We’re incredibly excited to kick off a new series on the BLANQI blog called #MotherMentors, featuring moms who run businesses while balancing the work and life. When shooting in Phoenix, AZ a few weeks back, we met with Coley Kuyper who is the brains and business behind Coley Kuyper Art offering the most whimsical and beautiful prints across the spectrum. She’s a freelance artist doing custom hand lettering, drawings and illustrations all from her home studio while being a mother to four little girls and pregnant with their fifth baby! If that’s not a powerhouse mama, we don’t know what is!
We’re digging deeper behind the scenes of Coley Kuyper Art and how she personally manages being an incredible mother, wife and business owner.
Work-life balance- what are your thoughts on that?
To me, when I hear that it sounds like there is some sort of formula that everyone knows about except me. It is easy to look at others lives through pictures and think they have the balance all figured out. For me, every day is completely different. Most days we have our general routine we go through and other days it will turn out the opposite. I think “balance” is more about setting boundaries on when is work time and when is play/family time. Since I’m home everyday with the girls, I can easily slip into my office to finish an email or package an order while they’re playing in the living room. I have to be so conscious of when to put the computer or phone away so I can tend to their needs first. Believing that there’s a way to balance it all can lead to a lot of unrealistic expectations, which is what I have done over and over again. Seeing other mamas out there that seem to have it down perfectly started to put me in a position of resentment and wasn’t beneficial for living in the moment of my reality…it actually took me out of my reality thinking that others had it together and I was failing at life! I came to the humble realization that I couldn’t live up to the expectations I was putting on myself. Instead, I have been learning to embrace what my reality is and what it is I can tangibly do with that reality in front of me.
Best advice you have ever been given?
Always keep the relationship the priority and live with nothing hidden.
How would you describe your personal style?
This is hard for me because I feel like I’m still discovering it, but what I’m drawn to most are neutral colors and anything that makes me feel comfortable. I guess three words to best describe it would be simple, trendy, and relaxed.
Do you have a support system? nanny, grandma, spouse? Tell us about how you make it work.
YES! I don’t think I’d survive without the support I have. The many times I get asked how I do it, I immediately respond with the fact that I have my amazing community of people around me. Shane is the strongest support for me. He helps and encourages me in my dreams and allows us to figure out ways to make running a small business work for our family. We are surrounded by close family and friends that we deeply trust who enjoy being with our girls and love us so well. I’m forever thankful for the amazing village we have helping us raise our little tribe.
What do you do to unplug?
I’ve been golfing since I could walk and have continued to play with my husband since we were dating. So when I’m not pregnant this is something we still enjoy doing together to get outside. We love to go to parks with the girls, check out local coffee shops or explore new cities.
What dreams do you have for the next 5 years?
Travel more! Haha! Sounds pretty crazy with having 5 littles, but before we ever had kids I knew this was something we would make a priority as much as we can. We lived in Germany for a season for my husband’s job when our oldest was 13 months and the twins had just turned 3 months. It was a bit spontaneous and scary, but the adventures we had and the ways we grew through it were so rewarding. I want our kids to grow up with these experiences as much as possible, even if it means doing hard things to make it happen. I think experiencing new things and new people will be (and has been) so invaluable to them.
On the art side the one that has stuck around the longest (like since I was 8) is the dream of having a paper/greeting card line someday. It feels far fetched, especially in our season of little ones, but the dream is still there and continues to brew, so I just keep holding onto it, trusting that where I’m at now and the opportunities I’m given may lead to that someday.
How and where do you find inspiration?
Through music, people, my kids, children’s books, being outside, local shops, reading… just to name a few! A lot through other artists I love and follow and seeing a glimpse of how they run their business or what they’re creating. I find that I’m most inspired when I’m traveling somewhere new, whether that’s a new coffee shop in town or somewhere across the country, I love seeing the world around me.
What values are you committed to as a mother? As a business owner?
As a mother– Creating intentional relationships with each one of my kids, being honest and humble with them and living out in front of them the person who I hope to raise them up to be. I want to build deep trust with my kids in all areas of life and I think this starts with paying attention to and continuously learning who they really are versus who I want them to be or think they should be.
As a business owner– I want to share my creativity with others in a way that helps encourage and inspire.
What mom do you admire most?
This one isn’t a fair question because there’s too many for me to name just one. I know that I wouldn’t be the mom I am or desire to be without allowing myself to learn from so many moms around me. Of course, there are the ones that I’m closest to like my own mom, mother in law and sisters–which I know may be rare thing to say, but I feel I hit the jackpot with how amazing they all are and the examples they lead.
What has been the biggest surprise about motherhood? About running a business?
In motherhood I’ve been surprised at how much I love having babies! Haha, but also how much I would have to say sorry to my kids– sorry for yelling or saying something wrong or unkind. But as much as it’s a surprise, it’s also one I’m so thankful for. Without being constantly humbled as a mom, I know I wouldn’t be able to be the best version of myself for them as they grow up, and I want nothing more than that.
Business- I’ve been surprised at what I think business look like and then sometimes it looks so different. Whether it’s seeing a product I made not sell as much as I thought it would or the hard stuff I have to learn that I didn’t even know about.
What is something you wish someone had told you before having your first child?
Most of what I heard was how hard having kids are and how much life changes. I wish I had heard more about the joy that comes from parenting and how fun having kids really is!
Before starting your own business?
Everyone is trying to figure it out just like you are and no one has all the answers, some are just a little further along than others!
If you could give one piece of advice about motherhood, what would it be?
You can’t do it all, and that’s OK! It’s actually better that you can’t do it all, because having others around you to carry you through it and help fill in the gaps reminds us that we’re not alone. And we’re really not meant to be.
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