1

Where do Mon-stors come from? Tacky jammies!

For today’s magical transformation, I’m sharing this funky leopard print nightgown turned radical and adorable Mon-stor! Yup, I converted this discarded nightie…

IMG_9285 copy

Into this mega adorable Mon-stor toy storage bag! How cute is she?

neat laundry toy storage monster bag for kids handmade in asheville

This month, I have been hard at work turning other textile discards into cute monsters, and I am stoked to be turning my textile recycling efforts into a fun keepsake monster project launching soon, called Memory Monsters!

memory-copy-copy

I still need to make a few more prototypes from various materials (Tee shirts! Receiving blankets! Sweaters!) before I am ready to launch, plus figure out what sizes of clothing I can feasibly turn into monsters (just in, newborn sized sleepers are too small to cut monsters from!). But be sure to follow along on Facebook or Instagram to check out the prototypes as I post them, and sign up for my newsletter to get an email when they launch, so you can send me your child’s special article of clothing or lovey blanket to be converted into a monster!

2

A Sugar Free Valentine’s Day Treat for You! (Psst it’s a Giveaway!)

Happy weekend, monster loving friends! It’s been an exciting week! Not only did my son launch his own line of monster products, I’ve been collaborating with new friends & I am so excited to bring you a super sweet treat for Valentine’s Day – a giveaway, yay!

bloggiveaway

I have teamed up with a master maker of loveliness & sweetness, Ell Bee Accessories, to offer this free bundle of cute sweetness just for you. Up for grabs in the giveaway this weekend is winner’s choice of one of the five 3-pack sets of hair bows (either on clips or head bands), and a $10 shop credit to luanded.com! Yay!

Giveaway is open from 2/4 until midnight 2/6. Winner will be announced 2/7 and will have 24 hours to claim their prizes before we draw for another winner, so there’s ample time for the goodies to arrive in time for Valentine’s Day! There’s variety of ways to enter, from following us on social media to sharing the graphic above on Instagram!

Enter below – and tell your friends! Good luck!

>>> Click to enter! >>> a Rafflecopter giveaway <<< Click to Enter! <<<

0

Made for kids, by a kid – Handmade Monster Scarves by Gauge!

One of my favorite things about homeschooling has been how Gauge has been able to pursue his passions & come up with new ways to learn on his own – like becoming an entrepreneur.

It all started last year, when he was still in school, and he told me about an idea he had for a monster product he wanted to make – kid size monster scarves with mouths for pockets to keep your hands warm while you wait on the bus, or between throwing snowballs. But with being in school, and then homework, we never had time to really suss it out. Over the summer, when we started homeschooling (since I was pregnant, we started in July to get a headstart for the inevitable break when she arrived and those days when we just wouldn’t feel like doing school work with a new baby in the house) he mentioned again his monster idea. A few weeks later, he sketched up a design and showed it to me, and we brainstormed how to convert it into an actual product.

Then the fun stuff started! His first prototype, he sewed the mouths in backwards. His second, he wasn’t happy with how the teeth were sewn into the mouths, and his third, he didn’t like his eye stitching. All part of the learning process. He got upset when he discovered how hard creating a new product from scratch was – but learned how to channel his frustration into action to resolve the issue at hand.

IMG_2646 copy.JPG

By his next round of monster scarves, he had worked out pretty much all the kinks and was whizzing through a scarf or two a day!

img_3664-copy

This was a great opportunity for many lessons, besides sewing. He learned about pricing for profit, structuring a sustainable business model around his products since they are seasonal, future planning, budgeting, measuring, graphing sales, targeting a demographic of potential customers, creating a marketing campaign, writing product copy, utilizing keywords to maximize SEO (search engine optimization), projecting ROI (return on investment), taxes and so much more. Skills he would most likely never have learned in public school, but that will aid him in a variety of professions. (plus taxes, why don’t they teach taxes in public schools?!)

img_3107-copy

The end result? One proud, accomplished, educated, driven, hardworking, enthusiastic, passionate little person who isn’t afraid to follow his dreams, set goals, and is dedicated to working hard every day to make things happen and learn through life.

img_3117-copy

Now, thanks to all his hard work, he is launching his first ever product line into the world at age 11 – kid size monster scarves! I listed them in my shop, and you can check out his work here. Thank you so much to everyone who cheered him on through social media as we posted photos of his progress – you have NO idea how happy you made him, how much you encouraged him, and how proud he is thanks to all of your support!

cute handmade scarf for kids with mouths for pockets handcrafted in asheville nc.JPG

2

Save with a snap!

