Taking maternity leave as a creative business owner

Business-lessons-2018

Damn boy! I ain't been here in a hot minute. But I am BACK, baaaaackkkkk for good. And I feel so excited just typing that. The title couldn’t describe this blog post any better: its an account of everything that has been happening in my life and business for over the last 18 months. I am laying it all down.

The news..

June 2018: We found out we were pregnant with our first baby. We had been planning to start our family for about 3-4 months, so we were on top of the world with the news. On the business front, I was trying to make a decision on transitioning into a new target audience - going back and forth a lot. However with my morning sickness kicking in big time, business took a back seat. I tried to fight it and get work done, but it just wasn't working. So I decided to take it (very) easy. I started working with a client on a huge project around this time and focused on just that for the next several months as I enjoyed my pregnancy.

PP_Pregnancy

Oct 2018: I was almost 5 months into the pregnancy and had a sudden burst of energy, you know the 2nd trimester bliss. So I used that time to relaunch my iPhone photography course to my email audience. It was a quiet, fuss-free launch. No social media, no webinar, no-nothing. And it did quite well. To think that we have about 250 students in the course now blows my mind.

He was (Storm) born!

Jan 2019: My parents came in from India and I went off into an early maternity leave. Our beautiful boy, Neil was born on Feb 12th 2019 amidst the craziest snow storm (the first in 70 years) ever in Seattle. I still vividly remember driving to the hospital, my husband was pedaling the accelerator on full and the car was moving at 5 mph. We jokingly middle-named him: Neil Stormborn Gandhe. Its a story to tell, re-tell and remember.Feb - June 2019: Postpartum blues. The next 4 months flew by. Postpartum was .. well you know how it is. Exhausting. Beautiful. Emotional. And again, more exhausting. I hadn't experienced this level of exhaustion in my life ever before. I didn't even know what I had in me, that I could endure it all, gracefully with a smile. Motherhood truly does change you - it toughens and softens you all at the same time.Maternity leave: This went way beyond what I had planned. I planned to be back to work by May 2019. But, my sister’s wedding was going to happen in June in India. So off we went to India for a blissful 2 months with friends and family. I totally needed the change. It was refreshing to say the least. Meanwhile..

Family

I felt like my business was falling apart..

Aug 2019: I got back from India. After what seemed like a crazy two weeks, we settled in and it hit me hard: It had been close to 12 months since I had started taking it easy on the business side of things. I was starting to feel a little worried about it all falling apart. I've built this business with so much of my heart and hard work, I was afraid it would all go away if I didn't do something about it. I wanted to get back so badly, but I couldn’t. Life has its own ways to teach you patience. I started working little by little whenever I could, but with a 6-month old, my schedule was super random and when I did get some time - I was tired and had no mental space to work. So I had to wait patiently during this phase and be happy working less than 5 hours a week. On the back-end, I was dreaming up crazy ideas, refining my vision for the business, working with a select few clients and was ready to start doing more.Oct - Nov 2019: Fast forward to now, I am officially back to business . I haven’t got my schedule down pat, but I definitely have more hours to work on my business. I have a nanny who comes in to watch Neil for 4 hours everyday and I get that time to work exclusively on my business. In a way that I can commit to it consistently.

So what’s next?

1. Serving the online shop owner communityAfter years of working with several web design and photography clients, going forward I've decided to focus on serving makers and online shop owners. I deeply understand the workings of the e-commerce world and feel my efforts are best focused in this space. So if you are a maker, independent artist, product seller or an online shop owner, I have some crazy awesome things lined up to help you grow your online shop sales and revenue.2. Calling all fellow web designersAnother community that I deeply connect and engage with is the designer community. I want to continue sharing my insights as a web designer i.e the practices that have helped me grow my web design business year after year, starting from a humble $60 per blog to $6k per project. So if you are a branding designer who wants to add web design skills to your arsenal or an aspiring web designer who wants to learn the ins and outs of the trade, stay tuned.

Here's what you can expect..

1. Content, more content: I guess the thing that excites me the most is sharing what I learn with you. It fuels me to become better everyday. Writing content, whether it is for Instagram, blog or my newsletter, is the backbone of my entire business model. So starting January 1st 2o20, I'll be creating a lot of content and specifically on this blog, you can expect new articles every Monday and Thursday (accompanied by some beautiful illustrations like the one below ;)2. Client work: Working with creatively-driven businesses is a thrill and challenges me to develop my own skills to help my clients grow better. I am excited to be working with some stellar clients right now and I ‘ll be sharing my projects and insights here on the website.

Illustration by Prerna _ PinkpotStudio

Well, thats it for now. I am feeling both, excited and nervous about coming back to work. But I feel renewed and I am excited to see how things unfold. Its a tricky terrain, running a business. With so many uncertainties and ambiguity, you are always on the edge. Its both exciting and nerve-wracking. But you know what makes this easier for me? YOU!

Thank you so much for being here 😃