Home Work: Lessons from Work-at-Home Parents. This series of Kidoinfo Interviews with parents is about how they manage to squeeze in work time at home (whether working for someone else or running their own business) while juggling kids, homelife, and childcare (or lack thereof). 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 .
Hedvig Bourbon designs and produces a fashionably functional line of diaper bags and accessories in New York. Today she shares with Maura Keating of Kidoinfo how she stylishly does her Home Work. Read Maura’s review of the Hedvig Bourbon Bug Net on Kidoinfo.
Kidoinfo: What inspired you to start your business?
Hedvig: It’s a funny story: part of my bachelorette party was to see a fortune teller. Since I had already found the man of my dreams, I wanted her to tell me about our financial future. The lady told me that if I just followed my creative ideas, we would never have any problems when it came to money and wealth. So one day, while I was strolling my son Lucas, I came up with the idea to design a chic handbag that doubles as a diaper bag and is practical to hang on the stroller, I knew it couldn’t be a coincidence.
How did you start your business?
Hedvig: With our kitchen as my design studio, I put my crafty Norwegian skills to work exploring different designs. The playground quickly became my office. While my son Lucas was running around playing with his friends, I would discuss designs and test prototypes with their parents.
The collection began with the diaper bag. Strolling around Manhattan, and going on play-dates, the orders started to roll in. I realized that I had something to offer moms everywhere looking for a fashionable answer to their baby needs. Everyone found the unique design, combination of fresh colors and bold prints, and use of hardware, buttons, and embroidery appealing. And as my own baby needs grew, the ideas for new products were created.
How do you balance work and family?
Hedvig: Balance…. Lucas and Charlotte take priority, so it is more about getting work done when possible – i.e., during naptime and evenings. Next is multitasking: I make a couple of phone calls from the playground and check emails now and then while the kids are playing or watching TV. My husband is a freelance photographer and a very hands-on dad. So on those days he’s off, he will take the kids and I can get caught up, or submerge myself in projects.
Please describe a typical day.
Hedvig: Up, breakfast and quickly check email before dropping Lucas off at school. Then playtime with Charlotte before she goes down for her nap. I am lucky that she is a good sleeper, so on a good day she will sleep up to 2-3 hours, and I work. Some days I have her nap in the stroller and she comes with me to visit a store, fashion district to buy materials, and visit the sewing studio. If I have a meeting or sales event, I will get a babysitter. In the afternoon we pick up Lucas, and go to the playground for a couple of hours before we head home for dinner, bath, and bedtime for them. Then it’s back to the computer and work on designs, sales, marketing, and creative with the help of my husband.
Do you have any time-saving tricks that you could share?
Hedvig: I would love to learn some – what works for me is to get things done when possible and not put it off. Try to stay focused and don’t get too frustrated when the schedule gets jumbled up.
If you could give your past self (pre-kids or pre-business) any advice, what would it be?
Hedvig: If you have an idea – go for it!
Where do you find inspiration?
Hedvig: Daily life with Lucas and Charlotte – toting them around the city and traveling, I am always thinking of smart solutions. For example, on hot summer days, the stroller lining becomes warm and sticky for the baby to lie on, also as they grow and snacks are enjoyed during the ride it easily becomes messy. With this in mind, the Amelie stroller liner was designed – blending function and style, it creates a clean, cozy, and soft environment for your baby or toddler in the stroller.
What is the one kid or parent product that you could not live without?
Hedvig: The Lucas diaper bag in fuchsia from my collection – it fits my on-the-move lifestyle. In addition to being functional, it is chic and blends with my sense of fashion.
What is your favorite children’s book or music CD?
Hedvig: Book: Karius Und Baktus, a Norwegian children’s novel written and illustrated by Thorbjørn Egner.
It’s a very cute story about Jens and his troubles with the two tooth trolls Karius and Baktus. They have a very good life, especially when Jens eats white bread with syrup and doesn’t brush his teeth afterwards. One day Jens complains to his mother that his teeth hurt. He brushes his teeth, which only sets Karius and Baktus back in their building projects. They continue to knock and hammer. In the end Jens goes to the dentist and their homes are destroyed…
What do you do with your kids on a rainy day?
Hedvig: We bake, paint, and sing. It is fun and messy. While the cake is baking and cooling down, I roll out a long sheet of paper in the hallway, and we paint. Lucas’s favorite part is at the end when he runs up and down the paper with different color paint under his feet.
What is the last great non-kid book or film that you loved? What made it so great?
Hedvig: What book?! Who has time?
Do you have any favorite websites or blogs?
Do you have a guilty pleasure?
Hedvig: Dark chocolate and a glass of red wine.
If you had an extra hour each day, what would you do with it?
Hedvig: Read that non-kid book I never had time to pick up.
Can you share a story or anecdote that is symbolic of your dual life as a business owner and a mother?
Hedvig: One year when flying to Norway on an overnight flight, Lucas wasn’t falling asleep and jumping up and down on my lap. So when he had done his fourth no.2 that day, it was changing time again. There I was sweating, trying to change him in the tiny restroom with the smallest changing table ever. Lucas was in wiggly-worm mode, and then bang, the diaper bag fell over and wipes, keys, passports, baby food, you name it all tumbled out and down on the yucky floor. Exhausted I started to cry and Lucas was laughing. Back home in Oslo, I was now laughing too about it all, but at the same time dreading the return flight. So I began to play with the idea of a neat all in one changing pad with pockets that could store the basics (two diapers, wipes, and a onesie) and fit both under the baby and on the changing table. On the return flight, I tested out the prototype for the Santo Changing Clutch, and landed with a big smile in New York.
How has the experience and on-the-job training of being a mother prepared or changed you in business?
Hedvig: I have much more patience and flexibility in terms of taking things as they come – Go with the flow and think positive.
What is next for you and your business?
Hedvig: Next is a fun-filled summer with my children in Norway at the south coast, where they get to run barefoot, play with their cousins, and stay up late with the midnight sun. On the business side, I am working on some exciting new designs launching a new collection using leather and more organic materials.