Finding Harmony Between Motherhood and Business

June 23, 2023

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Hi, I'm Erin

I was recently featured on the Her. Life. Her. Way. podcast hosted by Maddie Hunt, founder of her. In this conversation, we spoke in depth about what it was like to be a mother of two littles ones, and an entrepreneur. I built my website design business while both my girls were still in diapers and now I manage being an entrepreneur and a mom of two toddlers who also plans to homeschool my girls!

I share more about the journey I took to entrepreneurship and motherhood through this conversation, as well as tips for anyone looking to build their own business and balance it with a full and fun life. You can tune into the full podcast here. Let’s dive into the conversation below:

What has led you to this point now as a founder of a web and brand design studio? What journey have you taken to get here that you can share with all of us?

As someone who was in the seat of listening to endless podcasts, as I was thinking about starting my own business, I loved hearing about how other people found their journey and path into entrepreneurship. So I’ve always been very intrigued by just the different twists and turns that life can take. I started my journey naturally in college, I received a media arts and design degree from James Madison University in Virginia; I was always into the creative side of life and pursued that degree, not really knowing what it actually means, but it just sounded great. After graduating college, which that degree was a blend of writing graphic design, video editing, and a little bit of website design, I fell into the corporate world and worked a series of jobs after graduating school.

So I did recruiting, I was in marketing departments really fulfilled some of what I went to school for and a little bit off, off, like off center from what I went to school for. But outside of the corporate jobs that I held, which I always looked at as sort of the way to pay my bills I hadn’t found a lot of meaning in those jobs working for somebody else. Kind of putting in that corporate grind. And as I started evolving as a person, I began exploring my true interests. And initially that included travel. So while in school I studied abroad and fell in love with traveling and exploring different cultures.

That was kind of a couple of years after college that I was doing that, and as I moved on from that travel blog world, I was in, I found so many connections with people and so many skills I developed just by teaching myself website design, social media management, email marketing, and all of that. I started evolving as a person from kind of that post-college world that you’re into starting to find some inner work inner healing. And I went to Costa Rica and received my yoga certification. I did yoga teacher training and really fell in love with yoga meditation. And I’ve always been sort of a sharer. Whenever I go through a journey, I share that with others, so I started teaching yoga back in Virginia and hosting moon circles for women for a number of years and meditation classes.

I was very passionate about that healing that happened through yoga, through quieting the mind and connecting with your soul. So I created sort of a wellness business around that, again, on the side, and found a lot of joy from that. During that time, the pandemic hit and I gave birth to my first daughter Sophie in 2020. That’s when things really started to shift. I moved down to Charleston and the world went virtual. So I was still working at corporate at the time but at home, I found a lot of extra time to consider like, what were my goals in life.

So long story short, I ended up leaving my corporate job and initially was gonna build a business around helping expecting moms. I had gone through two unmedicated births myself and found the power of breathing techniques, meditation, and this hypno babies program that I went through to be so powerful in connecting you with your body. So I wanted to create sort of a space for expecting moms to experience an empowered and peaceful birth no matter what that might look like. But as the world, you know, kind of twists and turns for you, I decided that that was actually a passion of mine that was not meant to be monetized. That’s just something that’s like my soul work. During that same time when I was trying to start a business around that, I really started falling in love with website design.

I had again, built myself a website for this, and I’d been building websites alongside that with friends for many years. And it was a friend of mine who actually guided me into this. I was introduced to a program called Showit, and everything just clicked. So I fell in love with creating these kinds of, I call them digital homes for creative entrepreneurs to showcase their unique gifts to the world. So after a couple of months of teaching and learning, I launched my Ivy Lynne studio business, which is named after my two girls, and it just took off. It was one of those things that it just clicked. And nothing had ever clicked like that before.

What did that look like for you and how did you manage to do all of that at the same time starting a business and being a new mom?

I think the pandemic shifted things for so many people. It allowed us to take a pause and not to set aside the immense grief and tragedy of what happened during the pandemic, but I think a lot of people really had this moment of a reset, and I was part of that. I gave birth to my first daughter in May of 2020, so it was right in the thick of the pandemic. We moved to Charleston in the following year so in March of 2021. And at that time, I had also become pregnant with my second daughter. A little bit of a surprise.

It was a very challenging time, but there was a lot of joy still in that time. I loved being a mom and I loved the move to Charleston. Of course, there’s a lot of like stress around that from a financial standpoint and just kind of resettling. Sometimes it felt a little bit dark, especially navigating my way out of the corporate world and launching a business that I launched in September of 2022. I launched that the following year after moving, and I had a baby in October of 2021. So yes, a lot of change happened in a short period of time. I relied heavily on what I had learned through my yoga and meditation training. You have to find some sort of comfort in yourself, especially for new moms in, in the moments, it’s not gonna be days that you get to yourself.

