When I opened Amelia five years ago, I wasn't using social media and I didn't know about many other shops with a similar aesthetic. Thankfully, now I am in touch with my social media side and I know of many others shops similar to mine. More importantly, I know the shop owners. Many of us have formed bonds over what we carry, our similar tastes and how we can make it better for our customers. We don't think of ourselves as a threat to the other's business, rather we are building a community around the beauty of handmade.
One shopkeeper that I have become rather good friends with is Emily Blistein of Clementine, in Vermont. If you aren't familiar with her shop, I suggest you run to Instagram and just soak in the beauty of Clementine and her attention to detail. Maybe follow along on an adventure with her sweet boy, Julian. She's charming in so many ways and completely an inspiration to me as a female business owner and new mother. I can't wait to visit her one of these days and see Clementine in person. In the meantime, Tom Otis and Julian will just have to continue to be pen pals and her and I will keep the shop talk going from afar. Enjoy getting to know Emily a little better, as I have. She really is so boss!
What does 7 AM look like to you?
7am is usually, thankfully, still snuggle time. Julian wakes up around 6 and I don’t have to head in to Clementine until mid-morning. Though our mornings always end up jam-packed, I love to ease in if possible. He’ll come in to our room and start the daily chatter or look-out for trucks outside. Other mornings, Julian’s older brothers will get him out of bed and they’ll all go downstairs, help him get cereal and watch cartoons for a bit, which means – bliss of all blisses, sometimes I’m still half-asleep listening to their funny little conversations and negotiations.
What's your favorite part of your day?
Julian was a shop-baby until he was 10 months old, and I loved having him there, but when he started day-care at that time, we were both ready. I love going to work, and it makes the moment I pull in to the pre-school and Julian sees me even sweeter. I totally devour his huge smile and exclamations when I arrive. We also spend one day a week together and I try to plan a little “adventure” for us in the morning. We find local swimming holes, go to the park and do other perfectly simple daily things, but I try really hard to make it about exploring with no agenda. Toddler energy can be really challenging (understatement), so I especially love the moments when he’s in full toddler mode, guiding me and we don’t have anywhere to be.
With so many things going on with different channels of your work (the shop, family, store buyer, online store, contributor for Oh So-Beautiful Paper), how do you keep perspective?
I know a lot of business people are very Type A and can organize and plan their way to calm. Try as I might, I’m really not. I have learned that the most valuable asset I can have is a strong network of people who make me laugh, colleagues who inspire me, and women who I can dive right into the nitty-gritty mom/relationship/work talk with. Commiserating and finishing each other’s sentences over a glass of wine has been my best mom-medicine. I’ve learned that filling my life with opportunities for inspiration (even in the form of really quick coffee dates or beautiful online sources) goes a long way to pull me out of a challenging day. And I’ve become a strong believer in stopping for indulgences – ice cream, a gorgeous photo by the side of the road, a tangent Julian leads me on. I’m always going in several directions and I often feel behind on everything, but Clementine is such a spot of happiness for me, it’s easy to remind myself how much I love what I do. In the end, I try to remember that I only really want to instill three things in Julian: I want him to have a lot of laughter in his life, to be kind and to be curious. When I get overwhelmed, I try to remind myself that it’s ok to play hooky from some grown-up responsibilities to invite more of those things into my own life too.
What is your favorite family tradition and what does it entail?
As Julian was starting to talk, I started asking him to “talk about his day” after his story at bedtime. He called it “talk a day” and it’s become almost a nightly thing that everyone in our family joins in on. I loved the idea of pulling out the great things from his day and sending him to sleep with those thoughts. Now, it’s fun because he is talking and I actually learn thing about his day when I’m not there. Plus his descriptions of what he did are amusing and nonsensical when retold through his magical toddler brain.
What are your "can't leave home without" items?
Aside from the tiny cars that always make their way into my bag, my new favorite item is a lip and cheek flush that I sell at Clementine. I love to have a journal of some size in my bag, though I rarely have time to use it. I always have my iPhone and I really try to remember my wallet.
What do you find to be the biggest struggle with being a working mom?
The world doesn’t stop if you’re sick or tired and there’s no such thing as “me” time, or a “sick day.” If you own your own business, you just have to figure out how many people you have to hire to fill in for you.
How do you find "me" time with going from working with customers to family? (I personally have no me time and some days I want to scream)
[Insert long pause for us to look at each other and have a good laugh] I’d love to say that there’s a yoga class I never miss, but daily or even weekly “me” time is basically impossible. I planned for 6 months to attend the weekend long Sweet Paul Makerie with a fellow working mama friend. It was totally worth it. I had never relished walking around New York City, lingering over a drink, and eating dinner late into the evening as I did that weekend. Also, when I’m alone in my car, I turn the music up really loud.
What advice did you find the most useful after your son was born?
When Julian was really little, I said something to my husband about being fearful that I would miss him as a baby as he grew. My husband has two boys, my step-sons, who were 7 and 9 when Julian was born (and are, side note, amazing with him). I can’t remember his exact words, but he essentially said that, as a parent, the great thing about watching your kids grow is that you still see all of their stages in one person. As a new parent, I think it can be really hard to overcome that clenching desire to stop time, and I really loved embracing this idea that the future and the past all combine to make this human. It helps me watch him grown with excitement.
What advice do you like to pass onto new, working moms?
1. Read all the articles you want about work/life balance but it’s ok if you still feel stressed and overwhelmed, we all do. 2. Be especially kind and generous to your colleagues, friends and family (you’ll need their help in a different way now). 3. Figure out what makes you laugh and what sparks your creativity and seek those things out.
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