Today, I have something new and super special on Zesty Mom~ an interview with my lovely and talented friend Robin Fator of Dark Pony Designs.
Robin is both a fashion designer and homeschooling mother~ two things you might not hear in the same sentence very often, but this woman is successfully rocking both worlds.
While homeschooling her two boys since birth, she’s grown her Dark Pony Brand of clothing AND she somehow manages to look good doing it. (Not in the way that you’d hate her for though, because she’s actually really cool and fun to hang out with. That’s the thing~ this lady has it going on, and I know I can learn a thing or twenty from her)
I was really impressed when Robin recently came out with her new book “Get It Together: Etsy Success, Creativity, & and Guilt Free Family Life.”
I asked Robin if I could interview her for Zesty Mom, and she kindly agreed. She also offered up a Book Give Away, which I’ll have more info about after the interview.
Here are some snippets from my recent conversation with Robin about combining career, creativity and family, in a guilt free and enjoyable way…
Pamela: In knowing you personally for years, it's been a pleasure to watch you grow as an artist and business woman, while growing your family.
In your book, you talk about your journey from being a young, stay at home mother, to creating your own clothing brand and online store while homeschooling your boys. Can you tell me a little about the decision to also add published author to your plate, and the process of finishing a book?
Robin: Thanks for those kind words Pamela- a lot has changed since I met you!
I know it sounds crazy to wear so many hats, but, diversifying my business endeavors is an effort to keep my eggs in more than one basket.
A book is something you don't have to write over and over, and it can provide passive income once it's published.
Also, we as people, possess multiple skills and interests and I don't believe you have to be limited to just one career.
One reason I decided to write the book is because I have had so many friends and family members ask me, "How can you possibly homeschool and run a business?"
Another big reason for taking on the challenge of writing this book is to help other moms who really want to do be creative, make some extra income, and not go crazy trying to balance that with their family life.
Most people just don't know where to start. I have had so many conversations over the last few years with women who have talked about feeling so overwhelmed, that having their own project is just unreachable. I realized I have some valuable life experiences that could really help a mom in that situation and I thought the time was right to share.
The process of writing and finishing the book was time consuming and challenging. This project was a joint effort by myself and my husband Jason. We brainstormed ideas for the book, created an outline, and gave ourselves deadlines along the way. I wrote the book in 30 days and Jason did the editing and advising. The front and back covers were designed by a woman on Fiverr.com and I did the interior layout for all three versions of the book. That was by far the most challenging aspect to this process because I am new to the self publishing world.
Pamela: Your book is full of tips on finding the balance in parenting / life and having a creative business~ what would you say has been the most important factor in your ability to manage so many things?
Robin: The most important thing that helps me manage so many demands is to stick to my established routine every week. Planning and organization is the key for me.
I have recently given more projects and responsibilities to Jason and that has helped free up some space in my mind.
Feeling sharp is crucial to not making mistakes and forgetting important stuff.
When I feel overwhelmed or too busy, I try to remember why I do everything I do and why it's important to me. That helps keep me focused.
Pamela: In the book, you mention the importance of having your schedule, and give a sample of yours, which is really impressive~ Does scheduling come easily to you, and do you have any advice for people who are not naturally good at scheduling and time management?
Robin: Yes, scheduling comes easy to me. I like to have a plan. However, I am married to someone who hates to plan and really struggles with time management. I understand that scheduling and planning are things that some people have to learn to be good at.
If you are someone who has been avoiding planning, ask yourself if what you do with your time right now is working. If it's not, then you know you need a change.
For time management issues, I suggest getting everything you don't want to do each day over with as soon as possible. The work before you play concept.
Then you won’t spend your whole day coming up with things to do before the work is done,. It also eliminates not being able to enjoy the fun stuff because you still have those things lingering and causing guilt.
Something that has really helped me is to make an appointment with myself and my husband and sit down once a week for a 1 hour (or less) and do a planning session. We sync our schedules and look at long term plans and goals. It really works and knowing what is coming is comforting.
Pamela: It really resonated with me in the book when you said, "As a mom, you are always leading by example," because it's so true. Our kids are paying much more attention to what we do than to what we say.
What are some ways that you've seen your kids following their dreams, and how do you think growing up in an entrepreneurial household has impacted that?
Robin: My oldest son Morgan is a musician and has been playing piano for 10 years. He has big dreams of getting a PhD, owning a music conservatory, writing books, being a black belt in jujitsu, the list goes on.
He is always coming up with big plans and talking about his future and what his adult life will be like. It's very ambitious.
My younger son Charlie who is 8 shares an Etsy shop with Morgan (www.thewhitestars.etsy.com) and has had a few sales.
He gets very excited about making, crafting, and gardening. He also has big plans for his adult life: having a homestead, being a policeman, running a zoo, building a house, and being a photographer.
I think ambition is impacted by growing up in an entrepreneurial household. When your parents are involved in their own business, I think it helps you as a kid to see that your ideas are important and your talents can be your career. I see my kids following their dreams by having their own interests, and believing that what they like to do is important.
