Welcome to Week 5 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.
“Creativity slowly became a regular part of our life, both for the joy of it and for the education it would be to my children.”
Rachel Hauser runs a popular blog called “Stitched in Color” where she offers her readers a glimpse into her homeschooling and creative life. Her site is not only full of gorgeous projects, patterns, tutorials and online courses, she often posts about how she goes about homeschooling her children and has even offered a course helping new homeschoolers find their way. I was thrilled that Rachel agreed to participate in this series right away, because she’s due with her third child next month. Find out how this busy mom gets it all done!
Welcome to Fuller by Design, Rachel – can you please describe your family?
Our family of four (soon to be five!) lives on 8 acres in South Carolina, where we have at times kept a kitchen garden, egg-laying ducks, pigs, goats and even a llama. I homeschool our two children, Aria (age 10) and Liam (age 8). They can't wait to meet their new little sister this March!
What is your business?
When people ask, I say that I am a blogger and an online teacher. But really, it's all about design and color! My business is to inspire and enable people to create something beautiful. Although I sew a wide variety of things, I mainly teach skills and publish patterns relating to quilt-making.
When you were a child yourself, how did you spend your free time?
I was an avid reader as a child. I always loved to learn, loved to think and loved to be challenged. Oh, and I was a ballet dancer, like seriously. I studied ballet from the time I was four, with intensity, so that I was training hours each day and sometimes 6 days a week, until I realized the profession was not for me at age 16. Yep, that took care of free time!
Did crafting or handwork play a significant role in your childhood? If yes, in what way?
Actually, from a young age I labeled myself "not creative" because I could not draw like my sister. I withdrew from anything I perceived as artistic, for fear of failure. At the same time, I dabbled in crafts like crochet and embroidery, since "all" one has to do is follow a pattern. These seemed more akin to math than art! My mother pursued crafts like flower-arranging, decorating and painting. She would often ask for my input on color and balance. Unbeknownst to both of us, these interactions laid a foundation of confidence in my own sense of design, upon which I eventually grew my business.
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?
From my earliest memories, I was passionate about becoming a ballet dancer. I knew that babies would interfere with that career, so I flippantly decided I would not have children. Oh, I was so naive! Thank goodness I stepped away from that passion (for other reasons) and thank goodness I caught the baby bug a few years into our young marriage. Having children has been the very best gift of my life.
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?
Really, no. Creative pursuits were nowhere on my mind in those earliest mothering years. At the time Aria was born, I had just opened an online maternity clothing store, a family business I led for about 5 years. I didn't start thinking about the importance of creativity for myself until I was met with the importance of creativity for my children. When Aria was almost 4 years old, I began investigating education, considering homeschool and reading, reading, reading about educational styles. Through that journey, I happened upon Amanda Soule Blake's The Creative Family. That book was a huge "aha" moment! Creativity slowly became a regular part of our life, both for the joy of it and for the education it would be to my children.
Did you start your creative business prior to becoming a mother, or after?
I definitely started my creative business after becoming a mother!
What prompted you to start your creative business? Is it something you saw yourself doing when you were a child?
My father, whom I have always admired and respected, was a successful entrepreneur. He encouraged me as a young adult to strike out in business for myself, first with the family online store and then with my new crafty business. I had created my blog, Stitched in Color, to share my sewing hobby. Transforming that hobby into a business was a practical necessity when the online store closed, since we rely on my income. Most jobs would take me out of the home, but I already loved homeschooling and getting to be with my kids so much each day. I gave myself one year to see if Stitched in Color could pull in a small income. You can bet I was motivated to make it work!
How do you balance your creative work with your role as a mother and how has that changed over time?
I suppose the best answer to that question is that I keep checking the balance. There is no once-for-all formula, that's for sure. When my children were little I made sure never to be on the computer when they were awake. I might sew if they were doing well, but most of my sewing I did after they went to bed at 7 pm or on my "work days." I have always had two days as week dedicated to work from home, while grandparents keep the children. That's been an incredible blessing without which I can't see this all working. Now that my children are older, I have many opportunities to work through the day. But... I do expect that to change come March!
In what ways does motherhood affect your work processes?
Hmm... I usually write my blog post after lunch while my children have "rest time." That's one hour each day when they must play separately and relatively quietly. Other than that, they continue to inspire new makes, whether quits or dresses or baby bonnets!
In what ways does motherhood affect your creative products?
My 10-year-old daughter is an amazingly encouraging person. She and I seem to share similar taste in design and color - at least, we both love Anna Maria Horner fabrics! When I get discouraged about a project, I'll often give myself a physical break, but I also might ask Aria for her thoughts. It's kind of cheating, because she's sure to say something nice.
What is the biggest impact that your children have had on your business?
The biggest impact my children have had... is driving the whole darn thing! If I didn't have children and didn't want to be home with them homeschooling, I don't know that I would have ever had the guts to attempt to be a professional blogger and teacher. They give me a reason to get up and go every. single. day.
Is there something you hope your children learn from you by having a creative business?
Oh, yes! So much! I want my children to learn that "where there's a will there's a way." My job doesn't look very "normal" and I'm not a college graduate and I haven't even been quilting very long... but look - it works! I want them to see that hard work is the key to success and that they can carve their own path rather than following the pack. I also hope they learn that success can be defined in many ways. To be the best version of myself as a mother, I turn down many opportunities. I hope they see the wisdom and beauty of choosing to live simply, to say "enough" and be thankful it is so.
What advice would you offer the mom who feels drained by the demands of motherhood and wants more hands-on creativity in her life?
Remember, today is only a season. Seize the best of this season in your life. And that best may involve your little ones! Find creativity with and in and alongside your mothering, don't just run for it apart from and after. Indulge in creating a beautiful creative space for them... you just might find yourself enjoying some watercolor painting! At the same time, carve out a specific time in your day or in your week or in your month that you can be creative as a woman, not a mother. If you are intentional, that time will mean more to you and you can be sure to catch it!
Thank you so much, Rachel, for sharing with us today! You can find Rachel, her quilts, patterns, and tutorials as well as her classes at the following places: