Mompreneur Series: Featuring Block Printer Neena Litton

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.

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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.


kaibelle family.jpgIntroducing:
 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.

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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! 

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Mompreneur Series: Featuring Igicom, LLC Co-Founder Serena Reisner

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’ve known Serena for years and we’ve always admired Serena for her dedication to her businesses and to her children. Serena’s calm and humble nature lends well to her ability to manage her busy schedule, her daughter’s modeling career, and her son’s booming career as a chef. We see the same kindness and sincerity in her children as we do in Serena, so we know she’s doing some thing right.

serena_with_the_kidsIntroducing: Serena of Igicom, LLC.

Q: Please describe your business.

A: I run an Internet applications design and development company.

Q: How long have you been running your business?

A: 22 years

Q: What inspired you to start your business?

A: I initially started freelancing and the business expanded.

Q: How do you balance the responsibilities of being a Mom and running your business?

A: I run my business with my husband and the teamwork allows me the flexibility for being a Mom–working from home, scheduling meetings and conference calls, attending school events and cooking with my kids. I’ve been involved on my kids’ school PTAs for a few years and also have the flexibility to schedule meetings at work that generally can be while the kids are in school.

Q: For current and future Mompreneurs, what advice would you give them?

A. I think running your own business can often allow you to set your own schedule. Even if you have to take your work with you (either on vacation or to the playground), it still allows you time to be a Mom and balance both. Fortunately, the kids grew up understanding this, and we’re still able to travel and spend time together. Now that the kids are in their tweens/teens, their schedules are becoming busier but we always have dinner together.

Q: What’s your secret to staying healthy and beautiful?

A: It’s important to stay healthy. I try to eat a balanced diet and work out with a personal trainer three times a week during the work day, so that I can have more time with my family in the evenings and weekends.

Learn more about Serena and her work by following her at:

Special thanks to Serena! We’re grateful that you’re part of our journey! 

Mompreneur Series: Featuring Video Producer Micki Pagano-Parente

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.

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It’s hard to believe that it’s been about eight years since we first met Micki! We’ve always admired Micki’s creativity and professionalism. And, working with national and local brands including The Culinary Institute of America, American Cancer Society, Rockefeller Group, and BR Guest Hospitality, Micki’s talent continues to be recognized, earning her 22 distinguished industry awards! She’s an inspiration. It has been amazing watching Micki grow her business with her family and we are so proud to be in her company.

Micki&Tony Parente 1Introducing: Micki of Branding Shorts

Q: Please describe your business.

A: I run a video production company.

Q: How long have you been running your business?

A: Ten years.

Q: What inspired you to start your business?

A: I’ve always loved filmmaking and made short films for fun. I was a Madison Ave creative director for many years, creating and shooting commercials around the world, but it was a very stressful and demanding lifestyle. Ready to flex my entrepreneurial muscle, I left a lucrative career to do my own thing and have more of a balanced life.  

In 2008, my husband (a marketing director) and I joined forces to start Branding Shorts as a way to leverage our big brand experience to help small businesses grow through the power of short branded videos. Since then, we’ve produced videos for local and national brands, as well as helped charities fundraise through video, across the country. We’re honored to be recipient of 22 industry awards.

Micki Parente 2

Q: How do you balance the responsibilities of being a Mom and running your business?

A: It certainly is a balancing act raising a child and running a business – and to make sure you have quality time for both. One of the benefits of being an entrepreneur is flexibility. Since my husband and I run the business together, we’re grateful to be able to make our own hours. We have an office, but work at home too, which allows us more time to spend with our three-year-old son, who is our number one priority, as well as our seven year old rescue pup, who’s also like a kid :).

Q: For current and future Mompreneurs, what advice would you give them?

A: I would say, get enough rest. Make a plan every morning for the day. I love making a check list and crossing things off – it gives a sense of accomplishment. Being a mom and an entrepreneur are similar in many ways – both require lots of nurturing, love, devotion and attention to grow. Motherhood and entrepreneurship give an opportunity to learn something new – and make an impact – every day. 

Q: What’s your secret to staying healthy and beautiful?

