Here's Ruben and I at Hazel Gap Barn on a cold & crisp November morning 2021.
Excuse me a moment, while I just wipe the cream cheese off my face. *wipes*
As I sit back and reflect on what has been the busiest month for me during my first proper year as a wedding stationer (cheers Covid), I can’t help but think how far I’ve come and how much I’ve learnt.
Being a work-at-home mum has had its trying times, but I’d say, all things considered, we do a pretty good job at balancing work and life… and ultimately, I have created some pretty special wedding stationery and met some gloriously wonderful couples.
It’s important to note that this is in no way a sob story; I consider myself extremely lucky to be able to run a full-time business and help contribute towards providing for my family and spending every day with my now 17-month old baby boy.
But there are some realities of working from home with a baby, that I’d like to share…
I was flicking through some of my old Instagram posts the other day and the words I typed were “at the home studio…” I could actually *gip* at this now. What on earth was this message I was trying to put out there? Who did I think I was? (Perhaps this is imposter syndrome at its best!)
The reality is, there was no glamorous home-studio, just a study/spare bedroom with a desk, a printer, a baby attached to me and probably sick on my shoulder.
Back in the early days of Dove and Lace, when I had my first real wedding in July 2021, my baby was just 4 months old, and I had taken wedding bookings pre-pregnancy which of course, I was always going to honour.
And, like 90% of the working-age population, I didn’t have an endless pot of money and I was self-employed in my previous role and they weren’t able to keep up my hours during the pandemic.
Dove and Lace was actually born out of what was a shear panic moment and necessity, mixed with this new-found freedom to finally do what I’d been dreaming of doing for years. Perhaps it was a blessing in disguise! Whilst the pandemic was utter rubbish in many ways, two absolutely phenomenal things came during those times; my baby and my business.
However, this meant that I had no real maternity leave, I was post emergency c-section and my baby was exclusively breastfed (which in itself is approx. 450 minutes of feeding in a 24-hour period and likely every 3 hours during the night!)
Interim note: I should actually high-five myself! How did I actually survive? I’d say because I’m a strong independent woman, but in actual fact, I couldn’t have done it without the support from my loving husband.
When I first set up Dove and Lace, I wanted to portray this cool mum vibe who had this fancy stationery studio, who could rock a mum bun and create killer wedding stationery, but the reality is, while I’m wiping cream cheese off my cheek (or tears, or baby sick depending on the day), I’m probably sending an email with my spare hand, or I’m doing a consultation while my baby gets a good old nap in, or I’m putting invitations together when he’s gone to bed and writing quotes... oh wait, I'm still supposed to find time to do some marketing *rolls eyes*.
I think I wanted to portray that I had this “fancy-pants” studio because I was scared nobody would book me in case they thought I’d come across as being unprofessional, or I was exposing too much of my personal life and not focusing enough on stationery.
I do hope I’m not coming across as hard done by or unprofessional, because the other reality is that I wouldn’t change our little set up for the world and I am eternally grateful.
I didn’t have to leave my baby to go back to work after a year of maternity, I can be my own boss, I can spend every single day with him; I have total, utter freedom and control over my own life.
The final reality is, and in the words of the Bearded Lady from The Greatest Showman, 'this is me!" - I am human and so are my clients and so it is also my hope that I come across as relatable and approachable, and despite being a work-at-home mum, I can still create killer wedding stationery.
After much deliberation, procrastination and hesitation, I’m getting a little braver in sharing much more of my real work-at-home/mum life - some of life's behind the scenes.
Whilst some days I do wish I had the fancy-pants studio to focus a little more, the freedom I’ve had to be my own boss and spend every day with my first born is totally priceless and long may it continue.
A quick thank you to each and every one of my clients, friends and family for your support during my first full year; I couldn't have done it without you.