11159457_10152666262696566_2853853852243131011_n

I thought long and hard about what sort of campaign I wanted to run this year to grow Lu & Ed. I knew I wanted it to be organic and authentic. I don’t like icky marketing campaigns where I feel like I am pushing pushing pushing products in everyone’s face. I don’t think anyone else likes those marketing campaigns, either.  I didn’t want to use a program to buy followers or pay to shove ads in everyone’s faces on social media. I didn’t want to pay a blogger to say they liked my products. I wanted something real.

I decided to create a campaign to connect with my customers, find out why Lu & Ed fans love their monsters, and have my products and previous customers speak for my brand & organically spread the word about it – a campaign that is perfectly authentic, raw and real. A campaign ran by real parents, aunts & uncles & grandparents  who have actually adopted a Mon-stor, Wall Monster or stuffie, a sensory blanket or library bag or any other product from me, while rewarding them for lending their voices & giving me their honest reviews.

15871554_10202712007316851_3441504842430114942_n

In an effort to drive authentic growth for my little monster making biz with this customer-led campaign, I’m asking my monster loving friends (you guys!) to help me out. If you have ever ordered from Lu & Ed, I’m asking you to simply post a photo explaining why you love your monster product to your personal Facebook or Instagram account. To reward everyone who takes the time spread the monster love, I’ll be distributing sweet, sweet 30% (the highest discount I EVER offer) off exclusive coupon codes, good for any single product in my shop, to everyone who creates a qualifying post! (details on qualifying posts below)

10710850_10152820370556617_4626863234807711675_n

To get your exclusive code, simply:

  1. Snap a well lit photo that shows off your monster product in use (extra virtual hugs from me if your kiddos are feeding their Mon-stors toys or playing with their stuffies in the photos!)
  2. Write a caption explaining why you love your monster(s). Posts must start with “We love our monster(s) from luanded.com because…” (In order to qualify for the discount, posts must have my URL luanded.com and not just my brand name, Lu & Ed. This makes it easier for people who aren’t familiar with my monsters to find them! Yay!)
  3. Once your post is up, screen shot it and email me a copy of the post to cody@luanded.com – easy peasy! I would say tag me, but private Facebook or Instagram accounts prevent me from being able to see tags or posts, so this is the most effective way to verify qualifying posts. You can still tag my page or Instagram account in your photo if you like, but in order to qualify for your exclusive 30% off code you must put the intro sentence “We love our monsters from luanded.com because…” AND email me a screen shot.

That’s it! Snap a photo, caption it with “We love our monsters from luanded.com because…”,  email me, receive exclusive coupon code! Super easy, huh?

14102390_10208736325743048_4916971567534518226_n

I am so stoked about this campaign and cannot wait to see what you guys come up with! ♥

Got questions, thoughts, ideas on how to make this customer-led campaign even better? Leave me a comment or shoot me an email! 🙂

 

 

1

Engage – Storenvy’s New Email Marketing Tool to Capture Potential Clients, Address Cart Abandonment & Offer Repeat Buyer Incentives!

You guys! I have some super exciting news to share with you today!!

I’ve had my monster shop on Storenvy.com for almost 7 years. I am a huge advocate for their website because for entrepreneurs both seasoned & just starting out, it is the ideal platform for so many reasons – it’s free to list, free to sell through your custom store, 100% customization, they offer domain hosting & the ability to embed a blog, photo gallery, sizing chart, videos, Instagram feeds – I could go on and on! Storenvy gives you so much control over the appearance and functionality of your shop, and offers so many excellent tools for growth – which is what I’m writing about today!

