It's no secret that motherhood gets the creative juices flowing. Once we've grown a human being, brought them into the world, and then supported their little life day after day, it feels like there's nothing we can't do, right? Which means, of course, some of the best ideas are born right after baby. As was the case with Elle Rowley's Solly Baby.
An avid babywearer seeking a better carrier right after she had baby #2, Elle worked relentlessly in a nook of her living room while her little ones slept. Her design and experimentation ultimately paid off with a soft, luxurious womb-like knit wrap so light and slim that it literally molds to your baby without overheating. Add in custom-dyed fabrics in beautiful colors and gorgeous designs (shibori anyone?), and it's no surprise Solly Baby wraps have become the centerpiece of just about all our favorite new mama Instagram feeds.
This week, Solly Baby debuted their latest collection, filled with fresh hues, updated patterns and even a ridiculously cool Limited Edition Oh Joy! wrap by design guru Joy Cho. Below, Elle--now a mom of three (Lucy, 6; Solomon, 3; and Frances, 1)--fills us in on what we can expect to see from Solly Baby in 2015, and shares a little advice on balancing babies with business and getting your own creative juices flowing.
How do you structure your days between work and family?
During a typical week, I'll go to the gym and then into the office early while my husband Jared gets kids ready, my oldest off to school and my youngest down for her nap until 10 or 11. Then we swap. I go home to our little ones for the rest of the day while Jared works until 5 or 6 at the office. I check in on emails and our social media platforms periodically but I really try to stay present with my kids when I'm out of the office. When they're in bed we'll both work a little more if it's an especially hectic time.
The growth of our business has been incredible, but the workload can be relentless at times. Still, I love that there is flexibility within the chaos.
How do you think becoming a mom has enhanced you as a business woman?
I don't just want to succeed, I want to succeed in a way that I am proud of in every way. In a way that my kids will want to emulate and feel proud that I'm their mom. I see every minute that I'm away from them as time that needs to mean something, not just make money, so I want everything I do and all of my interactions to really mean something.
Who are some entrepreneurial moms you admire or want to emulate?
Oh my, I feel so lucky to be surrounded by so many, but some of my closest “mentors" are DeNai Jones and Korie Conant (founders of Petunia Picklebottom), Katie Richardson (Puj), Annalisa Thomas (Oilo). It's been amazing to see these women grow these beautiful companies and still keep their priorities straight.
I'm equally inspired by the mothers of start-ups around me. I see them do the daily grind for little to no pay, no accolades and questioning themselves daily if it's worth it, if they shouldn't just give up. That's the time when every day is such a struggle to just keep going. There's something so amazing about watching that kind of willpower and determination.
What advice would you give to a new mom that's trying to start or grow a business?
Three things! First, only work with people who are either hungry for the work or understand your vision (preferably both). Second, have such a clear vision of what you want that no one else can take it from you. And, finally, for my deepest thought: you know how on the Bachelor the girls who get so bugged with each other start obsessing over it and end up getting kicked off because amidst their angst they forgot to develop a relationship with the Bachelor? That's what knock-off competitors can do to you. Keep focused and leave it to karma.
Is there such a thing as balance? What's your best tips to help achieve it?
If there is, I haven't found it! I think there is such a thing as priorities, though. I think we all know when our priorities are out of whack and when they're not. I definitely don't want to speak from a position of authority on this, but I can share a few things I'm working on:
- Take care of yourself first so you can best take care of others.
- Don't be a martyr! No need to suffer needlessly in an attempt to “do it all". Nobody can do it all. Let's accept this and let go of the guilt behind things like scheduling in a date by yourself once a month (or more!), hiring a sitter or a housecleaner, going out with your friends, or not making your daughter's birthday cake from scratch.
- When I'm feeling stressed, I like to make a list of everything I can possibly think of that's making me feel that way. Then I write next to each stressor what I can do to change it. Either there's something I can do and I'll plan and schedule what I can do right then or I let it go.
- Learn to say no.
- Be present.
What's upcoming for Solly Baby in 2015?
This wrap with Oh Joy! is the first of many exciting things this year. We have our Solly Dolly wraps for little ones to wear their favorite dolls or stuffed animals in and a host of other collaborations this year as well. We are always looking for ways to work with our partner charity, Every Mother Counts, so be on the lookout for some projects with them later this year, celebrating motherhood and improving maternal health globally.