Welcome to Week 31 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.
"It’s great having a community who cares for one another and is passionate about the same things. We’re around to support each other, share tips, and of course enable each other to not feel guilty as busy moms and crafters."
April Foster is founder and CEO of Studio Calico, an online source of scrapbooking and paper art supplies and an endless source of inspiration. Since founding the company in her garage in 2007, Studio Calico has grown to employ over 40 people, including April's husband Greg. Studio Calico not only offers supplies, but classes and an online community and gallery. April is one busy and accomplished lady!
Welcome to Motherhood by Design, April - can you please describe your family?
Claire: Our dog-obsessed, princess-loving, four-year-old who is learning to read and great at solving puzzles. When she grows up, she wants to be a mountain-climber and eat salad.
Cal: He’s our 3-year-old who has the ability to either focus for hours on a toy figurine or be a complete instigator. We love his white hair, and Claire is a bit jealous of it since it looks like Elsa’s.
Sam: Our hilarious ball of energy, also 3 years old (yep, twins!) who loves to jump, climb, roughhouse, and find dangerous situations whenever possible. His obsession is with tools, machinery and construction sites.
Kit: The last of the bunch at 16 months old, Kit is along for the ride. She loves being in the mix of the older kids, but is happiest on my hip. As an infant, she slept and cooed through many a board meeting and was dubbed the easiest baby ever by the entire SC staff.
Addy & Jett: Our pups who were our first babies during our infertility journey and now the most loved members of the family, especially by Claire.
What is your business?
Studio Calico, where we deliver inspiration in the form of paper goods, community, and education to customers all over the world. More recently, we’ve partnered with brands such as Ali Edwards and A Beautiful Mess to bring high-quality, thoughtful products to their followers.
When you were a child yourself, how did you spend your free time?
Making crafts, posing my baby dolls and taking pictures of them, and selling my goods to the customers of my dad’s hardware store.
Did crafting or handwork play a significant role in your childhood? If yes, in what way?
Absolutely! I was taught by my grandmother at age 3 how to cross-stitch. It was through crafting, learning a new skill, and the discussions we’d have as we counted each row of stitches that helped form an important bond in my life.
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?
I always knew I wanted to be a mother, and particularly, I wanted a large family. I loved playing games as a child and being in a small family, sometimes I had to play against myself. It’s much more fun to have playmates, and while it’s chaotic at times, the sacrifice is worth it.
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’ve always made time for crafts somewhat because it’s now a part of my job, but also because it’s so important to me. I need to do something with my hands to free my mind and crafting forces me to do so.
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?
I’ve always loved business, but never knew I’d own my own when I was a child. I was prompted to start when I saw an opportunity in this space. I was a customer who wanted new releases with no hassle, delivered right to my door so I didn’t have to search through the aisles of craft stores. I also was so inspired by other crafters and the community aspect, that I wanted it all under one roof. It’s great having a community who cares for one another and is passionate about the same things. We’re around to support each other, share tips, and of course enable each other to not feel guilty as busy moms and crafters.
How do you balance your creative work with your role as a mother and how has that changed over time?
I do most of my creative work after the kids have gone to bed. They’re still young, so it’s easier to focus on the work portion of creativity when there aren’t little hands getting into my ink pads. That said, there are many times my daughter, Claire (4yrs) and I will craft side by side.
In what ways does motherhood affect your work processes?
It forces me to think ahead and carve out time.
In what ways does motherhood affect your creative products?
Of course, being a mom means I’m exposed to more things. I know my daughter loves pink sparkles and while I wouldn’t choose that for myself, it brings her joy to look through my scrapbooks or Project Life albums and see those accents. As a result, I tend to use more pink in the products we develop than I ever have before.
What is the biggest impact that your children have had on your business?
My children are the reason I work, and the subject of my creative output. What they say, their feelings, thoughts, you-name-it, deserves to be documented and preserved and spurs me on to continue.
How do you think your creative pursuits, including your business, affect your children?
They are still so young (ages 4, 3, 3, 1) so they don’t have a real awareness yet, but they do get a ton of stickers and glitter to play with. Also, they’re the only 3 year olds at school who know what washi tape is!
Is there something you hope your children learn from you by having a creative business?
I do have a desire for my children to be exposed to the various aspects of a business (creative, leadership, design, operations, finance) but more than that, I want them to be motivated and passionate about their own pursuits.
What advice would you offer the mom who feels drained by the demands of motherhood and wants more hands-on creativity in her life?
Read the Fringe Hours by Jessica Turner. She pretty much sums up how to make use of every spare minute and the importance of time for yourself!
Thank you so much, April, for sharing your thoughts with us today! You can find April in the following places: