So many of these mamas come on and I am blown away by their grit, passion and love for their industry. Many of my past guests have done some really cool things that many of us do, but they have found their niche and community to grow it. Today’s guest, Sara Reese, is a jewelry designer and founder of Erica Sara Designs — for those wondering, that is NOT something I can easily do, ha.
Erica tells me how she has always wanted to be a designer, and initially found herself in the fashion world, working at Barneys and Coach. She then talks about how she felt a little stuck — she was in an unhappy marriage and not loving her job. So, she made moves and changed that! She enrolled in a nutrition program and got a divorce. We then dive into how she started designing and making jewelry around different highlights and milestones in her life. She then tells me the craziest story of meeting her husband, moving out of NYC to PA, getting married and buying a house all within a year! Erica then gives us an insight into their schedules, which includes two kids, two parents with their own businesses who are both training for road races in the fall, and how they use this structure to optimize their businesses and goals. Finally, she gets real honest and blunt about how she stays true to herself while building her brand, even if it means losing followers.
Erica is such a fun listen and has such a gift for designing, making and creating such beautiful pieces while also being so raw and honest about the not so glamourous parts of running your brand as a mom (hint, 5am wake ups)! Make sure to check out her site and follow her on Instagram and Pinterest.
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Dana: Are you dying at the thought of missing a single one of your babies first would have no idea how you’d give up the security that your nine to five job brings. My name is Dana Graham and I had no clue how to escape that vicious 40 Hour Workweek cycle either until I did, as the wife of a traveling husband and mom of two tiny humans I made the terrifying and totally bizarre leap from health insurance broker to successful newborn and family photographer, all with the amazing craziness of a two year old and the newborn into, but I’m not the only one. I’m so glad you’re joining me as I chat with other moms who took the leap into entrepreneurship and created the ultimate best of both worlds life doing it all amidst the chaos. Welcome back to another episode of amidst the chaos I am here this week with another guest and another really fun story of entrepreneurship and motherhood and I am so excited. Erica, welcome to the podcast. Hey, I’m here. I know I’m excited to have you. So Erica give us a quick overview of your business right now, what you do what it looks like, and then we’ll back up and talk about how you got there.
Erica: Okay, so right now, my business Erica Sarah designs I design, create, sell, market, everything in between, jewelry, it is basically almost all custom personalized caught and or engraved soldered so yeah I do everything from designing it to basically getting it out the door, so Oh, At this point I’m like a one woman show. Hopefully not record.
Dana: Yes, hopefully not forever but for right now you are and it’s crazy because you are pretty large scale, one woman show, I mean you have there’s a lot of product coming in and out, I love if you don’t follow her already go and follow her on Instagram because she really shows you the behind the scenes of doing every single step and it’s super real and very relatable and doesn’t give you a false sense of like, oh I’m in other place on the internet where somebody’s life is easy and perfect and I love that I respected so much and it’s something that I hope to kind of do too and I think that having somebody else that does it is just one way to normalize social media, a little bit because it’s a crazy land. So talk to me about where you started and how we got all the way to this place where you’re designing jewelry soldering jewelry, doing all the things that I don’t know about metal. So talk to me about what your life was like in a corporate job before you had kids and what you were doing at that point. Oh,
Erica: yeah, so I will try not to go off on too many tangents but there’s definitely a bunch of different pieces that brought me to this spot so, way back when I actually always wanted to be a fashion designer, growing up, That was a big thing for me I loved fashion I loved colors and patterns and whatnot, but my father insisted I go to school for business so when I graduated college I went into the fashion world and did corporate fashion. I worked for Barneys New York I was the buyer that Barney’s and then after that I was a corporate Merchandise Manager for Coach handbags so like I was the person or one of the people that helped the designer sign a line merchandised it priced it looked at you know financial analysis to make sure that we were making enough money his company, like a very joint piece between the business and the design side and so a few years into that I was married to someone else, and living in New York City, and I was miserable, my so called fabulous fashionable and glamorous job left me working until who knows what time every night. Why, really appreciate most of the people I worked with the overall environment was really not one for me. At the same time my marriage was falling apart. I had met my husband in camp when I was like a teenager and that just really wasn’t working out. So I sort of did a complete overhaul on my life within, like, I want to say not even. Yeah, like not even two days with one day I decided to leave my job. Well, I can’t say leave it in more than one day, I actually decided I didn’t want to be in fashion anymore and I was going to go into believer on nutrition. So, like within one day, I feel that this yeah it was so random I fill out an application to go into internship at NYU. At the time I was still married but we knew we were getting divorced but we were still like friends. So my soon to be ex husband dropped my applications off like the very next day at NYU, I found that I got in the day I found it I got in I left my job, and while I was going to school full time for nutrition. I also was going through divorce, and I was really not. Yeah, so I was sort of not in the mood to party or go out or anything and I started making jewelry at my dining room table in New York City. And then here’s another piece of story, I lived right by Central Park, and every year I would walk, Washington, New York City Marathon go path, my neighborhood. So, when I was going through my divorce I really basically like okay I lost all my friends but like I said we’d met really early on in life and we had a lot of mutual friends and when you fought wars at that age and the sort of people don’t want to pick sides so like people stop calling you back