Lauren White opened her first Etsy shop when her oldest was 18 months old. Today, White Loft has become a successful online shop that regularly partners with Pottery Barn and Pottery Barn Kids, and has been featured on ToriSpelling.com. We talked to Lauren about how she got started, and how she’s grown as a mom and business woman.
SFM: What does life look like as a WAHM (work at home mom)?
Lauren: In a nutshell, I make growth charts of all kinds! Instead of making marks on a door frame, I craft artful pieces to hang on your wall — and take with you when you move! Staining wood, numbering canvas and burlap, packaging, etc.
And of course the fun stuff like marketing, accounting, customer service, etc.! I am mostly a one-woman show… all from my garage and part-studio/part-playroom in Austin.
SFM: Beginnings are so much fun, but they can be scary, too! How did you get started?
Lauren: Starting w/ a nudge from a friend, I opened an Etsy shop from my dining room table in February 2013. Originally, I was making crib sheets because I wanted flannel sheets for my then 18 month old son, and they were pricey and hard to find locally. I threw in one growth chart for grins. Slowly, that became my best seller and I phased out the sheets, etc.
I basically had taken over the dining room at this point, and was staining every piece in my garage. I would go to Lowe's or Home Depot for every order I got and individually pick out each piece.
Fast forward 4 years…I have a second child (daughter who is 2.5, and my son is 5.5), we have a new house with a better layout for my work, and White Loft is my full time gig!
I now purchase lumber in bulk on a quarterly basis from a local supplier; going into a warehouse--gloves and all--to sift through many hundreds of pieces of lumber; claiming only about 35% of what I look at.
Then, it’s trucked back to my garage for the rest of the magic. Also in the last 4 years, I have developed new products including a canvas version (much easier on the shipping!) as well as burlap, and I now can personalize any item!
I have formed a local partnership with Pottery Barn and Pottery Barn Kids, as well as having some TV time on KXAN and being featured on ToriSpelling.com.
SFM: Being a WAHM is a really incredible mix of exciting and scary--and everything in between! What have learned during the last four years?
Lauren: That I will never be able to do it all—or be *perfect* at one particular thing, but I love watching my company and kids grow at the same time. Once I made peace with that idea, things go a lot easier.
There is definitely some frustration that comes with the territory of giving everyone--including the business--the attention they need. There are some days with dedicated focus, and other days I feel like I’m brushing my teeth and eating Oreos!
I try to manage time as best I can, considering one child is still at home and I have a very active 5 year old. When I see a window of time, I try to grab it and go! And I’m so thankful for when naptime comes around each day. Sometimes this way of work means late nights, and a LOT on the weekend when my husband is home. I try to ask for help when needed, even if it’s punching holes in note cards, or cutting ribbons—it’s all part of the process, and people honestly are glad to do it! My son is great at helping me count safety pins (used for the canvas charts), and my daughter thinks everything needs to be measured!
SFM: Any advice for other WAHMs?
Lauren: I can say, hard work and hustle pays off. I am beyond grateful to be growing a business—all while being close to my family.
Oh, and… joy!
Joy is one thing that makes the “work at home” thing easier. It means while I may not have perfectly branded Instagram account (yet!), or meals planned by the week—I get to take my daughter to gymnastics and pick my son up from school and get to work on things I LOVE. It’s a mindset.
And yes, there is frustration in ALL parts of work and home, so I try to approach everything with a bit of joy. And remind myself, I have the courage, patience and drive to make it all come together.
I just follow the sign on my desk that says “YOU CAN”… :)
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