We’re celebrating this Mother’s Day with a shout-out to all the maker mums out there – making and mothering like true legends! Finders Keepers founders Sarah and Brooke are no strangers to the craziness involved in running a small business alongside being productive parents – and that constant balance battle.
It’s a tough gig but it’s an oh-so rewarding one, which is why we decided to catch up with the maker mums (and FK stallholders) behind resin label Nanna Woo, leather goods brand Oktoberdee, fashion label Frank & Dollys and our Byron neighbours and creators of environmental dinnerware Love Mae. We wanted to see what Mother’s Day was all about to them – and what’s on their wish lists at Finders Keepers this season! These AW19 stallholders are super busy hustling for our Sydney market (this weekend!) So a huge thanks to each of them for taking the time!
Have you found motherhood has changed you creatively?
Hanna (Nanna Woo): 100% yes. It is the reason I began in the first place. When our first child Felix was born, we were leasing a business which was quite demanding of our time and we wanted to have the precious time home with him. Then our daughter Niamh came along 2 years later and there was no way I could dream of working in a full-time capacity, being away from them while they were so small. So a little hobby I could do at home blossomed over time – about 7-8 years!
Rachel (Frank & Dollys): We had our eldest Daughter Poppy over ten years ago, and we’ve had her by our side ever since we started the business! I remember looking at our first shop space with her on my hip, and breast feeding at markets, whilst Joel was selling our dresses, making a little bed for her on my design table so I could draw and watch her sleep at the same time.. So having kids and running a small creative business has never really been isolated for us. They have gone hand-in-hand and always really complimented each other.
Peta (Love Mae): Absolutely… massively! Love Mae wouldn’t exist if I didn’t have children as I would still be caught up in trying to be an adult and have a real job. Everything has changed and for the better.
Lauren (Oktoberdee): Becoming a mother really forced me to make some big decisions regarding my business, which I had been working in passionately for around 13-14 years. The year my daughter was born I finally split Oktoberdee into two brands, the new one being Middle Child which focuses purely on jewellery, leaving Oktoberdee to focus on leather goods. It basically changed my creative business at its very core, and this change has re-ignited my passion for design. Although a really challenging time, now two years on it’s the best thing that ever happened for my business.
Being a maker mother would come with it’s challenges, what would be your advice on balancing work and motherhood? (is there such a thing!?)
Hanna: It is probably the biggest challenge. I have found prioritising home life before anything else to be my goal, though sometimes I fail miserably at it. I do love creating and I’m blessed to be able to do so with my sister Gabby in Melbourne, also a maker mother.
My best advice is to set realistic goals and timelines. Do your best to say yes to commissions, projects, collaborations that you know won’t tip the balance (advice I am still trying to master)Hanna, Nanna Woo
Lauren: I came back to work one day a week when my daughter was a few months old and we have gradually increased the time I spend in the studio. I took on staff about a year after my daughter was born and now have one full-time staff member and a couple of casual workers as well. I would not be able to survive in business, let alone grow and thrive without them
On my days off I do not think about or work on anything to do with the business. When it is Wilma’s day with mum, it is her day entirely and completely. I manage each job much better when they aren’t competing for my time and head space
Peta: I’d love to meet someone who has found balance, but then again I’m sure they’d be boring if their life didn’t throw them curve balls constantly. Routine bores me anyway, but I would like some days a little more time for my breathing work!
Rachel: I really choose wisely where I invest my time, and how I use my time everyday! I am lucky to have my husband and my business partner the same person.. so we are always on the same page when it comes to Business and Family decisions, and we have very clear roles.
I have endless ideas when it comes to Frank & Dollys . My head is constantly bursting with possibilities, and It has endless potential because it is only capped by our dreams…and we have big dreams! (Starting a pod cast, writing a book, a tv series of our travel adventures, endless gorgeous collections, collaborations…the list goes on.)
But while I am a strong believer in constant movement and growth, I’m also a believer that things can wait. I have learnt to slow down and be patient with big ideas. Sit on them and let them ferment. They will end up as better ideas anyway or you will be glad you never did it in the first place. Because guess what? The world moves fast but not much is really changing…except one thing; Our children. They are growing and changing before our eyes. I wake up in the morning and they have grown over night! Literally within hours they have shed the old and come up with the new. I don’t want to miss it, the pod cast can wait.
What have you learned from raising your little humans and how has this impacted your creative endeavours?