Pamela: I love the encouragement you offer right off the bat in the book to Dream Big and point your compass towards things that light you up. I'm over 40, and I still love unicorns! Do you have any big dreams you'd like to share?
Robin: I love that you love unicorns! Oh I have so many big dreams that if I included them all in this interview, it would probably need to write another book!
I'll share a few of the main ones: I would love to live and work in Los Angeles. I would love to have a Dark Pony Designs show room/office. I want to travel the world with my family and ride horses regularly. Participate in New York Fashion Week. Be interviewed by Oprah. Walk the red carpet. Learn to sing on key. Oh the list goes on!
See. I told you she was awesome!
Now for the book give away....to celebrate the release of Get It Together, Robin will be giving away an electronic copy of the book to one lucky winner. Details are on her blog here.
Robin is my friend, but I genuinely enjoyed her book, and I came away with a good deal of inspiration and ideas on getting my unscheduled and mildly guilt laden self together. So, if you don't win, I'd recommend buying a copy.
She also has a really cool set of printable calendars to get yourself organized as a free gift when you sign up for her newsletter.
I hope you'll check out here stuff and share with your peeps.
If you have any tips on combining business, family and creative life, I'd love to here about them in the comments below.
As fascinating, creepy, and often hilarious as it is, I have to admit, I really don’t understand Internet marketing.
I know it’s not a person who decides exactly what we all get to see, but some creepy crawler program that uses mathematical algorithms specifically targeted based on searches and views and blah, blah, blah.
I want to understand and believe in logical processes like math, and sometimes it makes sense, even if it is a little disturbing. I map out how far it is to drive to another city in one window, and when I click back to Facebook, they’re showing me ads for hotels in that city.
But other times, it so far off base, I can’t even understand what happened. I’m left questioning their math and wondering,
who in the heck do these marketers think I am?
Here’s a bit of what I’ve been subjected to…..
A while ago, Geico sent me this email…..
Not sure if this road rage prevention article was for all their customers, or if I’m just profiled as the road rage type. Hmmm....
Single mom of teens who has been known to chronically run late...OK, I guess that could lead to some temper problems. Maybe there is some logical reasoning there.
OK, never mind..... maybe that’s not the best example...
But then, there’s this….the latest not-so-well-targeted ad to appear on my screen...
Eyebrow transplants?!? Seriously? Anyone who has ever seen my eyebrows is aware that they are anything but scarce. I HAVE PLENTY OF EYEBROWS!….I could probably even share with everyone.
Maybe they meant to send me the donor recruitment ad, but there was a mix up?
Next, something creepy, albeit funny... A while back, my Girl Child and her friends watched the original “Rosemary’s Baby." The next morning, Netflix sent me this…..
Nice...I’m not even sure what to do with that question.
Amazon also likes to make suggestions for me, and recommended these colorful champagne glasses...
Oh, but shipping is free. That makes perfect sense in that case.
Really? Based on my browsing history, I could see how they would think I liked sparkly things, rainbows or even champagne. But $3000 for glasses?
Apparently they aren’t aware that I prefer drinking from mason jars (a trait I picked up before the hipsters did because jars are less likely to tip over, and don’t break as easily if you do have an oops. Oh yeah, and they're free with purchase of things I eat.)
Anyhow, I have owned cars that cost less than those glasses, and driven my children across 5 states in them. So, No. I don't think those are on my shopping list anytime soon.
Facebook also has targeted ads, and for some reason keeps showing me these pants~
No. Just No. Not even for 60 % off. Not even for free.
I had a pair of Hammer pants in the early 90’s, but I’m not really ready to revisit that part of my life. OK, maybe if I was going to be I Dream of Jeannie for Halloween, or if I was ever to need a bellydancing outfit, but I’m thinking probably no.
But wait… There’s more….
STOP! Hammer Time!
These babies are not just Hammer pants~ they’re full on MC Hammer JumpSuits!!
Why would they think I would like those???? Why would they even make them?
What the heck Facebook?
(No offense to anyone who likes or owns these pants. I’m sure they’re really comfy, but the marketers have totally missed the mark on thinking that they’re for me. Because they're not.)
Anyhoo, my Grandma told that if I didn’t have anything nice to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all, and I’m realizing none of this is all that nice. But, I’ve already typed it up, have nothing else, and am overdue on this post. Besides, I thought it was all kind of amusing.
Sorry Grandma. (I actually think she would have enjoyed laughing at some of this ridiculousness if she were here with me)
I do hope you enjoy as well, and since likes, comments, and shares all help this Zesty Mom make her way into the great big world, please, do tell.... I’d love and love you'd like to send my way, and to hear what funny things have popped up on your screens as well in the comments below.
Who is Zesty Mom?
I'm an Artist, Writer, Funschooling Facilitator, Empowered Living Advocate, Wanna-be Organic Gardening Foodie, Travel Loving Life Explorer, Former Goat Herding Chicken Lady, and Full Time Mamacita Extraordinaire to a Couple of Cage Free Kids.
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