or whatever it is. So, suddenly I found myself, single in school 30 something year old amongst teenage and not teenagers but you know young 20s and needing a new community so I started running in New York City, and at the same time I know there’s so many pieces at the same time, a lot of my friends were having babies and they were making, like they were getting all these necklaces, you know, for each of their babies and initial charmer name charm. So I started making charms for my running, like for my braces. So every time like I ran a race like if I ran a five paid myself make myself a 5k charmer, things like that. Like because that I didn’t want to go out like I wasn’t like into going out and drinking or whatever, New York City young 30s I was like I need a break from everything, so I’m at my dining table I’m making jewelry, and then people start seeing them and I’m, you know, part of this running community now, And people are like, Oh, where’d you get that or, you know, can I buy one and so all of a sudden I’m like, oh wait, this is the business and this is something that I’ve always wanted to do right like design and have my own business, right oh wow, cool. Yeah, so while in school for nutrition, I decided to also teach myself how to make a website, I taught myself TSS and I built my website, I went out and bought a digital camera and I’m a digital Yeah, I know the DSLR, so I don’t know the words I just figure out how to use it. I’m like I don’t know the terms I just figured out how to do it all. And I built a website and start taking pictures of my jewelry and posting it online and people were buying it. And so all of a sudden I had a business, I registered it, you know with get my like licenses on my tax ID and all that other stuff and yeah and that’s how the business is born and then I did a trunk show in New York City at a spa, and there was a blogger Hi Allie Allie on the run, and she saw it she wrote about it on her blog, she had a relationship with fitness magazine Fitness magazine saw it, they reached out and asked if I could do a piece for their upcoming women’s half marathon. They featured a couple of these in their in their magazine, it was huge. I did a piece for the half marathon. Because of that, New York Road Runners which is like it is the largest running club in the country. They found out about me and then I started working with them on bigger projects like New York City Marathon jewelry, things like that. So, and my business just took off. So I ended up dropping out of nutrition school like I forgot that and just we’re going full force with this.
Dana: So, okay, so yeah, there’s a lot there. Many, no it’s a lot there, but it’s really great because I don’t think that any business that starts like this doesn’t have some sort of a backstory, there isn’t some sort of a crazy turn of events, and a super tight timeline with pressures and, you know, different aspects that leads you to something like this, especially something that’s going to be successful, because if you just start something without multiple factors leading you in that same place, how are you sure that it’s actually going to work, I mean you had lots of different pressure coming from multiple different areas of your life, your personal life, your professional life and I mean your education too so I think that having all those, it wouldn’t have happened without all of that. Right. And so, yeah, well it sounds crazy, and you know you say you didn’t want to go off on tangents, I think the tangents are important because people don’t realize that all these personal things are the reason why so many people are successful in the businesses that they run and I don’t think that you’re an exception to that. I think that that’s really true for you. So, okay, this all made actually perfect sense to me in terms of Okay Yes, that makes sense for the next decision and her next step and, you know, finding the website and figuring out how to you know work her camera, but how did you know how to make jewelry because that like that part of this is something that I don’t understand design, totally, totally get it. The fact that you could market it the fact that you had the running piece and that’s how you kind of got in the niche I totally get that. But like you cut metal, and solder things, and like, tell me about how you learned this skill because it’s just, it’s a trade skill basically.
Erica: Yeah, so it’s funny so growing up, my father was in leather manufacturing and he had a big factory and I would spend a lot of time there like collecting leather scraps off the floor and I would start like cutting them and gluing them together and making pins, and it just started there, I know that sounds like so basic compared to what I do, but I just always figure things out, like that is, That’s just always been me, like my first business idea by the way, that was my first idea my first was I was gonna do sewing, and I went out and I bought a sewing machine and I was gonna do all these different things and then I sewed with a sewing machine through my nail like through my finger and got stuck. Tell me, and I was like okay this is not this is not for me, but like I am the kind of person that if I see something, and I really really like it. I’m going to figure out how to do it. I’ll see someone making syrup, like okay that’s really cool, I’m gonna do that and I started researching it and then I’m like okay I don’t have time for this now so I’m not going to do this, but that’s just me I feel like most things, like I can’t learn how to fly, don’t have wings like a bird. But most things like if you sit down and you figure it out and you take the time you can figure it out so I started doing research and, you know, not everything when I first started doing my jewelry, actually, I bought like the stamps. They’re called metal stamps and they, they come in sets of like numbers and letters and different farms and use a hammer your hammer it. I’ll try that and I hated it, it looked awful it just wasn’t the right thing for me, so I was like okay, but I still want to get messages I’m gonna teach myself how to engrave. And then, you know, the only thing I did I did take a class in New York, just learning how to do soldering, Because soldering involves chemicals and fire. And I just didn’t want to blow up my apartment, or, you know, so minor details minor detail. It took like a six week course, but it’s so funny, it’s like I remember in the course, you know, we had a book and it taught us like the melting point of the different, different kinds of metals and you had to know it, but I don’t, I don’t know any of that stuff, you know like, I still don’t like I just, it’s just part of me I just figure it out and then I know it and so I know which solder to use for which metals and I know how long I can’t explain that it’s just like an innate part of me. So, just figure it out.
