{C’mon, let’s learn how to sew! // Featuring Home Ec.}

This giveaway is now closed! Congratulations to our winner, comment #176 Lindsay of A Design Story. Lindsay, please check your email for information on how to claim your prize {free pass to Home Ec Online for you AND a friend!}. xoxo

One question frequently sent my way is, “How did you learn how to sew?” It was just over four years ago when the trade of sewing caught my eye, and without anyone nearby to teach me I headed off to the library to check out about 30 books. Some books were amazing + filled with the right teaching style {lots of large photos + easy to understand text}; others made me want to pull my hair out. I kept on with learning the trade and found myself searching YouTube any time the process felt hopeless, just like many of you :)

I quickly learned the value of a well-taught sewing lesson, like Home Ec Online. And ooohhhhhh, if only I would have learned how to sew by taking Home Ec – I can’t quite imagine how lovely that would have been :) I’m a former student of Home Ec and absolutely love how beautiful the eCourse is laid out, not to mention easy to follow.

Read on to read more about Home Ec + Leigh-Ann’s inspiring words — and be sure you read through to the end, we have something fun to offer two of you!

xoxo, Gussy

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1. What inspired you to create Home Ec Online?
While working on a craft project in 2010, I made a YouTube video that walked beginners through the first steps of sewing, How to Use Your Sewing Machine! A few months later, I visited my YouTube channel and saw there was over 200,000 views on my sewing video! I took that to mean that a lot of people are searching for How to Sew, and I wanted to help! So, I designed and co-taught (with Rachel Denbow & Courtney Tucker) an e-course that teaches you how to sew, from your own home! Home Ec Online has had a huge response and it’s been a really fun journey :)

2. Tell us a little bit about the Home Ec eCourse?
In the Home Ec eCourse, we begin with guides to gear you up, then we teach at least one new sewing skill in each of our 28 sewing projects. Our sewing projects are fun, easy to follow and practical! We start super easy and we consistently use step-by-step instructions (ours are written with plenty of example & progress photos) that break a project into manageable steps with everything you need to know and do. As you move through the Home Ec projects, you’ll gain a toolbelt of sewing skills, practice what you’re learning and get more and more comfortable using a sewing machine and creating handmade sewn goods!

Take a look at all of the projects Home Ec Students make during the eCourse:

Visit Home Ec Online and take a look at our Course Outline, FAQ’s, Student Testimonials and Registration/Printable Gift Cards!

3. How much does Home Ec cost and how can our Gussy Readers register?
The Home Ec eCourse has a one time fee of $50 and your registration does not expire (this way you can take it at your own pace and refer back to the projects and tools at any time). If you want to learn to sew, you can register for Home Ec here.

{click here to register for Home Ec Online}
4. LA, do you ever hear from Home Ec students?
Yes! I love receiving proud emails & pictures from Home Ec students saying “LOOK, I just made this!”… it’s so cool :) I follow a gal named Sarah on Instagram who had no sewing experience, took the Home Ec eCourse 5 months ago and is sewing pretty things out of ying yang (quilts are her fave). The Home Ec eCourse has been a powerful tool for Sarah and thousands of women, men and young adults who registered and jumped right in. Plus, a cool aspect of the course is that we allow students to take the projects we teach and reproduce them for Commercial Use. This means that if you have a small business (or have always wanted to), you can expand your range of products and potential!

Sneak Peek: This year, I’m working on a way that Home Ec students can share their progress pictures with each other!

5. What sewing projects/techniques are your favorite?
I love piecing fabric together… I call it casual quilting and I can’t get enough of it. Most of all, I love projects that are useful, like Home Ec’s bags & purses, hemming jeans, dress making, shoe organizer, home decor and my fave… organizational stuff!

6. Where do you draw personal inspiration?
I love connecting with people that have things in common but do it differently from each other (for example: My friend Jill and I have grown our companies alongside each other since 2006, but we have different businesses, styles and ideals). I am very inspired hearing about a.) the processes of things and b.) peoples stories. My favorite sources of inspiration are autobiographies, blogs about people and businesses, documentaries, tv shows and articles about how things work. I’m really visual and I gather a lot of inspiration from the small details around me and from collection websites like Pinterest. I can’t get enough of Pinterest.

7. Help us get to know Leigh-Ann a little better :) Where do you live + work, what’s your day-to-day like, what are your hobbies?
I have a cottage-y house in Winnipeg, Canada (born & raised) and Kyla Roma + I own a web design company called Freckled Nest Design :) I get to work with creative people and small business’ every day, creating online spaces that tell their story and represent their brand. It’s the dreamiest career and I really love what I do :)

I’m a big fan of Technology and Pop Culture, Crafts (album making, sewing, embroidery and things that make life better) and I love inventing things… making ideas come to life :) I have a small black lab named Lola, a close family (we’re building a big cabin together and it’s brought us even closer) and my business is my baby.

