Kristen Phelps is the owner and designer behind Fishy Face Creations - a boutique featuring 100% handmade hair accessories, bow ties and custom shirts for children and adults. Kristen has a background in dance and grew up surrounded by crafters.
After earning a masters degree in education and then spending half a decade as a stay at home mom, she decided to embrace her creative side once again and dive head first into all things Etsy. When Kristen isn't experimenting with the latest in fabrics and designs, you can find her at the gym or cheering her kids on at one of their many activities.
We asked Kristen about motivation, work-life balance and more. Here's what she shared...
Where do you find inspiration to stay motivated?
My family has always been and will always be my inspiration and motivation. I am a stay at home mom, but I never intended to be one. I love being able to stay at home with my children and wouldn’t change it for the world, but I also enjoy working and having something to do outside of parenting. My small business allows me to do both of those things. I love that I get to show my children that you can be successful in a non-traditional field and that they actually get to see me work and be creative. I think it inspires their creativity, which is so motivating because the arts are so important and remind me of the best parts of my childhood.
How do you achieve work-life balance as a business owner?
That’s always a struggle. I have two young children - a kindergartner and a two year old and a husband who works full time in Boston. I am primarily a stay at home mom, so my kids’ needs have always and will always come first, but I still manage to make time for work. Because creating inventory takes so much focus and attention to detail, I tend to design and build inventory when my children are sleeping. But, I don’t let myself work past 9 pm. It helps me ensure that I get to spend time with my husband, relax a little and make sure I get to bed at a normal hour.
When my children are awake, I’m usually doing mom and wife things - school drop off and pick up, gymnastics, dance and music classes, play dates, grocery stopping, etc. Sometimes we may sit in the car a few extra minutes so I can answer a customer’s inquiry on Etsy, or we may have to swing by the post office or make an extra stop at the craft store or I may be posting to social media during gymnastics classes, but it all works out. Juggling so much can be difficult and the mental load is no joke, but I really love what I do and it’s nice to be able to provide my family a little extra money for fun activities together.
How did you get where you are today, and who/what helped you along the way?
I come from a really long line of crafty and artistic types. I always knew I’d end up in a creative field. My mother sewed most of my clothing for me when I was young and my grandmother knitted me hats but my Nana was probably the biggest influence on me. She taught me to sew when I was young. She used to sew all the time. I loved sitting in her craft room at her house, playing with her pincushions and just watching her do her thing. I remember visiting her at craft fairs too. She made me a teddy bear when I was born that I have since passed on to my five year old. (There’s another one from college graduation in queue to pass down to my daughter!) Nana also sewed me endless quilts and the most beautiful wedding quilt I’ve ever seen. We even decorated a dollhouse together with real tile and wallpaper.
I took dance lessons as a child and that was my biggest creative outlet. When I stopped dancing in my twenties there was definitely a void. That creative void didn’t get filled until after my daughter was born. I was searching high and low for the perfect headband to match her first birthday outfit and I just couldn’t find it. My sister in law (a very crafty woman herself) encouraged me to make my own, so I went for it! The joy I felt creating and color matching and coming up with new designs was instantly satisfying. My husband has also been a huge help. He’s very supportive and is an extremely talented artist with a degree in illustration from Mass Art. He’s great with giving me design advice and helping me color match. I couldn’t do it without him.
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