Dana: Yeah and I think that having that trait like okay I don’t know exactly how to do something but I can figure it out, like there’s Google, there’s YouTube like that is something that I think is a mindset shift that people need to make if they’re wanting to start a business because you started out the very first thing you said is that you’re the marketer or you’re the designer or you’re the jewelry, I mean you have to do every single thing when you’re first starting a business, and I think that you’re not passionate about every single one of those, of course, when you start, but the main basis behind your brand and your business, you have to be passionate about, you have to at least have some sort of interest in because on the hard days, and the long nights like you will burn out if you don’t have it at least for one aspect of your business. That’s a big chunk.
Erica: Since moms are probably a lot of moms who are listening to this, I think that’s a big thing. The reason I am that way is because of my parents like growing up my parents were always very clear that I had to try and it was like expected of me to do well, they wouldn’t punish me if I didn’t do well, it wasn’t that but like, I remember in school I had a friend who would get like $10 Every time she got an A. And I went home and I asked my parents could I get $10 And they’re like, No, you’re expected to do well, that your job, life is to do well at what you try to do. So, I do like I think it’s important for us to parents that think of our children that way, and is not having unrealistic expectations, right, but it’s like having them, that we believe in them and that we know that they can like and that like if we want our kids to like grow up, I feel like the world they’re coming into is a whole different world than we grew up in there are so many opportunities for them to create their own path. And I think we need to really give them that courage and encouragement to do that by showing them what we believe in them and then we trust their ability to figure it out. So just something I feel like it’s important for parents out there.
Dana: Yeah, and it’s important too because I hesitate to say this because I don’t mean it in a bad way and I don’t mean it negatively, but with the participation awards and all the things and you know people like love that are like giving all of these kids like, so much of your did a great job and blah blah blah and yeah I’m going to reward you for getting this participation medal and go, we’ll go get ice cream like I, I love that you’re encouraging your kids, but I love that your parents set an expectation that like hey, you have to do well, you have to try and this is expected of you, and I think that in this day and age, there’s a lot of, again, I hesitate to say this but there is a lot of babying, I mean there’s a lot of babying your kid to the point where you don’t want to be a bad parent by saying, Hey, this is unacceptable, you know, because I feel like right now, there’s a lot of that going around where there’s a lot of expectations that aren’t being met because parents feel like that’s what they’re supposed to do, you don’t want to make your kid feel bad and you don’t want to hurt their emotional intelligence and you don’t want to do this or that but there has to be a line in there, of like, okay, we need to keep these kids inspired and motivated and I think this is kind of off topic but I think important I was just listening to I don’t know if you follow Jenna Kutcher, but she just had an episode, come on her podcast with Tracy Atsuko that’s all about women with ADHD, and how it’s a totally, there can be totally different symptoms and signs and all these different things, which I’ve never thought that I had ADHD in my life, and after listening to this episode I was like, holy crap I have ADHD. But my point here is, is that it’s one of those things where I kind of did it because I knew that was expected of me and that was really important for me to do for my parents, they were the same way with grades and what you didn’t get rewards for getting an A that was your job, that’s what we had to do, and I love that and I think that it could have easily been when I, when I was struggling or when I did do something that wasn’t, you know, an A or wasn’t giving my best effort. I think that easily. In this day and age, they could have fallen into the category of, oh, we don’t want to put too much pressure on her because there could be something else going on, you know, and I think that there is a fine line between knowing your kid, and, and pushing them to the point that they need to be pushed, but also knowing that there could be something else going on and I think right now we’re in this really hard phase of parenting where there’s no clear line society. Yeah, there’s no clear line society and so I think it’s great that you brought this up and I feel really encouraged that someone else is still having expectations for their kids, that might not be what everybody else’s expectations are because I feel that way still and I hope that that’s at least a little bit relatable to some parents out there and gives them some food for thought and, you know, knowing your kid and knowing where those lines are with them.
Erica: Absolutely, yeah.
Dana: So Erica, speaking of kids, how did you how did you get to that point, talk to me about how the business is going how you met your husband how you got your kids, all the things.
