Meet Courtney Moursund

I could not think of a better mom to talk to as the year is coming to an end and we are all planning on becoming the healthiest versions of ourselves in 2019. Courtney Moursund has taken her love of fitness and lack of time (hello, motherhood!) to create a virtual boot camp, Triceps & Tutus Fit Tribe, that help women reach their health and fitness goals in a realistic way.

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A: Tell me about your life before your launched Triceps & Tutus?

C: I went to college in San Angelo, TX and got my degree in exercise science. I worked as a rehab therapist for a chiropractic clinic for four years before I got the bug to teach. I went back to school to get my teaching certificate and taught 5th grade for a few years before I had Madison.

A: So how did you get the idea to launch your own virtual training boot camps?

C: I have always been into fitness, taught fitness classes and did personal training as my job in college. When I worked at the rehab clinic, I had 2 or 3 clients I would train in the evenings after work. Once I started teaching 5th grade, I fell away from fitness stuff for a few years until I had Madison. After having her, I took on a few personal training clients (all virtual) and out of that my business was born.

A: Tell me all about Triceps & Tutus Fit Tribe. It sounds perfect for moms who cannot find the time to exercise.

C: It is all done virtually so you can find the time at any point in your day to do it. I customize training for each individual client based on their goals. We start with a Facetime chat on what their goals are and what style workouts they enjoy. I ask them how many days they would like to exercise, what kind of equipment they have at home, and what kind of meal plan would work best (I customize meal plans for different calorie brackets and even do seasonal menus as well). We have a private Facebook group where clients can pop in anytime and check in with me and each other, share meal plans or fitness tips, time-saving ideas for moms, etc. I provide workout videos for each client for their exercise routines and they can be done with little to no equipment- depending on what they have at home. Lots of the exercises I teach are using your own body weight. And I offer various plans: 1 month, 3 months, 6 months, or 12-month plan and I have a 30-day money back guarantee.

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A: Sounds like you really can help so many people this way. Do the clients all support each other in the FB group?

C: Some ladies who have been with me from the beginning will step in and speak up about what has worked best for them along the way. We might even have new moms dealing with issues that some of the seasoned moms will speak up about. We really have become a fitness tribe and I have been able to help so many more people this way. The support is amazing!

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A: I love the videos you put on your Instagram page when you are working out and Madison is climbing on your back or participating in some way. You are truly embodying how a mom has to get things done at times.

C: Sometimes that is how I have to work out. Madison often jumps in on the workout or randomly jumps up and starts doing yoga poses. It keeps things interesting for sure. My target market is moms who cannot make it to the gym- I just happen to be one of them.

A: How did you think of the name Triceps & Tutus?

C: We did a workout one day in our tutus- we have a lot of tutus-and someone commented that we should always wear tutus so it became our thing.

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A: Tell me about your life as a mother.

C: Madison was a surprise. Stephen and I weren’t married and when we found out it was a bit scary but it prompted us to figure out that we wanted to spend the rest of our lives with each other. The pregnancy was very easy and uneventful but I ended up with an emergency c-section which was frightening. Motherhood kinda came naturally to me. I am an only child who has divorced parents and half siblings 12 and 16 years younger and I helped raise them.

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A: I love seeing Madison in class every week because she seems so joyful and happy. How would you describe her?

C: Madison is sassy, social, outgoing, and energetic. She is always doing things early. She was walking at 9 months and we had to move her out of a crib at 14 months because she was climbing out. She has never met a stranger.

A: What do you think has been the hardest part of becoming a mother?

C: Trying to balance it all. Finding time to work out / be a mom / be a wife- it is a constant struggle. And then finding time for self-care as well.

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A: What do you do for self-care?

C: Once or twice a month I get a 90-minute massage- which is my favorite form of self-care. I have a night out with friends. Something that has also worked really well for me is taking time for myself in the mornings before Madison is awake. I try to teach my clients to do the same- get up and take some time for yourselves. It really makes a difference in your day.

A: I would imagine that January will be an extremely busy time for you with the new year and everyone setting their fitness goals.

C: For sure, January and February are the biggest months for an influx of new clients. I have to readjust my time in those months. Luckily, my husband knows those are crazy months for me so he plans lots of daddy/daughter date nights so I can knock out my work.

A: What do you see for your future- personal and business?

C: I really like where Triceps & Tutus is right now and the community that we have built. Things might shift if we decide to have another child. For a long time we were set on Madison being our only one and now we are open to the idea of another at some point.

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A: How can people find out more about joining Triceps and Tutus Fit Tribe? It sounds like it is IDEAL for any mother who wants to incorporate fitness into their busy day.

C: They can fill out a virtual boot camp application  or email me at coachcourtneyatx@gmail.com.

Thank you so much, Courtney!

You can also follow along on the Triceps and Tutus Instagram and Facebook page to see exercise tips and motivation from Courtney on a daily basis.

 

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Meet Nasreen Shahi

Nasreen is one of the best dressed and most adorable moms you might ever see. It makes complete sense that she is a fashion, beauty, and lifestyle blogger. She is a mom to three gorgeous kids and recently decided to turn her love of fashion and beauty products into a career.

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A: How long has it been since you officially launched your blog, Hey Nasreen and put yourself out there as an Instagram influencer?

N: I put up my first post last summer on June 1st! I was just sharing outfit posts sporadically and then began working with RewardStyle and blogging in October. I’ve always enjoyed fashion and shopping and I live for a good deal. I would always text my friends all my good finds and after much encouragement from my husband, family, and friends I decided to just go for it.

A: How did you start to get followers on Instagram?

N: I created a separate IG handle from my personal one because I didn’t want people to feel pressure to follow along. It’s all happened pretty organically by networking with other bloggers, using hashtags on posts, and working with different brands

A: What would you say your aesthetic is?

N: I am a normal person with a normal life and a normal budget. My goal is to share affordable outfit options for busy women and moms. Most of what I share are cute casual options because let’s be honest- at any given time I may get spilled on by the kids. After having 3 kids, I still care about what I look like and I don’t feel like I have to live in gym clothes. You can still dress cute as a busy mom! I try to keep it classic & simple- if I share a trend, I will do it in my own way with my own spin on it.