It will be a few breaths in between putting a baby in the car seat and walking around to your front, you know, to your car door. So I, I’m not gonna say I was a perfect person in any way. My husband can attest that there were some dark days. But it was a, it was a finding myself. I think if you’re going to change any part of your life, nothing is gonna change If you feel just stagnant, static, and kind of like okay with where you are, something needs to happen. And a lot of times people launch businesses out of either something that’s really going wrong in their life or they make these big changes when they’ve reached a point of, I can’t do this anymore. And putting that foot forward to actually make a change for yourself to a happier, more fulfilled person.

So I think that all the things I needed to experience were an out-of-state move, the pandemic, giving birth to two babies, navigating the hormones that come after that, and also entering a new corporate job that was very unsatisfying to me. I believe in signs from the universe, and so I always look at things like, okay, what is this trying to tell me? Why am I so unhappy here? And I realized I’d always wanted to be an entrepreneur, but in order to make the leap out of a comfortable salary it’s very hard to leave, especially when you have a new family and a new home. So that’s what that journey led me to, and it was when I left my job and entered the world of entrepreneurship, that my whole community world opened up.

I finally integrated into Charleston. I know so many small business owners, and I find so much joy in being here. I’m just more fulfilled than I ever have been in my life. And it was that journey that led me to this point that was able to create who I am today, and who my business is today. So definitely for those moms who are kind of in that rut of like, I don’t even know how I’m gonna make it to the next hour. I just encourage you to, you know, try to find the moments of calm throughout the day. I know the shower and the bath were where I did the most dreaming, and where I really started laying down the foundations of my business. I’d listen to podcasts and I would really take that time in, in the bathroom as my sacred space.

How did you manage to gather the courage and develop a framework for transitioning from corporate life to starting your own business?

So I’ve been looking into that process for several years. So people who know me more recently think that you know, I just started this business and it’s, it’s been successful from day one and it all just sort of came together. And that is not the case. I’ve been kind of going down the path of entrepreneurship. Since my travel blogging days which was back in 2012, so for nearly a decade, I have been educating myself by following different types of influencers on social media. We were in that generation of like the birth of social media and seeing how other people were building lives that looked different from what I thought was “successful”.

 I was the generation that you go to school, you go to graduate from high school, you go to college, you get a nice little job after college, you end up buying a house, and then that is successful. And that was never really set well with me because I don’t wanna just dwindle my years away under a fluorescent light, working for some man. It’s such a low barrier to the entrance because you aren’t needing to front a mortgage on a brick-and-mortar store and all this inventory, and then hope and fingers crossed you make a dollar in your second year.

Of course, that is one path to starting a business, and I have huge respect for people who do that. But for people who are looking to make a transformation in their life and begin to work for themselves in a way that matters the first thing I would say is just start surrounding yourself. And that might be only digitally if you don’t know a lot of entrepreneurs in your personal life. But start following the people that you want to emulate. I used to kind of have these little pings of jealousy when I would see, you know, these digital influencers just like traveling around the world, and I’m sitting in a cubicle thinking like, oh, I’m destined for more than this.

If she can have it, you can have it. And isn’t that amazing? So when I switched that and I started really surrounding myself through books, podcasts, social media, and then also people that I started connecting with like yourself you start to see what is possible and it opens your mind. So from a practical standpoint, starting my business, a big part of that was actually partnering with a friend of mine who owns a business. Her business is Collective 22, and she’s a dear friend of mine and she had actually launched a business about a year before I did. We ended up having a three-month mentorship program together, which is another big thing I recommend is to get a mentor, and talk to somebody, you can’t do it alone.

Yeah. and she and I kind of like built the backend of what my business would look like shifting from wellness at the time into my show at website design and branding. So from a practical standpoint, it involves creating a mission statement, targeting your audience who are you gonna be marketing to, and establishing what it is you’re gonna be doing, what the prices are gonna look like, what you need to make per month, how many clients can you realistically book? So what does that price need to be for you to live comfortably? And that’s kind of how I approached pricing and presented that plan to my husband because of course we had a lot of real-life bills and I really had no idea what would, what would happen when I launched my business. We certainly didn’t have savings to fall back on.

