It is time for WAHM Spotlight – a monthly WAHM interview, and this time, I’m delighted to shine the spotlight on Mary McCauley of Jilly Bean, a boutique specializing in one-of-a-kind custom clothes for girls.
Here is Mary talking about her life as a mom entrepreneur and work-at-home mother. Read on to find out how this mom of 7 juggles a business along with her home and family.
Tell us a little about yourself.
My studio is also on our farm which makes for a beautiful work environment. It can also offer the challenges of separating work and personal life.
I am also a photography student and my photography has helped me to develop and communicate the esthetic of the Jilly Bean brand.
What motivated or inspired you to launch Jilly Bean Clothing?
I can’t imagine doing anything other than what I am doing! Designing, manufacturing and developing the Jilly Bean brand has been exciting and very rewarding. My children are a great source of inspiration to me and having five daughters, I understand a little bit about what girls like.
Jilly Bean caters to the child rather than making the assumption that the child wants to dress like an adult. It is a fine line because while I understand parents hold the check book, the child ultimately holds the desire to wear the clothes or they just end up in a pile on the floor. (Not that having five daughters would make me an expert on clothes on the floor.)
What makes Jilly Bean unique is that we don’t mass produce anything. Each piece is a wearable art one-of-a-kind.
What does a typical “WAHM” day look like for you?
Well, a typical day starts with coffee then out to feed animals. More coffee, checking email, orders, in tandem with getting my 5 year old dressed, fed and off to school. I am lucky to also have two college age children living at home who are great about helping me out.
I usually put together some design elements or pattern drafting early in the morning.
I then hit the treadmill, back into the studio to work on manufacturing or back to my computer to work on photograph editing or advertising campaigns which has been an additional project this week.
I am also a member of a couple of community development based groups so I occasionally have meetings surrounding local business and community development.
My showroom is open once a month so that can take some preparation and arrangement because there are also other local artists who have work in my space.
I also have a photography area behind my showroom that I use to photograph clothing for my website or models wearing Jilly Bean in our cold Midwestern winters!
Oh yes and homework. I do a lot of homework right now late at night. When I read this, I am struck by how not unique my day really is. Every working woman/mother has a list just as long if not longer than mine. What maybe sets a typical day apart for me from some women is that most of the time – it’s not too difficult to manage a day in the life of Jilly Bean because I am the captain of my ship.
If the work day starts a little late, it ends a little later.
I regularly wear jeans and muck boots to the office. Designing fashion isn’t always fashionable – wink wink!
What do you think are the major challenges a work-at-home woman faces? How do you think one can deal with them?
As I mentioned earlier, the lines can blur between studio space and home space and before you know it, you are working a twelve-hour day! You have to know when to walk away from the office, close the door and play a game or go for a walk and explore the world with your child.
Some of my best design work has come from conversations with my kids, whether that meant doing an activity together or simply talking at the table. Taking the time to do these things is the balance for me in keeping the home together during office hours.
When I need to clear my head, I take a walk outdoors and shoot some photographs or visit my horses for a while. There isn’t any judgment or pressure in nature. It just is what it is.
What’s next on the plate for Jilly Bean Clothing?
My goal when I began Jilly Bean Clothing was to develop a brand and have my brand’s message be one that I would be proud of. I wanted to wake up every morning and hit the ground running because I loved my job – I have already achieved that goal!
Next on the Jilly Bean plate would be to expand marketing and manufacturing efforts.
Thank you, Mary!
Win Jilly Bean Clothing for Girls!
One lucky The Mom Writes reader will win a Jilly Bean Girls tee in their choice of size and color. Jilly Bean tees are 100% cotton and made in the US!
To enter, visit the Jilly Bean website and let me know which item is your favorite?
Giveaway Terms and Conditions:
Giveaway is for US residents, aged 18 or older. Giveaway ends 23:59 (PST) on 05/05/12. One winner will be chosen randomly using the ‘And the Winner Is’ plugin. Answering the question is mandatory for entry. Incomplete entries will be disqualified. Winner will be notified via email and this blog post will be updated with winner’s information. Prizes will be shipped directly by the sponsors. The Mom Writes and the giveaway sponsors are not responsible for shipping delays or damage in transit.