Welcome to a series exploring how real-life moms work alternative jobs in order to work and mom the way they want or their family needs. For many, this means working at home. For some it means jobs with flexible schedules. For others it means more traditional business hours, but owning their own business. As we examine the different ways moms make it work, you’ll see a lot of creativity and hopefully be inspired to make your job, traditional or not, work best in your life.
Emily Bennett is the creative force behind Baby Blastoff!, a children’s clothing line aiming to transcend the gender stereotype messages found in most children’s clothing. Her clothing is USA-made (yay! here’s why), unisex, printed from Emily’s original artwork, made from high quality fabric and oh so adorable. How does she manage all this plus being mom to her two adorable kiddoes? Read on!
PM: What jobs have you done in the past?
EB: Before my son was born in 2011, I was a teacher for APS for 5 years. I taught Kindgergarten, 1st and 2nd grade. Before that I had a variety of jobs. I was a classroom assistant. I worked for Early Head Start. Before that I was a server, barista, and I even did a stint at the Flying Star when I first moved to Albuquerque in 2005 and was working towards my Masters Degree in Education.
PM: How did you come to do what you currently do?
EB: It started before my son was born. My husband and I decided not to find out the if our baby was a boy or girl, and looking around for gender neutral options clothing, toy, bedding and gift options, we came up short. This was when I started to tune into the gender stereotype messaging so common on children’s clothing. I didn’t like that baby clothing was already covered with messages like “All shopped out!” or “Mr. Tough Guy.” I couldn’t believe that we promote these stereotypes at such a young age. After my son was born I was hanging out with some mom friends one day, and I said to them, “I want to put a dumptruck on a pink onesie. What do you think?” And they all said, “Yes! You should do it!” That is when I got started on Baby Blastoff!
I have learned so much since that time! Screen printing, manufacturing, marketing, sales, accounting, website design, photoshop. There are so many areas around which I have done a ton of self-education. And its never done.
PM: How long did it take you to get to where you are now?
EB: Over the last 5 years as I have been slowly working more and more on my business.
PM: What are the biggest challenges?
EB: Getting to be known and seen as a resource by a critical mass of individual shoppers and boutique type stores across the U.S. Breaking into the market is hard.
PM: What are the biggest advantages?
EB: Being from a smaller city has been a great advantage in that the market isn’t overwhelmed with a million people doing something just like me. I have been able to access support networks easily, and people have taken an interest in what I’m doing. I love that Albuquerque is small—everyone knows everyone. I think this is a huge advantage.
PM: What are your next goals?
EB: My long term dream is to open a workshop and retail store that would both allow me to bring my production in-house and allow me to sell a variety of kid-empowering products by other companies and brands.
PM: What advice do you have for moms who want to work from home or start their own business?
EB: My advice would be to talk to your closest family and friends and establish a support network so that others can help you get things done for your family or your work when you need it. Having the support of your spouse and family, I think, can make or break your at-home venture.
PM: What is your productivity tip?
EB: It’s not easy to balance home work and work work. A high-school history teacher of mine once suggested, whenever we complained that we were too busy, that we follow Napoleon’s lead and only take 5 minutes to eat meals. I’m not really suggesting this for meals, but my take-away from that lesson is that every 5 minutes counts. You have a few spare minutes while kids are happily engaged playing with? Great time to post on Instagram. Your spouse is doing bath time? Perfect time to follow up on emails. You’ll never feel like you are on top of your work, and learning to be cool with that is part of the game.
[Productive Mama just HAS to butt in to add that this is actually how she managed life when her kids were really young, too!]
Unless otherwise indicated, photography by Pop! Studio.