Today I introduce Elyse Major–writer/tinkerer. She is the author of Tinkered Treasures, a craft book of over thirty five projects which illustrates how everyday items such as tin cans and clothespins can be easily transformed into charming dÃ©cor and gifts. In addition to Kidoinfo, she contributes to magazines such as Romantic Country and Romantic Homes as a writer and sometime-stylist/photographer; she publishes a blog, and works as a communications consultant for Neighborhood Health Plan of Rhode Island.
Kidoinfo: How did you start your business?
Elyse: Long story short: As soon as my boys were able to grip bottles of glue we were busy making things together with popsicle sticks and googly eyes. When the boys started school full-days my desire to create only intensified and I began to take on all kinds of do-it-yourself projects around our newly purchased house which included painting and making and repurposing things large and small. I found myself wanting to document what I was doing which lead to my starting a blog and soon contributing to Kidoinfo and magazines, and from there it all kept evolving.
Kidoinfo: How do you balance work and family?
Elyse: I am still trying to figure this out. It’s not easy to switch gears from quietly writing or being in a groove crafting to music to suddenly becoming an attentive parent when my boys come barreling in from school, flinging their backpacks and excitedly telling their stories. I try to give myself some lead-time so that I am waiting and ready for them but it doesn’t always work that way. Fortunately both boys are creative and have great senses of humor so when my mind is elsewhere, I like to think that they understand.
Kidoinfo: Please describe a typical day.
Elyse: A few days a week I go to an office where I work as a communications consultant; other days I am home to write or create. Either type of day I like to ease into work with a great cup of coffee or some favorite music before things get quiet and busy. By late-afternoon both boys are home and while they do their homework I can either make things or clean a bit while on standby to assist; before you know it, it’s dinner and showers and bedtime. Once they’re tucked in and reading, I will usually log on to the computer to do some social media posts, alter photos or do light writing or research.
Kidoinfo: Do you have any time-saving tricks that you could share?
Elyse: Using a slow cooker can be helpful on days where the boys have activities after school and we all walk in the door at dinnertime to something warm and ready. I also like to bake muffins while cleaning up dinner so that a breakfast we all like is ready in the morning.
Kidoinfo: If you could give your past self (pre-kids or pre-business) any advice, what would it be?
Elyse: Working from home is a wonderful option to have but it isn’t always easy. If you’re going to freelance or work-from-home with children know that naps are precarious, bickering often happens during commercials, spills can happen anytime, and you will probably need some outside help to make it work – or you may need to work when children are asleep. Coffee, anyone?
Kidoinfo: Where do you find inspiration?
Elyse: I find inspiration all around me–whether from a cool breeze or magazine–but I am very motivated knowing that my boys are proud of me. They see me doing what I love and loving what I do and how that gives me a positive, pay-it-forward attitude. I like to think that the inspiration they provide me is reciprocated back to them, even if they don’t know it yet.
Kidoinfo: What is the one kid or parent product that you could not live without?
Elyse: My boys and I love paper and Sharpie pens. We could draw all day.
Kidoinfo: What is your favorite children’s book or music CD?
Elyse: My favorite books are the ones with beautiful images. Newer books would be the “Toot and Puddle” series by Holly Hobbie, which my boys have now outgrown; “Rapunzel” by Sarah Gibb, which is illustrated so beautifully that it caught my eye and I requested it for my birthday last year; or childhood book-mobile faves “Sleeping Beauty” and “Little Red Riding Hood” with pictures by T. Izawa and S. Hijikata.
Kidoinfo: What do you do with your kids on a rainy day?
Elyse: On rainy days sometimes we’ll do things together like draw or watch a movie with popcorn (popped in olive oil — delish) or sometimes we scatter and the boys will play Legos or a video game. Sometimes we’ll all hang out at Barnes & Noble, reading magazines and sharing desserts. I love when we get silly together, especially in public because I feel that ease with oneself shows wonderful confidence.
Kidoinfo: What is the last great non-kid book or film that you loved? What made it so great?
Elyse: I enjoyed the film Moonrise Kingdom, as I knew I would, for its wonderful sets and deliberate palette and shots.
Kidoinfo: Do you have a guilty pleasure?
Elyse: Yep. Every Sunday I like to stay up late and watch the weekly one-hour episode of TMZ, which is completely tabloid television. It’s very silly and not kid-appropriate but I enjoy it.
Kidoinfo: If you had an extra hour each day, what would you do with it?
Elyse: If I had an extra hour each day I like to believe that I would use it to become organized.
Kidoinfo: Can you share a story or anecdote that is symbolic of your dual life as a business owner and a mother/father?
Elyse: One day I was walking my youngest home from the bus stop and he picked up a piece of faded newspaper, handed it to me and offered, “Here Mom, you can use this for one of your craft projects.”
Kidoinfo: How has the experience and on the job training of being a mom/dad prepared or changed you in business?
Elyse: I think when you’re a parent you realize that as important as a deadline might be, no one is going to get hurt if it isn’t met. Stuff is only so important; it’s the people in your life that come first. (Remind me that I said that next time I’m overwhelmed by a deadline.)
Kidoinfo: What is next for you and your business?
Elyse: I am getting ready for the launch of my first book and effectively promoting it while I develop ideas for hopefully a next book; I continue to pitch story and craft tutorial ideas for magazines, and work as a communications consultant.
Elyse’s first book Tinkered Treasures is available now for pre-order through Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com and will be available on Valentine’s Day 2013. Visit Elyse online at her blog at tinkeredtreasures.blogspot.com or find Tinkered Treasures on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.
Home Work: Lessons from Work-at-Home Parents. This series of Kidoinfo interviews with parents look at how they manage to squeeze in work time at home (whether working for someone else or running their own business) along with juggling kids, home life, and childcare (or lack of it).