I tend to be impulsive and I think that’s probably a trade of a lot of entrepreneurs. But yeah, I just had a trust, I had a trust that if I opened myself up fully and told the universe like, I am ready to commit full-time, not part-time, but full-time to this vision that there is a trust that things will work out. And it did. And then from that point, of course, I was a website designer, so I was able to build my own website, but getting your website and copy you know, kind of that, that what is your message to the people you’re trying to attract and speaking to them, you can’t speak to everybody. You have to find a niche, you know, to start out with.

I just put a post in there saying, I’m so excited to join the entrepreneurial community. I just put in my two weeks’ notice, like, I’m so excited. And I’m starting a website design business, and I had 30 women comment on that posting. They needed help with a website, and that was the launch of my business. And then after that, everything else fell, fell into place. I launched, you know, my QuickBooks. I got some help with setting up the financial side of things, which is so important. Client management systems, all the tools that you need on the backend. But really to get me out there, it was creating a plan, having a vision, knowing who I’m targeting, making that website, and getting that copy down. And then just putting it out there, not, not waiting for everything to be perfect was how I approached it.

Could you share your personal journey and insights on how you’ve learned to be discerning in managing your resources when it comes to pursuing various interests?

It’s been such a journey to even understand that for myself. And I’m probably still on that journey as someone who also has a million ideas about what I wanna do. So when things are, are hard to move forward, there’s like, there’s a breaking point between push forward and keep going and it will succeed. And then there’s a difference between like, maybe this just isn’t perfectly the path that was meant for you, and there’s no way for me to express like why, which is the right thing. It has to be an intuitive thing. For example, I started that travel blog and I had this dream probably like many of, you know, 20-somethings in 2012/2013 of being a full-time travel blogger.

I learned so much during that time, I did completely free work for the majority, and I had like one mini-paid trip in a couple of little free meals, but that was about it, right? Like I was just doing hours. I look back on thousands of hours of free work, just putting content on my blogs, sending out newsletters, putting up social media posts, and helping people train and plan trips. That was such a passion of mine and it is still such a passion of mine. I think that the world of travel is just so powerful. It also shifted a little bit in that travel blog time to like becoming more like a conservationist. So I was like shift rebranded myself and was very much about like, talking about earthing and here’s how to compost and all that stuff. That did not pan out to anything.

And I tried for many years and I always had my full-time job backing me. And then again, shifting into the yoga and wellness world, it panned out a little bit better, but it was not, I didn’t see a path to replacing an income. But again, it was a true passion. I was desperately trying to make that work for many years that being my sole kind of career identity. What I realized and what made the shift from going down that wellness path, especially around the prenatal stuff into website design within a matter of three months, was a practical standpoint. I, I loved creating websites and brands and getting creative, but I always thought like, oh, but my passions are travel and wellness, so I have to make a business around that. And then I realized it’s actually what can sustain those passions from a practical standpoint.

People need websites and will pay for websites and brands and yes, I love it. I would consider that a passion of mine, but that passion is a work passion and I love that it stays on the work side of my brain because then I teach yoga for free, I help moms for free and I travel just for pleasure not to then create content around it. I get to experience those passions for what they are, and again, my sole purpose is also to embody joy and, and shine that out to others so that they can experience joy, and I really believe, and I’ve seen through that journey, not everything is meant to be monetized, and sometimes it’s, there is a facet of your personality that can be monetized and that is your work.

What kind of lessons have you integrated from that experience over the past year owning a business and being a mom?

It has been such a journey. My business was like giving birth to another child in its own way. And just a funny, funny side note, my brother-in-law asked me, we were at breakfast and my business is named after my girl’s middle name. So Ivy and Lynn are their middle names, and he said, so if you have a third kid, what are you gonna do with your business name? My middle name will be Studio, predetermined. Yeah, so it has been, gosh, it’s been a journey starting my business. So I work very part-time actually. I work no more than three days a week. And most weeks I am working full-time, two days.

And this is like no judgment whatsoever for the different paths people take, but that was my intention. I didn’t wanna leave my corporate full-time job to replace it with another full-time job. I wanted to balance the two sides of my being who I am right now. And that is an entrepreneur who is supporting other female creatives in launching their businesses and a mom who is experiencing the joy of toddlerhood and babyhood, with my two girls. And that is easier said than done. I quickly got many clients and which is a great problem to have. But it’s been a balance of finding a flow to my weeks and as a mom and as a human, weeks can be unpredictable. One of us gets sick and then we all get sick, and then you have to find time for that client work.

There’s the term of balance and presence and kind of being present, whatever you’re doing, but I found that harmony and blend are really what my experience has been. Yeah. I, my friend comments all the time too, who’s also in the process of launching her business and she’s like, I don’t know how you sit down to work for 45 minutes and then switch gears because I have to quickly work during a nap time or in the few moments I get before everybody’s downstairs for breakfast to answer an email. And so I’m constantly sort of switching, so I’m like switching between mom and business owner, mom, business owner, and then I have full long days that I’m able to focus on my business and then also focus on my kids.

