Hello everybody, today’s post is running a little late because the sun is finally shining here in Munich and after weeks and weeks of endless rain I was out and about, enjoyed the sunshine and indulged in a little bit of summer fashion ! 😉
Today I would like you to welcome the lovely Holly Marder, a dear blogger friend of mine to Littlestarblog’s Mompreneour series – read on and find out how she manages to balance motherhood with her blog Avenue Lifestyle and her many other endeavors…
LSB: Hello Holly, welcome to Littlestarblog ! Tell us about your business and what you do exactly.
HM: I am a freelance editor, interior design journalist and stylist, so my time is usually spent either behind the computer or the camera. I also work with clients to style their homes, so the occasional shopping trip mixes things up a bit! I founded my blog Avenue to document style, interiors, food and lifestyle inspiration and share my latest projects. Blogging has become an absolute passion as it enables me to combine my two favorite things: style and the written word.
LSB: What inspired you to start your own business and how did you come up with the initial idea ?
HM: I started writing for the interior design platform Houzz shortly after I had my now two-year-old daughter Lola. Being exposed to beautiful interiors and seeing my features published to a global audience gave me such a buzz that I decided to channel that energy into writing a blog. I relaunched my blog early this year and am now focusing on building my brand and portfolio. I have seen first hand that women are building successful careers as writers in the blogging and design industry and that is what inspires me. To be able to combine all the things that I love doing (writing, creating, styling, discovering) and merge all of that together in one inspiring space is what drives me.
LSB: What were you doing before this and is this your first business ?
HM: I began my own freelance business just over 4 years ago when I chased love to the Netherlands, mainly because at the time I couldn’t speak a word of Dutch. I have successfully worked as an editor, journalist and also done PR work primarily in The Hague area since then, but about two years ago I realized that I was missing creativity in what I was doing. That is when I started to look outside the square and pinpoint the direction I wanted to go in.
LSB: What has been your biggest obstacle or challenge so far and how did you overcome it ?
HM: My biggest obstacle has been raising a child in a foreign country, while trying to build a career at the same time. As my family are all in South Africa and Australia, I have had little support when it comes to being a mum. We have managed so far with just one day a week of childcare, which has meant that I have had to get creative with how and when I work. I usually work while Lola is asleep, so from 6-9am, then about 12:30-3:30pm and then again in the evenings. This arrangement has taught me a huge degree of patience, which is something I don’t have a lot of ! Another challenge as a stay-at-home working ‘mompreneur’ has been the large chunks of time spent in my home office with little contact with other creatives. As a writer and all-round creative person, it is so important for me to feed the soul with people and experiences, and I am a real people person. This is all very temporary though, and in June, Lola will be going to play center three mornings a week (woohoo!), which will free up some time and enable me to tackle more creative projects away from home.
LSB: Where do you see the future of your company ?
HM: Something I definitely miss at the moment is working and interacting in a team environment. In the future, I would love to team up with other creatives to bring exciting and fresh content to Avenue. I would also like to take on more styling (interior and editorial) projects, and one day, write a book.
LSB: Do you have a female role model or a famous woman you admire ?
HM: The person I admire the most is my mother. When I was 14, she suffered a cycle of illnesses that drastically affected our lives. She started with breast cancer and then went on to have two very serious strokes, after which she spent months in brain rehabilitation. If you met her now, you wouldn’t even know anything had happened to her. She runs a successful business from home and with a few side effects, is getting on with life brilliantly. She is the reason that I am such a strong and loving person, and I have a huge amount of respect for what she overcame. On a professional level, I have a lot of admiration for the successful blogger/author Holly Becker, who I met for the first time last year when she hosted a weekend workshop at her home studio. She has made a wonderful career for herself doing what she loves, and helping others to do the same.
LSB: Can women really have it all? How do you balance raising your children and heading a company ?
HM: I do believe that women can successfully balance family with a fruitful career, providing that limits and priorities are clearly set. Regularly taking a step back to appreciate family is not only necessary for them, but can also recharge the batteries and provide energy on the work front. I have learned (albeit reluctantly!) that it’s OK to lower a few standards, especially when it comes to house work. I would love to have a cleaning lady as a messy house drives me nuts, but until then, I have learned to step away from that side of things in favor of either producing good work or spending quality time with my family.
LSB: What is the one piece of advise that you would give aspiring mom entrepreneurs ?
HM: Make lists! If you’re anything like me, you are still suffering from baby brain. The constant work-life juggle can lead to feeling overwhelmed and being counter productive. Writing to-do lists and ticking off each item as I go along means that I am more productive, less stressed, and therefore have more positive energy for my family. If I start to feel overwhelmed with deadlines and am at risk of losing it, I get out a pen and paper and write down a list and get started immediately. It always helps.
LSB: Thank you Holly for this inspiring interview, the great advise and for taking the time to share your secrets with us !