A: Staying healthy, feeling good and getting enough rest is important to both motherhood and entrepreneurship. I try to incorporate lots of fruits and veggies, a daily walk and do my best to keep it all-natural with our family meals and my beauty regiment too. For example, I like using coconut oil as a daily moisturizer and also like Naturally Susan’s Avocado Rose Salve. I even use natural lipsticks made without chemicals. Going natural and organic has become more important than ever, since becoming a mom. And companies like Naturally Susan’s are great to support the growing trend toward natural, non-toxic, skin care and a healthy lifestyle. 

Learn more about Micki and her work by following her at:

Special thanks to Micki! We’re grateful that you’re part of our journey! 

Mompreneur Series: Featuring Jewelry Designer Loella Medina

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.

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We often find Loella making jewelry at her booth when we’re at events. But when she visits our booth, she loves sharing videos of her kids dancing and singing, giving us a sense of her home life…filled with bright smiles and joyful laughter. That’s the happy place we always want to be. It’s obvious that Loella’s family is her priority yet you’ll find that she pours as much love and attention into designing and making her beautiful jewelry as well.
Loella Medina
Introducing: Loella of Loella Medina Jewelry

Q: Please describe your business.

A: I design and handcraft jewelry.

Q: How long have you been running your business?

A: 7 years next month!

Q: What inspired you to start your business?

A: The idea of being free to make my own decisions and my own schedule is really what pulled me into starting my own business. I always knew I wanted to have flexibility to be available for my kids so starting my own business seemed like the perfect solution. When my children were younger and would get sick more often, I knew I could stay with them all day long taking care of them and snuggling them back to health without worrying about having to call out of work. So the big leap of faith I took 7 years ago has been well worth it in that sense.

Loella Medina Jewelry

Q: How do you balance the responsibilities of being a Mom and running your business?

A: I currently work from my home, and the lines between home life and work life get blurred a lot. It is difficult to detach from work when it is so accessible. I have started to take summers off to spend quality time with the kids, we go on park adventures, museums, the zoo, etc. I take my mind off my business for a few weeks and come back with renewed energy. Also, I do not do this crazy parenting stuff alone; my husband and I always divvy up school trips, we always attend school conferences and events together, etc. We are also very grateful to have a lot of help from our families. My husband is very invested in seeing me win, so he is always up for lending a hand during set ups at retail events and being my “salesman”.

Q: For current and future Mompreneurs, what advice would you give them?

A: There is definitely a lot to juggle, and that’s okay. Always follow your instincts; start with why and your path will become more clear.  And don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Q: What’s your secret to staying healthy and beautiful?

A: Sleep and moisturizer. 🙂

Learn more about Loella and her work by following her at:

Special thanks to Loella! We’re grateful that you’re part of our journey! 

Mompreneur Series: Featuring Painter Hannah Lowe Corman

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.

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About two years ago, we met Hannah at a pop up event at West Elm on the Upper West Side where we were showcasing our work, side-by-side, and we’ve kept in touch ever since. She’s an amazing painter and now Mom to an adorable baby boy.

Hannah Lowe CormanIntroducing: Hannah of Hannah Lowe Corman original paintings

Q: Please describe your business.

A: I am a Mindfulness Painter, which to me means that my process of creating is a mindfulness practice and the resulting paintings tend to be serene and meditative.

Q: How long have you been running your business?

A: I started selling my paintings in early 2016, but I’ve been creating art since childhood.

Q: What inspired you to start your business?

A: When I moved to New York, I knew that I wanted to work for myself in some capacity, but I wasn’t sure how. I got connected to a group of artistic female entrepreneurs, who inspired me to believe that I could turn my passion into a business. Making art has always been a part of me – it wasn’t necessarily something I even thought about as a “thing I do”. So while it was totally natural, it actually wasn’t at all obvious to me to start a business around painting, until that light bulb went on that yes, indeed this is a viable career path.Hannah Lowe Corman Art

Q: How do you balance the responsibilities of being a Mom and running your business?

A: It’s definitely a challenge. I’ve had to strip down my business to the absolutely essential. With a 9 month old, I have zero time for extraneous Facebooking, video-watching, email editing, etc. I paint or work on my website during my son’s naps (which may be 45 minutes, or, if I’m lucky, 90 minutes. I write emails and think about social media after he goes to sleep at night. When he’s awake, I try to be fully present with him, whether that’s feeding him, playing with him, or just watching him play solo. Do I sometimes multi-task and scroll Instagram when he’s awake? Yes, of course, I’m only human, but I try to notice when I’m not being present and snap back to what’s in front of me.

