Welcome to Week 29 of Motherhood by Design – the series where mothers who also run creative businesses share their inspirations and their experiences juggling the demands of raising children while growing a creative career.
"My children both see what hard work and dedication can achieve. They are never resentful of my time I spend with Girl Charlee as they are always involved in the day to day of what goes on and can see how you can build something yourself with hard work."
After giving up her full-time job to stay home with her children, Heather Peterson decided to turn her passion into a business. As an avid sewer and pattern designer, she founded Girl Charlee Fabrics to provide everyone access to the highest quality knit fabrics and sewing patterns at the best possible prices. In addition to her fabrics, patterns, and wildly popular monthly "Knit Fix" surprise fabrics in a custom-made tote, Heather facilitates an educational and supportive online community of fellow sewers to share not only their techniques and creations, but their enthusiasm for sewing.
Welcome to Motherhood by Design, Heather - can you please describe your family?
1 husband, 1 daughter age 11, 1 son age 8, and two crazy dogs all living together in Southern California
What is your business?
I run Girl Charlee Fabrics, an online fabric website.
When you were a child yourself, how did you spend your free time?
I used to read a lot, play with model horses and Barbie dolls, as well as I did a lot of drawing!
Did crafting or handwork play a significant role in your childhood? If yes, in what way?
I did not do a lot of crafting, but I was always drawing and writing.
When you were a child, did you have ideas about your own future as a mother? Was motherhood something you’d always imagined for yourself, or is it an idea you grew into later in life?
I did not really think much about having kids, more about what life had in store for me and the places I wanted to go and the things I wanted to see and experience. My father is Scottish so we moved between the UK and the USA and luckily got to travel a lot!
In your early years of motherhood, did you have/make time for your creative pursuits, or was your creative work put aside for a while? If the latter, when did you pick it back up?
I really picked up the pursuit of creativity with sewing and designing clothing patterns after the birth of my daughter Charlotte.
Did you start your creative business prior to becoming a mother, or after?
Being it was the first time that I was able to not work full time and I took full advantage of being at home to teach myself to sew and make patterns after becoming a mother.
What prompted you to start your creative business? Is it something you saw yourself doing when you were a child?
I could not find any clothes that I liked for my daughter, and I am a big fan of mid century modern and vintage design so I started adapting vintage patterns and fabrics I had into clothes for her. She loved them and people were always asking for them so my first business Girl Charlee was launched soon after with a small clothing line.
How do you balance your creative work with your role as a mother and how has that changed over time?
It used to center around my children, meaning that I would neglect work to be with them and take care of them. As they grew older and have become more independent I have been able to focus more full time on growing my business. My husband has also become much more of a primary care giver which helps tremendously!
In what ways does motherhood affect your work processes?
I am able to relate to a lot of my customers, as we are both working mothers when it comes down to it. It is part of what motivates me to do what I do…the fact that I can help support other WAHM businesses with our fabrics.
In what ways does motherhood affect your creative products?
It keeps me up to date on what trends are happening for sure. I can see what the kids are wearing at school and my daughter Charlotte is great at giving me feedback on prints that she likes and does not like.
What is the biggest impact that your children have had on your business?
There would not be a business without having my children!
How do you think your creative pursuits, including your business, affect your children?
My children both see what hard work and dedication can achieve. They are never resentful of my time I spend with Girl Charlee as they are always involved in the day to day of what goes on and can see how you can build something yourself with hard work.
Is there something you hope your children learn from you by having a creative business?
That they can do it for themselves!
What advice would you offer the mom who feels drained by the demands of motherhood and wants more hands-on creativity in her life?
There is a light at the end of the tunnel. Motherhood is draining, but it is important to take time for yourself when you can and find a creative release. Maybe while baby is napping, kids are at school, swim lessons for an hour…even a few minutes spent releasing some pent up creativity is better then nothing!
Thank you so much, Heather, for sharing your thoughts with us today! You can find Heather in the following places: