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There should be a dating service for young moms and mentor moms. You know, the seasoned vets that are about 10 years ahead of you… the ones you go to with all of your questions and crocodile tears. Five to seven years ago I met Barb Blair, of Knack Studios through blog-land; which at the time, kind of was a creative friend dating space. I fell in love with her creativity, insane talent and most of all her killer charm. She makes me laugh so hard I almost pee my pants (that may or may not have something to do with having 2 littles). None the less, the lady is funny! And, she is my age with older kids. (YAY!)  After a couple of Skype dates, I knew I had to meet this lady in person!  Last year I finally got the chance. Through Maker’s Summit in Greenville, I actually stayed in their lovely home and spent time with this beautiful family and they are legit. The real deal. Here’s a little wisdom for all of us from my favorite mentor mom and dear friend, Barb.

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Q: Can you tell us a little about Knack and how you got started?

A: Knack started out of necessity really. We moved into an older home that had been built in the early 80’s and it had all kinds of great character but it was dark and outdated and needed a lot of freshening up. One of the first things that needed to be done (after all of the new carpeting, flooring and painting) was the kitchen cabinets. They were dark brown, dirty and just plain old ugly in my opinion… and because we were a young family with a very limited budget I decided to paint them. I had never tackled a project like this before, and this was before the days of design blogs and Pinterest so I was completely on my own as far as figuring out how to accomplish this task. I went to Home Depot and read all the pamphlets I could, bought lots of paint brushes and foam rollers, some paint, and off I went. It took me three weeks of working around nap times and late into the evenings after the kids went to bed…but when I was done, I was completely hooked! The rest is history!

Q: How did you juggle motherhood and starting a new business venture?

A: I wish I could say that there is a magical answer for this, or that I always got it right….but there isn’t and I didn’t! My family has always been the most important thing to me and so I started from the very beginning with the belief and purpose that my business would work around my family and never the other way around. I think if you are constantly aware of balance you will be able to find it and strive to keep it. If you are completely unaware of balance it can be a bit more difficult to be intentional about finding it. So, be intentional from the very beginning about what the boundaries for your business and family are and never waver. You will never regret being there for your family but I can’t say that you would not regret the opposite.

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Q: What is your favorite thing about being a mama?

A: My favorite thing about being a mom…is being a mom! I always, always wanted to be a mama and the first day that I held my newborn son in my arms I knew that my life would never be the same. I am better because of my children and I am so thankful for the blessing that they are to me and the ways they have brought change and growth to my own life.

Q: What was your biggest fear before becoming a mama?

A: This may sound crazy but I wasn’t afraid. Maybe I was too young to grasp what was about to happen (hah!) but my biggest fear was that something would go wrong during the pregnancy or that my baby would not be healthy.

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Q: Is there anything you would tell your toddler-stage self? You know, a “if I knew then what I know now” kind of thing.

A: I was thinking about this the other day in fact. As I look at my sister mother her three little ones….she does it with such grace. I wish that in those long frustrating days with little ones that I had, had more grace…..more understanding of who they were as little people trying to find their way in this big big world. Sometimes I feel like my expectations of a toddler were just too over the top…so I wish in retrospect I would have had more realistic expectations. 

Q: Now that you have one in college and one at home (soon to be in college), what advice do you have for new moms? 

A: I think my best advice would be to be a parent, love them where they are, and really know your kids. Your kids need all of you, and as a parent it takes time to figure out each child and how they operate. Don’t put them in a box based on the personality of anyone else or what you think they need to be even. Comparison can kill a person’s soul, so learn to respect and love your humans for who THEY are.

Q: How has motherhood changed with your oldest away at college?

A:  The family dynamic has really changed for sure. It tugs at my heart and is harder on the days where we do a family activity that used to include 4 and now only 3. I have moments of pause, and if I stay there it would probably take me down a road I do not want to go. So, I focus instead on how great he is doing in college, how much he loves it, and how as a parent this is the ultimate goal….a successful launch! This time also allows me to really focus on my daughter while I have her for another year and really lean in and milk every last second of our time.

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Q: You recently launched your new furniture collection, your second book drops in March and you run your retail shop, Knack, in Greenville, SC, all while keeping family first.  Do you have any counsel for mamas trying to find balance with motherhood and a career?

A:  Again, always keep your family first and set boundaries in the beginning for where you want to go and what you are willing or not willing to do. For me, there needed to be a plan in place and a determined mindset…otherwise…every amazing opportunity that came along would have rabbit trailed me. I have turned down some really great opportunities because I felt like they were not right for my family….and I have no regrets.

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Q: On your blog, you recently shared some changes and challenges that inspired your current furniture collection, The Night Within Us, Leaving Stars. Can you share a bit with our readers?

A: Sure. I have a lot of changes coming for Knack and I will be sharing more about that on my own blog this week, but basically there is a move coming up in the next few months and it came about pretty suddenly and I was not prepared for a huge rent increase and the thought of having to change directions with the business. It caused fear to set in at first, but then I remembered all the times over the years that this exact feeling came. When I gave into fear and anger it only hurt me and caused a lot of angst that could have been avoided had I truly held loosely to my business and the plans I had for it and understood that there was a bigger plan and picture. To actually see and feel the hand of God at work and to know that deep in my soul…to grasp that peace and trust completely. It is beautiful to see what comes out of those moments of complete trust…and the peace that comes with open hands vs clenched fists is something I strive for daily.

Q: Do you have any go to sources for parenting?

A: When my kids were little I read a few books…. because I genuinely like to read….and I think there are things to take away from each of those books….but ultimately those books were written by other humans trying to find their way and what has worked for them. I find that bringing myself and my kids to God in prayer daily is the best source of comfort and wisdom that there is. Spend time with your kids, know them inside and out, love on them, and pray for them.

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Q: How do you wind down at the end of your day?

A: I always say that the best time of the day is after everyone has eaten a good meal and all of the dishes are done! I feel like my day is complete at that point and I put on my PJ’s and chill in the den with the family. Usually everyone is doing different things, but all in the same room….so it feels good to relax and unwind together. As your kids get older they don’t go to bed early anymore! Sometimes they even stay up later than you, so it is great to capitalize on the time you have together!

Is it any wonder that I wanted to partner with this creative genius? Our collaboration on this month’s Fresh Box is one of my very faves. Simple. Beautiful. Refreshing. Just like Barb. xo

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