Home Work: Lessons from Work-at-Home Parents. This series of Kidoinfo interviews looks at how these parents 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). Do you want to share your home work with us? We love to hear how other parents get through their day. Nominate yourself or a friend or someone you admire from afar and we may feature their work-at-home story.
Today Katy Killilea interviews Kim Falcone , the founder of Lily’s Garden Herbals, a company that creates all-natural and mostly organic herbal products for home and health in Wakefield, Rhode Island.
Kidoinfo: What inspired you to start your business?
Kim: My two daughters, when they were very young. They both inherited respiratory and skin allergies from me, and I grew up using steroids topically and orally as well as antihistamines.
I wanted a different, more natural health journey for them.
How did you start your business?
Kim: It was an evolutionary process. I began offering advice back in the late ‘90s to family and friends regarding natural health and how herbs complement each other. From there, word spread that I was the ‘village herbalist’ in our closely knit community, and folks started to seek me out. During that time I was learning about herbal essential oils. I decided that with the antimicrobial properties so many of them possess, combined with the wonderful aromatherapy they provide, why not use them to clean rather than using the toxic chemicals I had grown up surrounded by?
How do you balance work and family?
Kim: Well, it was certainly a challenge when the girls were younger; however, my hours have always coincided with their school schedules. At three o’clock, I close the office door and put on my mom hat. Now that my older daughter is off at college and my seventeen-year-old drives, I am freed up quite a bit. This is not to say that I am not present when needed. In fact, I find I need to check in frequently to see what she is up to! As far as marriage is concerned, that’s easy. My husband is my business mentor since he is also a small-business owner. We have a broad range of topics to discuss! It keeps our marriage from getting boring!
Please describe a typical day.
Kim: I get up at 6 a.m. to let out the pets and feed them. I make my daughter’s lunch and get her out the door. After a half-hour of exercise, work begins. Formulating, labeling, and packaging products takes up most of my day. Periodically I must do bookkeeping, pay bills, and make bank deposits. I also have a sales manager who checks in frequently. At about 4 p.m., I’m pretty much done for the day so that’s when I grocery shop, clean the house, and do errands. We usually don’t eat dinner till 7 p.m. Sometimes I work on the computer until 10 p.m. and I belong to several organizations that require time. I guess I’m pretty busy, aren’t I?
Do you have any time-saving tricks that you could share?
Kim: Well, to be honest, I’m not that good at saving time. I tend to try to fit too many things into an hour and then I rush to be where I need to be. One thing, though, I do exercise at home, rather than heading for the gym, which uses up a couple of hours getting there, working out, then coming home. I just don’t have that kind of time.
If you could give your past self (pre-kids or pre-business) any advice, what would it be?
Kim: I wish I could have learned to manage my time better . . . be better organized.
Where do you find inspiration?
Kim: I definitely am inspired by the natural world. All one has to do is find a quiet place outdoors, sit down, and breathe deeply. Peace will find you.
What is the one kid or parent product that you could not live without?
Kim: I wouldn’t call it a product but I would not do well without my sense of smell!
What is your favorite children’s book or music CD?
Kim: My favorite children’s book is The Rain Babies by Laura Krauss Melmed.
What do you do with your kids on a rainy day?
Kim: Sometimes we will play Scrabble or take out the videos of when they were little. They (and I) love to reminisce!
What is the last great non-kid book or film that you loved? What made it so great?
Kim: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. This piece of historical fiction tells the story of a nurse who travels back to seventeenth-century Scotland and uses medicinal plants and her twentieth-century knowledge to heal sickness. Of course there is plenty of romance and adventure to keep the plot moving along. Several sequels have been written since this first one, but this is my favorite.
Do you have a guilty pleasure?
Kim: Eating desserts that I know I shouldn’t–I have many food allergies. Whipped cream–mmm!
If you had an extra hour each day, what would you do with it?
Kim: Probably finish up paperwork that sits on my desk!
Can you share a story or anecdote that is symbolic of your dual life as a business owner and a mother/father?
Kim: I came up with this one back when I wanted to give my girls a special message as they grew to become young women: “Listen to your body and follow your heart.”
How has the experience and on-the-job training of being a mom/dad prepared or changed you in business?
Kim: I don’t know if I would have pursued herbalism if I hadn’t become a mom. My girls’ health was the reason I became so passionate about natural healing and medicinal plants.
What is next for you and your business?
Kim: I hope to continue to be a dependable resource for people in my community who want to take care of their health and home naturally.