Creating a career with kids – Love Letters by Analisa
Is the pursuit of a work-life balance really attainable? In my opinion I’m not sure it really is. I think something always has to take precedence one way or another. But does that really matter? I think as long as it tips both ways over time then that’s absolutely fine!
I started my creative business Love Letters by Analisa whilst on maternity leave with my son. I’d been in advertising for close to twenty years, and up until I had my daughter – 19 months prior to my son – I’d loved it. It was fast paced and dynamic. There was lots of socialising and meetings with new and exciting clients, late nights and closing deals. But after I had my children, my perspective on things changed and it just didn’t have the same appeal.
As my maternity leave with my son was coming to an end, I was increasingly having feelings of dread at the thought of returning to my full-time job. I was loving being at home with my children; the thought of leaving them with someone else made me feel anxious and sad that I would miss out on so much. But, I needed an income; relying solely on my husband’s wasn’t an option. So I started to think about what I could do from home that could turn into a profitable business.
I’d always loved Art whilst I was at school. I wasn’t particularly brilliant at it, but I enjoyed the creative outlet. So I started experimenting making personalised gifts. I made them for friends and family. Whenever someone had a birthday, dinner party, or invited us over for tea – I would take one! It was a great way to practice and receive feedback and suggestions. Overall, the encouragement was fantastic and I felt I could make it work. So I decided to make a proper go of it and handed my notice in at work. This was much to the shock of my boss, who couldn’t believe I was giving up closing million pound deals to do gluing and sticking!
Creating Love Letters
The first step was to register my business and make it official with the HMRC. Then I created a facebook, instagram, twitter and pinterest profiles for Love Letters. It was hard starting from scratch whilst keeping two little people occupied; so most of the brand building took place at night when they slept – and I most certainly didn’t! It was a learning curve. I’d only used social media for fun and to post annoying photos of my kids and nose at other people’s lives. So I watched, read and listened to endless videos and blogs to from others. I took the next step and opened my online shop on Etsy, a marketplace for handmade goods, and since March 2016 I haven’t looked back!
Having my own business at home and not having to work for someone else is what I’ve always wanted, but it doesn’t suddenly make life perfect! The fact that it’s my own business means I never really switch off from it as I want it to be the best it can be. Without sounding cliche, it is my third child. I don’t think I’ve ever worked this hard before.
It’s fantastic being able to spend all day with my kids. But at the same time, I have to work – often into the early hours of the morning when everyone else is sleeping – as well as doing the day to day errands of the house, and all the other things life throws at you. I sometimes feel overwhelmed when I know I have a lot of orders to fulfil and cannot physically see how I can make them in time. Sometimes it means the children may have to watch a little more CBeebies than I would like and I may have to work until 4am, but I know it’s not forever. It’s pretty much organised chaos in our house but somehow it works.
I’m lucky to have a very supportive and creative husband who can work wonders with anything I need him to. Plus, my parents live nearby and will do anything to make our lives easier, from taking the kids for a few hours, bringing over a cooked meal, doing my accounts, to even getting stuck in making orders! I also have to say crafting is incredibly therapeutic, it always relaxes me when I make something, so I recommend anyone to try doing something crafty to help them switch off.
This September, my daughter starts nursery and my son preschool, which means they are in school all day every day. It is going to be a huge turning point for me. I will have the daytime to work on my business rather than the night (maybe a bit of the night too!). I can see my business moving to the next level and I hope to employ someone to help with the admin side of things. We are also in the process of moving house and then I will have my very own studio – goodbye dining table in our living room! I love it when customers ask to come to my showroom – little do they realise my set-up; Peppa Pig on the TV, feeding the children supper, whilst putting together an intricate floral letter with a hot glue gun!
However, despite the non-stop madness, I wouldn’t change it for anything (apart from more sleep!) and I’m excited to see what the next chapter will be in our lives.