I’m a fun-loving person, introvert, quoter of TV characters, passionate about small business, and I love sharing about the creative things I’m consumed by!

I tweet instagram, pin, sell handmade, design, teach and blog come say hi :)

Thanks for having me Maggie and Gussy readers!
xo, Leigh-Ann & the Home Ec Team

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GIVEAWAY DETAILS // Open to all residents {U.S. + outside countries}, Leigh-Ann is giving away 2 *free* registrations for Home Ec, one for you and one for a friend! Simple leave a comment below and you’re entered {$100 value}.

ADDITIONAL ENTRY // Share this giveaway with your social media communities. Simply tag myself {@GussySews on Twitter or @Gussy Sews on Facebook} + include this post permalink: http://bit.ly/VaIAw2. Don’t forget to leave an extra comment for your additional entries!

EXTRA DETAILS // Up to two additional entries can be gained for this giveaway for a grand total of three entries {leave a comment below {mandatory #1} and share across two social media platforms {optional #2 + #3}}. This giveaway will be open through Thursday, January 31st and a winner will be announced at the top of this post + emailed on Friday, February 1st. Good luck + have fun!

{Mama + Biz Owner — On treating your business like a business, part VI.}

We’re back with another “mama + biz owner” post and this time we’re featuring Jaima of Ring Around the Rosie. I think it’s absolutely incredible how she + her family are able to pull happiness out of some incredibly challenging life events. Read on to see what I mean, and don’t be surprised if some of Jaima’s persistence settles into your day-to-day, too.

My name is Jaima and I blog at Ring Around the Rosies. I am a mommy to 2-year-old Elizabeth and a work-at-home mom who blogs to empower women to create healthy, balanced homes. And I also have a part time business as a social marketer for Shaklee (the #1 natural nutrition company). I started my blog and began with Shaklee just a year ago in August, 2011. To say that it has been an absolutely amazing year would be an understatement.

I started my business kind of out of desperation. It was a very, very low point in my families life. In October 2009, the we found out we were pregnant! My husband and I had been managing a small, high-end remodeling company in Connecticut for 4 years, but we were both suddenly let go the day we informed them I was expecting. We began living out of savings until Andrew could find a full-time job, and we decided that I would stay home as a stay-at-home mom, which was all I really ever wanted to be. Then, Christmas, my mom and brother were killed in a car accident 9 hours after we arrived in Tennessee for Christmas. I never went back to Connecticut and to make a long story short, between Andrew not working and moving expenses, we had depleted our savings and were living off credit cards. He thankfully found a great job here in Nashville the month Elizabeth was born. A year later though, things were still very bad. I was severely depressed, we were not even living paycheck to paycheck, I was rapidly gaining weight, and yet I knew that I was created for so much more. We agreed that I should look for a job, much to our desire for me to stay home. After a handful of resumes, I came across Shaklee and hesitantly decided to begin my business. I had wanted to blog for years, so I decided to use my blog to market Shaklee online, and also build a community. Thank God I did! This is definitely what I was created for! I am so passionate about helping other women! And in just a year, it has allowed us to pay off $38,000 in debt, and double our families income! The true reward, of course, comes from helping others and seeing them meet their goals (be it financial or health-wise).

Every day is much different. Earlier this year I was able to hire a mama’s helper to come Tuesday and Thursday for 4 hours at a time. That is when I get most of my work done. I try to get up 1-2 hours before Elizabeth does to workout, check emails, prepare breakfast, and have a little time for myself. To me, having just 15 minutes to myself is so much better than waking up groggy to a crying baby ready to be changed and fed. After breakfast, we have some sort of “learning time” where we do some sort of hands-on learning / sensory play. Now that she’s 2, we’re working on identifying and writing numbers and letters, but before it was colors, shapes, simply building blocks, sorting, etc. Afterwards,  I try to clean up and do daily chores while she plays independently before lunch. She thankfully naps from 12:30-2:30, which allows me to blog, make calls, and do my social media. After she wakes up, we usually have a snack and then play outside if it’s nice before preparing dinner. Andrew usually gets home around 4:00, so we have quite a bit of time to play together, go for a walk, or do chores. After dinner, we have a pretty strict routine with Elizabeth that includes cleaning up, bath, prayers, and bedtime. After she is in bed, I sometimes get in a few more hours of work or training while Andrew does school work,  but we try to spend that time together.

We keep a pretty tight routine. We don’t follow it minute to minute, but we try to do things in the same order every day. I also developed this calendar system for us, which is now out-dated, but it worked really well.

