Mompreneur stories: Stephanie from Tightly Wound Designs
Get inspired with Stephanie’s story and become a mompreneur you too
Hello! My name is Stephanie, I was born and raised on a farm in southern Minnesota. From the time I was little my siblings and I worked in the fields and on the farm and experienced every aspect of farm life. After high school, I moved to Minneapolis, and attended the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. At the U of M I obtained a Bachelor’s of Science in Family Social Science and eventually a Master’s Degree in Studies in Human Behavior. I have always enjoyed people and since I was a child I have had a passion for working with the elderly and people with mental illnesses. I worked in various settings in the mental health field before I moved to the east coast (Philadelphia) and eventually Virginia Beach, VA. There I met my husband who was stationed in Virginia with the Marines. Our son Samuel was born in Virginia, and eventually we moved to Texas where our daughter Annora was born. I have always loved art, languages, creating and learning about cultures and traveling.
Motherhood has given me a whole new perspective on life. I have always been independent, but the day I found out our son was coming, life changed immediately. All of a sudden, it is absolutely not about you anymore, but instead about this little person who depends on you for everything, and who loves you unconditionally. Motherhood can be challenging at times, but you grow with your child, and learn so much more about yourself in the process.
Like most stay at home moms with a past career, it was quite an adjustment working in a professional environment to staying at home in sweatpants, a messy ponytail with a little one cleaning up Cheerios. I decided one day I needed some sort of hobby or outlet to help alleviate some stress. My husband was working long hours, and our son and I spent 24/7 together (which is a time I am so grateful for). While I was in a craft store the next day, I decided to make a name set out of wooden letters for our son’s bedroom. Nothing in the store really stood out, so I decided to try and make it myself. The name sets were all pretty similar, and I wanted something unique and personalized. Our son was into trucks at the time, so I found some supplies with this particular theme, and went to work. It took a while to develop the technique that I use to this day, but after much trial and error I decided it was good enough. From there I made sets for family members, baby showers, weddings, and my business began to grow.
There is so much that goes into each letter (and set), and I believe in making and creating items with exceptional quality. The first step of my creative process is to prepare and research trends (color, seasonal, etc) and go from there. Every inch of the letters (both front and back) are entirely hand decorated. I do not use a machine of any kind, as everything is done by hand. I am very meticulous about the sets, and believe in making quality sets for my customers. If something does not look right, or out of place, I change it, even if that means redoing the entire letter.
As most artisians do, I find inspiration and ideas for the sets in the most random places.
I have so much advice to give to a mom wanting to start her own business, but the most important advice I would give is to take care of yourself, prioritize, offer exceptional customer service, and simply do not give up. With Tightly Wound Designs, I am a wife and mom first, and a business owner second. Some days it can be challenging to find time to write a simple email, or finish a listing. It seems the minute you think you have free time to start something, a little one needs you (Why do they always come to mom for a snack?)
Make lists, and finish the most challenging task first, and it will be easier from then on. It is also important to take care of yourself. This means finding time for you, which may just be a trip to the store by yourself, or having a minute with the door closed. You are not Superwoman, and cannot do everything by yourself, so it is important to ask for help if you need it. During the busy times with your business it is easy to get worn down, and stressed, but you need to take care of you. Lastly, do not give up. Any business owner will tell you owning a business is a rollercoaster ride. One week you are so busy to the point it is too much, and the next week may be crickets. Use these slower times to create new items, market, or enjoy family time. Lastly, treat your customers how you would like to be treated. Nothing irks me more than dealing with a cranky business owner. Treat the customers as #1, and listen to their concerns, no matter how frustrating it may be sometimes. They will remember you for that.
Before you have children you never truly understand what unconditional love is. You love your parents, pets, and certain things. But having your own children is a completely different type of love and you would do anything to protect them. Not every day is going to be perfect, but I have learned first hand the things you think are a big deal are the things you will look back and laugh about. It is important to not take yourself too seriously.
The most important values I would like to pass along to our kids are honesty, respect for others, and determination. These were all important values that were passed along to me growing up, and I would like to pass them along to our children as well.
Tightly Wound Designs @ CRIBLIS
I am so excited to be a part of such a wonderful community of artists and like-minded business owners. There is so much support and I am excited to be able to share my items with the customers!