Storenvy just rolled out a powerful new email service that I have been beta testing for them for a while now, and it makes generating sales and capturing new customers easier than ever! (It will be available to all Storenvy sellers the week of January 23rd.)

Introducing the new Storenvy Engage feature!

16143944_10103570317741476_1581684936_n

Engage was born from Storenvy’s desire to set shop owners up for success and drive their sellers more traffic. This ingenious direct email feature was designed to help sellers harness the power of email marketing to turn Marketplace traffic & Watchers into customers. Engage is free and shows both Marketplace & Custom Store customer analytics, including purchase history (total amount spent & total number of orders), whether they were captured in the Marketplace or Custom Store, when the last time they visited your store was and if they have abandoned their cart. With Engage, you can use those analytics to send email promotions to individual people or entire segments of potential and previous clients, as well as send cart reminder emails to nudge customers to follow through with a purchase after abandoning their cart. To access Engage, you simply have to have your Marketplace Store open & have active listings in it.

16145564_10103571195736966_1377144814_o.png

Here is a quick walk through of the new features, and some tips for maximizing Engage for higher conversion rates.

Firstly, like I mentioned above, your store must be active in the Storenvy Marketplace with active Marketplace listings to access Engage.  You do not need to activate Super Discounts to access the data and send cart abandon emails, but you do have to activate Super Discounts via your Extras tab on your Admin Panel to be able to use the Engage Discount Code features. This costs $5/month & unlocks Engage Discount Codes plus loads of other ways to reward customers! Totally worth the small monthly fee (it’s literally the price of a medium (grande?) white chocolate raspberry mocha at Starbuck’s. Yum!) because the discount code emails bring the cha-ching (in other words, they have a really great conversion rate, especially when used in conjunction with cart abandon emails, which I elaborate on below).

Got Super Discounts set up? Great! Now, let’s explore Engage!

Engage can be sorted into various views – All Customers, Repeat Customers (obviously, anyone who has bought from you more than once), Customers (anyone who has bought from you at least once) & Customer Leads (potential customers). You can search for a customer by name, or click Advanced Formulas to the right of the search box to unlock even more awesomeness.

allview.PNG

How to send discount codes using Engage

To send a discount code to a customer, you select the person you want to send a discount to, then click “Send Now”. This is the screen that pops up.

couponcodes

From the top column, you will choose from active discount codes to apply to this promotional email. Once you pick which discount to offer, you just click send! I sent myself a test email first to see how it looked, and here’s what I got on my end:

emailcode.PNG

Looks great, doesn’t it!? It’s formatted for mobile as well, so it looks sleek in a desktop inbox or on mobile. Buyers can click directly from the email to your shop & the code is automatically applied at checkout.

When someone clicks from that email into your store and places an order, a “Success” icon appears by their name in the Engage window, and their orders have an Engage badge in the Orders Window, too – examples below.

success.PNG

ENGAGEEMAIL.PNG

Engage is really easy to use, and now I am going to go through some ways to leverage this service to get more of those “Success” icons to appear for you!

Utilizing Engage to Address Cart Abandonment

Being able to send a gentle nudge to shoppers who abandoned their cart is such an amazing feature – I mean, I’m a mom. Do you know how often I add stuff to my online cart then get whisked away and completely forget about it? A reminder for that awesomesauce I left in my cart would almost definitely convert into a sale – and that’s exactly what this service offers!

Super Discounts isn’t required to use the Abandoned Cart email feature, but your Marketplace store must be active & have have active listings in it. You can’t, however, entice shoppers who abandoned carts to make a purchase with a discount code without activating Super Discounts.*

To view a segment of customers who abandoned carts, use Advanced Formulas, choose whether you want to sort cart abandons by the last day, week, month or between set dates. Apply your filter, and you can view where your cart abandon issues are happening** (custom or marketplace store), whether the shopper has purchased from you before or not, and the date of the abandoned cart.

cartabandon

To capture these customers, click “Send Now” under the cart column. It brings up this simple message & you just click “Send E-Mail” – easy peasy!

abandon.PNG

*Tip: When you search for cart abandons, you will be able to see which customers you sent a cart reminder message to, and whether it was successful or not. Definitely consider taking the second step to send them a coupon code if the cart reminder didn’t entice them to finish their order. I found the code following the cart reminder almost always sealed the deal!  

