children (both boys, mind you) appreciate handmade cards. And they are very thoughtful to want to make thank you cards for people in their lives. I’m grateful that they want to make their own cards rather than just go buy them. They understand the concept of putting a little bit of themselves into their communication with people. They are also learning that creativity is important to a lot of people. They enjoy coming to the store and seeing the love and energy that exists in the space with the staff and the customers.
What advice would you offer the mom who feels drained by the demands of motherhood and wants more hands-on creativity in her life?
Start small. Don’t start a huge cross-stitch project (for example) that will lie unfinished in a heap for years and years. That just adds to the guilt of never feeling like we’ve done enough. And, don’t underestimate the value of community in crafting. Before I started my business, I met at 9 pm on Wednesday nights with 2 other moms in my neighborhood to drink tea and work on our scrapbooks. We were tired, but it was something I looked forward to and committed to each and every week. It’s important to be a person as well as a mom.
Thank you so much, Angela, for sharing your thoughts with us today! You can find Angela in the following places: