fiddle leaf photography
Dec 10, 2017
As I’ve grown my business I’ve come to know so many dynamo women business owners in Edmonton who are the most beautiful mix of grit and grace. Do they have it all figured out? NO. Do any of us? They are working their way through, one day at a time, trying to make life what they want it to be. And on top of it all, they are raising their own kids, who are watching them forge a path that isn’t always easy but is full of reward. I’m fascinated by these women and want to learn more, which is why I asked if they’d sit down and chat with me. This is the second entry in the Grit + Grace series. You can catch past Grit + Grace entries here.
You know how you often have visions of parenthood that are idyllic and just so sweet, and then you actually become a parent and find the whole scene you envisioned laughable? Of course, we do have many sweet moments in our house, and so, so many laughs, but most of them come at totally spontaneous times, not when I expect them.
Hair is one of the scenarios that is so far from the idyllic scenes I’d created in my head. As a little girl I used to LOVE having my hair done. I’d sit while my Mom crimped it (that’ll snap you back to the late 80’s, right?) and then attempted to put in 20 pony tail holders in a straight line in strange type of pony tail. I loved it so much that I always imagined myself doing such things to my own daughters. Then as you-tube videos of fancy braids and dos became popular, I could see me sitting on the couch, a daughter criss-cross on the floor and me just whipping out a 25 strand braid that would stay in for days.
Here’s the thing….
Both my girls LOATHE getting their hair done. It is a constant fight every single morning, often involving tears, and I’m lucky if I get one clip in, or a basic ponytail done before one of them is running away. I also have about 2.6 seconds a day to worry about getting my kids presentable for the world.
And then I discovered Baby Bird Creations! Their hair clips and ties make me look like I actually have control of my household in the morning, with such minimal effort!
Sisters Shannon and Stacey founded Baby Bird Creations just over 18 months ago and have experienced amazing growth in that time through their Etsy store and seasonal markets.
In the middle of a busy market season, Shannon and Stacey sat down with me at Shannon’s home to fill me in a bit on their business journey, how they manage to work full time and make bows at night, and what it’s like to be a mother with a side gig.
Tell me about your business
We make modern accessories for stylish littles. Our accessories are minimalist so they don’t overpower your kids and are on trend. We make hair accessories, bow ties, bibs and also sell knee socks.
How did you come to start your business?
Shannon: I was on maternity leave with my daughter Charlotte and wanted hair accessories for her. And you know how when you’re nursing and all you do is scroll Etsy? Well, that was me. I didn’t know that these nylon baby headbands were a thing until I had Charlotte. All I could find locally were bands with big flowers on them and that wasn’t what I wanted. I found a few places on Etsy but they were all in the U.S., so I was ordering them and my husband was likely not very pleased as headbands from the U.S. just kept arriving at our door.
Then one day Stacey says, “I’m pretty sure we can figure out how to make these”. We then spent a really long time sourcing materials and were essentially just going to make them for Charlotte, and then once we made a few we said, “oh ya, we can totally figure out how to do this”. And also, you can’t really buy these materials in small quantities. So we decided to experiment with it and see where it went.
I was on maternity leave when we started and now Stacey is on mat leave, so it’s a really great balance. It sort of just took off from there. Then we started doing markets and selling through Etsy.
What’s the hardest part of being a mom and doing this?
Shannon: Balance. I work full time and I do this. I get up, get Charlotte ready and go to work, then I leave work, pick Charlotte up and am with her and my husband making dinner, baths, etc from 5:30-7:30 pm. As soon as she’s in bed I work on the business from 7:30-10:00 pm most nights. In that way it’s hard because I’m tired, which is fine…that’s what happens when you have a full time job and a part time job. For me though, the hardest part is the weekends because I feel torn between spending time with Charlotte and working on the business. Sometimes when we go to markets on the weekends I feel that Mom Guilt sink in. But, on the other hand, Charlotte is going to see that these 2 women in her life are wanting something and going for it, and that’s a good thing for her to see.
Stacey: I don’t have the guilt yet as I’m home with Isaac all day, so when we work on the weekends it’s time for him to spend with his dad. But, my challenge is balancing time that becomes unpredictable. I plan work around my son’s naps and like most kids, his schedule can change on a dime, which means I don’t get the work done that I had planned.
Where do you hope your business will be in 5 years?
Stacey: Still around as a lot of businesses don’t last 5 years.
Shannon: I think it’s still going to be in existence for sure. One of our goals for the New Year is to sit down and talk about what’s next. We are pretty close to being at capacity for what 2 people can do – especially once Stacey goes back to work. So there are a few options for what we can do next: we can employ someone, we can downsize, consignment. Our business could look really different in 5 years and the trick is finding that sweet spot.
What’s one thing about running this business that you didn’t expect?
Shannon: Even though when we started we knew social media was a big thing, now I feel like it’s almost all-consuming. You could literally spend all day and all night doing social media. And, it’s hard to tell how much it matters. It’s a huge amount of energy I expend on it and I really didn’t realize that was going to be a thing. I find it hard to mentally separate things when it comes to social media. The amount of time I spend getting Instagram photos, organizing them, writing captions to have this Instagram feed that I think is lovely, and then I don’t even know if that all matters. I spend almost as much time on social media as I spend on our actual online shop.
What is the best mom advice you’ve been given?
Shannon: Charlotte didn’t sleep well at all when she was a baby and I was speaking to one of my friends who’d already given me all of the standard advice like using a white noise machine, dark room, etc and none of it worked. Then that same friend sent me a text that said, “Momming is hard.” So then I said to her, “ok, so what am I supposed to do?”. And she said, “No. That’s it. It’s just hard and it sucks sometimes”. It was really freeing realizing that sometimes you can’t fix it and it’s just hard. Now I’ve now repeated that same advice to so many other people. It is what it is.
Stacey: I had a friend who told me to always take videos of my son when he is little – even if it’s just something you don’t think is important. And now that he’s growing, I look back on those videos and realize how much I love them and am glad I have them. Babies change so, so fast so to have these memories captured is special.
What’s your favourite kid product?
Shannon: Babywearing! We still use our ring sling and it’s a lifesaver.
Stacey: My Baby Au Lait nursing cover. I didn’t register for one with a hoop-type opening and then Shannon lent me one she had and I love it. I had a scarf one and had a couple of mental breakdowns trying to use it a few weeks after my son was born and so I love the hoop one.
What’s the current song you put on when you need to dance it out?
Shannon: Justin Timberlake – Can’t Stop the Feeling
Stacey: Avicii – Without You
We definitely don’t have the same musical taste, although we both love Glee music.
What’s the one app you could never remove from your phone?
Shannon: Mine used to be Instagram, but now sometimes that feels like work. So it’s probably the Starbucks app because I love to mobile order.
Stacey: I’m kind of technology challenged because I don’t have a lot of apps on my phone….I even deleted the Facebook app because I was getting too many notifications. So, it’s probably Pinterest because I’m trying to learn how to cook and I love looking up slow cooker recipes.
Stacey: Grande marble hot chocolate with whip, although Shannon would probably know better than me as she always orders it for me.
Shannon: Grande non-fat chai latte.
Do you have a favourite recent book you’ve read?
Shannon: I don’t read anymore….so….ya. (Insert a lot of laughter here!) Actually, I did buy a book that was recommended on a blog I read (see, I do read…just blogs!), and it’s called How To Thrive In a World Of Too Busy. And the funniest part is that I read one chapter and then I got too busy!
Stacey: I’m reading Bringing Up Bebe right now which is very entertaining.
Shannon: Jenna Kutcher’s Golddigger podcast and Creative Empire.
High heels or sneakers?
Leggings or jeans?
Shannon: Probably leggings but I wear jeans when I know I’m going to see people, so it’s sort of a public vs. private situation. As soon you leave Kelly, the leggings are going on!
Do you think it’s easier or harder being a mom now than when you were growing up?
Stacey: Way harder
Shannon: Ya, it’s harder. Our mom says that to us all the time. I feel like there’s so much more pressure now for a variety of different things. And also, sometimes I think that access to information isn’t that great. Now that you can Google every rash your child gets, I feel like it’s only contributing to making you feel stressed and guilty. There are certainly things now that are really good like there’s more support now and talking about certain topics that used to be never discussed.
Stacey: And I think it’s only going to be worse when our kids get older, especially with technology and social media. I think I’m just going to go move away to a little remote island where it’s not an issue.
Stacey: And also because people’s choices now are so public and so much is shared, sometimes I feel like it’s really difficult to feel ok about your own choices.
Do you feel like you have this Mom gig figured out?
Shannon: I definitely don’t think I have it figured out, but I do think that I’m a good mom.