Q: For current and future Mompreneurs, what advice would you give them?

A: I felt very overwhelmed with work and baby at first because I was so accustomed to doing everything I could in my business. It wasn’t until I realized that half of the admin stuff I was doing wasn’t actually advancing sales that I felt okay letting it slide. Sometimes I get that creeping feeling that I SHOULD be learning about Pinterest or beefing up my SEO, but then I allow myself to let go of these “should” thoughts and just focus on the essential day to day activities. I’m sure one day in the future I’ll have more time to dig into other topics, but for now I’m enjoying living outside of the online world. So for current or future Mompreneurs, I’d advise boiling down your business tasks to the absolute essentials. By letting go of things you feel you ought to be doing but aren’t really necessary, hopefully that will give you space to be present with your children when possible. I also like to think about (and be grateful for) all the aspects of my life and business that are exactly what I want; sometimes we get caught up in pushing and growing that we forget that we’ve actually created a lifestyle that we’ve wanted and that we should take advantage of that ~ whether it’s flexibility of our time, or not reporting to a boss, or being able to pick up our kids from school ~ notice what you already have and not what you are still striving towards.

Q: What’s your secret to staying healthy and beautiful?

A: Oh man, sometimes I don’t feel healthy or beautiful. On the days that I look and feel my best, I’ve gotten solid sleep and I’ve had a lot of water.

Learn more about Hannah and her work by following her at:

Special thanks to Hannah! We’re grateful that you’re part of our journey! 

We were inspired by Viola Davis…

We were inspired by Actress and Hunger Is Ambassador, Viola Davis. Her experiences and commitment to helping end childhood hunger struck a personal cord and further affirmed our commitment to help end hunger in America overall.
We’ve been doing this for some time now. And this year, we made a commitment to do it more regularly. We committed to donating a bag of food every month to help end hunger in America. And, we’re starting local.

Recent data from Feeding America stated that 42 million Americans lived in food insecure households as of 2015. Families need help putting food on their tables. They need help to survive. So, each month this year, we’re committed to donating a bag of food every first Tuesday, our #CharityTuesday, to help feed families.

In February, our donation bag may go to one family or six separate families. Regardless, they will help put food on tables. “Our goal is not to touch everyone, our goal is to touch someone. To change someone. Just one person. If you get good at that, do five, then do 100…” (Seth Godin, Best-Selling Author)

img_8102We’re striving to make a difference to end hunger in America, one family at a time.

We found a local food pantry on Food Bank NYC’s website at www.foodbanknyc.org.

Show us how you’ll be making change by tagging us at @naturallysusans #CharityTuesday.

Thank You!

There’s something amazing about our scarf…

pink-green-cowl-scarfThere’s something amazing about our pink and green cowl scarf…it has a story. 

It was Saturday, October 29th, when we met Joede of Black Pearl Creations. We were neighbors at an event. As she was purchasing some of our skin care products, she shared a story with us. A story about her tenacity. A story about her greater appreciation for life. Because eight years ago, she received a grave diagnosis. She was diagnosed with aggressive Stage 3 breast cancer and her situation was dire. 

But now, eight years since that diagnosis, she continues to defy the odds. We recall some of our words to her that day and we repeat it for her and for everyone…”You go girl!” Your passion to continue to live, laugh, and love every moment of life is an inspiration.

We chose this scarf with purpose…it intertwined the colors green that reflects our logo and pink, a symbolic color for breast cancer awareness. Thank you for creating such beautiful work. It was our pleasure to meet you and we look forward to keeping in touch.

 

Happy New Year!

It’s the beginning of a new year! A time to reflect. And, a time to embrace the learnings from our past. Last year was an impressive one. It was a year filled with happiness. Unexpected sadnesses. And, extreme surprises. It tested our resolve. Our fortitude. And, it made us stronger. Thank you for journeying with us in 2016! And, please join us as we forge ahead in 2017…

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We’re popping up at Pottery Barn in Chelsea!

 Our Pampering Station will be at Pottery Barn in Chelsea on Saturday, so come by and shop Fall home decor and our luxurious skin care treats! See you soon!

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Hours: 11:00am – 7:30pm

Pottery Barn @ Chelsea

100-104 Seventh Avenue (btw 17th & 18th Sts)

New York, NY 10011