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A: Explain how the affiliate links work and working with brands- I have always been so curious about fashion and lifestyle bloggers- the fact that it is a career is amazing!

N: I only work with brands that I really believe in, and most of them are brands I’ve already been shopping for years; I decline about 95% of sponsorship opportunities because they don’t always fit my style or I feel my followers wouldn’t benefit from it. My whole purpose it to show what I am wearing as a mom or share little beauty tips and I just want to continue to keep it all authentic.

A: How do you make income on posting?

N: There are 2 ways: sponsorships and affiliate links. I earn commission through R style on 8% of what people buy through my affiliate links. If someone clicks on an affiliate link and makes a purchase, I will earn a commission on it. I purchase 99% of what I show on the blog and my Instagram on my own. If I agree to a sponsored post, it is something I believe in and would purchase on my own as well.

A: Have you always lived in Austin?

N: I am originally from the Houston/Sugarland area and moved to Austin in high school  My parents both went to the University of Houston which is where they met- my dad is from Pakistan and my mom is from Afghanistan – she came here at 16 as a foreign exchange student. They both moved to the United States so young and with no family, which amazes me. My husband and I both went to the University of Texas and lived in Boston for a few years while he attended dental school. We knew we wanted to find our way back to Austin after he graduated. Austin is definitely home for us!

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A: What did you do for work before launching Hey Nasreen?

N: I was always in sales- conference sales for Hilton, I did pharma sales for 6-7 years. Before I had kids I loved it but once kids came along it was too much travel, too much being out in the evenings. I knew I wasn’t going to continue doing that but I also wanted to do more than just stay home with the kids.

A: Tell me about your kids.

N: I have Reza who is 7.5, Laila who is 4, and Sophia who is 2. Reza is a typical 1st child and I had everything just perfect for him (first child and all) and he still likes things that way. Laila is an angel and the sweetest thing- she is 3 going on 30. Sophia is my wild card- she is hilarious and knows way too much.

A: How do you separate mom-ing and blogging/being on Instagram? Instagram can be like a black hole you fall into- I can’t imagine if my job was being on it.

N: It is hard- I hate to feel like I am always on my phone, but I also have to stay connected more since I started blogging. And I want to respond to people. I have people who might be sending me pics while they are shopping at the mall and I want to reply to them. One of the best things about this experience is all the cool people that I have gotten to meet. I had a local mother of two reach out and ask me if I would go shopping with her- she has breast cancer and was going through chemo. After we went shopping she felt so good about herself and what she bought and I loved being a part of that. And the best part is that I made a friend in that way! But there are definitely times where I just put the phone on the charger and walk away. And now I just sleep less. Truthfully, this gives me more of a purpose, something to focus on in addition to being a mom, and I love that.

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A: On the flip side of meeting really cool people, have you ever had any negative feedback from this?

N: The support I have received on this platform has been overwhelmingly amazing! But the truth is, it opens you up to criticism as well. It hasn’t happened much, but I think sometimes people may say things over messages they wouldn’t ever say to a stranger in real life and that has been interesting! But the support totally outweighs the negativity.

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A: Where do you see yourself going forward with Hey Nasreen?

N: I’d love to reach more people and grow with them. Things might change a bit over time, right now most of my outfits are mom-friendly for fellow moms with young kids but that could change in the future- I would love to grow with my followers in whatever way that may be.

A: Do you keep and wear everything you post?

N: Yes and a goal of mine this summer is to start an account on Poshmark- it is getting a bit out of control and I need to purge some!

A: What has been the hardest part of becoming a mom and entrepreneur?

N: Balancing it all – being a mom and blogger means you are always feeling the comparison- with other moms and other bloggers. Sometimes you think “Why don’t I have it all together?” We are all so hard on ourselves and at the end of the day, everyone is just trying to do their best.

Thank you so much, Nasreen!

Blog: Hey Nasreen

Instagram: Hey Nasreen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meet Jenna Zielbauer

Since we are celebrating Mother’s Day this month I thought it was fitting to chat with the founder of RockEase, Jenna Zielbauer, about her brilliant product that allows moms to rock their baby anywhere that has a chair.

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A: So you are fairly new to Austin, what brought you here?

J: My husband, daughter and I were living in downtown Chicago and never had plans to leave. The area code was 312, my daughter was born on 3-12- it just seemed meant to be. We were city kids through and through. Until we saw a teaser video of a master planned community in Austin and started to reevaluate our lives. The crime was getting out of control in the area of Chicago we lived in and the weather is not ideal for raising children (it snowed in April y’all). So just like that, we decided to pack up our stuff and move to a warmer weather climate, somewhere that would allow us to truly live more.

A: Austin is such a big, spread out city. How did you decide what area you were going to build your house?

J: Even though we live in the suburbs of Austin, we are city people and still wanted to be able to get downtown easily. I drew a 25-minute radius around the city of Austin and studied traffic patterns to see how easily we could get downtown for dinner at night. Coming from the flat midwest we fell in love with the rolling hills of hill country, we feel like we live in the mountains out here!

A: Tell me about your working life before RockEase.

J: I am a serial entrepreneur. I have had a lot of good ideas; lots of bad ones too. My background is in wholesale apparel and I owned a boutique called Von Z. My husband’s grandparents came here from Germany when his father was 13. Their last name was Von Zielbauer but upon arrival they dropped the Von to sound more American –  the store was named in honor of them. I was the buyer for Von Z and started to notice there was a gap in the graphic tee business and with that my biggest baby to date was born, Casual Friday. Casual Friday started as a mix and match graphic tee business.

 

 

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A: Mix and Match?

J: Graphic tees were getting really popular but I noticed buyers were limited in what they could bring in to their stores. I would find myself liking the styles of certain tees but not the graphic and vice versa so I launched an apparel line called Causal Friday that allowed the buyer to pick and choose graphics, body styles and colors to to create their own graphic tees to fit their specific customer.

A: What happened to the boutique?

J: Casual Friday boomed, like really boomed. We were profitable in the 2nd month of operations and quickly grew to be in 350+ stores nationwide. We shut Von Z’s doors to focus solely on our wholesale business.

A: How did things change when you had your daughter, Maximara?

J: After I had Maxi I wanted to be a stay at home mom. At the time we only planned to have one child and I wanted to soak in all of the moments, especially the early days. I knew I would never get those moments back. And with that our Casual Friday days came to an end.

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A: But now you are launching RockEase, can you tell me about the product?

J: I know, funny how that happens. And, sure!  RockEase is the first compact, portable and lightweight device that transforms any standard 4-legged into a rocking chair. Your chair + our rails = a rockin’ good time.

A: When did the idea for RockEase start to form?

J: When Maximara was 3 months old we set out for our first staycation.  We had rocked her to sleep every night up to that point and she was an amazing sleeper (10-12 hours a night) so I needed to figure out what to do to get her to sleep in the hotel. Like any new mom curious about mom life I took to google and searched for “what to do when you travel and have no rocking chair.” I found forum after forum of people asking the same question and the results didn’t solve my problem: bring a yoga ball, hold the baby and sway, etc. While they may “work” none of these solutions calm and relax the parent as well, something that is so important in soothing a child as they feed off of parent’s energy. I said to my husband, “there’s got to be a better way to do this. I want to come up with a device that can transform any 4-legged chair into a rocking chair so parents can rock anywhere there is a chair.”

A: What made you decide to actually develop this product?

J: Knowing I had the opportunity to bring a product to market that was a sanity-saver for parents was a no-brainer. After 3 years of intellectual property, patent, trademark, R&D, and team building work we are finally just about ready to launch RockEase.

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A: So you came up with the idea, did you engineer and design it?

J: I wish! Engineering is not an area I excel in. The first engineering company I hired was a disaster but they say everything happens for a reason, right? That led me to the next engineering company, Zewski Corporation. Larry, the owner, has been a dream to work with. He had to completely redesign our first prototype for a variety of reasons. He has been working on this project for 2 years with us and has been more than accommodating. The biggest hurdle we faced with this product is that it needs to have the strength to hold 600lbs yet also have the ability to break down and fit into a mom’s diaper bag (or large purse). I am happy to say we have finally gotten there.

A: It sounds like it has been a difficult process. Have you ever wanted to quit?

J: A huge part of my personality is that when I hear no I just want to push harder. So hearing so many people tell me it can’t be done, just made me want to work harder at building this product. Don’t get me wrong- there have been days where I cry and want to quit but I know that I am building something that will help so many people. It has been scientifically proven that rocking triggers a calming response in the parasympathetic nervous system and has been found beneficial for social, emotional and motor development. Rocking releases endorphins that reduce stress, anxiety, and pain and promotes a deeper sleep. I know this product is solving a big pain point for parents and even grandparents and that pushes me to keep going.

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A: Where is the company now that the product has been developed?

J: Currently we are pre-production but will be launching a crowdfunding campaign in the next few months to raise capital for manufacturing. It is a unique opportunity for parents (or anyone for that fact) to be able to own a part of a company, a company that has made a product that will change their life with little ones in hopefully more ways than one.

A: You seem like you are such a go-getter in general. What advice do you have about being an entrepreneur?

J: You don’t have to be a Harvard grad to have a good idea but you do need to know when (and how) to ask for help. Align yourself with the right people who know what you don’t and dig deep to flex your confidence and determination muscles to push forward. Also, don’t rely on others and you won’t ever be disappointed- meaning people might tell you they will help or ask others for help but the reality is you might be doing everything solo.

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A: Let’s talk about motherhood. Tell me about your kids and you as a mom.

J: Maximara is 3 and Axe is 6 months. Before I had Maxi I had a good friend who was the first in our group to have a baby and she really struggled and didn’t feel prepared. When I got pregnant all my friends were so concerned how I was going to do it and survive without a nanny or help. When someone makes me feel like I can’t do something it just makes me want to succeed more, so I was determined that we would make the most of our parenting experience. To my surprise parenting came very natural to me – I didn’t stress, I wasn’t anxious and most importantly I was confident. Babies feed off of parent’s energy and because of that I believe she was an easy going and happy baby. I was taking her out and about when she was 2 weeks old. Her first year was one of the best years my husband, Patrick, and I have had since we met.

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A: What happened when Axe came along?

J: Again, I had friends telling me how hard it would be with two. This made me just decide to embrace the chaos and embrace the pivot.

A: Embrace the pivot?

J: Let’s say you have plans to meet a friend for lunch and your baby throws up right as you are walking out the door. You could panic, freak out and let it ruin your afternoon. OR you can take that moment as a pivot, a slight change in plans if you will, but it doesn’t mean the day is ruined or over. There will be a lot of pivots in parenthood, the more accepting you are of them, the better off you will be!

A: Did you always see yourself running with your own business while being a mother?

J: No. I had plans to be a stay at home mom but there’s been quite the pivot in my plans and I am OK with that. While running RockEase I simultaneously run  Parents Who Rock, one-stop parent concierge company, and source of support for pregnant women and new parents. We offer various services for new parents from baby gear training (i.e. how to use a car seat) to lactation consultation, sleep consultation, fitness consultation, financial planning, party planning, nursery design, post delivery services, and pre-delivery services. We have had a great experience with our two children and I want others to experience that same joy, especially in that first year. I’m here to help parents rock this journey.

A: Is there anything you can’t do?

J: I am a creator, not a numbers person. My husband is the yin to my yang so he handles that for me!

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A: What has been the most surprising thing about motherhood:

J: I didn’t realize I could cause a temper tantrum for allowing my child to eat a donut for breakfast and then providing said donut and it not being to her standards and/or on the wrong plate. I also didn’t realize how quickly a margarita can turn a crap parenting day into an awesome parenting day. Man, do I love margaritas.

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Thank you so much for your time, Jenna!

Rockease: https://rockease.com/

Parents Who Rock: https://www.parentswhorockinc.com/

Meet Allison Haligas

I was so excited to speak with Allison this month because she is a girl boss in the E-commerce world. She is a mom to three darling boys and a former nurse turned into a Rodan and Fields consultant. (I had to be honest before moving to Austin I had never heard of Rodan and Fields and I was SO curious about it and how much money the consultants could make.)

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AH: Can we just title this one #hotmessmom, please?

AC: Not a problem. In a former life, you were a nurse? What type?

AH: I always worked in pediatric critical care- from ICU to cardiac ICU to Neonatal ICU. I was such a softie at the time and had to develop thick skin.

AC: What drew you to nursing?

AH: Most of my family has a medical background and I sort of stumbled into it. I started out as an interior design and dance major. My dad was adamant that I had a paying job after college and be able to stand on my own two feet- rather than become a dancer in NY who was a starving artist and struggled. My dance instructor was also a nurse so it seemed possible for me to do both. As it turned out I loved the intensity of my job as a nurse; the caring for the sickest of the sick, the urgency of the situations and how I had to constantly make decisions on the fly. It quickly became clear I was meant to do this job.

AC: So what happened after you had your first child, Austin?

AH: After having Austin I really struggled with the decision of whether to stay home or go back to work. But I just couldn’t bring myself to leave him. I stayed home for a year and after about 11 months of being home, I missed having that work outlet and felt like I had lost part myself. I went back to work as a nurse in an outpatient setting because the hours were better. He was in preschool and getting sick all the time. I would have to stay home or call in and I was already only working part-time. Darren’s job was not as flexible so it fell to me. Around the same time I found out I was pregnant with Graham and hospitalized with kidney stones, I ended up having to resign while I was pregnant to finish my pregnancy on bedrest.

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AC: So how did you stumble into the Rodan and Fields world?

AH: After my second kiddo was born we had moved back to Florida to be near family. I had been staying at home full time for a while and LOVING being with my babies, but that longing for more was surfacing again once we had settled in our new home (sensing a pattern here?). Everyone in Panama City worked, which was different than my mom network in Atlanta, so I felt so lonely and isolated. I had been searching for a part-time option that was going to give me the best of both worlds. I knew being home full time with two kids was great for them but not necessarily best for me. I had to get creative and had considered all sorts of options. There was no pediatric ICU in Panama City so I tracked down a manager opening one and she had been looking for someone with my background to help her develop that program part-time. It felt like it was meant to be. After accepting that job, I saw my college friend, Arden, post on Facebook about Rodan and Fields and I was in the market for good skincare products, so I reached out to her.

AC: When did you officially decide to take the leap to join Rodan and Fields?

AH: After talking to Arden, I remember getting off the phone with her and thinking “That’s great. Good for you.” I was impressed with her for going for it! But, that was it. I wasn’t really picturing myself doing it, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t intrigued. After all, I had just gone back to hospital shift work- while I loved my job- the reality was that most of my income was going to pay for childcare. The idea of having extra income without having to put in extra shifts was appealing. I started using the products and I could see a difference in my skin almost immediately. My husband noticed, my mom noticed, my aunt noticed- I have freckly skin with some sun damage from growing up in Florida. My mom and aunt wanted to try products, so I called Arden and she said: “You know, you should do this too and they could be YOUR customers.” It was like a lightbulb went off. I did have a sense of hesitation about jumping into direct sales but I really respected Arden, and the other women she had partnered with were former college classmates who had a ton of career success. I just intuitively knew if they saw value in this and were having success- it would probably be smart for me to take a closer look. Ultimately I was nervous, as this was SO outside of anything I had ever done before, but I knew it was an opportunity that I didn’t want to look back and wonder “what if?”. So I said yes!

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AC: What was your initial investment and how long did it take you to make it back?

AH: When you become a consultant you actually don’t have to purchase ANY products, but Rodan + Fields offers various business kits that have our products at a huge upfront discount. I saw the value in having personal experience with the products I was choosing to represent, so I went with one of the bigger business kits. But even still, my initial investment was under $1,000 and I made that back in my second month. I had considered other businesses before, but all of them would have required a HUGE upfront investment, not to mention a storefront, accountant, staff, marketing, etc. Rodan and Fields is all virtual and handles ALL of that for us; the print marketing, billing, shipping, they handle inventory and ship directly to our customers so that I don’t have to stock anything. And because we are an E-commerce business, all of the transactions take place on my corporate provided website. It was truly like getting a business in a box, for under $1000, and it includes a 60-day money back guarantee. It was a no-brainer for me.

AC: It is so vastly different from what you did as a nurse so what do you like about it?

AH: Honestly, at the core of it- it is still helping people. It is taking a skin problem and figuring out how to help them fix it. I know it seems small in the grand scheme of life but helping people gain confidence is something I really love. When people have skin concerns like redness, melasma, or acne, it can really affect self-esteem. It is so rewarding to be able to help people get past that. With my nursing background, I also was really drawn to the science behind the products. Dr. Rodan and Dr. Fields are practicing dermatologists, and they were also the creators of Proactiv. They are brilliant in business, but also really know from experience what works for skin. Everything goes through years of rigorous independent clinical trials for efficacy and tolerance testing prior to being released.

AC: What kind of training do you get? There is no formal advertising for the products. How do you know how much or how little to share on social media?

AH: You have access to so much training when you start. We do have a HUGE library of corporate provided resources and also each consultant is trained and mentored by their team. The diversity of women who are consultants is astounding: corporate executives, pharma sales reps, doctors, beauty industry leaders, teachers, stay at home moms, yoga instructors, nurses, celebrities, professional athletes, Olympians, fashion magazine editors-you can imagine how many different layers of information we are privy to with all those backgrounds as a part of Rodan and Fields. Finding the balance of sharing on social media is something that we get a lot of training on. From learning how the algorithms work on social platforms to how to share in a tasteful way. Our work is part of our life, not our whole life. So we really try to focus on sprinkling business in with everyday lifestyle posts, just like anyone else would.

AC: Can you be a consultant and not be on Facebook?

AH: You absolutely could! I have had people work with me who weren’t on social media at all. This business is all about relationships and building trust, and you can 100% do that without social media. I do find the social platforms are SOOO valuable, personally, I think you could stay off, but why would you want to make it harder on yourself? The benefit of FB is being able to stay connected to people from all aspects of your life. We also have private Facebook groups for training and communication.

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AC: What is the biggest misconception about Rodan and Fields?

AH: That people are “too busy” to add more to their plate and that most consultants are stay-at-home moms. This is simply NOT TRUE! Most consultants start this business while working full-time jobs, alongside raising kids, or both. Because it is a relationship business we find the busy people tend to be good at prioritizing their day and getting things done. They have a bigger network and tend to have the most success. I fall into this category myself. I started my business while working long hours and having two preschool-aged kiddos at home. If you look at most successful people, they have multiple streams of income. What started as my “side gig” quickly became my “full-time gig.” I still have goals that involve getting back into nursing someday, but I will never give up my RF business. It is just smart. The flexibility to work from your mobile phone gives us the freedom to do this anywhere at any time.

AC: I have to know- how much or how little money can you make selling Rodan and Fields?

AH: Well… this question is really hard to answer- because it is different for everyone. You can make this business what you want, so some people truly are only interested in selling products to a few close friends and are happy making just a few hundred dollars a month. Others see the bigger vision and grow to lead teams of thousands and can make six figures a month. I always hesitate to even share that, because the number just sounds absurd, but it is true. There are people within my team structure who make $200, $2,000, $20,000 a month..(yes, per MONTH) and more. So it just depends on your personal goals, and how hard you want to work, and how well you develop and train your team.

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AC: It seems like you have a ton of perks: vacations, gifts, cars, etc. I saw a consultant on Facebook the other day who received LV luggage from the docs.

AH: YES!! Seriously I think the biggest perk I received working at the hospital was a beach towel and a gift card to the cafeteria. Being spoiled like this is a perk for sure. You might get a cash bonus, prize, or even a vacation from the corporate team, or a gift from your business partner for hitting a goal. Sometimes the most impactful reward is just being recognized and cheered on for achievements and hard work. This is the most supportive and positive work culture I’ve ever been a part of. I have been on leadership retreats to Mexico and Florida. We have SO much fun together. Darren and I are being treated to an all-expenses-paid trip to Banff, Canada this summer as a corporate incentive. You can even earn the white Lexus with our car program. That’s my next goal.

AC: Let’s talk motherhood. You had 3 kids within 5 years. Were 3 kids always in the plan?

AH: #3 was a “conversation” before we realized it was a reality. Graham was 2 and Austin was almost 4 and I found out I was pregnant with Owen. He was a BIG surprise but turned out to be exactly what our family needed. We had a lot going on in our personal lives at the time, a huge business deal was in the works for my husband, we moved to Texas, and we found out my mom had cancer and was starting aggressive treatment immediately. He was “the happy” amongst all stress and chaos! We call him our bonus baby.

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AC: Describe each of your boys:

AH: Austin- Creative/Inquisitive/Intelligent

Graham- Lively/Passionate/Loving

Owen- Joyful/Silly/Empathetic

AC: What has been harder: being a mother, being a pediatric ICU nurse, or starting/growing your Rodan and Fields business?

AH: Being a mom is the hardest thing I have ever done.

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AC: How do you balance being a mom of three with having your own skincare business and a team you have to mentor?

AH: It is not easy. Running a business from home means working around the kids’ schedules and finding time to touch my business every day. Tons of people join but they end up not sticking with it because they push the business aside. You can’t just sign on as a consultant, sign up people on your team, and sit back. You have to mentor, train and lead- I am there to help them find their voice and their way with R&F. Sometimes when you have those days when everything is overwhelming and you are stressed out with motherhood and business you second guess things. I think “What would my alternative be?” To quit and stay home and just be a mom- that doesn’t quite fulfill me. There is no other job that I can have full control over my schedule, be there for all the field trips, all family dinners, and on weekends with my husband and boys. I had reached the top of my pay grade as a nurse- with this job the possibilities are endless if I put in the hustle and hard work.

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AC: So would you say Rodan and Fields is a fit for anyone?

AH: It is a fit for anyone that wants to do it and work hard. We always say it’s not for everyone, but it can be for anyone. I always pictured myself as Allison the nurse and mother, but “Allison the entrepreneur” is a new side of myself that I’ve really enjoyed discovering. It has challenged me to push past fears and self-doubt; I have experienced so much personal growth because of it.

AC: If you could go back and give pre-kid and pre-Rodan and Fields Allison advice, what would it be?

AH: Ohhhh this question is easy. Don’t be in a hurry to get to the next step (be it marriage/buying a house/starting a family). Enjoy this stage for what it is, and focus more on finding YOURSELF and what makes you tick and brings you joy. Travel the world; prioritize travel over possessions. Don’t be afraid to take risks or take a path that looks different from others. And finally, go to grad school. Even if that means taking out loans and being broke for a few years. You will have to wait 20 years to have the chance to do it again and you’ll regret it!!

Thank you so much, Allison!

Allison’s Rodan and Fields Website

 

 

 

Meet Jessica Bruehl

This month I sat down with the owner of JKB Realty and mom to three boys, Jessica Bruehl. She is a superstar realtor and amazing mom and one of the most hardworking women that I have ever met.

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(A) So tell me how you started with JKB Realty- did you work for someone else for awhile?

(J) In 1999, I was trying to get in-state residency for college tuition at UT and I managed to save $3,000 so I bought a condo near campus for $65,000.  I thought it was really cool how real estate works so by my mid 20’s I owned 3 condos.

(A) When did you decide to become a real estate agent?

(J) I decided to get a real estate license when I read a bill that said the classes in Texas were going to go up in the number of credits you needed.

(A) You have your own branch of Keller Williams- how does that work?

(J) I have been with Keller Williams for 15 years- always as an independent agent. They hold my license and you create a company within a company. KW provides the tools to run the business. One year in and I had already hired an assistant.

(A) You are from Florida so how did you build your network in Austin when you were starting out?

(J) I went to every networking event I could think of- charity events, coffee events, happy hour events- as soon as I met someone I would contact them the next day to meet for coffee. I would ask “how can I help you?”. If I can help people around me it would eventually come back. So I went in with the approach of “let’s help each other professionally.”

