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I'm a former corporate employee who decided to ditch the 9-5 and start my own business.
Now, with a lukewarm cup of coffee in one hand and a baby on my hip, I'm sharing all my best business, branding and website tips.
educator. designer. mama + wife
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Colleen O’Malia Stine is the owner of CoCo Stine Designs – a shop on Etsy offering beautiful and creative wall prints, invitations and gifts. Colleen is a mom to one little boy Ryan and has a little girl on the way! In January 2012 she started her business online and it’s been a tremendous success from the very beginning!
Read her story below to learn how Colleen manages to work from home running her own business while raising a family.
Did you always plan to be a WAHM? If not, what made you decide to work from home?
Being a WAHM WAS always a dream for me, but I was employed by a terrific company (Tacori – Engagement rings and fine jewelry) when I had my baby and didn’t really think making enough money from home was possible!
How long have you been a WAHM?
Since January, 2012!
How many children do you have and what are their ages?
I have one (and one on the way due in September; a baby girl!). My son’s name is Ryan and he is 21 months old!
What is your workstation setup like? (ie. In the kitchen, room to room, in an office/study, etc.)
We were recently fortunate enough to update our “breeze way” into a beautiful office space. When I work during the day and when we package, I’m down there (unless I’m at St. Louis Bread Co if I have help). After baby goes to bed I work in bed!
What days/hours do you typically work?
There isn’t usually a day that I don’t work at all. Ryan went to a Mom’s Day Out program from Aug-May on Mon, Tues & Thurs from 9:15-2:15 where I was able to get a LOT done! Now that he is in summer school (funny to say for someone under 2) he takes 3-4 hour naps each afternoon so I take advantage of those hours. Then I would say at LEAST 4/7 nights a week my husband and I package AND I work/proof in bed.
Do you have a nanny/mother’s helper while you work?
I have a great babysitter who helps me once a week and my mother-in-law helps me sporadically!
How does being a WAHM affect your husband/partner?
He cannot believe the success that I have had. When I first opened my etsy shop we both believed it would be a fun, side gig. Now, he works an 8-5 job and works MANY hours as my finance guy, tax man, label printer and packaging partner. But… it is worth it to both of us for me to be able to spend the majority of time with our son.
What are some of your frustrations with being a WAHM?
Like… right NOW… I am trying to complete this interview and my hooligan baby is all over the place. It is a lot harder than I thought because he requires so much attention and now that he is on the move things have changed. I rarely do work work when it’s just he and I. Also, I miss my free nights of just hanging out, snuggling on the couch and watching tv during normal hours after he goes to bed. I also have to pass on some fun social activities b/c I have deadlines and cannot possibly fill my orders and print labels, package during my normal day.
What is the single most gratifying part of being a WAHM?
Well, obviously, being there for my son is my #1. Close # 2 is making my customers happy. I am such a sapp and tearing up just thinking about it. I have been so blessed to be a part of creating and helping commemorate so many memories of/for people all over the WORLD! My grandfather was a business owner and I learned the importance of being good to your customers from he and my father at a very early age. Also… bringing in the money and contributing to my families financial wellbeing is very gratifying. Who knew I could ever be able to be a mommy (my dream) and make money doing something I LOVE all at once?! ***OH! And… I get to close my shop to spend a week in Indianapolis with my family. Can’t get much better!!
Describe a typical day in the life for you as a WAHM.
Today is a “work when Ryan naps” day so we got up, had breakfast, went to get my diet coke (daily ritual), came back home for some play in the basement while I folded laundry, and now he is watching “Cars” and playing with his books while I do this (normally right now we would be outside but it is raining!) We are going to run some errands here soon and then lunch, and he will go down for a wonderful nap. I will proof that entire time and I am excited to be doing 2 wedding invitations and 2 baby shower invitations today and tomorrow, too! After he wakes up we will likely try to be outside for the rest of the day if the weather permits. We live 2 blocks away from one of the best parks in all of STL!
What food/toys/technology/etc. could you not live without as a WAHM?
My MAC “Chloe” and of course, ETSY! I cannot live without my big jug of hospital water, my daily diet coke & grapes.
How do you think being a WAHM has helped you and your family?
No doubt by fulfilling my dream of being a “stay at home/work at home” mom but mainly, financially. I make more doing what I do now than any other job in the 5 years that I worked in the real world. We have been able to save money and do things we wouldn’t have been able to do post baby!
What advice would you give to a mother working outside the home who wants to transition to being a WAHM?
I remember when I first opened my shop with 3 prints in it. I thought, “Well, this will be fun! People love when I gift these and maybe I can sell a few,” and I got an email from Etsy entitled: “Quit your day job.” It made me so excited. Just the thought and possibility of not having to go back to work (my job was a traveling job). So I kept at it. I got inspired and learned a lot/taught myself a lot and low and behold, here I am today! So my advice would be to just follow your heart and your dreams. I believe that anything is possible if you really put your mind to it and want it bad enough ☺
What sacrifices have you had to make in order to be a WAHM?
I definitely made MORE sacrifices in my previous job when I was out of town 3-5 days a week, so I always try to look back at that when I am frustrated or feeling like I have the world on my shoulders (which, I sometimes have felt!). I sacrifice time with my husband when we aren’t working together but as time goes on, even that improves and like I said, I wouldn’t trade it. I can close my shop if and when needed and have done so for some breaks and family time. It’s the best of both worlds!
What are some of the misconceptions you feel exist towards WAHMs?
Gosh! That we have it easy. Because it’s actually a lot harder! It’s more rewarding that’s for sure, but… I envy my friends who get up, get a real shower, get to jam in their car on the way to work and then be at an office, away from distractions and life to actually get their work done. No work day for me is ever perfect or ideal. Sure, I get to go to parks and pools and out to lunch with my baby, but… the key is, it’s not leisure. I am chasing and teaching and distracting and cleaning and praying that I don’t lose my mind or patience every single day! It’s not always like clock work and my baby comes first. I also have deadlines and promises made to customers and with my baby here most of the time, there is no telling if I will get it all done during nap or if I’ll be up until midnight to fulfill my guarantees. Being a mom is the hardest job in the world. My mom told me this my whole life but I never truly understood until I became one. And now, juggling being the best mom I can be and working from home, I feel that no one (with the exception of my husband, mom, sister and friend Colleen) really knows how much I have on my plate and how much work I do! You can see my sales # on etsy if you look, but not a whole lot of people grasp what that actually MEANS ☺
What sounds do you like to hear the most while working?
My fave tunes on spotify or tv in the background ☺
Is there anything else you want to share about life as a WAHM?
It is not always easy. Last November/December I had so many break downs I didn’t know if I could do it anymore! But I pray about it a lot; about looking at the glass half full (when in reality my glass is actually over flowing) and appreciating what I have. Most of the arguments in my house occur because I am frustrated that I did what I did all day while my husband (who is one of the most hard working people that I know!) was on what I call vacation; away from it all getting what he needs to get done at the office. But I always dreamed of being a mom and BEING with my babies. Now I am almost 7 months pregnant with #2 and I cannot imagine having my life any other way. Not to mention, I am so in love with what I do and the opportunities that it has created. I make new friends every day even though it is online interaction, and I just love it! Thanks for the interview Casey! Sometimes getting this out and down on electronic paper is good for my mind. I have been reminded once again how very lucky and blessed that I am!
Thank YOU Colleen for sharing your story!
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