Welcome. I am so glad that you’ve stopped by.
I’m Natalie and I’m excited to share my journey with you.
The abridged version is that I became a mom and opened a little online design shop.
As with all stories, though, there are so many more details than that.
To start, becoming a mom was a long journey for me. Really long. And when I finally got there, I wanted to find a way that I could work from home when my kids were little. Living in a commuter’s worst nightmare and facing ridiculously high child care costs, I yearned for a flexible schedule that let me take care of my kids and work from home. So, I became an online entrepreneur.
Oh, yes, I forgot to mention. First, I was a teacher before becoming a mom. I taught second and third graders for five years. Before that I was a political fundraiser – talk about career shifting. I wanted to give back more every day and work with kids, so I went to graduate school for teaching.
I loved teaching at first. I would create interesting lessons and help kids that really needed a good teacher. At night I would freelance write for fun. I wrote for wonderful niche magazines such as travel articles for trailBLAZER Magazine. I found that I was truly happy when I was writing, interviewing sources and dreaming up my next story idea. Freelance writing became a fantastic side hustle (although, I don’t think we called it that back then).
After four years of teaching and some pregnancy complications, I found out that I was finally going to be a mom. We were ecstatic. But, suddenly, we realized that if I continued my teaching career, we would owe money in childcare every month.
We realized quickly that continuing to teach while having small children didn’t make a lot of financial sense. And I didn’t want to have the outside stress of a teaching job while raising our kids. So, we took the scary leap and decided to focus on my freelancing career while staying at home with my little.
I loved the idea of staying at home. But, I think my thoughts on baby and toddlerhood were a bit skewed. I’d never spent much time with babies. I firmly believed there would be much more free time during the day. I would have hours to write, work on freelance projects and figure out how to build a freelance business.
I’m sure a few of you are laughing right now. That’s not how motherhood goes at all. Staying at home with kids is a full time job. Even if you work full time, being a mom is still a full time job. You just work two of them.
When I did have free time, I spent it learning graphic design skills. I took an amazing online graphic design course and learned the fundamentals of the graphic arts. I completed my certificate in July 2012. Now, I could be a professional designer. But what kind of designer did I want to be?
Then, when I wasn’t watching, my little girl turned one. I needed to throw her a birthday party to celebrate. Since I had a background in design now, I created the invitation and all of the matching party designs. It was a barnyard theme and I loved making those designs. It was so much fun featuring her love of animals in her celebration.
After the party, I realized that I wanted to keep making invitations. And party stationery. And products for kids. I loved designing this genre. It combined the reasons I enjoyed teaching with my design vision. I decided to open a stationery shop on Etsy. It was called Katarina’s Paperie named after my miracle little girl. I wanted to feature all of the designs that I made for her as she grew. I used my blog, Confetti Diaries, to drive trafficc to my shop and chronicle my life as a graphic designer and mom.
The master plan was to create designs for kids, blog about some of my craft projects and run the shop part time during naptime. All from our small little apartment in Washington, DC.
This worked for awhile. I started learning a ton about running a small business, building a web shop and marketing my work. The thing was I fell in love with this whole online business thing.
As my littles grew, so did Katarina’s Paperie. I created lots of new children’s designs, experimented with various skills and eventually opened an independent online shop. I’ve tried three different platforms over the years – Prestashop, Woocommerce and most recently Shopify. I will admit that Shopify has been my favorite. I love the way it looks with minimal coding knowledge. I have never spent time learning to code, so I need things to look the way I want from the beginning without a web design specialist.
My creative blog also grew despite our space issues. I eventually moved the blog over to the shop – turns out having them in the same place is pretty important. I also had one of my posts featured on Good Housekeeping’s website – Halloween Ghost Fruit Kabobs. There’s even a wiki on Fandom giving me credit for inventing them. (The crazy thing is that I wasn’t even going to write the post. I found the photos a year later and thought why not. I had no idea they’d be so popular!)
So, six years later, we’re still here. Just in Pennsylvania, not Washington, DC. The business continues to grow, we now have an independent e-commerce site again and I share my creative ideas on the shop’s blog. It all works with a wonderful rhythm.
Most importantly, I have realized how much I love what I do.
After making my 10,000th sale on Etsy earlier this summer, I began thinking that I could start sharing my love for being an entrepreneur with other moms. Maybe they would enjoy discovering their own business ambitions.
I am proud to have built a successful online shop. I did so with minimal hours and while watching my kids grow. Kids are the most wonderful thing in the world, but they can add a new challenge to being an entrepreneur. They take time, love, finances and energy. At the end of the day, you might not have a lot more to pour into your business.
Honestly Nat is the place where I share the stuff that I’ve learned about online business and motherhood over the years. It’s a reflection of the journey I’ve taken and the one I’m continuing to work on every day. Because before you step into your own journey, it helps to find a successful one that’s worked for others.
So you will find lots of helpful and happy things around here. I write about business stuff – what has worked, failed and turned out just okay. I also love to explore work/family balance, creating a business mindset and ways to design your own happy mom journey.
Being a mom is the best thing that’s happened to me. Becoming an entrepreneur is the second. I think, when done correctly, they are a perfect match. It’s through both that I’ve found joy.
That’s my story. Now it’s time to write yours.
My goal is to help other moms discover their own entrepreneur dreams. I also want to assist you with being more creative and ambitious in your business.
I’ve loved building my own creative business and am so excited to share everything I’ve learned with you.
We all have a story to share, though. I’d love to hear about yours. You can email me here if you’d like.
If you are looking to join other moms who are working on making their businesses extraordinary, add your email to the form below. We’ll send you amazing strategies, tips and the confidence to keep you growing.
Best of Luck,