Business, Faith, Friends, Mommy Advice

Mentor Monday with Kristin Wilson

Mentor Monday Grace and Serendipity

You could say that God put Kristin and I together and you wouldn’t be wrong. We both attended Stationery Academy in Phoenix this summer and were on the same flight from Atlanta out there. We knew that we were taking the same flight back to Atlanta as well and so wanted to try and change seats to sit together on the way back. When we looked at our tickets we both giggled because we were already sitting next to each other! Over the past few months I have come to tremendously admire Kristin. Not only is she wickedly talented she is one of the kindest women that I have met. I can’t wait to let a little bit of her wisdom rub off on you and me as well as introduce you to her new collection, The Hey Mama Collection, that I’ve been peeking at for the past month and is insanely awesome!

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Grace and Serendipity has evolved over the years. What made you decide to move more into product design rather than wedding design?

When I started my business,  I started it because it was something I loved, but I always have known there was something more I was meant to do.  I found when I was planning that I was falling more and more in love with paper design and invitation suites made me swoon.  The first day that I stepped foot into a Paper Source and I spent literally four hours inside the store, I knew that I had found something I didn’t only love, but had found my passion.  After one of my brides asked me to design her invitations for her, seeing the design complete, I was hooked.  I fully believe that everything you do leads you to what you’re meant to do next, and for me, product design is it.

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You’ve got two young children which require lots of attention and balance between them and work. Have you found anything that works to help you balance it all? Do you have any tips for us?

Daily life with two kids at home with me is a constant battle to make sure I am balancing things well. My daughter is 3 and my son is 8 months, and they both require a lot of attention.  Some weeks I do really well at balancing everything and other weeks are not my best. They’re only this age once and as important it is to me to build my business and have it grow, I’ll never get this time back with my littles.  I don’t want to look back a couple of years from now when they’re in school full time and have regrets, so I try my best to have that in my head all the time.  I have never really been a morning person, but now I force myself to get up for the day every day by 5:00am, sometimes at 4:30 if my son woke up around then for a nighttime feeding. This way, I can have a two to three hours of quiet time to work on things before the busy of the day begins, so that I at least start the day ahead with some things accomplished instead of starting it with a looming to-do list.  My kids are on a pretty normal routine and do things around the same times every day, which helps a lot.  My friends have nicknamed me a “naptime hustler” because when they are napping, I am working the hardest so that I don’t have to work as much when they’re awake.  It’s really important that my kids realize that even though I do work full time from home, that they matter more – so some days it means my computer is off until mid-afternoon and I work more that night when they’re in bed to take care of everything needed.  My daughter goes to preschool three days a week for four hours a day, and those days, when my son is taking his morning nap, are my biggest workdays.  I don’t work as much on Tuesdays or Thursdays because those are the days I do more around the house like the laundry and cleaning, but we also go to the park and do other fun “mommy and me” activities these days.  The one balancing thing you can bet on is that when they’re napping, I’m hustling to take care of things for my business. When they’re awake, they have me.  And I try my hardest to stick to that completely.  The only tip that I have is find what works for you – perhaps you’ll stay up later at night, or get up early in the morning, perhaps you’ll take on less work so that you don’t have the stress of it with you, but more than anything, think about what matters most and then figure out how to make that happen best in your life.

Think about what matters most and then figure out how to make that happen best in your life. - @graceandser Click To Tweet

What three things must you have/do every day?

1 – I make time every single day for my bible and to read Jesus Calling.  I have the book and also have the app on my phone.  I have a timer set on my phone for 8:35am because I drop my daughter off at her preschool on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 8:30.  When I get back into my car after bringing her to class, my phone is going off and so I do Jesus Calling for the day right there in the parking lot before I go anywhere else.  On Tuesdays and Thursdays I read the days passage and bible verses out loud with my daughter when we’re eating breakfast.   It helps me to have the right perspective on the day from the beginning.

2 – A combination of Google Calendar, the ToDoist app, and my weekly planner.  There is no way that I could keep track of everything and attempt to keep everything organized well without these three things.  I use Google Calendar to keep track of my daughter’s school schedule, every kind of appointment, family birthdays, and what our meals are for the week so that I know what time I need to start dinner every night.  I use ToDoist for everything else.  I tried Asana but it didn’t work for me – I love the simplicity of ToDoist, especially that I can open the app on my phone and use the voice text option to say “call Dad at 1:00 on Sunday to talk to him about Christmas plans” and not only will it plug it into my phone for Sunday at1:00, the app will send me a reminder at 1:00 on Sunday to do just that.  It has been a lifesaver.  I have it broken down into main categories for my business and home.  Those then have sub-folders where everyone has their own workflow so that I can keep track of everything, and everything has dates assigned to it.  It sounds complex but it’s really pretty straightforward!  At night, I then take everything for the following day and write it in my weekly planner so that I don’t get distracted with what’s coming up by looking at a screen or spend time in the morning figuring out how to do everything needed – I can focus on the tasks for the day, and then can go back to ToDoist at the end of the day to check everything off at once.  That’s a pretty good feeling the days that I am able to accomplish everything I had planned!