I have learned that the world keeps on turning and that if it’s not done today, then you get up and try again tomorrow. Patience has been the biggest lesson I have learned from motherhood so far.Lauren, Oktoberdee
Peta: It’s cliche but children really teach you how to be in the moment. Enjoying what they enjoy brings such beautiful moments which some days helps the working side of me, and other days it allows for nothing else bu them.
Hanna: I have learned to value the quiet times with them, to give them my full attention when they’re talking, reading to me, sharing a moment they had in their day. Now that my children are at school full-time, my days are mostly spent on my own. So I do my best to plan how the day is going to go and get what I can done so when they’re home, I am present with them. I also share my successes and highlights with them, as well as things that didn’t quite go to plan and how I can overcome it in the hope they can learn from it for themselves. I am proud of building a business that shows Felix and Niamh you can build your own creative journey and make what you love with dedication, imagination and perseverance.
Rachel: When poppy was a tiny baby I was in the supermarket. A gorgeous old lady came up to me and admired her. She stroked poppy’s head and said to me ‘these are the best days you will ever have…it goes so fast’ Her deep authenticity struck a chord in me. It was like an old wisdom rose within me and I knew that this was my purpose in life.
That feeling has not left me in the last 11 years. It helps when I am doing the ‘mundane’ jobs. I still make poppy’s bed and think to myself ‘I get to make this bed because I am blessed to have a child, my daughter, wow! I am so blessed!’
Talking to an old lady in the supermarket doesn’t sound so fancy or life changing but it was the wisdom and depth in her eyes that showed me a piece of her history and heart, a history and knowing that I think connects all women. I have met other wise older ladies in supermarkets since then and they have admired each of my babies and each time given me the same look and piece of advice. Ive been reminded of it enough times at the perfect time when I have needed to hear it. We can buy a house later, buy cars later, eat out for dinner by ourselves later, but we cant watch our kids grow later.
Best thing about being a Mum?
Hanna: That there are only 2 people in the entire world who get to call me mum. The gratitude I feel for my children and husband is profound and gets topped up by the best hugs from them. I also never imagined you could love so unconditionally.
Lauren: Seeing my daughter enjoy life.
Rachel: Taking them on adventures, and watching them experience the pure joy of discovering something new! We were so lucky to take them traveling around the world full time last year, and it was simply the greatest! Watching my three children explore new cultures, learn new languages, taste new foods and be by our sides fulltime.. was the best.
I also love that I get to show our children first hand the creative process of our business, and teach them about the process of where our garments come from, who makes them and why we do what we do! These values are in them now, and we try to extend it in all aspects of our life.. they now think about where our food comes from, where their clothes from, and our positive impact on the planet when we make the right choices and ask these questions
Peta: The joy, the pure and utter joy. There is also a deeper level of growth, but that takes reflection to understand. He he
Finally – Happy Mother’s Day! Apart from a sleep in, what are some Mother’s Day gifts you’re eying off at Finders Keepers in Sydney this season?
Lauren: Any and all of the below or simply a pork bun from Mr Bao (no chilli thanks!)
The Mustard Made Shorty Locker, this Print Society Wall Hanging or the Striker Culottes from High Tea with Mrs Woo.
Hanna: Yes a sleep in (it won’t happen) but also…
Any of the Posie candles, my house always smells amazing when I burn their candles. Bridget Bodenham Ceramics because you can never have enough of Bridget’s ceramics in your home and anything from Nzuri Organics – but the body butters are divine!
Peta: I have to list two things because I couldn’t choose and the surprise of any of them would be awesome. I’d love a new drink bottle from earth bottles… somehow mine got commandeered by my little girl who lost hers at school! Plus a bottle of Sin-ko-nah tonic syrup… love mae a G and T at the end of the day!
Rachel:I have an incredibly soft spot for ceramics, and I love the look of Benna Co. So I think they may be one of my first stops when I get a coffee break!
The FK Mums Bonus Gift Guide!
Because there’s so much more to discover! Here’s what the Finders Keepers mums have their eyes on! Click through below to some of the stallholders ready to delight Mum this Mother’s Day! Mums the word at FK HQ!
Finders Keepers hits Sydney May 3-5. We’re back at The Cutaway, Barangaroo Reserve for three massive days of celebrating independent design and art +with over 200 stalls + food and local entertainment all weekend. This is a golden opportunity to treat Mum to something super unique – just like you! Directions here and design directory here!