Tonya Kent is a mother of four beautiful children, lives in Anchorage, Alaska and runs her own craft business, More than a Memory AK. Aside from my fascination with life in Alaska, I fell in love with Tonya’s chore charts and even got her to sponsor our current giveaway. Through all of this, I got to know her and asked her to share how she balances being an involved mom and running a business— something I struggle with everyday.
Tell us a little bit about you and your family.
I am married to an amazingly wonderful man who has roots in down-home country, and has a successful career as an attorney. Our home has been Anchorage, Alaska for 10 years. We have four wonderful kiddos— our oldest son is 12, our only daughter is almost 11 and our two little boys are 6 and 4. Our home is filled with Legos, nerf guns and a variety of craft scrap. The garage is full of thrift finds that await the spark of inspiration to re-finish, which usually hits when I can open the garage a crack and not freeze!
I have done some sort of hand-crafting business for almost 10 years, starting with bazaars and eventually purchasing a local scrapbook store—which was a life-time dream of mine. Funny thing about dreams: when they become a reality, the glimmer around the edges doesn’t follow you around. I learned that I get too involved and needed to re-prioritize. So I closed shop, continued selling our signature scrapbook kits on Etsy, along with other crafty things that had been put on hold. I started cooking, cleaning and laundering again!
What do you love most about living in Anchorage?
Anchorage is a great city – the size is just right, the culture is so diverse, and the people are just so nice! It’s also really, really cool to randomly see moose in my own yard, crossing the highway or meandering through a park.
Oh— and we now have Target, Kohl’s and Olive Garden, so that’s a big plus!!!
What have you found that helps juggle raising a family and running an Etsy shop?
I absolutely love that I am home when my kiddos leave for school and come home. I’m a natural home-body so being able to work from home is awesome. I used to own a scrapbook store— and the reason I evolved to an online shop was so I could find a better balance and not drop so many balls while juggling.
I have some traits that make it difficult— like being a perfectionist, wanting to take care of issues immediately and getting so involved in what I’m doing that I forget the world is revolving around me. I don’t really try to do anything unless I am determined to do it well. So I have to consciously make myself step away when something else should take precedent. I just constantly remind myself that the reason I’m working here is so I can be a mom first.
Here are my two philosophies: “It ALL has to get done – but it doesn’t ALL have to be done right now!” & “A cute hat is just as good as cute hair!”
What inspired you to make your own chore charts and sell them on Etsy?
Let me preface this by saying my home is not always clean. More often than not, you’ll find a layer of dust, a spot that sticks you to the floor, or a mess in need of a “hazardous waste” sign!
We’ve used a few different chore charts in the past and the novelty wears off in .5 seconds. So a couple years ago, my oldest two started really understanding the concept of work=money, and would daily ask me if there was something they could do to earn some cash. I was not prepared, so finally I sat down, broke down the chores I’d be willing and thrilled to hand over, and assigned them a monetary value. Then I made each into a magnet, so WHENEVER a child wants money, they can go to the board and decide what they want to do and know how much they will get for it.
I shared my chore chart idea with friends, through a blog and Facebook. With an overwhelmingly positive response, I adapted it to a sell-able item and offered it on my Etsy shop. It has definitely become my most popular item I’ve EVER sold!
Do you have any advice for fellow creative moms who want to get their foot in the door with Etsy?
I’m lucky that I had a bit of a customer base when I opened my Etsy shop. But the funny thing is, things didn’t really take off until I introduced the Chore Charts. I started with scrapbook kits that sold well at my store. When orders didn’t rush in, I started branching out to all my other interests: crocheted hats, flower accessories, ruffle aprons, handmade gifts. I’m finding that certain things sell well in person and others better online. Once I started offering the Chore Charts – word began to spread, pinners began to pin, friends began to post and well . . . I’m keeping pretty busy.
So I guess my best advice is: find something a little different, something not so easy to find, something that doesn’t need to be seen and felt in person – and try it out. If it doesn’t take off, try something else until you find the right fit. But be prepared to be surprised when something doesn’t sell… and equally surprised when something else does!
Make sure to enter our Chore Chart giveaway while you are here!