Today Elyse Major interviews Annette Tatum, author of The Well-Dressed Home and creator of the high-end and highly successful interior-decor line Annette Tatum Collections, as well as a wife, and mom to four children. Annette’s fashion goal is to help people create beautiful interiors inspired by their own personal layers but at home, she still needs to tackle what to do on a rainy day just like any other busy mom.
Annette is offering a giveaway of a Faux Bunny Fur blanket to one lucky reader of Kidoinfo in celebration of the launch of her new website AnnetteTatum.com. To enter, simply email info(at)kidoinfo(dot)com with “Well-Dressed Home” in the subject line by Noon (EST) on April 19, 2011. Please specify color preference (chestnut, creme, or pink). One winner will be randomly selected to win a blanket. Winners will be notified via email.
Kidoinfo: What inspired you to start your business?
Annette: At the time I started my business I don’t think I really knew that I was “starting” a business. It sort of fell into my lap. My sister asked me to produce some pajamas for her stores and it mushroomed into an apparel business, which then ventured into bedding and home and baby. When I started I was working for another company so I would work at night and on the weekends, always with a baby on my hip! I was inspired I guess to go into nursery (decor) because I was a mom. I probably was interested in pajamas because my lifestyle at the time was “mom” so I was into comfy, easy clothing. I have found that what ever “phase” I am in in my life, I am usually inspired to do something related. It is just easier and comes more naturally. I understand the subject: me! As my children have grown and I am older and wiser I now have noticed that I have more” adult” interests and long for more sophistication in my life. Therefore I am designing once again for the lifestyle I am leading.
Kidoinfo: How did you start your business?
Annette: Economically on a shoestring. I worked a regular job and slowly weaned myself off working for someone else and made the jump to self employment. I was very frugal in the beginning. I don’t think I had a business card the first two years. I was able to put as much time as I could into my business given my lifestyle. First came the kids, then my real job, then my new business. It just grew over time and when I was ready to make the leap to full time at my business everyone in the family was ready too.
Kidoinfo: How do you balance work and family?
Annette: I try to not bring work home anymore. There were many years that I sat at night or on the weekends and did “homework.” I also travelled a lot more. I love the Internet now — less travel. But my family was always a part of my business. The kids all went to trade shows and they have all done their homework at the office. They love it and I think that in the end my motto is “happy mom, happy kids.”
Having my own business has left me time to still be me and added to my role as a mother. My husband has his own business also so I think the family is used to our work hours and schedules. We still prioritize family time. I am sure I could have been more successful but it was never that important to me. I love what I do and part of that is making sure it all is in harmony with the people in my life. I decided long ago that if I was going to pursue my dreams that it had to be fun and not stressful. The moment it gets to be too much I will have to re-evaluate.
Kidoinfo: Do you have any time-saving tricks that you could share?
Annette: I am super organized my nature, probably too much so I always try to “anticipate” schedules and life. At night I usually try and get ahead for the next day: pack lunches, plan the day. I also make lists … I love lists … crossing out the things I have done … and then throwing away the paper. Very rewarding!
Kidoinfo: If you could give your past self (pre-kids or pre-business) any advice, what would it be?
Annette: Do what you love and what comes easy to you. I know when I was young I talked about wanting to be a nurse but that was a struggle for me. In the end, what was I always attracted to and what came easily was the creative fields like design and architecture. And low and behold, here I am. However I can not discount the life lessons … sometimes it takes finding out what you don’t like to find what you do. So try it all and remember that your possibilities are endless!
Kidoinfo: Where do you find inspiration?
Annette: Fashion, movies, nature and other designers.
Kidoinfo: What is the one kid or parent product that you could not live without?
Annette: I love the little fabric stools from ZID ZID collection. They are so whimsical and lovely for children. Themes such as elephants on silver leather, shining suns embroidered on the top of the stool/ ottoman. Love this company’s products for kids. Would like them for adults!
Kidoinfo: What is your favorite children’s book or music CD?
Annette: I love Guess How Much I Love You; my son used to quote a phrase from this book and tell me he “loved me to the moon and back.” I love that expression.
Kidoinfo: What do you do with your kids on a rainy day?
Annette: Sometimes a movie, sometimes out to eat. Something to break up the day!
Kidoinfo: What is the last great non-kid book or film that you loved? What made it so great?
Annette: A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry. I love this book about India. It shows the spirit of human nature.
Kidoinfo: Do you have a guilty pleasure?
Annette: Dark chocolate … every day … have to have it. There is a new one with sea salt from Whole Foods that is organic and I am addicted.
Kidoinfo: If you had an extra hour each day, what would you do with it?
Annette: Something spa-like or else yoga, something to make me slow down, maybe even a nap! As I get older I keep thinking about this woman, a wiser older woman who said, slow down — it is that simple.
Kidoinfo: Can you share a story or anecdote that is symbolic of your dual life as a business owner and parent?
Annette: This is my own: Once you are in the boat don’t try to paddle upstream just go with the flow, it is easier and in the end and you will end up going that direction anyway.
Kidoinfo: How has the experience and on the job training of being a mom/dad prepared or changed you in business?
Annette: Well with four kids I have always joked that I could easily have a career as a short order cook or probably work at the stock exchange. I am capable of listening to three different conversations at the same time and I take orders really well! So being a mom has helped me become a super multitasker which is critical for running your own business.
Kidoinfo: What is next for you and your business?
Annette: I would like to write another book. I just launched our new web site where we sell direct, and I am working on a new fabric collection for the designer market (out in fall 2011).