We currently live in a 900 sq ft home (crazy, right?) because we still have our house in Connecticut. In 900 sq ft, there is just no place for a designated office, so we converted an old camper into my separate office! I absolutely LOVE it! When the helper comes, I actually feel like I am leaving for work. While I thankfully don’t have to actually get in my car and leave, I have to go outside the house. It has been a blessing because I am able to truly focus. When I was just working from the kitchen table, I was constantly being distracted by the dishes and laundry, but now I can go to my office which is always clean and just work.

I no longer work on the weekends unless something is urgent. I sometimes travel out of state on the weekends for different conferences, but I try to keep the weekends as family time. I think that in any business, whether corporate or working from home, family should always be a higher priority. I try to spend as much time as I can with them. After all, they are the reason I’m doing this!

If I could offer any advice to other working moms, I would say cut yourself some slack. I had a really hard time deciding to hire a helper. Even for just 8 hours a week, but my business literally doubled when I was able to focus just on that and set certain work hours. Treat it like a business and it will produce like a business. Treat it like a hobby, it will produce like a hobby. Don’t be afraid to delegate things so that you are able to focus more on using YOUR talents on income-producing activities or spending that quality time with your babies!

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SHARE WITH US: If you’re a working mom, too — what advice would you give to other working moms? What kind of encouraging advice have you received? Share with us below!

{“Mama + Biz Owner” — You don’t have to compromise motherhood for business, part V}

Women encouraging women, mamas encourage mamas. That’s my inspiration for this new “mama + biz owner” series. Today is part V and although it’s a bit longer than the others, it’s chalk full of great inspiration for you to soak up. Two sisters who both have 5 children share how they manage life, business + getting it all done. Meet this women of Vintage Rose Wraps

Let me first preface this by saying that it is only through a blessing from beyond how 2 sisters, nearly 5 years apart both ended up with 5 children each—all the same ages! :) We are Katie + Ginny, owners of Vintage Rose Wraps, and our children are…

Katie {Wilson} Hughes // Ruby 12 | Betsy 9 | Cannon 6 | Millie 3 | Clayton 10 months

Ginny {Wilson} Winters // Annie 12 | Andrew 9 | Will 6 | James 3 | Emily 8 months

As children and while growing up, we had a family cottage industry and learned to love the idea of using personal resources from home to create something that could be loved by others.

We’ve always done something together, whether it was creating items to be sold at a local holiday home show, or helping put on women’s retreats to bless the lives of others.  But with the birth of each child, and an eventual move out of state for one of us, we honestly put things on the backseat so we could focus our energies in raising our children.

But you never know when you might just happen upon a little business.  My sister had given me some headbands in 2008 — I liked the concept and so did my friends.  So I set out to make some of my own.  I made a few and gave them as gifts, and it wasn’t too long before others wanted me to make them for themselves.  I sold them for holiday shows and people in my area and things just sort of naturally escalated from there.  I felt an inner tug, called my sister, and eventually created VINTAGE ROSE WRAPS.

We’ve now taken our headbands to the wholesale Market Shows in NYC, Atlanta and Dallas and currently sell to over 700 stores across the country — with wholesale being about 95% of our business and the other 5% through Facebook and word of mouth.

You can find our shop here, our Facebook page here, and our blog here.

 

BEFORE children, here’s what a typical day looked like:

After getting married, both of us graduated with degrees in Family and Consumer Studies, so a lot of our time was spent completing those and also working outside the home.  Ginny was over sales in a large touristy consignment shop, and I helped with creative projects at a non-profit organization that assisted abused children.  For fun, we’d eat out a lot, go on weekend getaways with our hubbies, and travel!  Oh that was the life!  We weren’t sure what the day would hold as there was always an adventure to be had.

 

And now AFTER children:

We both eventually stopped working when children came along, so this left opportunities to try some new things together. So aside from the day to day responsibilities of taking care of children, we’d get together a lot, create things, and really just try and go with life as usual.  We’d steal hours from the day during naptime and late at night to accomplish things we’d wanted to.  I don’t think it was until the third babies came that life really changed.  Now with five each, we really work to accomplish things with the help of our very supportive husbands, friends, and family.  We still try to make homemade meals at least 5 nights a week, take time to travel with hubbies when possible, and steal a few hours of the night after the kids go to bed to catch up on work things.

I think the biggest prompting was that our internal voice told us we’d always do something.  We tried lots of things before we landed on this—and I think truthfully, we didn’t anticipate that this thing was “the one” — but now as we look back on how things have progressed, we realize that everything we’d done before was just helping us grow our talents and abilities to be able to be successful at this business.  Our past experiences, our interactions with people, even where we grew up and where I moved all shaped how this business was able to grow the way it has.