Erica: Okay, so I mentioned the route the running stuff a little bit there. Yeah, so I met my husband at Aruba, in New York City. He was the executive producer of Runner’s World online at the time and he was in New York covering a race, and I had met this girl at a trunk show who ended up like she lived really close to my apartment. We became became really close friends I ended up hiring her to sort of like be an assistant, I can’t he called her mind, she wasn’t my assistant. She was like, assisted me and you know my business, and she met him online was meeting up with him in a race, I came along, and I met him, and I like had an instant crush on him. But I thought he was interested in her or whatever it is right I took a step back and you know nothing and then a few months later, I was like okay I need to, you know if I ever want to start dating again I should probably get online or something cuz I’m not me anyone. So I went on, I was like trying to write myself a dating profile, and I went on Twitter and I joked around like you know, can I just read my Twitter description as like a person who loves to run all the time and doesn’t have like can’t really go out on dates, like that. And my students the husband wrote back to me, and he was like, sounds good to me, and then he sent me a DM and basically asked me out, and 140 characters or less. Yeah, he’s like, I’m gonna be in New York for a race. In a few weeks you want to grab a bite to eat before, and I was like yeah that sounds great, because this is a guy that I had met and I had a crush on but I was like, you know, whatever. Also not my type at all. This is another one if anyone single is out there listening, don’t look for your type. Justin. I mean he was not my type, he was like six years younger than me, tall skinny like socially awkward sorry Robert is Drew, like I mean I’ve never gone for him, like, and but there was something about him I can’t explain it and so he asked me out. Turns out he didn’t actually have a race that weekend but he found a race to run so that he could come into New York and have a reason. He was living in Pennsylvania at the time and yeah and so like it really happened so quickly. We started dating, like right away and then, like the Boston Marathon, that was the year that there was the bombing and he was, he was at the finish line and close to it cuz he was covering the race for Runner’s World and of course like I’ve had like flipped out a little call to nature you know hey I realize I’m like okay I have feelings by I’m like, I’m already up and he’s out you know that kind of thing. And then he like, he ran a race, I want to say like, a month later. No, I don’t remember it was a big sir he came in like, I want to, I don’t remember he was either 15 plays, or 30, whatever he plays Hi I took him out to celebrate. He started talking about something else and I was like well what you don’t want, like, basically I had, it was like three months of dating and I was like, are we gonna have kids, like we have like it was just, like, our first date was like I want to say March, 30 or 31st. We were engaged by August I think we had bought a house in Pennsylvania, I moved to Pennsylvania and by September. We got married in January and we’re pregnant by February, like within 11 months oh yeah and it was all like on purpose, like it wasn’t you know, right, it was. Yeah, it was just like, and then, yeah, and then we had my son Emmett and then I had complications with his birth, which took a while to get pregnant with Orly so we had her about three and a half years later, and that was it and yeah, Here we are. It’s crazy. So.
Dana: So crazy timeline and I love that with your business you kind of already had it up and running at that point and you could easily move it, I mean there’s nothing really that had to stay in New York for you to be able to move and I think that’s one. One thing about entrepreneurship that’s hard, and easy, depending on what you do, right, so for me right now. You know my husband works for the State Department, we’re going to be moving all over the world eventually and having a photography business. People are like, Oh, that’s great. You could be a photographer anywhere you can. There are families everywhere there are babies, but like that’s where you miss the business aspect of the business because think about my marketing and networking, I have a whole network here, I don’t do any advertisements because all my moms are my advertisers like they refer me and that’s how I get business, and unless they have referrals in Africa or India, or Turkey, I don’t know how you think my business is just going to up and move so I think that location and movement and fluidity of your business and if your business is locally focused to be starting to think about alternate revenue streams is really important early on, because if you’re going to do something that ties you to your location, trying to diversify and finding something else to bring an income to your business is going to help you survive if something like this were to happen, I mean I can promise that 11 months prior to that you had no plans of leaving the city no thought that you were going to be moving to Pennsylvania, you know, and unfortunately for you, you could and that’s great.
Erica: You know it’s funny because like when I started my business, like I always wanted to be my own boss, but I remember thinking to myself, this is something, even when I went to school for nutrition, I was like okay this is something that I could do anywhere, and if I have kids, you know I something that I could really do around my children, or just when I started my business that was a big thought okay like wow, I’m building my own studio and that really allows me to like manage around my kids and their schedules, and I have to tell you that it’s been the biggest challenge for me because I use fire all day. My kids cannot be around, like, you know, people say, Well, if you work for yourself like you have that flexibility, but no like most of the time you don’t, you know, like my kids can’t even go into my office my studio like the heat the door locked. Because it’s not safe for them to even go in there like, it’s sort of, when the whole pandemic happened and things were shutting down and they weren’t gonna have anywhere to go for school I just was like, oh my gosh like how are we going to do this because, you know, they can’t be around my work. So, yeah, I mean, I think that’s a big thing I think that when you’re starting your own business and you want to be an entrepreneur, one of the biggest struggles is maintaining it for every part of your life like your life is evolving, and change, and you never know where it might take you no matter how much you think you know, and that’s part of business right like being able to be flexible and be able to problem solve and figure out how to shift with the changes and, you know I think any, any good or decent entrepreneur has been able to do that work has to be able to do that I guess is the right term. So, yeah.
Dana: And so for me starting this podcast, the whole reason that I wanted to start the podcast was for a place for moms to come where they could say, What could I do to be able to have more flexibility and time with my kids. When I initially thought of this podcast and when I initially looked for something to do was more. What can I do with my kids around, which is not super attainable, like there are very few jobs that you can do 100% of your work with your kids. There are parts where there are parts of my business that my kids can sit with me and do, I mean my daughter sits with me and goes through every session she wants to know what the mom’s name is and the dad’s name and the baby’s name and you know she helps me pick the good pictures and, but I can’t have her around when I’m writing emails and the sessions for that matter, I mean I’m not going to carry a four year old toddler on my back as I photograph family so there are things about the business that you don’t think of as obstacles, especially if you’re not a parent, yet. Yeah, and especially if you just have a baby. If you just have a baby that’s very different than having a toddler, and a basically threenager at that point so I think that being able to roll with the punches, like you said, and kind of move your business to be what it needs to be as you go is really important and to know what’s going to work for you and your family and to be realistic that if you are bringing in a significant income, which you are if you’re an entrepreneur and business person that’s left their job and you know needs to bring that in. You have to be able to dedicate some time, and whether that times post bedtime or during naps, or you are able to have a sitter or daycare or preschool that’s really important, and to be able to know that there are some times where you are going to need to have to check out. But also, I didn’t think I would like that I didn’t think I was like oh I’m so excited to be your mom, I just want to do everything that I do in my business in my life with them around. And then my kids became toddlers and I was like well that’s a terrible idea. And I think, you know, yes, and that is what we’re can kind of become is that break from Parenthood to recharge you even if a lot of times that’s actually really exhausting.
Erica: No, it’s, yeah, I mean, I said, Honestly today was telling you before we started recording, she was a really, really rough day with my kids this morning and I was supposed to have them till 1230 And I said, my husband I messaged him like, Hey babe, you need to take over because I’m literally going to lose it I am going to completely lose it on them and we can’t do that. And I would rather be working right now because that to me would be easier to miss. Yeah, that’s just my reality, some days and some days like it’s, you know, and this and this is like, it’s not all complaining or, you know, it is hard but like yesterday was a, I think it was Wednesday, and we took the day off my husband’s like, you know, we need a Family Fun Day, like, I know you have a lot on your plate, like the stress is getting to us all. So he’s like we’re gonna wake up at five get your emails out of the way and we’re gonna spend the day at kayaking we’ve lived like five miles to Lake, we’re gonna kayak to a little island in the middle of a lake and hang out in the beach for a few hours. And so it was good for the kids and didn’t mean that like I have, I’m gonna have to work tonight till nine or like nine or 10 Tonight after kids were asleep.
Dana: Absolutely, but you know that’s just part of it, that’s what I signed up for when I decided to become, you know, being my own business and become a mom, so it’s all part of it. It is all part of it and it’s, but you can’t do that if you aren’t your own boss. You can’t be like at 10 o’clock on a Tuesday night be like, Oh hey, tomorrow I’m not working like yeah I’ll get up early and answer emails but I’m not coming in the office, I mean, there are some situations yes you could. But for the majority of the people if you’re working a corporate job that’s not a thing, and it is, it is more if you can control your own schedule and be in charge of your own narrative and I think that anything that you can do that serves you and serve your family is something that you should check into and look into if you need a little bit more freedom because for me, like, just knowing that I have some control of that is freedom for me, just knowing that like if I’m losing it and, like, especially this past month after Sean came and went, it’s been really hard for us and I have had to check out a lot more than I normally do, but guess what, it’s fine. I still have business so clients, I sell podcasts, and I don’t think I still would have had a job to be honest, after this past month of how I’ve been feeling if I had been in the corporate world, and I think that, especially if you’re going through big changes in your life or have you know a situation like I do, where you’re kind of on your own, it is really important to be realistic about the expectations that you’re setting for yourself in your business because, honestly, taking a lot of time off this past month has been hard for me, it’s been in like the driven side of me is like no no no no no this is terrible idea. We had so much momentum and we I’m talking about myself and I, the collective we like I’m a crazy person, but it’s true we had all this momentum and then you had to take a mental break, so but but I have that flexibility and I’m so, so thankful for it. Okay, so here I go back to you talk to me about how your day to day looks, I know we talked about you being able to take the day off yesterday, but I see how much you work on your Instagram and I know that’s not normal for you so talk to me about how you’re managing being a mom and being an entrepreneur and be honest you know I have just come on to say well you know I don’t like I’m struggling right now like this is the hardest season for me with COVID and the kids being home and I don’t want it to seem like I’m coming off as negative, but I don’t want it to seem like I’m coming off as trying to convince anyone to become an entrepreneur if you don’t want to so we want the realistic picture of what of what it looks like to do both, and how your days go on a really tangible level.
Erica: Okay, yeah, well actually funny you said that because the first thing I was going to say is that I’m going to talk about you know how I wake up this ridiculous hour and sometimes I work really late. I am not memorizing, any of that is not glamorous, that is not in my opinion, something to aspire to, that is just my reality right now because my husband is still in business as well. We run two businesses. We have two young children, and we have significant responsibilities, and that’s just reality right now. Also my husband trains for marathons and as of right now I’m just reading, I wanted to say just I’m training for half marathon is not full, but like, I can’t commit to right and that, so that’s another part of our lives that we’re trying to work in and that’s super super important to us. So, basically, you know, I can’t talk about what’s happening right now right now because we have two weeks in between school and camp and then we like we just change our schedule. And now we’re going to go back to our regular schedule, right, like I said, my husband, his own business as well so we basically divide our day, and we almost look at it like month by month, we try to keep it as consistent as possible. So, we get up at five, I read a book in bed with my coffee and then we have a coffee maker in our bathroom Sydney coffee in the morning and then we get back in bed Robert starts work, I read my book and then I get up and get breakfast ready breakfast is on the table at seven, if it’s a camper school at the same time I’m getting lunches ready, Robert goes straight to his office once the kids are up, they start breakfast with me and seven and then it’s my job to get them ready for school or camp or whatever it is, get them in the car and I dropped them off at 830 and then I get my workout in then. So I usually. Yeah, so I’ll run their school slash camp they go to school camp at the same place is near a really awesome Greenway, so usually like jump on the Greenway go for a few mile run, and then about like an hour run, come home, shower and then start work. And then, Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays Robert has an afternoon too so he goes and picks him up from camp or school brings them home and has them all afternoon. But Tuesdays and Thursdays I have them so he gets them ready for rest time and then at two o’clock where most time is over, I grab them from their rooms and make them snack and then I have them for the rest of day, and then at five is a hard stop for the entire family and it’s family time from five until bedtime, so like it’s a loose from five to seven, it’s like individual time, seven o’clock as breakfast dropped them off of school, we both get to work in the morning, what one of us has them in the afternoon and then five o’clock starts dinner prep and evening time, and then one of us you know we switch off bedtimes I might do em as well, Robert as early as we do bedtime, they’re usually in bed there, my kids wake up, ridiculously early, like sometimes 530 If they say Oh 630 Yeah, it’s awful. If they sleep until 630 It’s amazing. So, they’re usually in bed by 730 people say like, oh, or 730, sometimes even earlier, people were like, oh but let them stay up later they’ll sleep like they’ll know if they stay up past, getting up at five or 430 My son has sleep apnea, so it’s like it’s a little bit. Yeah, we’ve had everything, so that’s a big part of it so they’re in bed, they’re usually out cold by 730 and then either I go back to work, which now I’m trying to limit to be honest, or Robert night each like take off an hour by ourselves and then we come together at eight o’clock, have a glass of wine outside of the deck and talk or if we really are too tired to chat, we’ll just go sit and watch is really, really, really stupid TV show, completely my business, and our goal is to be in bed before, before nine, usually by 830 If we can, but but that is awesome. I feel like with what with early risers it’s hard because they don’t shift, you’re right. Like, there are some people that doesn’t matter the bedtime, your kid has some sort of something going on for you at sleep apnea, but a lot of kids have just an internal clock where they know the time of day and like my son isn’t super sleep dependent my daughter is but my son if you we put him to bed before 8pm He’s not going to sleep. He’s that he will protest and then we’ll end up way later like he, his body just knows and I think that shifting your schedule to kind of fit what your kids do, again, it’s probably a season of life, I’m not out of the season of life so I can’t insure that fact.
Dana: But I think that shifting your schedule to match kind of what your kids are doing especially with asleep, as long as it’s working for you all, it’s a great thing to do because there is no way for me, that my kids go to bed a little bit later because they do sleep in a little bit later too, and so for me I can’t, I couldn’t wake up really early because that would mean I have to go to bed right when they do at night, and I can’t do that I have to shut down like I need time to like unwind and yet sometimes work and I agree that doing that pattern at night to work for me to go back into the office and actually do work at night I have to be really disciplined, I don’t know about you but for me, I have to know that I’m doing that, like, there can’t be like, okay I just put the kids to bed, what am I going to do now, maybe I’ll work maybe it’s like for me, it has to be in my mind that okay I put them to bed and it’s straight to the office and work in time, because if I don’t like my bed, I don’t know how to do that but it just grabbed me and I’m in it and so my day is over. So how do you stay disciplined on the schedule Do you and Robert really kind of keep each other in check. Is it hard for you or has routine kind of made it set in. I think it’s out of routine but necessity, like so first of all I have learned since becoming a mother, that if I don’t get enough sleep, I am kind of curse on the show. I’m a bit like I am waffle if I don’t get enough sleep it I didn’t know I had kids, because I was just sleep deprived. There was a four I decided to track my sleep just for a week just to see how much sleep. I actually needed and I found that if I got less than eight hours of sleep. I could not function. The next day, like, eight hours was the magic number for me. And so my goal is to be in bed in time because I need those eight hours and if I don’t get my eight hours, or if I don’t get into bed early enough then in the morning I don’t get to get my run in I mean, I talked about you know I dropped them off at school or camp and then I go for my run, but as it’s getting hotter, like this reasonably when I’m doing my run before they wake up so like I hit it at 530 Because if I run in 100 degrees I live in North Carolina, it’s already ideas, we afternoon, it can’t do it, like I am not succeeding and a big goal for me right now is a 145, a half marathon in the fall like that’s on my calendar I booked it I have a hotel like I want that goal. So it’s really about knowing what your goals are and what you have to do to get to them, and I mean listen, there are some nights that we both with each other and we’re like, you know what today softer we’re both really tired. We want to indulge, let’s sit up drink beers and not care about that time, I will do it and you know it’s not gonna be like we’re not pages were perfect because, going to bed on time and getting up on time isn’t perfection, that’s just right.
Dana: But it’s perfection for you, it is perfection for you.
Erica: It’s a necessity. I mean it right is a necessity, but also, my husband is very very good at sticking to things and being regimented, I’m not like I’m like, you know, I used to like people that know me like, or knew me in college is like a hippie dippie Freebird whatever it is, but he is like, not so anal and like really into systems and whatnot, so he keeps me in check and he holds me accountable and is great, and I tell him to and if I do like a social media, cleanse I’ll be like Hey babe, if you see me on my phone past eight o’clock, yell at me and he will. I won’t do it, you know so combination necessity. And just, I guess someone to hold me accountable.
Dana: Yeah and I think having the both is really important because that’s what normally happens for me I’m normally like okay I know this is the goal. This is how I feel when I do these things that really don’t make me feel that great, but at the same time I have Sean who also knows that and usually sees it before I do, and this past year where he’s been gone, and I’ve had no gatekeeper. When he first left, I watched like this is I’m such a nerd, I watched all 23 Marvel like Avengers type movies in like a month, like less than a month, and I didn’t watch one a night so I like sometimes I watch two in a night like after my kids went to bed and then I was, I was like so addicted and it was like something to distract me but I had no gatekeeper I had nobody to like do that checks and balances and I think for those that are listening that are single parents are running their business with nobody else really involved or don’t have kids yet and you’re listening to this and no spouse to kind of check you there, maybe get a friend, maybe get somebody to check in with you and be like, Hey, are you watching your sixth Marvel movie of the night because it’s probably not that great for you and your future self, because having somebody there and it doesn’t make them the bad guy because I know Shawn doesn’t use the party guy who doesn’t want to be the bad guy, but he knows what helps me and I think that having him play that role is, is good for him and it’s good for me but we now know that those things are important for us so finding someone that can play that role can be really crucial to your success.
Erica: Yeah, we’re finding a way to hold yourself accountable, like, if you create a journal like an everyday you check off what you can accomplish or if you’re really want to succeed in business and entrepreneurship or in anything like you have to really be dedicated to it and you’ve got to sort of make that decision and if you’re realizing okay well I need eight hours of sleep a night and I’m not getting it, then make a decision to do it and then have something that keeps you alive, you know whether or not. I’ve seen people like do these you know like they did though there was like that bullet journal phase. Yes, like everyone had these beautiful I tried it and I was like okay I can’t do this, but like, you know there are people that these color coordinated are color coded like charts where like they fill in the days and then they accomplish certain things I was like, I’ll be like okay well if I go to bed every night by this time on Saturday, I’m going to treat myself to this whether it’s, you know, a fancy coffee, a great bottle of wine, a new pair of hands, whatever, a massage like something that’s going to keep you motivated.
Dana: No, I think that’s great advice and I think having that goal and knowing that there’s a tangible outcome in that and also I think too is tracking how those decisions make you feel and realizing that like okay, I feel terrible, why am I still doing this to myself. And in turn, you have to turn around and prove to yourself that it makes you feel better to do the opposite thing, and you have to give it a little while, I feel like any habit is going to take a little bit to sink in, and to have some way to really validate the fact that okay i, this actually makes me feel better I need to keep doing this, it will keep you on track to and to prove that point. Oh yeah, absolutely. Okay So Erica told me how this business has grown what has been the biggest kind of help for you in to get your business off the ground and I know obviously getting in with the right people and especially the whole runners situation is great in a total niche market for you, but you’ve now branched out totally into motherhood, jewelry, I know you’re doing tons of that so talk to me how you’ve really kind of diversified and reach new markets in your business.
Erica: Yeah, well there are so many answers to that question. I mean, I obviously like as I you know, talked about from the beginning of my business I let life for my life sort of dictate where my designs would go. So in the beginning it was raised jewelry and that became a mom and suddenly it was jewelry being inspired by my children, you know, whether it’s like engraving efforts footprints or when I engraved the soundwave or the first time he said I love you or recently I added the line drawn collection because like there was a picture that I loved of Robert and myself and the kids and so I wanted to engrave that picture, and then I think a big part of it is, you know, we talked about before how all those different facets of my life came together to form my business and I think that because there are, there is so much opportunity for small businesses to evolve or or emerge and evolve these days. What is most important to grow your business is you and what you bring to the table. So, in terms of social media I use that a lot to grow my business but what I have found that the most important part of my social media is his authenticity. His transparency is being who I am. And this is what I have to offer you this is what I bring to the table, you know, I show a lot of the times how I make my pieces, what I’m making where the inspiration comes from. And I’m finding that there are a lot of people that they want to invest in that they, you know would rather come to a person that they know is like, not just supporting her family by what she’s doing, but actually has like a, an emotional investment in what she’s doing and cares about what she’s doing, then go to a random big box store and buy something, you know, I know like there are lots of big box stores now that you can get a personalized piece of jewelry for but you don’t know who’s making the piece and I do I believe like jewelry is really heavy really meaningful and you’re wearing it everyday and is representing something to you. So I think it’s important that the person making it for you has like a good energy. I know that sounds a little, you know, I remember in college is gonna sound really heavy to the imitators in Florida. There was a whole library and there was a huge Hari Krishna community very close by and every day they would serve a free lunch. And I had learned that Hari Krishna is believe that the food that you ingest, like the energy of the person, cooking and serving yet, is sort of transported to the person eating it. And so I know that sounds like for me I think part of what I put into my jewelry is just what’s going on like if you place an order and you write me a note I read your note and I take that along that way, If I’m engraving, you know, a memorial piece for someone whose parent or grandparent or child just passed away like I can’t tell you how many days, how many times they I cry because I’m like,
Dana: Oh man,
Erica: I’ve been putting into it, and my customers know that and they come back because they know that I put love into the pieces that I’m making, and I think putting who you are into your business is a big part of growth, and you know and listen sometimes like lately I’ve been pretty outspoken in terms of a bunch of very controversial topics that are near and dear to my heart, and I’ve seen, I’ve lost a bunch of followers. And, yeah, I mean, I grew up super super Jewish which is funny cuz my husband grew up super super Christian for Holocaust survivors.
Dana: Oh wow.
Erica: Yeah, and what’s going on right now in America, and the recent anti semitic attacks is really really shaken me to my core, and so I’ve been posting a lot about that, and I’ve lost a lot of followers. And my philosophy is so be it, you know, my, my family lost their businesses and their livelihoods in in the Holocaust and they lost it again in communist Romania and we, we are still here so if my business suffers because of what’s coming on like stuff to be authentic and true to me and anyway that’s gone on and on but the point is, no but growing your business is, if it’s your business and it’s a small business is about who you are as a human being and what you want to bring to the world, and that is what’s gonna not just grow your business, it’s what’s going to sustain you, because this is really hard to keep going. And if you don’t feel fulfilled by what you’re doing or if you’re not intrinsically motivated and like, don’t have that past view behind it, what’s the point and where are you going with it.
Dana: Well, I’m going back to you being your brand and you putting all of this love into every single piece that you’re making and you’re really thinking about it, that the person that this this piece is for and this piece is about and I think that with all those followers last, who cares, you don’t want to be behind jewelry for them anyway, like I’m the same way there will be days where like, it’s only family stuff posted and all those a couple people that had just come on, and then there’ll be days where I post a lot about business and I’ll lose a couple people because they just care, they know me from college, you know what I mean like, and that’s fine because I know that for me, the people that really mean something and are going to get value from what I’m providing people will stay around and that’s who I want to serve anyway and so I think that, you know, it is such a mind game though, especially early on in your business the numbers and the followers and the metrics and people care so much, it feels so personal, you know, when you do lose those people especially I can’t even imagine for you when you’re posting about something that’s so, so deeply emotional and personal for you to then lose people to that I can’t imagine how that must feel but I love that you’re providing the perspective of, okay, I don’t need that doesn’t matter because it’s more important for me to serve my own needs and the things that are important to me and that I believe should be shared with my community, then to worry about the numbers and worry about that game.
Erica: Yeah, I mean and, and I’m awful at the numbers, like I know how many, how many Instagram followers I have and that’s about it. I have no idea what my metrics are I have no idea. I’m pretty sure that if I hired someone to do that or I figured out myself. Yeah, I would probably do better but like that’s just, I can’t, I don’t I mean, there’s only so many that I can want to that’s not important to you right now. That’s not your business is just as as busy as it needs to be, you know, and doing anything like that isn’t your next step, so it doesn’t need to be something that you worry about and put your time and energy into and emotional energy into. Yeah, no true, I think that, yeah, It’s all about being yourself. That’s what’s gonna keep you going, especially when it’s, when things are hard, you know, that’s what’s gonna bring you back to what you need to be doing your work,
Dana: totally, I completely agree. Well, Erica, now that I’ve kept you on here, literally, for almost an hour. Tell us where we can find you on the internet and Instagram, like we mentioned so that everybody can check out your designs and your work.
Erica: Cool. Yeah, so, my website is EricaSara.com, and my handle on Twitter, Instagram, the same thing @EricaSara, keep it simple
Dana: for anybody listening, just so you know she does everything jewelry wise, I mean she she will make you any personalized item, you can possibly imagine I have multiple things in my head that are going to be ordered at some point I’m just, I’m like one of those people that’s very, I’m very sentimental about jewelry, I’m not a huge jewelry person, except for things that mean something and then I’m very, very so I need, I like to pick out like exactly what I wanted to say and represent in a time period and I know that when Shawn gets back from this trip and I’ve survived this year without him, there’s going to be a commemorative piece happening
Erica: And a vacation for you.
Dana: Yes, we are doing that, and it’s gonna be next, not this summer but next summer is our 10 year anniversary or 10 year wedding anniversary. And that’s going to be a joint big trip but this summer is going to be a goodbye for at least three days by myself. Every trip. Well, Erica thank you so much for coming on and I am so excited for everybody to see your work and get to know you on Instagram because you are one of my favorite people to follow now and I am I just love that I’m meeting people through this podcast in ways that I never would have before because lord knows I am not a runner and would not have found you that way.
Erica: Thank you. That’s so sweet. This was fun. I like it. I like that I got to see someone today and not yes I owe an adult
Dana: Hello. All right, Erica Well thank you, we’ll talk to you soon. Great, thanks.
Erica: Have a good day.
Dana: I am so honored you spent any minutes of your day listening to me babble about living this entrepreneurial life amidst the chaos in any mom’s normal day to day. If you love what you’ve heard and read more snippets of knowledge about this mob boss life, head over to our website at amidst the chaos podcast, calm. For show notes and links to anything mentioned in today’s episode. If you’re really feeling inspired the world to me and my family if you take the time to read it. Thanks for joining me, amidst the chaos.
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