(A) What has surprised you most about this job/owning your own business?

(J) You are more of a coach and counselor than a salesperson. You are helping these families navigating what is most important and what they need. I have to help them protect their investment, figure out what makes sense for their families and goals. Sometimes the spouses have different ideas of what they want so I have to help them find a common ground. And sometimes that means telling them to “wait a year or two” before purchasing a home.

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(A) How do you stay competitive? I feel like there are so many realtors in Austin.

(J) I never feel any sense of competition with other realtors. I work on growing contacts, family and friends, and the business will follow. At the end of the day, I care about the people I work with- not that one sale. I have always spent money on people not paper. And I also have awesomely loyal clients and an amazing team.

(A) Let’s talk motherhood. How did having kids affect your life as a business owner?

(J) The morning of my c-section for twins, Ben and Caden, I was making calls to clients giving them updates. I was back on the phone and emailing as soon as I was out of the hospital and taking appointment two weeks later. I would pump in the car while driving from place to place. I never wanted to portray that I had kids and therefore I wasn’t committed to a client. This was also in 2008 when the market had taken a huge downturn. I had to prove that I could do it all. When Jackson was born 3.5 years later, I had a completely different approach. He came to meetings with me. I didn’t have the pressure to perform after having kids- I had already proven myself.

(A) Were the twins a total surprise and did you plan on having a third?

(J) The twins were a complete surprise and we always wanted a third.

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(A) Tell me about the boys.

(J) Ben is quiet and reserved with a crazy sense of humor. He is always in deep thought and contemplating something. He has always been a natural at things- doesn’t have to make much of an effort. Caden has the biggest heart and is a helper and people pleaser. He helps get his brothers ready, helps me pack lunch, helps with the dishes- he works so hard. Jackson is a hybrid of the twins. He has Ben’s sense of humor and Caden’s compassion. We say he is our reward for surviving twins!

(A) How has your mothering style changed over the years?

(J) Oh, I was a total psycho with the twins- trying to prove I could do it all after they were born. With Jackson, I was so much more relaxed and a better mom because I didn’t have the pressure and stress I felt the first time around. I remember when Jackson was three weeks old I signed the twins up for swim lessons. I had no idea that I would have to participate during the lesson so I spotted a woman who looked like a grandmother and asked her “Can you please hold my baby while I help my twins during their lesson?”

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(A) What has been the hardest part of owning a business and being a mom?

(J) Giving yourself a break. The house doesn’t have to be perfect, you can say no, and you shouldn’t feel guilty when you do. I try to think “Am I spending time with people who are important to me?”

(A) So do you give yourself enough downtime?

(J) Oh, God no. I have tried to make an effort just recently to change what I do when I meet up with people. Instead of a coffee date, we go walking or take an exercise class.

(A) When did you feel like you had “made it”?

(J) As a working mom, you always feel like you are juggling. If you’re succeeding at work, you are failing at home. If you’re killing it at home you feel like “I should be in the office.” In the last 5 years, I have felt like I have accomplished goals with a work/life balance. I work 7 days a week but have the flexibility to go to an event at school or a sporting event at 4pm. And I have to say that I have a huge tribe of women who help support me and make me look good. Because some days you just want to pull the covers over your head and not be a mother.

(A) What do you see for the future of your company?

(J) I love what I do- even 15 years later. I look forward to getting into the office every single day. I plan on working as long as I want and will just adjust my schedule to reflect each phase in my life. When I look at my business, I want to figure out how to work smarter – not harder, how to give more to my clients and the community, how to be an example, and if you can’t have it all you can be really happy with what you have.

Thank you so much, Jessica!

Website: http://jkbrealty.com/

Current listings: http://jkbrealty.com/listings

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JKBRealty/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jkbrealtygroup/

 

Meet Sara Roberts

This month we chatted with the owner of Almost Grown Play Cafe, Sara Roberts. She is brand new to the Austin area and saw a need for something that ATX was lacking.

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(A)- How long have you been in Austin?

(S)- We moved here on June 10th from Columbus, OH.

(A)- Did you know anyone that lived here?

(S)- My brother and sister-in-law live here and both work for Baylor, Scott & White. It all started as a joke saying we were going to move here and then we had to move schools. Austin seemed right because of family and the weather. We sold our house in one day.

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(A)- Tell me about your family.

(S)- I married my wife, Annie, in 2011. She is a nurse who also works at Baylor, Scott & White. We have two daughters, Lena who is 3.5 and Lincoln who is 1.

(A)- Describe your children.

(S)- Lena is a ball of energy. She is fun and goofy and loves to laugh. She is extremely physical- she was jumping 2 feet off the ground at 14 months old. Lena loves her family time, loves school and crafts. Lincoln is not quite walking yet but she’s close. She laughs all the time and says “uh-oh” if anything falls. She has this raspy voice and I can’t wait to hear her talk.

(A)- Which child is most like you and which is most like Annie?

(S)- Annie gave birth to Lincoln; I gave birth to Lena. We both have a mini-me. Lena is tall and lanky, fair-haired and pale, and was only 5 lbs at birth. She was able to put on a pair of 24 months leggings the other day. Lincoln is barely one and already in 18-24 month clothes. She has jet black hair and looks like she constantly has a tan. Both were easy babies.

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(A)- What has been the hardest part of parenting?

(S)- As a mom I am constantly learning- I google everything, “what to do when your 3-year old says no or won’t eat her peas.” Being a parent isn’t easy but I just want to teach my kids to be kind and empathetic.

(A)- Let’s talk about Almost Grown. How did you get the idea for it?

(S) When we were moving to Austin I was looking for things to do with the kids and realized that “play cafes” weren’t a thing here (like they were in Ohio). So I used my past experience in family entertainment to launch my own.

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(A)- How did you decide on this space in Dripping Springs?

(S)- Well, the initial plan was to open in the Bee Cave/Lakeway area because the stay-at-home mom population is so big but finding a place was tough. I needed a place with two bathrooms, a kitchen for coffee, party room and it had to also be something I could afford. I was getting gas one day and happened to see this place, it used to be a church.