**I will be publishing a post soon on what causes cart abandonment and how to reduce the number of cart abandons in your online store!

Utilizing Engage to Convert Watchers into Buyers

Wacthers are people who use the Storenvy Watch function to follow your store & receive email updates about your new products because they like what you sell. Basically, an untapped goldmine until now!  Here’s how to set up a segment for Watchers.

watcherconvert

First, you would click Advanced, then click “Watches Shop” and in the Orders Count row below, select “Equal to” and input 0. This will filter results to show only people who watch your shop who have never purchased from you. (If you activate the Automate feature, this makes sending bulk discounts to watchers a snap! Details on Automate are towards the bottom of this post.)

If you are wanting to capture those potential customers, you can send a discount code to people who Watch your Storenvy shop via the marketplace Watch feature – again, these are people who found your products or shop through the powerful Storenvy Marketplace, liked what they saw & clicked the Watch button (which is a great asset in itself, as it immediately signs them up to get emails whenever you list new products, yay!). This new Engage features allows you to contact Watchers directly through the Storenvy platform to offer buyer incentives to get that first sale!

To create a code just for Watchers, go to Promote tab on your Admin panel & click add new promotion. Give it a name that elaborates what it’s for (“Thanks for following my store on Storenvy!” or “Here’s a code to thank you for Watching my shop on Storenvy!”) and put in the rest of the pertinent info – discount type and amount, code, expiration, etc.

promote.PNG

Tip: Offering a code of 20% or more is the best way to capture a new customer – any discounter greater than 20% is most likely to result in a higher conversion rate, whereas codes offering 15% or less have a much slimmer chance of conversions. 

Then just go down the list & send your code out to Watchers – or sign up for Automated discounts and save yourself from carpal tunnel. It’s worth it, trust me.

Utilizing Engage to Reward Repeat Customer

Honestly, being able to offer exclusive rewards to repeat buyers is my very favorite thing about the new Engage feature! To do this, you click “Advanced Formulas” in top right bar, and in the Orders Count select your segment – you can choose Equal to, Greater Than, or Less Than, then you type in the order number amount. Here, I put in Greater Than 5, so every client who has ever ordered from me more than 5 times will appear in this segment.

repeatbuyers

Similar to creating an exclusive code for Watchers, while I was beta testing Engage I made a code just for repeat buyers, offering 20% off. I titled it “A New Year’s Discount Just for You!” and sent it out the first week of January to everyone who had ordered from my shop 5 or more times, and had great success with the campaign!

How to Automate Campaigns

In order to automate discount campaigns through Engage, you have to activate Super Discounts then activate this feature in your Extras. (Keep in mind, these features aren’t available to the public until the week of January 23rd, so your Extras page will look slightly different than this until it’s released sitewide).

16196105_10103570422591356_335094744_o

It costs $15/month to use the Automate features, but trust me, after manually pushing over 200 Engage discount codes while I was testing this out, it’s well worth the $15 a month! (I may or may not have bribed my son to send half of them for me, so if you have a preteen who is perpetually bored, that is also an option). Cart abandonment automation & discount code automation are two separate features, and each run $15. But! You are able to bundle all features (Domain Hosting, Super Discounts, Automated Discounts and  Automated Cart Abandonment Messages) for $30 – a total of 25% off savings. If you have a large customer base & lots of Watchers, this is a great investment! If you have a slightly smaller customer base, it’s not too terribly difficult to push the campaigns manually, albeit time consuming.

