Welcome to Week 41 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.
"We often ask our daughter what she wants to be when she grows up. For a while it was a veterinarian, but now she says she wants to be just like me. That completely melts me – and adds some really good pressure to be a good role model for her."
Jennifer Wilson is all about keeping things simple, joyful, and full of ease because that's what busy mothers need most. Her company, Simple Scrapper, offers tools and support for purposeful memory keeping that leaves a legacy for future generations to come. She helps women view memory keeping not as merely a hobby (all-to-prone to being pushed to the back burner) but as a vital self-care practice that not only brings joy, but preserves the metadata of our daily lives.
Welcome to Motherhood by Design, Jennifer – can you please describe your family?
My family is my husband Steve, 4-year-old daughter Emily, and two adult stepsons.
What is your business?
At Simple Scrapper I offer tools and support for purposeful memory keeping. Through an approach I’ve developed over the past 7 years I help women finally find the time they need to scrapbook. Aside from my family, my business is one of my biggest sources of joy. I absolutely love going to work every day.
When you were a child yourself, how did you spend your free time?
Growing up I was always making or building something, indoors and out. I recall not having a lot of patience for the traditional role-playing things that little girls do, because I preferred to build a house for my doll instead of pretending she could talk. I did a lot of painting, drawing, writing, and reading as well as general outdoor adventuring.
Did crafting or handwork play a significant role in your childhood? If yes, in what way?
Yes, most definitely! I remember always first turning to the craft project in every issue of Highlights magazine. My mom was above-and-beyond supportive of any creative activity I wanted to pursue. She let me get very messy as a young child and paint my own bedroom as a teen.
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 imagined being a mom, but it wasn’t something I strongly fantasized about. It never felt urgent to me, but rather one of several purposes I would have in life. As a child I believe I thought more about my own identity in the world, especially in terms of career, and that being a mother was a milestone or status rather than the destination.
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’m super fortunate that my baby was a wonderful sleeper. I was on my laptop writing within days of her birth and back scrapbooking within a month. I’ve rarely felt like I had to make choices between being a good mom and nurturing my creative work, but I will acknowledge that my husband is very much a team player. I don’t know if I would feel that same sense of peace about it without his partnership.
Did you start your creative business prior to becoming a mother, or after?
I started the business in 2008. I had just moved to a new town to get married and it was one way I could carve out something just for me in this new life with a big extended family.
What prompted you to start your creative business? Is it something you saw yourself doing when you were a child?
I started Simple Scrapper initially as a way to document my own journey in the modern ways of memory keeping. I knew I wanted it to be a business, but it took a lot of intention and iteration to get to today.
As a child I had little businesses selling jewelry to friends and in high school I ran one of the first webzines for teen girls. Having a business was always in the back of my mind, but when I went to college for geology I didn’t expect to be a professional in the papercrafting industry.
How do you balance your creative work with your role as a mother and how has that changed over time?
From 5:30pm to 8:30pm every night I try to give my focus and energy to my daughter. It’s not always easy to turn off my brain, but I want her to feel like she’s the most important girl in the world. Since I usually don’t have time for chores during the day, I’ll try to involve her as mommy’s helper. We make a good team!
In what ways does motherhood affect your work processes?
Before becoming a mom, I would often work until 7pm, especially if I was in a place of creative flow. The biggest change is needing to confine my work to specific hours. I try to be intentional about how I spend my working hours so that 5pm doesn’t feel like an interruption.
In what ways does motherhood affect your work products?
My scrapbook journaling has become more meaningful since having my daughter, for sure. But even bigger picture, I am now able to better understand how different seasons of life (and of the year) impact creative motivation and productivity. I try to incorporate this into my work at Simple Scrapper to better coach moms on their creativity hobbies.
What is the biggest impact that your children have had on your business?
Doing the dance of motherhood and business ownership has forced me to get really clear about all of my priorities. I can’t do it all, so I have to choose to do what matters most.
How do you think your creative pursuits, including your business, affect your children? Is there something you hope your children learn from you by having a creative business?
We often ask Emily what she wants to be when she grows up. For a while it was a veterinarian, but now she says she wants to be just like me. That completely melts me – and adds some really good pressure to be a good role model for her. I hope seeing me with my own craft supplies (i.e. mommy’s stickers) gives her a message that creativity is a lifetime thing and not just for kids.
Is there something you hope your children learn from you by having a creative business?
I hope Emily learns the value of doing the work. You may not always juggle everything perfectly, but giving your all to anything you do is worth it.
What advice would you offer the mom who feels drained by the demands of motherhood and wants more hands-on creativity in her life?
Schedule creative time on your calendar. You will always run out of time if you don’t budget to have extra just for you. Sometimes this looks like getting up earlier and other times this looks like asking for extra help.
Thank you so much, Jennifer, for sharing your thoughts with us today! You can find Jennifer in the following places: