This weeks Rock Star Mom is Beth Sutherland.
She is a designer and maker who works from home, while spending time with her daughters during their formative years. She is inspired by customers and her children, wanting to add colour to their lives through creative processes and colourful outcomes.
Tell Us About Yourself and You Family
We live in Glasgow, Scotland with my husband and two daughters, Ella and Niamh. Ella is 6 and just about to finish primary 1 here at school. Niamh is almost 3 and goes to nursery part time. We like to draw, paint, use our imaginations and make up silly stories.
What Is The Story Behind Your Passion?
I’ve always liked to create and work with colour, so I think that was always going to be core in anything that I did. When our children came along I wanted to create for them too and they are a big inspiration for me. I wanted to also spend time with them during the week, rather than working in an office 9-5. I guess partly it’s a creative instinct to nurture, but also allows me the freedom to design and create. I’ve always liked to make clothing for them and it wasn’t enough to just buy fabric. I had a strong disposition to actually dyeing fabric and yarns as well, as a way to satisfy my creative passion.
I guess I have gone full circle as I started off over 10 years ago working mainly with digital design, then rebelled against that after Ella was born, preferring tactile materials and now I am doing a combination of both by mixing graphic and pattern design with end clothing, fabric and printed outcomes.
What Makes You A Rock Star Mom?
I think the ability to work creatively on my own terms. This took a long time for me to get right. It wasn’t innate. There have been about 5 or 6 years of to and fro, where sometimes the demands of work or customers felt like they defined my life at any given time. Now though, creative practice works around our life and our children. This gives me a lot of freedom, but I have to also be quite strict with myself to follow through and get work done.
What has been the most difficult thing for you, running a biz and a family?
Sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in the day, but then tomorrow is always another day. The things I’ve found difficult with running a business in the past was when work started to get stressful, if it felt like my children and life were coming second or I didn’t feel a passion anymore. It’s difficult to create and work authentically if you feel like that or if you start to feel burnt out.
How Do You Get Out Of A Funk?
I am quite a positive person, so I can generally give myself a kick in the right direction if either my perception and mood gets a bit skewed or if something goes wrong. An optimistic attitude and humour is important to me, because then my reactions are much more proactive. I used to also give myself little mental exercises by thinking ‘What is the worst that would happen?’ or ‘What would I think of this if it was someone else doing this, rather than me?”.
What Is Your Favourite Self Care Ritual?
I get back to basics and prioritise. If I feel a need for self care, it usually means things have slipped and I’m not putting myself first. That might sound selfish, but I went through postnatal depression after having Niamh and took a long time to get help for it. Typically for me, when I did, I self diagnosed once I got past a long stage of denial, because it wasn’t just about seeking help, but about needing to help myself. So if things start to feel overwhelming or if I start to feel bad and I can’t identify why then I focus on getting my space in order, getting enough sleep, eating well and getting exercise. I can’t look after everyone else if I don’t look after myself. I can’t be the best version of myself if I let self care slip and slide. Self care needs to be built into my life and routine.
How Do You Handle Child Care?
We always used part time nursery care and do still with Niamh. I have worked in the past with the kids at home, but I find that my time and loyalties feel quite divided then, so I prefer to have dedicated time for work and for my children. I do still work around them because I basically have a block of time four days a week of about 10am-2pm, then the majority of my week is spent with the girls. With school, there are quite a lot of holidays, so my work time gets scaled back quite a lot then.
Your Kick Ass Words Of Wisdom…
Don’t bust a gut for little return even if you enjoy it, because your time and your life is more valuable than that. It’s ok to follow your passion, but make sure it is actually taking you somewhere you want to go. Don’t forget why you are doing what you do, otherwise what is the point?
I work from home so that I can be around more for my children at the start and end of each day especially. I do balance that with childcare, but I also have to limit the time that I work. There is no point in me working to spend time with my kids, if I don’t actually get to spend quality time with them or if I’m not making a return. The same as there was no point in me working full time in an office, in order to be able to send my kids to nursery. Don’t let work and childcare become self perpetuating, make it work for you and your family rather than the other way around.