It is not easy, but it is fulfilling. I tell people I’ve never been more fulfilled. I wake up every day and I get to do two things I love, and sometimes they coincide on the same day, and other times they’re completely separate. But no matter what kind of day it is, I either get to play with my girls or I get to do work that I just love. And so that’s kind of how I’ve approached it over these this last almost year. And I’ve, I’ve found that in one of my first Instagram posts I talked about having balance, like, oh, I’m gonna do very, you know, very now. I’m like, no, it’s such a blend. It’s such a blend. But I think there’s they see it and they’re young.

 So it’s been just a very meaningful, sometimes exhausting journey. I mean, it’s, it’s a lot of late nights. It’s a lot of catching up between the hours of 8:00 PM and midnight. But as any entrepreneur knows, if you love that work, and again, it is work like I, I I agree with you about that. Like it is, I sit down and I build a website and it’s working. Yeah. But it’s such meaningful work. There’s such purpose behind it, and it allows me to have this additional life that just is, is really joyful. So that’s what I’ve kind of found that lesson. And, not every day is perfect and there are, you know, certain moments, but the blend is really what’s been able to allow me to kind of navigate this time.

What would you say to someone that doesn’t have a child yet is maybe on the fence and has that fear of where’s my time gonna go?

It’s a big question and it’s one I’m still working through. I have an almost three-year-old and a one-and-a-half-year-old. And so a couple of things that I can reflect back on is that it’s, I, and it’s so cliche to say, it’s so cliche, but it goes by in a flash and at the moment it doesn’t feel fast. You’re tired, you know, all of those, those things. But, I have a three-year-old now who’s just so different than the newborn that I had before. It really does go by so fast, and I think that if you are, you make the decision or you come to have a child in whatever way it is that you have a child, I’m, again, a big believer of signs in the universe it is meant to be. And so you have to bring awareness around this happening.

I have this baby to take care of. And yes, it does mean a lot of your time is gonna be taken from you, from what you once knew it to be, but you’re still inside yourself. So you’re not losing any parts of yourself. You’re simply shedding things temporarily and you have the ability to come back to them. And so what I would encourage you to do is find the new parts of yourself that will be born with your child. And you’re gonna find so much joy in that we all have seasons that we go through. So you think of like maybe if you went to college those four years and who you were during that time and what you shed to be there, and then what you were able to attain after being there.

I built a business during my, both girls were in diapers. And so it’s about, you know, finding what is important to you in this time and making that time for it. And going with that flow of things are not going to pan out the way that you intend them to be because you have these little people, this little person who’s gonna need every part of you for a short time. So try to stay patient and it’s gonna be an evolution as you grow with that child. But I encourage you to find the moments in the day that you can come back to yourself and know that you’re still there, but you’re growing into this new, beautiful, evolved person who is now responsible for this other beautiful little soul that chose you to be their mommy or their daddy.

How have the skills and experiences you’ve gained as a mom positively influenced your journey as an entrepreneur and business owner?

I think it’s a combination of being a mom and becoming a mom at a very specific time in the lifespan of what we’re all experiencing as a society, I became a mom in May of 2020 and I think as a society and as a collective, we all paused and started to realize that we’re all humans and we brought that as much as we could and especially the strong good businesses with good cultures into the business world, and all of a sudden we started seeing Zoom calls with babies and dogs, and a husband walking in the background, maybe not dressed fully, I had just become a mom and sometimes I would be breastfeeding on Zoom calls with my camera turned off and I’m in a meeting and I’m talking.

That was okay and my manager said that that was, you know, like there was an acceptance, and so I think it was a combination of becoming a mom at that time and then very soon after that walking down the path of becoming an entrepreneur. I think that for the majority of us, we have opened our business worlds up to our personal worlds. And being a mom at that time really showed me what being on the other side of that is having grace and compassion and flexibility granted to me. Yeah. It’s what I’ve brought into my business.

I’ve attracted a lot of moms as clients of mine and so we’ll be in these meetings and we have kids, we have noise in the background and there’s just this like level of like, yes and it’s okay that, and like, and we can ha you know, like you said it earlier, like and also. And so I think it’s just been a really beautiful time to become a mom, to become a business owner, and to enter into this world of other business owners who are moms or not and just feel like there’s just like this element of humanness behind all of us and empathy and just like we all wanna live these beautiful, wonderful lives for our families and we’re here to support each other to do it.

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