(A)- What has been the biggest surprise about opening Almost Grown?

(S)- Seeing how moms communicate in all of these Facebook groups. There are so many different groups out there and word of mouth in the community is amazing. The weather has been a factor too. The day all the schools were canceled for a snow day I didn’t have one person walk through the door- in Ohio, this place would have been packed on a snow day.

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(A)- What did you do before this?

(S)- I worked for 17 years in family entertainment: go-carts, laser tag, putt-putt. My job before we left was with Speedway- I thought I wanted to work up the corporate chain but then decided to open my own business.

(A)- Was Annie supportive of this venture?

(S)- Ha. I have wanted to try many different ventures in my life- own a bar, have a t-shirt company, make purse hooks- and she has been supportive of all of them.

(A)- Do you have a 5-year plan for what you want to accomplish with Almost Grown?

(S)- Well, I am already looking for location #2. My goal is 3 in 3 years. And my ultimate goal would be to franchise.

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(A)- So far, what are your thoughts on owning a business?

(S)- I learned a lot early on during the build out about making sure to hire great contractors and builders. I have learned how expensive marketing can be.  I have spent most of my life learning the hard way about things.

Thank you so much, Sara!

You can find out more information about Almost Grown on their website:

https://almostgrownplaycafe.com/

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/Almost-Grown-778228805692693/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/almostgrownplaycafe/

 

 

Jessica Rockowitz

Jessica is a mother to three kids, Hayley (13), Colin (4) and Graham (almost 2) and besides being a full-time mother, she is a business owner and writer who is funny, smart, and just downright pleasant to be around.

(Sidenote: Jessica came to my house to meet for this interview and while we were talking I got a UPS delivery and one of the packages was from Primary Clothing- which I only knew about because of her Instagram feed.)

(A)- Just so you know this is my first Primary delivery and I ordered because I saw your IG post about it.

(J)- Oh, you are going to love their stuff. I made the boys Halloween costumes from their basics.

It was the power of social media in full effect.)

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(A)- Let’s talk about business first. Tell me about your agency.

(J)- It is a digital media agency called Digital Media Unicorn. We can help businesses with brand strategy, social media management, website & logo design, social media photography, rebranding, and we also offer Instagram for small business courses. The courses are either 1:1 or small group either virtually or online in private lives. 

(A)- Why unicorn?

(J)- The name stems from the fact that we have a unique skill set to offer clients as a one-stop-shop that they usually have to seek several people to implement. I work with a designer and developer, and we also offer not only brand strategy but day-to-day social media management. I used to be a freelance content manager and brand strategist and have developed really incredible skills that I am passing on to the people I work with. 

(A)- Is it just you?

(J)- I currently have a freelance designer/developer on staff, and I have one employee who handles the social media management for two of my clients. She was a marketing major in college who has been a stay-at-home-mom and wanted to go back to work part-time. She is smart, savvy, and just amazing to work with. A big part of launching my agency was to be able to provide jobs for moms from home, around their kids’ schedules, and being paid fair wages. So many remote jobs out there through content mills like Upwork pay next to nothing per hour. 

(A)- Does your employee live in Austin?

(J)- No, she lives in North Carolina. I have developed training videos and google docs that I can use to train anyone, anywhere and I hope to pilot this model.

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(A)- Who is an ideal client and how do you find them?

(J)- I love small businesses and women-led businesses. The ideal client is in love with her business AND her customer, and he/she knows the value of social media. I usually find clients through word of mouth and networking events. We look for businesses that need 5-20 hours a week of help with social and marketing- anything from social media, MailChimp, blogging for SEO, Facebook ads, etc.

(A)- Let’s talk motherhood. You had your first child, Hayley, when you were 17. Were you in high school?

(J)- I finished high school before I had Hayley. When I found out I was pregnant I doubled up on my classes and worked hard to finish school; I received my diploma two weeks before she was born (she arrived on Christmas day).

(A)- What was it like being such a young mom?

(J)- It was really lonely and isolating. I lost a lot of friends because they stopped inviting me places. I was stuck in parenthood.  After I had Hayley, my mom’s friend heard about a college program for single (unmarried) parents. It was at Endicott College near Boston and they paid for housing, school, and meals. So, the September after she was born we headed to college.

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(A)- That program sounds incredible.

(J)- It was a great program. You lived in an apartment within a dorm. They had 8 girls in the program and they paired 4 people in an apartment- so you had two moms and two babies in one apartment with a bathroom and kitchen. Even now I miss that communal living- motherhood can be so isolating.

(A)- Was Kyle (Hayley’s dad) around?

(J)- She would visit him on weekends and once a week we would meet halfway for dinner.

(A)- How old was Hayley when you and Kyle got married?

(J)- She was 6.

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(A)- When did you decide you wanted another baby?

(J)- When I was in graduate school I got pregnant with Colin. I took me 8 years to want another baby, but Hayley was a SO good. I actually thought I could teach seminars on parenting because she was such a rule follower and so well behaved. Colin came along and was a completely different type of child and more challenging. And with Graham, we were on the fence for a third and it just happened. Graham is an angel baby.

(A)- Give me one word to describe each of your children.

(J)- Hayley: empathetic, Colin: spirited, Graham: gentle

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(A)- How does Hayley feel about having such younger siblings?

(J)- She is a good sister and an amazing babysitter, but it is hard for her. She sees her friends on social media going to Jamaica for Thanksgiving and doesn’t understand why we aren’t doing that. At this time with a 4 and an almost 2-year-old it just doesn’t work for us. She has told me she doesn’t like having sleepovers at our house because they have to be quiet because of her brothers sleeping. I have such mom guilt about it- I don’t feel like I am enough for her. But she has a lot and is a fortunate kid- she just doesn’t understand a world beyond herself. It is the teenage “me, me, me” syndrome.

(A)- Yeah, but on the flip side- she has a really cool and relevant mom who is young and understands social media because she does it for a living.

(J)- Her friends follow me on Instagram and will tell me “I liked what you posted about xyz.” So now I think about everything I am posting because I have her 13-year-old friends following me.

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(A)- Where are you from? How did you end up in Austin?

