Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Ah, the art of being an Etsy mom...

I was recently asked my thoughts on being a stay-at-home-mom who sells items on Etsy (in relation to a Storque article). Although my ideas weren't published (they chose a different angle), I thought I would share this with you!

I find this to be such an interesting topic. When others post about it in the forums, or discuss it in passing, the general theme seems to be "selling on Etsy gives me an opportunity to be at home with my kids."

This is not exactly the case with me! Having grown up with an artistic mother of my own, I simply want my children to know that same sense of artistic confidence. After all, I truly believe that anyone can be creative - it's just that most people find their creative self to be a stranger lost somewhere in childhood.

My Etsy shop, Those Greathouse Women, began as a way for my mom and I to work on something together. I always imagined that I would raise my own family near our old farm in Southern Indiana, but life never plays out the way we imagine... I find myself very happily married to a wonderful man who happens to be tied to a job that dictates where we live. Alas! My mother and I are no longer in close proximity. Her own surprising life changes have taken her in other directions as well. She spends part of the year living on a beautiful sail boat in Key West, where she has the freedom to play out other artistic dreams and keep that creative spirit alive. We are Those Greathouse Women, and we struggle to find a clear artistic direction because we love to do so many things. We started our shop to have a way to connect, to continue to create together, and after a love affair with Etsy and realization that perhaps we could be a part of Etsy's dream we decided to sign up...

Four years ago, I became a mother. Now I have 3 children! It's funny how becoming a mom myself made me see my own mother in a new light. In our almost daily phone conversations, I share little stories about the kids, and my mom shares stories about me when I was that age. She remembers the fear of babies underfoot while sewing at the sewing machine - and trying to help by pushing the foot pedal! Now I have a few little "helpers" myself.

The more I get involved in my own business, the more I recall nostalgic memories of being a child in my mother's house. The rhythmic sound of the sewing machine, the smell of the glue gun, and the click click of the iron as it moves across the creaking ironing board. My mother's workshop was an awesome sight! As a child, it seemed to be mountains of colorful fabric, bins of miniature treasures, and rainbows of ribbon. I can remember spending hours with my brother sorting vintage buttons by color and putting them in the tiny drawers of our old repurposed baby dresser.

I wonder what kinds of memories my own kids will have of me? When they catch sight of my studio door open, a look of mischievous wonder spreads across their faces. Can they sneak in before I catch them? I imagine it must be like a candy store to them. I have my own mountains of fabric, and hundreds of miniature treasures line the walls in tiny drawers and bins. Finished I Spy Bags lay in neat piles on a bookshelf, while the unfinished ones lay in chaos on my sewing table. I imagine it is hard to have a mother who makes toys for a living, and yet they can't play with them all. I have learned that my own kids need their own I Spy Bags (usually they get the prototypes!), but it does nothing to deter their longing for the little piles on my shelf of finished products.

While others may say that they sell on Etsy to spend more time with their children, I find it to be more of a release to get a break from my children! Yes, I get to stay home with them... but I was doing that already (and getting a little stir crazy with all the baby talk). Now I get to stay home with them AND do something fun for myself. It's just an added bonus (YES!) that I get to make a little money doing it. The business is really taking off now, and yet perhaps it is not the right time. I'm feeling torn between business success and "being there" for my kids. They are still quite young, after all.

I guess my limits and priorities will be tested with this fall's holiday rush as I attempt to fill orders (while keeping in the Etsy spirit of doing everything myself). Does it count if I make my kids work for me? Maybe they could sort some buttons. More likely they would eat them. Or throw them. Or flush them down the toilet. Just another day in the life of an Etsy mom...


  1. sweet article...thought provoking.

  2. Sounds like a great life to me!!! Check my blog...you're mentioned!


I'd love to hear your thoughts!