16129901_10103567814797396_2075141556_o

When Automate, you create a discount code, then set it in the lower right hand corner of the discounts page, as shown above. Then just click the Automate/Bulk Send button at the top of the Cart or Discount Code column (shown below), and you can bulk send a campaign to everyone in the segment you currently have selected. This is a stellar way to address all recent cart abandons, reward anyone who ordered from you during a certain time frame, remind people who haven’t ordered from you in a while about your shop or to quickly introduce your brand to all of your Watchers at once. You can also use the Automate feature to send a follow up discount once a month as a gentle reminder to people who haven’t used their coupon yet.

buynow

What kind of epic sorcery is this, you ask? The kind that makes getting your sale in front of your entire audience a million times easier.

Pretty rad, huh?

Before we close out, it’s important to note that all transactions that occur through promotions sent via the Engage function are subject to a nominal 10% commission to Storenvy (because these are sales you would not receive without using Storenvy’s functionalities to drive them). It’s a one time fee for orders placed by customers captured using Engage, so if your client typically shops from your custom store or discovered you there, you will NOT pay 10% commission on future sales from them. Make sense?

What do you think about the new Engage feature? Will you be trying it out?

2

2017: Achieve

It’s been a wild year and probably the worst year yet for my little biz, so I’m excited to wrap it up and head into 2017 with a blank slate & lots of ambitions, new products, and plans for improvement!

IMG_2482 copy.JPG

See, my word for 2016 was Grind – I knew it was going to be a rough year: I got divorced and moved halfway across the country in November 2015, so I knew I’d be starting from scratch, struggling financially and trying to reestablish myself, my son & my biz. I had chose Grind because this year was all about breaking off the rough bits, uncovering the ugly and grinding it all smooth so I can polish my life & biz into exactly what I wanted it to be. Throw in an unexpected pregnancy & birth that were both exceptionally difficult, and woof. What a year. Grind was the perfect word for 2016.  

achieve

 

My word for 2017 is going to be Achieve. Inspired by Lisa Jacobs, I decided to set monthly numerical sales goals – and I plan to shatter through them each month! I am going to Achieve more by focusing my efforts where I see the highest conversions for my business – here on my blog, through my newsletter, and by supporting other makers through community and collaborations. I will be relaunching my swag bag program & I am also going to book (at least) 3 events this year to continue establishing myself locally & spreading the word about my monsters, and also putting products up for sale in a local children’s boutique as well.

Besides the stereotypical “I’m going to get back in shape and do yoga every day and meditate more often” personal goals, I also am going to start attending a weekly mother’s circle, to help network & grow my local community, as well as attending more local events/dinners/shows/festivals. As a mother & maker, I feel like having a strong local community is imperative to growing personally & professionally. It’s so important to build your village!

I chose Achieve for my word for 2017 because I am going to achieve big things for my little monster biz, and in my personal life as well! This year is all about achieving my hopes & dreams. I want to spread roots here in Western North Carolina, to start making connections and friendships, and really make this place my home while growing my monster business to better support my growing family. ♥

Do you pick a word of the year to focus on? If so, what was your word for this year/will your word for next year be?

0

On mothering a new baby & running a handmade business

21a377bde663e5b330fa60405af40018-copy

The last time I blogged, I was 40 weeks pregnant & had been struggling with prodromal labor for weeks. Though the last few weeks were incredibly painful and exhausting because of daily contractions that lasted for hours upon hours at a time, it was a painful, uncomfortable, difficult pregnancy from the get go. Zoey Rose was born October 12th, and it was a traumatic birth experience. Basically, it was all super rough. Pregnancy, birth, and new motherhood.

