This Mother’s Day, we’re taking the opportunity to recognize some Mompreneurs that we’ve met along our journey. Somehow, they find a way to balance their entrepreneurial workload while being full-time Moms. We’ll be introducing them to you throughout this Mother’s Day weekend and we asked them to share some tips for fellow Mompreneurs.
We got to know Neena through her business first as we noticed the precision and detail that is required to carve an intricate pattern into a soft block for blockprinting. It takes discipline and patience. This same patient approach we see evident in Neena’s parenting style by including her kids in her daily activities which is wonderful since we know that a family that works and plays together forms an everlasting bond.
Introducing: Neena of Kaibelle
Q: Please describe your business.
A: I blockprint onto responsibly-sourced stationery, bags, and home wares. Basically, I come up with a design, hand-carve it into a soft block, and then print each item by hand.
Q: How long have you been running your business?
A: Three years
Q: What inspired you to start your business?
A: My daughter! When she was six months old, I realized that I wanted to continue staying home with her, but it was clear that I also needed to do something that was entirely my own in order to feel more balanced. Starting a creative business had always been a quiet dream of mine, and I knew that blockprinting was a medium I wanted to explore after taking a class at Brooklyn Brainery. Ultimately, it was the need to find my own balance in motherhood, and wanting to show my daughter by example that she should follow her passions, that inspired me to take those first steps.
Q: How do you balance the responsibilities of being a Mom and running your business?
A: Well, now that I have two little ones, I’m trying to figure it out all over again! Just when I had established a workable rhythm and balance with my daughter, I became pregnant with my son.
When it was just the two of us at home during the day, I tried to make kaibelle “ours” as much as possible. If I needed to sketch, we each drew in our respective notebooks. When she was learning colors, she helped me pull the colors of ink I needed for each printing session. And when it was time to ship orders, she would get so giddy for our stroller walks to our old Brooklyn post office. Since we had our second child last year and moved to Montclair, I am grateful to have a reliable postal carrier who picks up packages from our doorstep.
Truth be told, it’s a major juggling act. On a good day, I hustle to get organized when they are happily playing in the morning, so that I can print while they are napping in the afternoon. When I have any surplus of energy in the evenings after the kids are in bed, I’ll work on sketching a design or carving a block. Other days, I may let go of the things I wanted to accomplish so I can be present with my family. After all, being home with them while they are young was one of my primary reasons for building a business where I can be flexible with my time and focus.
Q: For current and future Mompreneurs, what advice would you give them?
A. Get creative and include your kids whenever possible! Sure, things may take twice as long, but your tasks will still get done and you’ll gain some cherished time together. I’ve found that the more I trust my kids, the more they surprise me with what they can handle and accomplish. And of course, do all of the harder things while they sleep!
It’s also incredibly important to allow yourself a little grace. We live in a day and age where it’s easy to become hypercritical of ourselves, juggling too many responsibilities but feeling like we’re not handling any of them particularly well. Just keep working in whatever ways you can, and trust that momentum will build over time.
Q: What’s your secret to staying healthy and beautiful?
A: I don’t have any secrets, per se, but what works for me is often whatever is simplest! I’m a believer of “pay the farmer now or pay the doctor later” — I make an effort to eat a lot of good, whole foods that are in season, sustainably-sourced, and grown by local farmers. I’ve also found that living in walkable towns and cities for over 20 years has contributed to my overall health and wellbeing. As far as any products that will go onto my skin or my kids’ skin, I prefer to support smaller businesses that use natural ingredients.
Learn more about Neena and her work by following her at:
Special thanks to Neena! We’re grateful that you’re part of our journey!