(J)- I am from Boston but most of my family lives in the Southern California area. We moved to Austin from Philidelphia where I was in graduate school at the University of Pennsylvania. I saw the way of life in California with no shoveling snow or dealing with the cold (although I love the Boston culture) so we started visiting cities where my husband could work from. Austin and Raliegh were the top two contenders; I just had a feeling about Austin.

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(A)- What’s next for you?

(J)- To grow my agency and hire more moms that are looking for part-time work and who I know will be savvy in this space. I also want to start a podcast that is a spin-off of my blog Motherhood, Written called Motherhood, Heard. I feel there is a lack of podcasts representing women entrepreneurs who build something and make at least $1,000 a month from (not everyone wants to climb to the top, and a supplemental income is just as valuable to a family!). I want to talk to everyday moms about how they built their businesses to give other moms real, tangible ideas on how they can work from home.

(A)- Give me one word to describe yourself.

(J) – Tired. Emotionally and physically tired.

Thank you so much for your time, Jessica! You can check out her agency, blog and social media feed(s) below.

Agency: Digital Media Unicorn

Blog: Motherhood, Written

Instagram: Motherhood, Written

Facebook: Motherhood, Written

 

 

 

 

Interview with artist Victoria Waite

Victoria Waite is a mother of identical twin girls, Kaylee & Preslee (4), wife, artist and one of the sweetest people I have ever met.

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(A)- Was having twins a surprise?

(V)- Yes! We didn’t find out until the second sonogram at twelve weeks that we were having twins because their heartbeats were in sync before then. When the nurse said “let’s check on baby B now”  I asked her if she was kidding.

(A)- How would you describe your girls? Are they into art?

(V)- They are both so sweet once they open up to you. Kaylee in particular is always wanting to share with or help Preslee. You can tell Kaylee sometimes gets bored with art and worried because she is not in the lines all the time.

They are both so smart, but Preslee really comes across as a quiet thinker type. She hears something in a book once and if I read it differently the next time she will correct me or she will draw a dinosaur correctly after seeing a picture only one time. Preslee is really into art and could draw for hours on end.

Both girls love animals and have to have animals in everything they do. They are both very introverted and can seem painfully shy around others.  They also really like to know the rules and expectations going into any new experience.

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(A)- Where are you from? Tell me a little bit about yourself.

(V)- I am from San Antonio where I went to a medical based high school. Back then I wanted to be a dentist or child psychologist. While I was in high school I took night classes for art because my high school didn’t offer any and I always feel sad if I am not doing art. I was voted “Most Artistic” … whether or not that says much being that I went to a medical based high school. After high school, I went to college at the University of Texas at Austin where I majored in advertising and completed the Creative Sequence Portfolio program.

(A)- Use one word to describe your art.

(V)- Colorful.

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(A)- Tell me about yourself as an artist and what you love about it.

(V)- I like colors and mixing colors; art doesn’t have to be serious. We spend so much time trying to foster creative energy for kids and teach them to just have fun with art, but as we get older we start to “stay in the lines.” Why? Art should be fun and not unattainable. I really like repetition and routine in my art- dots, stripes or circles over and over again.

(A)- What do you hope to teach your girls about art/being an artist?

(V)- I hope that seeing my abstract art teaches the girls that you don’t have to stay in the lines, that not all art looks a certain way, that art can help you make extra money if you’re lucky, and to have the courage to put your work out there.

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(A)- Tell me about past jobs you have had.

(V)- I lived in New York City for 7 years, the girls were actually born in Manhattan. My first job in NYC I worked at an ad agency as a creative assistant where I did my drawing during my downtime. I did likeness drawings for people in Manhattan- similar to caricatures, and I also designed Christmas cards for a country club where I would draw their employees as cartoon characters. A really unique job I had was designing baseball cards for the Topps company for 3 years. It was a favorite job of mine because it was a good mix of math and art. After that, I worked for a high-end boutique studio that focused on one-of-a-kind gifts, like a specialized book for a 50th birthday for someone. I helped with scheduling and design and was also working with my husband, Shawn,  who was employed there as well.

(A)- What made you leave NYC?

(V)- Ultimately, we got tired of paying so much for rent, living so far from both sets of families and I got tired of the very long, grey winters.  Our last effort to come to peace with NYC was to move up the Hudson River.  Soon after we moved into that apartment though, we found out we were pregnant! After the girls were born our 2-hour commute no longer seemed doable. Just to get to the studio every morning, one way, we had a ferry, train, and subway ride. It was too expensive and too time-consuming so my husband approached the studio to see if he could work from Austin and they agreed. We actually arrived in Texas on Christmas day and I found a job soon after. We had been in Austin a few months and the girls were in daycare, they were getting so sick that I had to keep taking off from my new job because of it and the company ended up firing me by email on April fools day. I thought it was a joke. Since then I have loved being home full time with the girls and I help my husband with QuickBooks and misc financing for his business and I manage contacts for the studio that I worked for in NYC two days a week while my girls are in school.

(A)- How do you like being a stay at home mom?

(V)- I never meant to be a stay at home mom and grew up thinking I had to work. I sometimes struggled with seeing a stay at home mom as a valid job. I felt like I needed to contribute more financially to our family.  Since the girls were born I have been painting (before that my art was drawing) and I love it. It relieves stress and I have something of my own.

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(A)- Any future goals for your life as an artist?

(V)- Right now I do abstract art classes at the library and volunteer on the art committee. I would love to grow those classes, maybe do them for different groups of people and have my artwork displayed in a gallery. I have done some small art shows but not ones at night because it is hard to break away from that time with the girls. (I still alternate who I rock to sleep at night… and wouldn’t trade those special moments right now, even for a sale of a painting).

(A)-  Tell me something interesting about yourself.

(V)- People always reveal secrets to me. For example, a stranger I had just met told me they were going through a sex change and I was the first to know. Someone once told me they used to be in a gang. People like to open up to me.

Thank you so much for your time, Victoria! You can find her gorgeous art through the links below:

https://www.instagram.com/victoria.waite.art/

https://www.facebook.com/VictoriaWaiteArt/

http://www.victorialevan.com/