14729325_10208455532964053_6794115501466830770_n

I still get really emotional when I think of it, so I won’t go into details of her actual birth, but in my last post I talked about my frustration with the constant contractions & false alarms, and with everyone telling me “You’ll know when you’re really in labor”. I didn’t, actually. I had chorioamnionitis, an infection that spread from my amniotic sac & amniotic fluid to my placenta, uterus & cervix. I started having bad stomach cramps, followed within a few hours by a fever of 103.7 & uncontrollable shaking and vomiting. I thought it was just a stomach virus. My doctor wanted me to come in for fluids, and by the time I got there I was in so much pain I couldn’t walk or talk (except to scream a few choice words). It wasn’t contraction pain, it was constant, excruciating, sob-crying producing pain from the bottom of my ribs to my hips. By then my fever was 104.2 & I found out I was 9cm dilated. Thankfully they were able to get an epidural in to relieve some of my pain, and she was born a few hours later, through a fast, traumatizing birth. She spent an equally traumatic week in NICU.

14724445_10208471509563458_3177699875220305193_n

Finding out that I had a life threatening infection that could have taken both me & my daughter if I had waited just an hour or two longer to get to the hospital, followed by her NICU stay, shook me to the core. In the weeks immediately following her birth, I suffered from severe depression and what felt, inexplicably, like survivor’s guilt. Because of her NICU stay, our breastfeeding journey was a little rocky starting out, which any breastfeeding mother will tell you is an emotional battle to begin with. Due to the antibiotics she received, she had gastrointestinal distress for the following week and a half after leaving the hospital and cried & vomited almost constantly. After that, she was in a hip brace for weeks and constantly screamed and cried, and vomited, because of that.

img_0965-copy

My pregnancy, birth experience and the early weeks of caring for Zoey were not bubbly, beautiful moments of motherhood. I struggled a lot with depression & anxiety as I tried to care for an extremely fussy baby, home school a 5th grader & somehow plan to return to my business, as NOT working at all was not an option because we simply couldn’t afford for me to not work at all for several months, unfortunately.

img_1188-copy

I won’t lie – in those early weeks of fresh, angry, projectile vomiting babyhood, when she would scream no matter I did to comfort her, nurse to the point of projectile vomiting then scream some more, then wanted to nurse to comfort herself after screaming and crying, then back to screaming as soon as she finished nursing until she projectile vomited again, rinse and repeat, I would weep and tell my partner I was just going to have to go back to work outside of the home because I just didn’t think I could balance caring for her, schooling Gauge & running my own business. I was devastated at the thought of having to give up my monster making, but at the time could not see any way I could manage it all. I would get her to sleep and before I could take five steps or touch my fabric she would be awake screaming angrily again. I just felt so drained & like I would never be able to feel creative again.

IMG_1259 copy.JPG

Then somewhere, around that fourth or fifth week, she finally started to chill out a little. That’s around the time she gave me her first smile and it was like the dark sky split open & kittens puking sunshine and farting rainbows spilled out of the crack. I started to put her in a Beco baby carrier my friend Magda sent me or the ring sling my friend Kimberly had mailed me while I was still pregnant, and was actually able to sew a little here and there. We readjusted our schooling schedule & lesson plans a bit, and my son quickly caught up on missed lessons & surpassed our semester goals.

IMG_1551 copy.JPG

Over this last month, things have done a total 180. I surrounded myself with positive affirmations, positive people, and started meditating on positive thoughts every morning again, something I hadn’t been able to do in those early weeks no matter how hard I tried. I was able to get a large batch of monsters made & into the shop in time for Christmas – thanks to baby wearing. I think baby wearing literally save my sanity – she only sleeps when she is being held or very rarely, sometimes in her swing for 10-20 minute spurts. But thanks to wearing her, I was able to start sewing every day again while she napped against me, allowing me to slowly settle back into the mindset being a business owner. In the past two weeks I’ve even been able to outline ideas to make 2017 the best year ever for Lu & Ed – with lots of flexibility and options, because with this little firecracker, who knows what the next year will hold?

IMG_2474 copy.JPG

Maybe it’s because I had unrealistic expectations about being able to dive right back into monster maker while I wore my happy, gurgling baby right out of the womb. Maybe it’s because I had rigidly blocked off the week following her birth from visitors at our house, unaware that week would be spent sleepless in the NICU unit. Maybe it’s because my son was such an easy pregnancy, birth and baby a decade ago, maybe that is why I felt so helpless & spent. Maybe it’s just because each pregnancy and birth experience and baby is so wildly different and unique, but these past two months were nothing at all like I anticipated. They were dark, difficult weeks & while the past month has been better and I am feeling more like my old self, and I am finally reclaiming and revitalizing my business from it’s stasis of the past several months, I would be lying if I said I was totally out of the dark emotionally and mentally. But I have learned a lot about what it means to be a small business owner & to mother a new baby at the same time, and these are important lessons for maker mamas because the stigma that new mothers should be basking in a happy glow with a pep in their step is just another one of those things that puts pressure on new moms & keeps them from reaching out when they need help & support. Motherhood and small business ownership isn’t some picture perfect Instagram feed. So here’s what I’ve learned about mothering a new baby and owning a handmade business:

It’s okay if you didn’t plan well enough for your maternity leave and unexpected  expenses, losses or struggles arise because of it. There’s no way to plan for every possible scenario, no matter how hard you try. I had a solid plan set in stone for my maternity leave but my last trimester was spent in so much pain I couldn’t even lean over to cut out monster bits, I couldn’t sit to sew, and I was unable to follow through with that plan because I wasn’t able to make the inventory to make the income needed to actually even take a maternity leave, not to mention our NICU stay drained the savings account between gas, lodging, and having to eat out constantly. And that created a lot of stress for me, but you know, c’est la vie.

It’s okay to avoid (or even remove from your life completely) negative, toxic people. I didn’t/don’t have the capacity to handle drama, negative degrading remarks or toxic people – and I’m pretty sure my mama fans know that nothing like a new baby brings out the judgmental and unintentional meanness of others. The first weeks when family members kept lamenting “She’s SO fussy, how do you stand it?”, “Haven’t you tried to get her to stop crying?”, “Does she always cry? Why don’t you do something about it?”, “Maybe she has a disease, have you asked her doctor why she’s always crying?” or “Why don’t you give her formula instead of breastfeeding if it’s so hard?” alongside remarks about how I had a BABY now, it was time to shelf my business; it was soul crushing. From there, I only made room in my life for people who empowered me, comforted me or gave me positive energy. I was not in a good place mentally to allow anyone else access to me without being reduced to a sobbing mess. And that’s okay.

It’s okay to feel guilty. Trust me, no matter how much grace you give yourself, there’s guilt. Guilt for working, for not working, for wanting to work, for not wanting to work, for not being able to work because your baby is needy, for never wanting to work again because you just want to soak up these peaceful, sweet sleepy moments with your baby, for asking someone else to hold your baby for a little while because you’re overwhelmed, haven’t peed all day & just need to breathe for a few minutes. So much guilt. So much stress.

It’s okay to struggle. It’s okay to lose sight of your goals, it’s okay for things to not go how you planned, it’s okay to miss deadlines, it’s okay to be frustrated, it’s okay to feel like giving up, it’s okay to be unsure & insecure. You can make new goals, you can make new plans, you can set new deadlines. No number is worth unnecessary mental stress, especially during this already emotionally jacked up time of new motherhood.

It’s okay if what worked for someone else doesn’t work for you. You have to try absolutely everything to find what works for you. No one has any magic advice to make all the pieces of new motherhood & business ownership to go together seamlessly. (I don’t even know if they can go together seamlessly).

It’s okay to be frustrated and unsure. What worked yesterday may not (probably won’t) work today. What worked for your business last year may not work for it this year, or next year. What worked to keep your baby happy yesterday, may not work today. I learned you have to try new things, try a new schedule, try new content, try new creations, try new ways to make your baby happy, every single day. Some things work. Some things don’t. And that. is. okay.

It is all okay. All of your feelings are valid. All of my feelings are valid. There is no wrong way to feel. There is no right way to feel. Being a mother is an emotional shit storm. Being a mother to a baby who was in the NICU is an emotional hurricane. Being a mother to an extremely fussy baby while trying to run a business, is like an emotional nuclear explosion. It is all okay.

It. is. all. okay. That is what I learned.

img_2306-copy