Because we came into this business after most of our children were born, it wasn’t until our last babies came that we needed to hire a little help.  We have a shipping office with 1 full time and 1 part time employee and a couple of fill-in employees when needed, and we have anywhere from about 4-8 sew-ers who sew for us weekly.  Other than that, we do our best to manage home life on our own.  Occasionally we have a cleaning lady who comes into help us here and there when we need a little extra boost — but for the most part we work to manage everything else on our own.

I don’t think having children changed our outlook on our business — rather it was the business that changed our outlook on home life.  I think because we have to work harder to have quality-time with our children, we really value day-to-day interactions with them and try to find joy in our every day routines.  We work to build memories with our kids more often and are more conscious that we’re not letting anything fall through the cracks.  With that said, that doesn’t mean we don’t ever let anything fall through the cracks — but I think we strive harder to be good Moms because we have to — and if we aren’t doing our best, we feel it more because there’s always something to blame it on! ;)

Because of this, we have felt the need to share our experience as mothers and business owners with others — which has led to our new, very exciting endeavor — our blog — The Vintage Mother — going live shortly! {late September 2012}  We realize there is so much we can do to extend ourselves to Moms and business owners alike and share our experiences to bless the lives of others.  We hope you’ll take the opportunity to get to really know us.

In our opinion, that of “being a Mother” will be the most important work you ever do.  If you have the opportunity to be a Mom, how wonderful and what an amazing gift!  With that said, take opportunities to listen to your internal tuggings and follow your heart.  If you have a desire to have a business while being a mother, the right timing for things will fall into place.  You don’t have to compromise motherhood for business.  It can be done with a good support system and you can still be a fantastic mother.

On a business note, here’s our advice — simply put:  Do what you do well.  It doesn’t require any alarming amount of creativity or style or perfection.  Create something you love — something you’re proud of.  Market it as best as you know how.  Follow your instinct, be smart, and go with it.

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SHARE WITH US: What one thing do you do well? How did you get to the point of feeling this way about it, and do you have others who help support/encourage you on your journey? Do you have any advice on finding this “one thing? Leave a comment below + share!

 

{“Mama + Biz Owner” — Remembering what’s most important in life, part IV.}

Just the other day I wrote how partnering with other businesses makes my world go round — it’s that sweet satisfaction connecting with other business brings me. This is the fourth post in my Mama + Biz Owner series, and I think based on your response I’ll be extending it a bit longer than I had originally planned. Becoming a mama, pairing that with my “business owner” status, has brought a totally new perspective to my day-to-day, and it is so exciting. Today we’re featuring a dear friend, I love the insight she shares — so enjoy! xo.

My name is Lisa and my boys are Matthias, age 8 and David, age 10. David is smaller than Matthias, but he’s actually the older one! My husband and I own Lisa Leonard Designs where we create handmade jewelry and gifts. You can find our shop at lisaleonard.com and our blog at lisaleonardonline.com/blog.

I can’t really remember a typical day before I had kids — but I suspect it looked like teaching kiddos with special needs {I used to be a specialist with our school district}, thrifting, painting furniture, decorating our little apartment and trying to talk my husband into taking me out to dinner {instead of cooking}. Now my days are spent trying to juggle making jewelry, engaging with facebook and blogs, taking care of our two boys, making meals and trying to squeeze in time with friends here and there. My days are full and crazy!

Our first son, David was born with special needs and I wanted more flexibility. I was working for our local school district and I wanted to do something more creative—so I decided to start a jewelry business. It began as a small hobby business. I did home parties to show my jewelry and local boutiques carried my creations. It was fun and looking back, I laugh at how little I knew about jewelry and business — but I threw myself in and learned as I went.

I thought working from home would be perfect but I quickly began to feel that I couldn’t care for a newborn and get any work done at the same time. I ended up hiring a babysitting to help with the kiddos a few hours a week and at the same time, I hired someone to help me with shipping and emails so I could take some of the workload off my plate.

While I thought being a stay at home mom would be perfect for me, I’ve found over the years that I actually need to work and have my own thing — it makes me a better mom. I tend to work too much, but I am constantly going back to my priorities — which are my husband and boys, and making decisions about what is best for our family.

Balance is the hardest thing — but always remember what is most important, and that’s family! My husband is incredibly supportive, so I am able to do lots of amazing things and travel, but there have been opportunities that I’ve passed up because it didn’t work well for our family. I love the flexibility that owning our own business provides — but it can be stressful too! At the end of the day, I want to make sure I cuddle my kiddos, that they know they are loved and that our home is a cozy place to be. It isn’t perfect {not by a long shot} but it’s good and I’m so thankful!

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SHARE WITH US: Have you ever turned down a business event or opportunity because it didn’t fall in alignment with what is most important to you? Was it hard for you, or easy? Has it always been hard or easy to make these kinds of decisions? How do you know when to say “no” to something? When do you take a risk? Share with us how you incorporate your family into your business.