3 – Good family time.  I crave it every day.  I do get to spend every day with my kids, but when my husband is home during the evenings and it’s the four or five of us when his son is also with us, life feels right.  It doesn’t matter what happened during the day or how chaotic life is, when we have those couple of precious hours together in the evenings during the week or as much as possible on the weekends, it makes my heart swell with happiness.  The days that we don’t have a lot of that due to my having client meetings or my husband having work socials, we both have found that we miss that time together.

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If you were going to give someone just starting a business some advice, what would it be?

– Make a plan and truly decide if this is something you can do for a long time or see yourself doing for the rest of your career before you decide to go all in, and when you do decide it, do the work needed to make things happen.  When I first started my business, I was an elementary school teacher.  I started my wedding planning business and did both for two years before deciding to take my business full time, because I need to be able to contribute financially to our family.  Taking a chance on starting a business with no income coming in to offset getting started would not have been smart and we wouldn’t have made it – as much as you may want to quit a job and pursue a passion full time, make sure it makes sense for your family to do so first.   My business wouldn’t be here today if I hadn’t planned out step by step, thought a lot about big decisions before making them, and thought about all of the possible outcomes.  Now, with making the transition from planning to paper, it’s a whole new business plan, but not one that I have taken lightly.  I did invitation design with my brides for two years before considering doing this full time, and only because I’ve realized how incredibly passionate I am about paper design and how drawn I am to it is the reason I’m going down this path.  I also feel that this is what God has had planned for me all along, and discovering things and seeing His signs along the way makes me feel this is right too.  I have taught myself how to do things, how things work the best for my business, taken class after online class to learn what I need to, and have found a way to make my business unique in it’s own ways.  The quote “give a (wo)man a fish and you feed (her) for a day, teach a (wo)man to fish and you feed (her) for a lifetime” is one that means so much to me … you can easily ask someone the answer to something you don’t know without researching first, but doing the work and learning how to do it yourself through trial and error is much more fulfilling.  It’s awesome to be able to go back and say “I did this!” even if it is only to yourself.  You want to build a business that you’re proud of – so take the time needed to make that happen.

Grace and Serendipity - Mentor Monday - Tales of a Peanut

What has surprised you the most about being an entrepreneur?

I think probably how much I still want to learn things – I’m never happy with “that’s good enough”.  I am always wanting to learn more and do things better, I’m always wanting to try new things and see how they turn out.  I hope that I never get stuck in doing the same things day in and day out – I love pushing myself and seeing what new things come out of stepping outside of my comfort zone.

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Tomorrow you’re launching a new collection. Tell me a little bit about what your inspiration was behind this line and what you want people to get from your products?

Oh goodness, I am so excited for this collection!  I was definitely inspired by those around me – my mama friends and fellow creative entrepreneurs in particular, because all of us want to make a difference.  When you’re a mom, sometimes you just need to hear that you’re doing a good job, or read that you deserve a trophy to make it through the day simply wearing the same shirt!  For creative entrepeneurs, sometimes we just need to hear “you can do this” in a variety of different forms, and so definitely one word to sum it up would be encouragement for others – I hope that people are encouraged by the products they purchase to give to others or to frame on their own walls, because that inner cheerleader in my soul wants everyone to succeed.

Who do you admire and keep up with in the business? Any mentors, groups, podcasts, etc that you recommend we keep up with?

I follow Stationery Academy and look forward to every blog post, email, newsletter, and Instagram post of theirs – they are such a big part of the reason I am launching everything and so excited for what the future holds, and I fully believe that Jennifer Faught (the owner and President) wants every business to succeed!

I also am involved with the Pursuit Community and have attended their conference twice and will be going again in the spring, along with being in the Pursuit Mommies group and a small group locally as well.  I think that along with making sure everything is aligned with your business, growing a relationship with God and having a close-knit community of other business owners who believe in the same things you do is incredibly important.  Karen Stott, who started it, also has an amazing encouraging instagram feed called @intentionalhome which makes you think about what matters most.

I also think that Emily Ley and Lara Casey are pretty phenomenal women (and both are from where I live!) and love the Savvy Business Owners group that Heather Crabtree started.  So many amazing women are doing incredible things, and I love it!

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I want everyone to become as enamored with you as I am! How can they find you?

Etsy: | Instagram:  | Website: | Facebook: | Pinterest: | Periscope:

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Kristin owns Grace and Serendipity, which is currently transitioning from a full-time wedding planning business to a custom design + paperie business.  She is a wife and mama to three, doesn’t go a day without coffee, loves typography, color and lives for swoonworthy moments.

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Kristin is one of my favorites and has been such an encouragement to me over the past few months. Her new collections launch TOMORROW, October 13th in her Etsy shop and I’ve seen them and, believe me, you are not going to want to miss them! Don’t forget to check out her products in the morning (hopefully around 9 am CST) and then let me know what you think!

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